Mango Habanero Salsa

Whenever I want a salsa with some more fire to it, I look to habaneros. They are super hot, but I find it doesn’t linger and really gives a great flavor to a salsa. They are now one of my favorite peppers.

So, my go to used to be this salsa chiltomate from the BBQ Bible. Basically it was roasted tomatoes and peppers and then blend them down. Then I found this recipe from Chili Pepper Madness and I found it had even more flavor…the difference being that it is basically cooking down the tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic, really melding the flavors.

The only difference when I make it is I like to add a little mango to the recipe right at the end which cools it off a little bit and freshens it up I think even more…enough that you can even eat it as is just with chips and not completely scorch your mouth.

Anyway, the ingredients are here:

  • Tomatoes
  • Habanero peppers
  • Yellow Onion
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Lime Juice
  • Orange juice
  • Salt
  • Oregano
  • Black Pepper
  • Mango

For the how to, follow the Chili Pepper Madness recipe and then right at the end add in some mango (don’t cook it down) and give it all few pulses on the blender…not too much, so you leave some decent chunks of mango in it. Or change it up…peaches or maybe even pineapple might work.

Jardin de Puebla Cocktail

There is a fantastic restaurant that we visited this Summer in Bend, OR called Spork. They had some of the most fantastic foods and drinks that it was too hard to decide on just one thing. However, my favorites were their Carnitas Sando and to wash it down this beautiful bright orange Jardin de Puebla cocktail. I gathered up some ingredients to re-create it and this is how it went:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz Jose Cuervo
  • 3/4 oz Ancho Reyes VERDE (not regular Ancho Reyes, the Verde has a whole different flavor to it)
  • 1/2 oz Celery Drinking vinegar…couldn’t find this, so had to make it, and this recipe worked well
  • Lemon juice from half a lemon
  • 2 oz Carrot juice
  • Salt and pepper on the rim

It was a bit challenging finding the Ancho Reyes Verde, but now that I have found it and tasted it all by itself, I get it and will use it much more often…it adds a wonderful poblano chile flavor. Just the color alone of this drink makes it different than anything else you will probably make and should be added to your arsenal as it’s divine. Enjoy and if you get a chance try the real deal at Spork…it’s worth it!

On Giving Advice

“Wisdom is the ability to take your own advice” Sam Harris

Realize that giving advice from your own personal experience or autobiography will create much better engagement. Speaking from a pedestal never turns out well.

If asked for advice, you really need to gauge how serious the requester is. Are they just asking in hopes of getting some validation or in opening up a complaining dialogue? Do they really want detailed, specific advice? A great question I saw from Ramit Sethi was this…”How serious are you?”. Then listen closely to the answer. Anything short of “I’m ready and will do anything you say” means they aren’t ready…just tell them they are doing great and move on.

The flip side of this is to also be careful with requests for help to others. Some say, “It never hurts to ask”, but this isn’t true. If you ask someone for a favor and put them in an uncomfortable position, they may not help you and may avoid you at all costs to avoid being further “uncomfortabilized”…new word! If you must ask, follow the “Give, Give, Give, and Give Some More” policy.

Spork (Bend, OR) Carnitas Sando Re-Creation

We had a great vacation this past Summer to Oregon & Washington and in the process stopped at the most fantastic restaurant in Bend, OR called Spork. It was so good, we went there twice! My favorite thing on the menu was a carnitas sandwich (the “Carnitas Sando”) that I promised myself I would do my best to re-create when I got home.  I made some changes to the original mostly because the ingredients were not easy to come by (see how many stores in your area sell Yucca chips). Anyway, it only took me 2 months to do it (Ha!), but here it is in all it’s glory with my little slice of variation on it:

Ingredients:

Directions:

I put the bread in the oven, pulled it out when mostly done, got the egg frying in a skillet, and got another hot skillet going at the same time w/ a little olive oil in it. I then started assembling all of the rest of the ingredients above onto the sandwich bread put the whole thing onto the hot skillet and put another pot on top of the sandwich to get a good brown on the bottom of the bread…I flipped it after maybe 30 seconds and browned the other side. I took the whole thing off, opened it up, dropped my fried egg into it, gave it a good smash to get the beautiful yolk flowing all through it and then went to town!

One of the best sandwiches I’ve had in my entire life…you really should try the real deal at Spork…thanks for the inspiration!

 

Smoked Pulled Pork

This is a love story…a labor of love story. One of my favorite things to indulge in is any variety of slow cooked pork, whether it be a pulled pork, carnitas, chile verde, etc. The pork itself is super moist and flavorful, but it also marrys so well with everything…cabbage or coleslaw, pickled onion or jalapeno, salsas, bbq sauce, etc, etc, and can be eaten alone, in a salad, on a sandwich, whatever. So, whenever I can tackle a nice pork butt or shoulder, I love to jump right in, but I really love to do it on the smoker as it imparts some great smoky flavor and gives me a really nice bark on the exterior.

