Chipotle & Black Bean Hash, and Griddled Corn with Lime Aioli

IMG_20130527_180246

Well, well – it’s been a while, and I’m sorry! I’m finally back in Boston, and it’s been mad – since I’ve been back, we’ve had a friend and then my sister visiting, and been away to New York for a few days. Hectic.

So, to make it up to you, here’s not one, but two recipes – both based in different ways on dishes from two restaurants I love in Boston.

IMG_20130527_175449

While our friend Ben was visiting, we went for dinner at Redbones BBQ in Davis Square, which is a great restaurant with both great food and a really fun atmosphere. For the uninitiated among you, BBQ here is not what you do in your garden (in the rain) in England, but rather a way of preparing and cooking meat – more as in BBQ sauce/seasoning. What you do in your garden is grilling – and what you do under the grill is broiling… Keeping up?

IMG_20130527_175603

We had a great meal, and left with a pile of leftover smoked brisket and baby back ribs – so I decided to make hash with the leftovers. Hash is something I’ve only really discovered since moving to the States – in the UK, it is really associated with corned beef from a tin, and not particularly appetising. It was popular during and after WWII because fresh meat was not always readily available, and corned beef hash became an economical way to feed a family.

IMG_20130527_175757

Economical certainly – but not especially inspiring. So, imagine my delight to discover that over here, it is often on the menu with meat that has never been near a tin – either freshly made corned beef, or, even better in my opinion, leftover barbecue, pulled pork, brisket etc etc. What hasn’t changed from WWII days is that hash is still a very economical option – it is really best made with leftovers, and is a great way to use up leftover meat, especially if you have bits of different leftover meats from say a BBQ/grill. It’s also very versatile – the basic components are meat, potatoes and usually onions, but you can add lots of other things to it, as you wish. It’s great for any time of the day, and is often served for brunch with a fried egg on top (or for dinner with an egg on top…). For mine, I added some black beans, and some dried chipotle, which I thought went well with the leftover BBQ meat.

IMG_20130527_175219

To go alongside this, I recreated a dish from a fantastic tapas restaurant in Boston – Toro. It’s somewhere we love to eat, and in fact we first went on my very first trip to Boston – and have been back several times since. The food is amazing – encompassing all the old favourites, alongside more unusual offerings such as crispy pork belly with roasted pumpkin, crispy brussel sprouts, chantenay carrots and kimchi vegetables, or, our favourite last time, Kabayaki glazed beef short ribs with chilled farro, cucumbers, radish and hazelnuts.

IMG_20130527_175306

The food is immaculate – perfectly balanced and incredibly delicious; we have never had a bad plate there. However, as we were finishing our first visit, the table to one side of us were getting very excited over their soon-to-arrive order of grilled corn with alioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese. Dubbed ‘La Especialidad de la Casa’ on the menu, we had somehow missed this and asked what the fuss was about. The table next to us waxed lyrical, and we knew that on our next visit, we had to try the corn!

IMG_20130527_175347

We duly did – and it was fantastic. So, so simple, but incredibly delicious, and I have wanted to try to recreate it for a while at home. Mine wasn’t as good as Toro’s, of course, but I was pleased and it brought back great memories for us both!

IMG_20130527_175845

Chipotle & Black Bean Hash 
Serves 2

  • 2 large/3 medium potatoes, either raw or pre-cooked
  • Leftover meat – I used smoked brisket, baby back ribs, and roast pork
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 dried chipotle peppers, to taste, chopped
  • 1/2 tin black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup beef stock (you may not need all of this)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 eggs (optional)
  • Fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish

If using raw potatoes, cut into halves and place in a saucepan. Cover with cold water and add a little salt, then bring to the boil and simmer until fairly soft but not falling apart – 5-10 minutes. Drain the potatoes, and allow to cool until they’re cool enough to be handled. If using leftover potatoes, skip this step.

Cut the potatoes into small cubes. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and fry the potatoes until they begin to brown. Add the meat, onions, beans, chipotles and beef stock, and cook until the stock has reduced and the onions are soft. The potatoes should still be slightly crisp. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Just before the hash is finished, fry two eggs. Serve the hash, topped with a fried egg, and garnished with coriander.

Griddled Corn with Lime Aioli
Inspired by Toro’s Maíz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija
Serves 2

For the aioli:

  • 1 large/2 small egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used a mix of olive oil and canola oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed (use more or less to taste)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime, to taste
  • Salt and pepper

For the corn:

  • 2 corns on the cob, with husks
  • Grated cotija (or other South American hard cheese) to serve

Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until very hot. Place the corn in its husks on the griddle, and cook for around 15 minutes. Once the husks start to blacken, peel them back and put the corn back on the griddle until the kernels are slightly charred.

In the meantime, make the aioli. Place the egg yolks in a bowl and beat well with a whisk. Stir in the garlic. Gradually add the oil to the yolks in a thin stream, beating constantly. The mix should thicken and become creamy – you may not need all of the oil. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.

Serve the corn topped with aioli, grated cheese, and freshly ground black pepper.

When is a ham not a ham?

Here we are, post-Christmas, in that strange in-betweeny time before New Year. We had a wonderful Christmas – we awoke here in Boston to a snowy morning; not heavy snow, but snowfall nonetheless, and started the day with a walk through the snow, admiring the beauty of our surroundings in unprecedented quiet. We had champagne, and opened presents. We spoke to friends and family across the globe – a bizarre experience given the time difference. And we joined our favourite American family for a re-run of the previously mentioned Thanksgiving feasting. This time, it was beautiful rare roast beef – cooked to perfection, succulent and juicy, with mashed potato, gravy, salad, and a wonderful beany-noodle concoction which I forgot to ask about but which was, trust me, delicious.

