Sunday, June 05, 2005

Time to Cook

"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.

1 comment:

nick said...

So were you a chef in a former life, Bill? Sounds like it was a great meal.

My wife is pretty good about doing the same thing. She can make something out of nothing. I've complained enough that now she writes down her steps every time she gets creative, because I always end up liking it and wishing for it again. So she's building her own 'from scratch' recipes collection. It's great!