The challenge here however is TIME…this is not a fast process, you need up to 14 hours to make this work, hence the labor of love. If that ain’t you, there are many other ways of tackling it…crock pot, pressure cooker, etc. and they are equally moist and tender, but you will be missing the smoky, barky element as well as the piece I rather enjoy which is the old school feeling of it…I use a tiny 14″ Weber Smokey Mountain smoker and love the element of striking a balance between coals, hickory, water, etc all to make it work…labor of love it is! Amazingly, you can fit 2 giant butts on this thing (almost 20lbs) and because of it’s small size, it really surrounds everything in smoke…not a lot of room for anything else.

Anyhow, here are 3 recipes I have used and love them all, although I am now bought in to the injection method ahead of time and really love the peach variation below from Big Bob Gibson:

Ingredients:

First and foremost, 1 6-to-8lb bone in pork butt

Dry rub:

  • 1 tbspn dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbspn sugar
  • 1 tbspn paprika
  • 2 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn garlic salt
  • 1 tspn black pepper
  • 3/4 tspn chili powder
  • 1/4 tspn celery salt
  • 1/4 tspn ground cumin
  • 1/4 tspn cayenne pepper

Injection

  • 3/4 cup peach juice (This calls for draining a can of peach juice, but I found nothing but peaches in syrup, etc, so I used a bottle of peach nectar I found and it was devine!)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbspn salt
  • 1 tbspn worcestershire sauce

First and foremost, I trimmed the pork butt of most of the fat on the top…many argue it you are removing the best part that will drip down through the pork butt as it cooks, but I still leave a thin layer and the pork butt itself has enough fat that it will be just fine. The main reason I do this is because the best part of this method is the bark on the outside and if the bark is just covering a giant layer of fat, it is going to get thrown away anyway.

Next, combine all the injection ingredients and mix until the sugar dissolves. Then, using a meat syringe, inject ingredients into the butt at 1 inch intervals from the top. After that, rub your butt down (Yeah, I said it!), wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.

Now, wake up at the crack of dawn and get to smokin’…do as your smoker requires…you really want to try and stay in the 250F range and want to try and get it to 190F internal temp before you take it off. Sometimes getting to 190F can be a challenge (this is called “the stall” in BBQ circles)…a shortcut I’ve implored when I just had to have it done in time for an event, etc. is to take it off and wrap it up in tin foil…this hold the heat and will help you get up to your temp (again, some may scoff, but if you are in a jam, gotta do what you gotta do).

Now, remove your butt (Ha!) and let it rest up to an hour. Put on some well insulated gloves, grab a firm hold of the bone and give it a slight tug and it should just slide right out…you slayed it! Then, get to pullin’, add sauce, make into sandwiches, whatever.

Sassy Spicy Pickled Red Onion

Let’s start by saying that I’ve never pickled anything in my life, while at the same time I love me some pickled onions, jalapenos, sweet peppers, cucumbers, etc. One thing that I love and haven’t ever found on the shelf is pickled red onions, so I thought I’d give a go at making them myself. I’ve been looking for a good recipe and have tried a bunch of different ones that have been mediocre and some that have really stunk up the house (boiled vinegar and onions wreaks!). This recipe however changed all that. Ingredients are here:

• Red onion
• 1 Cup of apple cider vinegar
• 1/2 Cup of water
• 1 Tbspn of sugar
• 2 tsps of salt
• 1 tspn of whole peppercorns
• 1-2 pinches of red pepper flakes
• 1 bay leaf

For the how to, check this out on Imperfectly Happy… pickled red onions with a little spicy sass to them…nice one Tiffany!

These go amazing on everything…tacos, burgers, eggs, etc. etc. I find myself just eating them all by themselves…damn good! Enjoy!

Put in the Work

“We don’t rise to the level of our hopes, we fall to the level of our training” – Archilogus

It is true that everybody wants a gold medal, but few want to wake up at 5:00am, run stairs, and sacrifice other pleasures to get there. Sun Tzu says “victory is reserved for those willing to pay its price”…basically, if you want to achieve something in this world, what in return are you willing to give up? It’s not just about focusing on the one thing that you want to be great at, but about not doing the other 10 things you want to do that are a distraction.

Maybe think about it in these terms as well… “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek. Too many people sit around waiting for their big break to come without putting in the work ahead of time…they have things in the wrong order…instead put in the work day in and day out, and when that big break comes you will be ready…be prepared for your moment! Success is where preparation and opportunity meet, but you have to see the opportunity when it presents itself and seize on it.

Understand too that “work hard, play hard” is important too…you can’t just pound away every day without some glimmer of joy along the way too…make sure you take the time to smell the roses and recharge wherever it is you find that joy.

Also, make sure you have a plan and a proper feedback loop (mentor or coach) as you put in your 10,000 hours of practice…you need to be practicing the right things and in the right way, or you are just wasting your time. I wrote a previous post…”The learning process: from novice to master” that covers how to go about it. Also, as you practice, take a hint from master Bruce Lee…

“I am more afraid of the person that has practiced the one kick a 1,000 times than the person who has practiced 1,000 kicks once”…depth is critical.

For some additional reading and for when competition finally arises to meet you on your journey, check out a previous post I did on dealing with competition.