Green goodness – Instant Pot Chicken Chile Verde

I didn't use the avocados, but they're attention hogs and wanted in the photo.

I didn’t use the avocados, but they’re attention hogs and wanted in the photo.

I’ve used my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker more times since it arrived after Black Friday than any other kitchen appliance I own, save my crock pot and rice cooker. And since my Instant Pot can both slow cook and steam rice, those two appliances are on their way to storage!

I’ve found that my IP is a savior when it comes to making chicken broth, as it drastically reduces the cooking time.  I use a good deal of broth for various recipes, and the act of slow simmering chicken bones, cartilage, skin and meat with herbs and vegetable trimmings for a very long time is something I normally plan for, free up a weekend day in order to accomplish.  Now I have stock in less than an hour, and can freeze it for later use.

I’ve played around with recipes I found online, and have come to the conclusion that some are best left to long cooking on the stove top (I’m looking at you, French Onion Soup). Some recipes are perfect for pressure cooking, though, and pot roast is one, or simply boiling eggs if making a lot for egg salad or deviled eggs, or if you’re Paleo and eat a lot of them.  Baked sweet potatoes take 10 minutes, less time than microwaving large ones.  Fresh Southern-style green beans with onion, garlic and bacon or ham always take longer to cook than expected, unless you use a pressure cooker, and are happily eating them in 20 minutes or so. One recipe I found was so good that it’s already become a regular on my list of weeknight suppers. Thank you, Serious Eats and J. Kenji López-Alt, for the absolutely perfect recipe for Green Chile with Chicken.

So delicious!

So delicious!

This recipe is perfect as written, which is the unicorn of recipes. I rarely, if ever use a recipe that I don’t tweak in some way. Not this one. Nuh uh. Nope. The only concession I’ll make is that if you don’t want to go to the trouble of roasting whole cumin seeds and then grinding them, then don’t. Use fresh pre-ground, and be happy about it because it will be just fine. This is the only recipe for an electric pressure cooker that I’ve found so far that doesn’t call for adding liquid, as the veggies and chicken make their own as they heat. It takes about 10 minutes to make enough liquid and heat up enough to come to pressure, and then the chicken cooks for 15 minutes. Last night I did a manual dec-pressuring instead of letting the pot naturally de-pressurize, so I could cool the chicken while blending the soup to a smooth texture. Shred the chicken, throw it back in and call everyone to the table!

Because my second grade son is obviously a changeling, and too picky to eat this dinner, my husband and I enjoy a generous bowlful with a bit of sour cream, thinly sliced fresh jalapeno peppers, and a sprinkle of cilantro.  The chicken chile verde enchiladas we make with the leftovers are almost more delectable than the stew, with monterey jack and white american cheese adding a lush richness and Tex Mex flavor. Try this recipe, Instant Pot friends. It’s a winner. What’s your favorite pressure cooker recipe?

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Eatin’ good in my S. Austin ‘hood

Image credit to Moreland Properties for this informative map.

Image credit to Moreland Properties for this informative map.

My neighborhood in far South Austin offers some pretty great restaurants, and some pretty lousy ones. And sometimes all about knowing what to order.  For example, a Chinese restaurant might offer an excellent spicy stir fry, but the rest of the menu is meh, just average.  I love to ask people not just where to eat, but what to order when I eat there. I file the suggestions away in my food-obsessed brain, for when I need one.  Here is a baker’s dozen of my favorite things to order at restaurants in and/or near my ‘hood.

Casa Garcia has its own tortillería up front, and my son loves to watch them make hot off the comal tortillas.

Casa Garcia has its own tortilleria up front, and my son loves to eat the fresh tortillas, still warm from the comal they were cooked on.

1. Barbacoa tacos from Casa Garcia on Manchaca at William Cannon. Flavorful shredded meat, not soaked in grease, and their flour tortillas are made in house. When I give in to my barbacoa craving, I go to Casa Garcia.

2. Bean & cheese tacos from La Posada at Westgate & Wm Cannon. I’m pretty sure they do ’em right, making them with lard. Shredded American cheese gives it the Tex Mex flavor, and the tortillas are, I think, made in house. Life is too short to eat an inferior tortilla. Those packaged flour tortillas with the slightly off taste that you find in most grocery stores (and at Taco Bell) are purely disgusting. You shouldn’t taste a hint of shortening, or oil, or a preservative/chemical undertone. :::shudder:::

What you see here is two very different forms of relaxation.

What you see here is two very different forms of relaxation.

3. Power Bowl Lite from Maudie’s on Brodie & Slaughter. This is the best dang “diet food” in the Tex Mex world, a generous bowl of rice, lettuce, shredded monterey jack cheese, sliced avocado, black beans and pico de gallo. It’s under 500 calories! That means I can justify my margarita. I also love that they have wifi, and my son can enjoy his preferred method of relaxation which involves blowing things up in one of his video games. Bonus: kids’ cups with lids.

4. I was very happy when Madam Mam’s opened on Brodie & Slaughter.  Try the Guay Teaw Tom Yum Moo – a spicy pork broth soup with your choice of rice stick or bean thread noodles, chili paste, jalapenos, ground/chopped peanuts, ground pork, sliced pork, fish balls, imitation crab and lime. It will cure what ails you!

5. The roasted garlic appetizer at NXNW on Slaughter at Mopac defines my love for the stinking rose. If you revel in the rich, sweet flavor of roasted garlic, this app is for you. It comes with goat cheese, and black pepper crostini. I like it with a cold glass of Okanagon, their malty black ale. It’s also great with their seasonal Splintercat stout. If you’re a fan of stout beer, their bourbon barrel and rum barrel aged Splintercat stouts are divine.

6. Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ on Brodie in the Brodie Mart (or Die Mart, if the sign lights are malfunctioning, as they often do. I find it morbidly hilarious to see it lit up Die Mart on a dark, stormy night) parking lot — if you haven’t yet had The Real Deal Holyfield breakfast taco, go get one, as soon as possible. It’s a fried egg, refried beans, potato, bacon and either pulled pork or brisket (get the brisket, or heck, one of each) on a homemade flour tortilla with serrano salsa. Serious breakfast food, seriously delicious.

7. Phonatic at Southpark Meadow’s Salt & Pepper Tofu is a bean curd dish that even my meat & potatoes husband will eat. Little crispy cubes of tofu, fried shallots, and jalapenos might sound boring, but they aren’t at all. Surprisingly tasty! #PhonaticFanatic

Boiled crawfish, corn and potatoes from Stuffed Cajun on Brodie Lane.

Boiled crawfish, corn and potatoes from Stuffed Cajun on Brodie Lane.

8. Stuffed Cajun on Brodie near 290/71 has very good fried oyster poboys on bread from Gambino’s bakery in New Orleans. (Poboy bread is important. It should be soft yet dense, with a little chew but not crusty so that it scrapes the roof of your mouth.) I always order remoulade sauce with mine, and it takes me back to the years I spent living in Louisiana. I always buy andouille for my red beans & rice from Stuffed, since their sausages are top notch. Their boudain tastes exactly like it should, and takes me back to my college years when a dollar would buy me a link of the spicy ground pork, rice, and green onion sausage from a gas station on the edge of LSU’s campus. Good times. Geaux Tigers!

Kerbey Lane Cafe's Pork Belly Francisco rocked my world one morning.

Kerbey Lane Cafe’s Pork Belly Francisco rocked my world one morning.

9. Kerbey Lane Cafe always has a seasonal menu. One of the stars right now is the Pork Belly Francisco, a take off on eggs benedict, with queso in place of hollandaise. It’s a decadent, savory, satisfying meal. Did you know they’re selling their famous queso (including a vegan version) in Whole Foods now?

10. A little far out, but the hamburgers at Jack Allen’s Kitchen are well worth the drive past the Y and down a bit on 71. My current favorite is the Fat Jack, a thick, juicy meat patty with bacon, cheddar cheese, onion, dill pickle, jalapeno mayo and hickory sauce. I get the sweet potato fries, which comes with aioli to dip into instead of ketchup. All their burgers are outstanding, and they have a Gluten-Free menu (ask for it). We eat earlier rather than later, since we have a 7 year old son, and that means I usually get to enjoy happy hour pricing on a glass of good wine with my meal. I like to pair my burger with a tempranillo, and JAK obliges with Becker Tempranillo by the glass.

11. Via 313 rocks the pizza out! I’m usually a thin crust fan but I’ll devour this crispy edged delicious Detroit-style deep dish any time I can get it. I love The Cadillac, a pie made with gorgonzola, fig preserves, prosciutto, and parmesan cheese, drizzled with a balsamic glaze. Mmmm!

12. Crema Bakery & Cafe on Brodie is a cute little shop with both sweet and savory delights. Order the Chipotle Carnitas Breakfast Quesadilla. It’s a meal that will get you through even a Monday, and you know how I feel about Mondays.

13. Menudo isn’t the soup for everyone, but for those of us who love it, make sure you stop in at Taqueria La Escondida #3, on Ben White between Manchaca and S. 1st Street. If you have a non-menudo fan (cue an instant mental image of Ricky Martin), they’ll be content with the migas plate, or the selection of breakfast taco fillings.

If you’re my neighbor and I left off a favorite, leave me a comment and let me know. Let’s taco ’bout it!

Categories: Austin, Breakfast, Buy Local, Dinner, Lunch, South Austin, Texas Craft Beer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Knock, knock. “Who’s there?” Aida.

Photo credit to Farbs01

Photo credit to Farbs01.

Knock, knock
“Who’s there?”
“Aida.”
“Aida big piece of watermelon!”

While parts of our nation are enjoying brisk 40, 50 and sweet 60-degree fall temps, Texas is, as usual, sweltering. We’re in the high 90’s, with cooler weather nowhere in sight, and chilled watermelon is the perfect treat.

Watermelon, that quintessential summer fruit, is available in Central Texas from May through November, according to this handy dandy produce availability chart from the folks at Go Texan.  When I was mulling over side dishes for my father’s 82nd birthday barbecue, watermelon was on my mind.  Not only would I have two picky eatin’ children underfoot laughing and spreading joy and sweet chaos around the ranch, but adults who had possibly grown bored by the usual side dishes. Most of the US thinks of barbecues as a hot weather event.  Our summers run roughly March through December, and a long time ago we collectively threw our hands in the air in surrender and declared that barbecue is in season all year long. It’s about the only time Texas willingly surrendered to anything.

I chose to make a watermelon, feta and mint salad, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. It’s easy, quick, and intensely flavorful. I’ve always liked combinations of salty and sweet. For the littles, I cut triangles of watermelon, and sent them outdoors, as they were begging for food when lunch was still an hour away. “We’re staaaarving!”

My father made his inaugural brisket on his new Orion smoker, which delivers on its advertised claim of cutting down traditional smoking timeframes. I predict one will appear on my back porch, soon. I also kind of like that it looks like a still, not a smoker. Hmmm…a watermelon moonshine cocktail sounds delicious, doesn’t it? I know the clean, crisp ‘shine and sweet fruit would pair well with smoky, fatty brisket. And his brisket was divine, with its fork-tender lean portion, and succulent, juicy, fatty part.

It was a watermelon weekend, with brisket, birthday cake, target practice, dune buggy v. tractor races, a lot of love, laughter and fun. I hope your weekend was as good as mine.

 

 

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