The other night, I was prepping dinner and I was following a recipe. I actually rarely follow recipes. I consider them “suggestions” or jumping off points in most cases. I read a lot of blogs and google a lot of recipes so it is often mishmash of an “adapted from.” Following recipes can be stressful and it takes even longer! You might be surprised how quickly I can whip something up if I’m not blogging it!
Things were going well, then going poorly, and it was crazy. Part smelled really good but the other part seized up. I burned my hand (not badly, don’t worry mom!) and almost dropped the entire cast-iron skillet (which contained the entire meal). The external flash I nab from Mr. J wasn’t working, I chose a pan a bit too small, and the pup was underfoot.
While all of this was happening, I was rocking out to my kitchen radio the previous owners of the house so kindly left. Kelly Clarkson’s “oldie” “Beautiful Disaster” came on. How appropriate for this meal?! It was seeming like just that.
from Rachael Ray Magazine
1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups boiling water
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon corn oil or EVOO
1/3 pound mexican chorizo (raw) or chopped spanish chorizo (cured) (I nixed this since my store only sells spicy and Mr. J doesn’t love lots of heat)
4 slices bacon, finely chopped (I nixed this too since I planned another meal with bacon and figured we’d be fine without it)
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped (I used dried)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander (about 1/2 palmful)
1 small onion, chopped
3 – 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup beer
1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles, drained (I used fresh)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
Cilantro leaves and sliced scallions, for garnishing (I chopped arugula I had instead)
Directions (in Rachael Ray’s words)
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk. Whisk in the cornmeal, then whisk in the boiling water and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until very thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the butter and honey.
Preheat the broiler. Meanwhile, in a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the chorizo and bacon and render the fat for 3 minutes. Stir in the pork and cook, crumbling the meat, until browned, about 8 minutes.
Season with the thyme, chili powder, coriander, salt and pepper. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften. Stir in the beer to deglaze for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes to heat through.
Spoon the thick cornmeal over the pan and spread evenly. Top with the cheddar and brown under the broiler for 2 minutes. Serve from the skillet, garnished with the cilantro and scallions.
So, check out what happens when you read the first step and overlook the fact that the water should be boiling water. In the time it took to heat the water (after adding the cornmeal to the milk) it totally seized up. I was going to dump it and start over but I was feeling especially determined. I whisked as much as I could once the water was finally boiling. Seriously though, milk and cornmeal are cheap ingredients and wouldn’t have set me back.
After all that I bet you’re wondering how it was. It was good, not amazing. I think the chorizo and bacon would add a bit more flavor. We joked it was Pork-Liker’s Tamale Pie rather than Pork-Lover’s Tamale Pie since I omitted 2 of the 3 porks. I used fresh tomatoes and think canned would have boosted the flavor too. That’s quite the creative licensing given the fact that I said I was following the recipe.
I liked the cornmeal topping and I appreciated that this wasn’t a million ingredients. It reheated surprisingly well too. It was a fun and I was glad to have a different Mexican meal for a change.