Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rockin Roasted Red Peppers

Last week, I found a recipe for grilled garlic steaks with a yummy roasted red pepper sauce.  I have a new found appreciation and fondness for red peppers.  I never liked them, or any pepper for that matter.  Recently, however, I've started to like them.  I'll eat them raw with some dip, or chop them up in a salad.  I've also realized how delicious they are when they are roasted. Buying them in a pretty jar looks cute, however, they are surprisingly expensive!

I decided that paying $10 a jar was ridiculous... so I decided to make them myself. I'd worked at various restaurants for years, so I've seen the makings of many roasted red peppers.  Here we go:

Rockin Roasted Red Peppers


* Red peppers - I used 2, but use as many as you want :)

First, I turned the oven to 350.  I washed the red peppers and then dried them off.  Next, I just threw them in the oven.  You could also throw them on the grill or a gas stove if you wanted to. 

Keep an eye on the peppers because you don't want to forget about these babies in the oven.... that won't give us roasted red peppers, that would result in a charred, dry mess.  After a few minutes, you will see the skin of the pepper start to blister and turn dark brown.

As you keep an eye on the peppers, rotate them.  When one side is blistered, then flip it on the other side so that it can blister evenly. 

Keep rotating them again until each side is nice and blistered.  

Once the peppers come out of the oven, immediately put them in a plastic bag.  Seal the bag right away because you want these peppers to steam.

Leave them in the bag for at least 10-15 minutes.  This will steam them, making sure that the peppers turn nice and soft. 

When they come out, they will look somewhat deflated.  But this is good! Let them cool a bit so you can handle them. 

Now that they are cooled, you just peel them.  It's pretty easy to do.  The peel feels almost like paper and the pepper itself is really soft, so it just slides off easily. 

Just take your time and peel all of the skin off the pepper.  You don't want to leave the peel on because it won't taste good at all.... the texture will be off too.

Once they are peeled, just cut them in half so you can remove the stem and the seeds. 

So here you have these yummy roasted red peppers! It was super easy, cheap, and fast.  I used these babies to saute with onions and garlic, then I topped a nice steak with them - super yummy!  You can puree them with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a roasted red pepper vinaigrette.  You could put them on a salad.  You could even chop them up and stuff them into a chicken breast with some feta and oregano. The possibilities are endless!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Roasted Pork - Pernil al Horno

As you may have noticed, I've been a bit MIA recently.  Life has been super busy! I was taking 2 night grad school classes on top of working full time as a teacher.  Sooo, between taking classes and teaching classes, I've been super busy.  On top of that, Curt and I have some exciting news!  Our little family of 3 (two plus pup) is growing!  In October, we'll be welcoming in a new little bundle of joy.  Needless to say, being pregnant in my first trimester did not make any of the above any easier!

Luckily, I haven't had any morning sickness, but I did have a lot of food aversions.  I would make a big meal and be excited about it, but when it came time to eat the food... I just couldn't stomach it.  I tried to stay as
 paleo as possible, but at the same time,  I needed to eat.  A lot of my meals consisted of white rice and potatoes.  The more bland the food, the better.  With the first trimester behind me, I'm starting to feel better and hopefully go back to paleo as much as possible.

Anyway, today being Easter, we had some friends from church over for a big lunch/dinner.  I love having friends over... the more the merrier.  I was trying to figure out what to make.  Being preggers... I'm not supposed to eat red meat unless it's well done- I don't know about you, but I like my steaks medium rare.... I'd rather not have it be well done and taste like a hockey puck... sooo... steaks and burgers were out.  I found a nice 5 lb pork shoulder roast at Whole Foods and decided to figure out a recipe for that.  It turned out to be delicious and perfect for a group!  Here's the version of:

Pernil al Horno

Pernil is a Puerto Rican roasted pork marinated with vinegar and herbs and slowly roasted until it is oozing with flavors! I found this recipe here and pretty much followed it with only a few minor changes - I know, I know... I almost never do that :)

 * 1 boneless pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt) with skin on - mine was 5 lbs
* 6 fresh garlic cloves minced
* 1 handful of fresh oregano
* 1 tbs of Kosher salt for every lb of meat
* 1 tbs freshly ground black pepper
* 3 tbs of olive oil
* 2 tbs white wine vinegar

First, I minced the fresh oregano and the garlic.  I'm sure you could probably use dried oregano, but I think fresh is so much better.  It was pretty simple.  Just chop up everything until it is really as small as possible and mix it up together and chop them together.

Next, I put oregano and garlic in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Here, you just mix it all up until it forms a sort of oily paste.

Next, you need to put the roast, fat side up, on a cutting board.  I scored the top of the meat so the marinade will reach further into the meat and really infuse the taste much better.  Scoring the fat also helps to make a crunchy crust on top.  Then, I rubbed the paste all over the pork.  Make sure you rub the marinade so it all gets into the cuts.  After that, I put the roast on a plate and wrapped it in plastic wrap.  It's supposed to marinade for at least 3 hours, but I marinated it overnight.

The next morning, I pulled the roast out and set it on a roasting rack over a baking sheet.  You have to wait 30 minutes while it comes to room temperature.  Because you want it to cook evenly, you don't want to put it in the oven cold.  While I waited, I went ahead and preheated the oven to 350.  Once it came to the right temperature, I threw it in the oven for 3 hours... yup... 3 hours!  If your roast is not exactly the same size, you can always use a meat thermometer to make sure it's cooked through to your liking.  Just make sure that the internal temperature is around 145.

It sounds like a long time, but it was definitely worth the wait!  While it was roasting, I could hear the sizzle of the juices dripping onto the baking sheet.  The whole house started smelling delicious!  The pernil came out looking amazing.  There was a nice crunchy crust on top.  Now here's the hard part.  Leave it alone for 10 minutes!  If you start cutting into it now, the juices will leak out everywhere and you'll lose a lot of moisture. 

After the agonizing 10 minutes, I started slicing the roast into nice slices.  I placed them on a serving platter so no one had to take the time to slice their own portion. 

The best part of the whole thing is that all of the yummy juices collected in the baking pan.  After the whole roast was sliced and nestled nicely on my serving tray, I poured all of the tasty juices over the pork slices.  This just added a bit of extra flavor and moisture.  Why waste it?!

Overall, this was a delicious meal!  It was very tasty and tender.  I was able to cut my slices with a butter knife.  Everyone seemed to like it too :)  I also have lots of leftovers, so I'm pretty excited about it.  The best part was that I was able to eat it... no food aversions... so our little baby peanut (that's what we call it) approves!