Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Too hot for cassoulet

Actually, it's too hot for anything. Right now, as I type this at 3 am, it's over 30C in Chicago. It's pretty unbearable. I'm trying to not turn on my air conditioner, because the shock of stepping out of my bedroom into a thick blanket of heat makes me reconsider brushing my teeth and begin contemplating staying in bed all day. And I've talked to several people recently who don't even have air conditioners so it must be possible to survive. But what kind of life is this????

Paradoxically, I've been cooking a lot lately, which makes my apartment an inferno. I did Pork Salome last night, which wasn't so bad because it cooks quickly. Today, bizarrely, I decided to make lentils and sausage. I looked around online for a recipe and found something that touted itself as a modified approach to cassoulet, and decided to give it a try. Here's what I did. Do give it a try, but seriously, wait until autumn.

You need:
1 2/3 cups lentils
4 cups water (with maybe 2 tsps chicken broth powder)
Fresh thyme
I didn't have bay leaves but I'll bet they'd be nice
White wine

Chorizo (I used 3 sausages)
Chicken (I used 2 breasts. I don't really like thighs, but if you do, you'd probably prefer them).

1 bell pepper
1 onion
4-5 cloves garlic
2/3 cup chicken broth

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Put the lentils in a pot with the water/broth and thyme and bay leaves if you have em. Bring to a boil, lower heat, simmer for maybe 20 minutes. Add some wine when it occurs to you it might be a nice touch. A dry white would be good, all I had was an alvarinho, and I added about a glass. When they're done. Turn off or cook on very low heat while you do the rest?

Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and maybe some dried thyme (or oregano? I love oregano. The dried thyme was kind of meh.) Chop your onion, pepper and garlic. Then chop the chorizo. Fry the chorizo until it's brown and the fat runs off it some. Add onion, pepper and garlic. Sauté until the onion is soft, add to lentil pot. Chop chicken. Add some oil to the pan, and brown your chicken in it. Then add that last little bit of broth and cook until done. Pour all of it into the lentil pot. Squeeze lemon juice into it. If you have and like it, maybe add parsley. I don't really care for it myself.

So, overall it was pretty delicious, except:
1. Omg who wants to eat when it's this hot out. Not me. I took a cold shower after cooking and even so, I had to force myself to eat half a bowl, tasty though it was.
2. The lentils kind of turned to mush. not really a problem. But the other night my sweetie and I had dinner at Avec and we had this amazing lentil dish where the lentils were totally cooked, but still kind of firm on the outside. Each lentil was autonomous, they kind of scattered beneath the spoon like giant grains of sand. It was great. My lentils, on the other hand, were almost like refried beans. How do I make them independent creatures? Did I cook them too long? Do they need a simmer followed by an ice bath? Wouldn't they lose all those great flavors if I did that? What do you think, Internet?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

China's pork reserves

Via my friend Ben

Pork reserves. What a curious concept. Not even real ones, I guess, because it's not an actual freezer full of pork, it's a payment made to farmers to keep their herds at a certain level. And apparently unleashing these reserves will barely made a difference. The whole thing is very odd.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cost of bacon rising

My google reader alerted me that bacon will be more expensive this summer. Which is interesting, because I've always been somewhat alarmed by the fact that it's cheaper than anything else. Seriously, a lot of Chinese restaurants in Chicago charge $1-2 less for the pork dishes than even the vegetable ones. According to the article, a major factor is the rising price of corn (can we PLEASE quit with the ethanol subsidies people? This is ridiculous.), but I kind of wonder if general trendiness isn't playing a role as well.