The heavenly weather of temperatures hovering in the high 70s and low 80s of the last few weeks have increasingly given me one thought: It’s hammock time!
Life in the food service industry can be quite grueling with the long hours and high stress, so when the opportunity arises to be lazy, you gotta go for it. It’s a very simple recipe: First, head to the back yard and jump in the hammock. Next, crank up the Spotify. And last, savor a cold beer and let the day pass you by.
Only one problem—I’m hungry! A day off without an epic meal is “no bueno.” My dilemma? I need to get in as much precious hammock time as possible and still nosh like a champion.
The first thought that comes to mind is: Let’s grill, baby! Brilliant. That hot fire and quick cooking time should really do the trick, right? Wrong again, shoemaker.
The proper grilling technique requires several things, none of which lend themselves to an enjoyable and spontaneous “day of” activity. First, you must marinate or brine your proteins; for best results, this should be executed the night before. Who knew you were going to attempt the hammock maneuver the day before? And grilling is really a full-contact sport. It’s man against fire, with lots of side dishes involved. Ya know that’s way too hard. There’s absolutely no way I’ll be able to find that much motivation after several hours of hammocking.
Next idea: How about a braise? Now we’re talking! Just one pot that requires very little maintenance, maybe a salad and some lovely jasmine rice via the chime-o-matic rice cooker. That should make the day a tad more manageable.
I Cheffed Up my last hammock day with Chili Colorado. The succulence of slowly braised pork butt with slightly spicy, fruity green chilis and tart tomatillos is the perfect ending to a challenging day of relaxation. And best of all, the technique is super low-key. First, season your cubed pork butt. Next, put all of your vegetables under the broiler to char them a little. This adds a nice smoky flavor. Quickly sear the pork and coarsely puree the vegetables. Combine these in a pot with a little broth and bring the pot to a slow simmer. Place the pot in a slow oven and allow the ingredients to create a little flavor magic. This will take a few hours, during which the awesome aromas will intoxicate the senses, or was that the beer? At the end of the process, you will truly nosh like a champion, with no stress and very little effort.
Chef Bill’s Chili Colorado
- 2 lbs. pork butt, cut in 2-inch cubes
- 1 Tbs chipotle
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
- 5 poblano chilis, stemmed, seeded and cut in half
- 2 lbs. tomatillos, husked
- 3 Serrano chilis, stemmed, seeded and cut in half
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 oz. white wine
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth or as needed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bacon fat, lard, or vegetable oil as needed
- Season the pork with the chipotle, coriander, cumin, allspice and S&P.
- Rub the vegetables with oil. Place on a sheet pan and broil until charred.
- When the vegetables have cooled slightly, remove most of the skin.
- Sear the pork pieces in the fat you chose, over medium heat.
- Coarsely puree vegetables with cilantro in a food processor.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add vegetable mixture and broth. The consistency should be between a soup and a stew.
- Bring to a simmer and place in a 325˚ oven. Let braise for 1 hour then check to see if more broth is needed. Continue to braise for 1-2 hours until pork is tender.
- Adjust the seasoning.
Until we cook again,
Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of The Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at firstname.lastname@example.org to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!