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Crockpot cooking for college kids: Tess' Sweet and Hot Slow Cooked Spanish Pork

by Chef Stephanie Petersen

GMAZ segment by Kaley O'Kelley

Posted on August 5, 2014 at 7:29 PM

PHOENIX -- College kids are really getting into the slow cooker meals. They're easy to learn, great for the student just starting out, and chock full of healthy goodness.

Check out an easy recipe you can teach your college-bound student.

Ingredients
3 lb boneless pork carnitias (or a boneless pork loin, cut into cubes)
2 tsp dry ancho chile,
2 tsp dry Mexican oregano
1 tsp whole cumin,
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup lime juice plus zest of one lime
1/2 cup sun dried tomato julienne
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
Salsa and sour cream (optional)

Directions
In a spice mill, combine the ancho chile, oregano,and cumin seed.Grind until a fine powder is achieved. Spread the spice mixture over the carnitas (pork). Drizzle with honey.

Add the lime and sun dried tomato. Put it in the crock pot on low 5-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.

Meat will be very tender. Thanks to the tomato and lime juice for the acid that breaks down the meat to make it so divine. You can leave it in chunks or shred it, depending on your preference. It's so tender it easily shreds with a fork.

How to freeze food safely and effectively 101

Buy quality fresh ingredients: Freezing will not cover up inferior cooking or ingredients. Check the flavors and seasoning before freezing to be sure it tastes good.

Chill first: Make sure food is cold before you freeze it! This allows it to freeze faster and reduces the amount of drip loss (leakage of moisture that occurs during defrosting) the ice crystal will be smaller in chilled food, reducing the amount of water lost. The result is better texture and flavor. It will also reduce the amount of condensation (moisture that collects on the surface of food when frozen) when defrosted, the excess water will make the food soggy and tasteless.

Chill cooked food uncovered: If you can't bag and chill in labeled bags, it is essential that the food is chilled uncovered so the heat isn't kept in the container (even plastic wrap!) If it's a large pot of chili or meat, I freeze bottles of water and put them inside the pot to further hasten the drop of internal temperature.

Freeze small: The smaller the item, the quicker it will freeze. Whenever possible, freeze in pint or quart-sized name brand freezer bags. Gallon size is perfect for pizza crusts and larger family sizes. I use quart-sized for my family of four. When you freeze it, do so with the bag laid out flat-- the increased surface area will not only freeze faster, but also be easier to store in stacks. I have a "freezer file" that I use. It's an ice bin that I put the flat bags in just like files I can flip through!

"Open" freeze smaller items: Smaller items like berries and cooked potato wedges can be placed on a parchment lined sheet pan (metal is best because of its temperature conducting qualities). Using this method will keep these smaller items from freezing in a block. I use it for twice baked potatoes and blanched vegetables.

Wrap well: Squeeze out as much air as possible and label food clearly with permanent marker. Include defrosting and cooking instructions so anyone can cook it later (my husband needs it clearly marked to remove the ingredients from the bag before microwaving!) Preventing freezer burn is the key! There is nothing wrong with using two bags. I always use the name brand bags. If the store brand is used it needs to be double bagged anyway, so it is worth the cost of the quality bags. If able to use the specially made vacuum sealers and the freezer bags with them, it is a good investment.

Watch freezer temperature: On big freezing days, it is essential to check the temperature, as well as checking periodically to be sure the freezer stays cold on other days. Keep a freezer thermometer in the freezer. It should be between 0-30° Fahrenheit. If you are placing a large quantity of food in the freezer at once, turn the thermostat to the coldest setting until food is frozen.

Follow defrosting recommendations: It is best to defrost in the fridge or microwave. Do not defrost at room temperature because microorganisms like yeast, mold, and bacteria multiply quickly at temperatures above 40 degrees. It may still feel cool to you, but is a breeding ground for food-borne illness--don't take chances! Cook defrosted food soon and chill leftovers as soon as possible.

For more information, additional recipes and details about classes, check out ChefTessBakeresse.com.
 

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