Yeah, not the most exciting “here’s a sample from my work in progress” blog entry, but someone requested a recipe for a dish I made for lunches this past weekend. I’m going to let you all in on a secret, but it’s… y’know… a secret. So don’t tell anyone. Most of my cooking sports little to no recipes.
Once in a while I’ll venture out (like the chicken tortilla soup recipe, which did need some adjusting to get the Mrs. Zombie seal of approval), but mostly I’m making this shit up as I go along. I hear tell it’s the Italian way. That’s really the only excuse I can come up with for how I can eyeball amounts and remember the recipes that I’ve been brushing up over the past couple of months. That and a strange memory that will hold onto small details. For example, when I couldn’t remember the cupcake base I’d been doing for the past year and a half I knew that I was having problems. I hadn’t eaten anything in over five hours. When you eat five or six small meals a day, you do not go five hours without food. Not without a price to pay that is. And memory really is the second thing to go.
That said, I do remember exactly what went into this experiment. My goal was to make some fajita stuff to put into a tortilla or a pita bread and eat. I made this in the slow cooker as I was making steak, mashed potatoes and pan seared asparagus for supper that night. And doing laundry. June frickin’ Cleaver with a beard – that’s me. (Note to Self: buy a pearl necklace.)
Okay, by the numbers…
- Chop up 3-4 jalapeno peppers. For this, I used the two and a half I had left over from the cornbread experiment. Put them into the slow cooker. (make sure to clean out all the seeds)
- Chop up 1 pasilla pepper into small bits. Put this into the slow cooker. (If you don’t have them fresh, get the dried one and stew it in olive oil first. Shoot for fresh if possible.) (make sure to clean out all the seeds)
- Note on 2. If you can’t find pasilla try for ancho chiles or a pepper on the lighter side of spicy, like a poblano pepper. If you like the hot, you could replace with 2-3 serrano peppers, but you’re rolling the bones on that one. 😉
- Slice up one large or two medium sweet onions. If you like cooking, look into a mandolin slicer. You can get them as cheap at $20 in a big box store. I use mine to julienne the onion. Larger julienne slicing if you still want to be able to see the onions in the finished product. Guess what you do with it when you’re finished slicing. 🙂
- Open up two large cans of diced tomatoes. I use canned instead of fresh because I’m lazy. Just make sure the cans you get aren’t sporting a bunch of sodium in them. Low sodium where possible. Put them into the slow cooker.
- Throw in 2 pounds of lean stew meat. You can trim it if you wish or not if you’re lazy. (Note: were I to want more stew in this stew, I’d oil the meat and brown it covered in whole wheat flour and spices. Stew wasn’t what I originally was going for though.)
- For flavor I sprinkled in some grey sea salt, ancho powder and the Penzey’s chili mix I use (good cayenne kick to it). I also crushed in a couple of cloves of garlic – I’m Italian, it’s a law.
- At this point I considered adding some low-sodium V8 to give it more liquid for the cooking, but I figured it would be a bit spicy for Mrs. Zombie so I wanted to tone it down. That meant some sweet and something to counter the oil. I had grabbed a can of Pepsi that was in the frig, but stopped. I went over to the pantry and picked up a can of Vanilla Coke. Soda is awesome for slow cooker meats, but I thought the vanilla would be just enough to tone down the spice but leave the flavor.
- Set to cook for 4-6 hours. (The high setting on our slow cooker.)
End result was something that my wife ate as a soup. She loved it, which showed me two things. One that the vanilla was a good call. And two, that she’s learning to accept the peppers in everyday life. 😉
And for the record, the steak fajita “stew” pairs up all sorts of nice with the jalapeno bacon cornbread I made the day before. Still is in fact.