"What are your plans for dinner?"
"I ain't got no stinking plans," I replied in my best Clint Eastwood accent.
"What ingredients do you have?"
"I ain't got no stinking ingredients," I lied because the fridge was full of stinking ingredients. That, itself, was a problem. "Just pick something up and I'll make a plan, " I continued. That would buy me some time so I could take a nap, hoping inspiration came to me in a dream.
All too soon, though, the expedition returned and Pork and Red Peppers were on the menu.
Well, I thought, I'll just start cooking and see if the Muse arrives at just the right time. Here's what became the plan:
chop and fry some bacon in the big Le Creuset pot.
chop and add an onion
chop and add a leftover piece of andouille sausage
chop and add a jalapeno pepper
chop and add two red bell peppers
scrape a hole in the sauted stuff and add 4 boneless pork chops
add a stock cube, about 4 cups of water
chop and add 3 small red potatoes (afterthought)
chop and add 2 tomatoes (well, they were there so what the heck)
cover and simmer for a couple of hours
My general rule of thumb is that 2 hours of cooking will make most things edible if not fantastic. Sometimes the third hour is the charm, especially with stews and chili. Never underestimate the power of time.
After a couple of hours the broth had turned a red-brown and smelled fantastic. I sampled it with a spoon and was not disappointed. Very rich and complex. The red pepper had imparted a very robust flavor and the jalapno provided just enough bite without making the soup unpleasant.
We served it in bowls over a little rice, accompanied by fresh steamed asparagus, chilled and marinated for a few minutes in a vinaigrette. Topped off with a Mirassou Pinot Noir I think we did well for no plans and no ingredients.
Will I be able to recreate this dish? Who knows. Probably not, exactly. The general theme of a thin broth pork stew will be possible, but depending on the ingredients and the mood of the chef the mileage will vary, as they say.
That's what I like best about cooking, though, the challenge of creating something new, unique, interesting and tasty given a set of ingredients, a pantry full of spices and my experience and creativity. It's a joy for the chef and diner alike.