Thursday, January 11, 2007

"The Dinah Shore Cook Book" & "Cafe - A Cookbook of Bisbee's Owner/Chef Restaurants" - Pork with Green Chili Sauce and Perfect Spanish Rice

Date I made these recipes: January 7, 2007

The Dinah Shore Cook Book by Dinah Shore
Published by: Doubleday & Company, Inc.
© 1983
Recipe: Pork with Green Chili Sauce – p. 209

Café – A Cookbook of Bisbee’s Owner/Chef Restaurants
© 1995 by Richard Byrd
Recipe: Perfect Spanish Rice from the Mexican Express restaurant – p. 6

People, were you like me? Did you start singing the song Buttons and Bows when you saw the name Dinah Shore? Thought so.

So before we get to the recipe, let’s review a few facts. Dinah Shore started her career as a big band singer. Buttons and Bows was on an album my parents had and I loved singing that song. I also love Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy (the recipe and the song) that graces several compilation CD’s I own of famous female torch song singers.

Dinah went from being a big band singer to having her own radio shows to having her own TV show. I remember watching her show on TV when I was a kid (which was just yesterday!).

In addition to cooking (Dinah wrote a couple other cookbooks in her day), she hosted several tennis and golf tournaments. Where she found time to do all this, I’ll never know.

Dinah notes that she tested each and every recipe in the book which I find admirable. She also covered a range of recipes from Mexican to Asian to Italian which were all popular in Los Angeles where she lived before spreading out to the rest of the country.

Dinah’s recipe for Pork with Green Chili Sauce caught my eye and it was a good choice. Of course, I just had to sing along with Dinah on Buttons and Bows as I made the dish. Both the recipe and the song are catchy little numbers. Try them – you’ll like them!

Pork with Green Chili Sauce – serves 4-6
2 pounds lean pork, cut into bite-sized cubes
½ cup water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup solid-pack tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
7-ounce can peeled green chilies, chopped or cut into strips (NOTE: Dinah said if you use canned, include the juice. If you use fresh tomatillas, remove the protective leaf surrounding the tomatilla, but don’t peel. Add ¼ water.)
2 hot jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

Before we go on, let me just say that I scratched my head over “solid-pack tomatoes.” If she mean whole tomatoes, which I used, then I suggest breaking the tomatoes up before adding them to the recipe or you’ll just have big tomato blobs on your hands. If she meant something else, I have no idea. I think you’re okay as long as you use some form of “chunky” tomato as opposed to tomato sauce.

Put meat into heavy-bottomed stewpot, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, add garlic and salt and pepper. Cook, covered, until all water is absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.

Let’s stop right here and parse this paragraph. “Reduce heat” to me means to bring it to a simmer, as opposed to a boil, but people, by doing this, that water was never, ever going to reduce. I finally banked the heat back up (after 25 minutes or no reduction) to just below boiling and man oh man, did that water evaporate, or what? I say keep the heat somewhat high from the beginning and you’ll easily come in at 25-50 minutes.

Once the water is absorbed, discard the garlic. Let the meat fry in its own fat until it starts to turn brown, turning occasionally to brown on all sides. Note: by the time I got done, there was nary a fat globule in sight so I added a little bit of olive oil back into the pan.

Add the onions, cook a few minutes longer to soften. Then add tomatoes, cilantro, chilies, peppers and additional salt if desired. Cook, covered, 30 minutes longer or until pork is tender. Serve over rice.

Speaking of “serve over rice,” I thought plain white rice would be rather boring so I made Perfect Spanish Rice from another cookbook in my collection – Café – A Cookbook of Bisbee’s Owner/Chef Restaurants

What the heck is a Bisbee, you ask? Well, Bisbee, Arizona is an artist community tucked away in the Castle Rock area near Tombstone, Arizona. (Which brings to mind lyrics from The Eagle’s Take it Easy – but we won’t go there and besides, they mentioned Winslow, Arizona…). My parents were vacationing in the area a couple of years ago and my husband and I went down there to visit them. We loved Bisbee as it’s very similar to a couple of “artist” community towns in Minnesota and wouldn’t you know there was a cookbook of recipes just waiting for me.

Now, I can’t say that I was enamored with the Spanish Rice recipe because I wanted it to have more of a tomato flavor than it did but it was a better accompaniment to the pork with green chili sauce than regular white rice. If I had to do it over again, I think I would add more tomato sauce (4 ounces seems a little stingy) and cut back on the water by just a bit. I’m not sure if that would yield the right results but you may want to try it and then let me know how it worked.

And then there’s the onion conundrum. The recipe says to add ½ white onion. I didn’t have a white onion so I used a yellow onion but it didn’t say whether I should add the half as is or cut it up. I followed the directions but the rice may have been more flavorful with chopped onion.

I will say that this made the fluffiest rice I have ever tasted so on that basis, I give it a thumb’s up.

Perfect Spanish Rice (no serving size indicated although 2 cups of rice makes for a lot of rice!)
¼ cup oil
2 cups rice
4 cups hot water
4 ounces tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
½ white onion

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add rice and slightly toast rice, stirring constantly, not allowing it to burn. Combine hot water, tomato sauce, and chicken bouillon and add to rice. Add onion. Bring to a boil, stir and turn heat to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes. Fluff with a fork when liquid is absorbed by the rice.

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