As if we needed more food – we then invited the family to our house on Boxing Day, to try and reciprocate some of the kindness and delicious food they’ve offered us since we arrived. And it is here that this story really begins…

First of all, an apology – I had not intended to write about this dish, and so I took no photos. However, the experience of preparing this meal, and the results, were pretty tremendous, and I wanted to share with you, so I hope you will forgive the absence of pictures this time around.

Disclaimer over – I ask you a question: When is a ham not a ham?

A meal that I love, and one which we often have on Boxing Day at home, is a hot ham, glazed with English mustard and soft brown sugar. The ham is boiled first (leaving you with a delicious hammy stock), before being glazed with a paste made from sugar and English mustard powder and baked in the oven. It is a great way to feed a crowd, and you end up with great left-overs… So I thought this would be perfect for my Boxing Day meal this year.

I started to look for an uncooked ham in the stores – in the UK, this is very easy to buy in any supermarket or butcher’s, but here all I could find was pre-cooked ham. I could have bought this, and glazed and baked it, but I was hoping to have the stock – and I wanted to include the full recipe here. So I spoke to the guy on the butcher counter, explained what I was looking for, and he said they had one left in the store, and that it was 19lbs!! Well, I thought once we’ve fed seven of us, there will be leftovers, I can make soup, we can have sandwiches – pretty much perfect.

It was only after we got home that I looked properly at the label and realised it said ‘fresh ham’… that is… pork. Turns out, ‘ham’ is a cut of pig (the hind leg), which is often, but not always, cured. So the answer to the question is:  a ham is not a ham when it’s… a ham.

I hadn’t even thought to check this, because the only ham I’d even come across before was cured. This left me with a dilemma – and a huge leg of pork. In the end, I decided to go ahead, and started looking for a recipe for fresh ham – finally settling on this one from food network. I served this with Delia Smith’s traditional braised red cabbage with apples, cauliflower cheese, and roast potatoes.

I adapted it slightly – partly because I had a bigger joint of meat, partly because I wanted to try and crackle the skin, and partly because I wanted to adapt the flavour of the rub slightly. I was also concerned about the cider glaze being a bit too sweet, so I strained off the juices in the pan to use later for gravy before I glazed the meat, meaning the gravy had a meatier base. The recipe I’m giving you below is based on a very large piece of pork, in case you ever find yourself with a huge joint of meat and wondering what to do with it. However, if you want to use it for a smaller joint, you can follow the basic cooking times of 20 minutes in a hot oven (250C/475F) followed by 22-26 minutes per pound (450g) at 160C/325F. If you are using a meat thermometer, it should read between 160 & 165 at the end of the cooking time.

Roasted fresh ham with herb crust and cider glaze

Adapted from the foodnetwork.com

Serves… many.

Preparation time: around 40mins active preparation time + 8hrs soaking + 8hrs cooking

  • 1 19-pound fresh ham, bone in and skin on

For the brine:

  • 2 gallons (NB: US gallons)/9 litres water
  • 2 cups kosher salt*
  • 1 cup / 240g dark brown sugar
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the rub, glaze & gravy:

  • 1/2 cup / 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup / 8 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
  • 8-10 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 gallon apple cider**
  • 2 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

At least one day before you plan to roast the meat, prepare the brine. Score the skin of the meat – cut in diagonal strips across the meat. Cut through the skin and fat, but do not cut as far as the flesh. Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water, and stir in the remaining ingredients. Make sure the brine is cold, transfer to a plastic container (if not already) and then submerge the meat in the brine. If necessary, weight the meat with a plate to ensure it remains fully submerged. Refrigerate for at least four, but not more than eight, hours.

Remove the meat from the brine, rinse well and pat dry. Cover with a clean tea towel or cotton cloth and refrigerate.

When you are ready to cook the meat, heat the oven to 250c/475F. Put the meat in a roasting tin, skin side up, and place in the hot oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 160C/325F, and roast for around four hours. While the meat is roasting, prepare the rub and glaze. Pour the cider into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer until it is reduced to a syrup, skimming the top as necessary. This will take at least 1 1/2 hours. For the rub, place the sage, rosemary, garlic, thyme, oil and mustard into a food processor and blend until it is a coarse paste. Season with salt and pepper.

After four hours’ cooking, remove the meat from the oven and carefully take off the skin. Leave some of the fat on the meat as you will add the rub to this. Place the skin in a tray to one side until later. Smear the rub over the fat of the meat, tuck the quartered onions around the meat in the tray, and return to the oven for a further 2 hours. Keep an eye on the rub and if it starts to brown too much, cover lightly with foil [I did not find I needed to do this].

After two hours’ further cooking, remove from the oven and carefully spoon off the juices in the pan to a saucepan or jug. Spoon or brush the reduced cider over the meat, taking care not to dislodge the rub. Return to the oven and roast for another 1-2 hours, basting occasionally. After one hour, start to check the temperature of the meat – once it is between 160 & 165 remove from the oven.

Remove the meat to a rack and cover lightly with foil – allow to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour. When you remove the meat from the oven, turn the oven up to 250C / 475F and return the skin to the oven on a baking tray to crisp up. To make the gravy – pour the remaining juices from the roasting pan into the saucepan, and spoon off the fat. Add the flour to the roasting pan and stir vigorously, scraping any crusty bits from the pan. Return the roasting juices to the pan, stirring, and heat through. If required, add some water to thin slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary – add a squeeze of lemon juice to balance the sweetness of the cider.

Carve the meat, and serve with the onions and gravy.

Notes:

  • * For those unfamiliar with it – more information on kosher salt is available here. If it is not easily obtainable, I would suggested substituting sea salt.
  • ** ‘Apple cider’ in the US is not the same as alcoholic cider – rather, it is unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice.