This is a keeper! I prefer them whole, like this:
For the filling, a cup and a bit of wild rice blend, cooked with currants and a pinch of salt:
When it has cooled down, beat a couple of large eggs lightly in a bowl and stir them through the filling. Then stuff the pepper halves and ladle sauce over the top:
Barley is an extremely underutilized grain in my opinion. Mostly we see beef and barley soup, and mostly that comes in cans, and mostly it is slippery and downright weird. In our house we use barley like rice (but we like it better!) It's full of wonderful nutritional benefits, has great texture and while I want to say it's dirt cheap, I think topsoil actually costs more. If you're a vegetarian you have to try this grain (just leave out the chicken and use vegetable broth) for a very satisfying meal.
Three things about barley: 1) you need a lot less barley than you think. Barley swells ... let me repeat ... barley SWELLS to about four or five times its dry volume. I used one cup dry for this recipe. It fed two of us generously and there were two lunches from the leftover. 2) You need a lot more broth than you think (it took about a quart and a half of chicken broth for one cup of dry barley) and 3) it takes a lot longer to cook than rice (even brown rice). This took about an hour of simmering.
So, start with a little butter in a pot and brown the dry barley over medium heat, stirring from time to time.
It will only take five minutes at most—be careful not to burn it. You can also just brown it in a dry pot if for some reason you don't want a little butter. When it's got brown flecks throughout, pour in just enough broth to come to the surface of the barley.
I don't really worry about whether the broth is simmering the way you do with risotto. As long as it's defrosted and liquid it's fine. Cook over medium heat until the broth is almost absorbed and then add enough more so you can again see broth at the surface. Meanwhile, move along to the chicken ... I use boneless, skinless thighs. I usually trim it and salt and pepper it at least a couple of hours in advance but you can also do it at the last minute.
Taste a little to make sure it's soft but still chewy. It's almost impossible to overcook barley this way so just get it to a texture you like. When it's almost cooked, add a little more broth and all the chicken and mushrooms with any collected juices in the bowl. Press all the chunks down so everything is submerged, lower the heat and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. I serve this with braised collard greens. It's fantastic.
My mother, Ilda Emeriga Ripandelli O'Biso, died on October 7th. I couldn't bring myself to write about that in this light forum, and at the same time, nothing else seemed relevant.
So, some time has passed and now, sadly, slowly, we move forward ...
This is that wonderful stuff my family loved chewing off the beef knuckle bones my father use to make beef stock with. Now, low and behold, my husband found it in the ethnic neighborhood where he works, already cut off the bones and neatly packaged in frozen blocks:
This will actually be enough water to cover everything when the tendon defrosts and starts to settle into the pot. I also add some beef shin or beef neck bones or other relatively inexpensive cut of beef:
OK. It's not pretty, but what can I say? We love it. I freeze it in small batches and then eat it in some of the beef broth (which I strain and freeze seperately) with some small pasta like ditalini added. You can also go Asian. The Chinese do a really good preparation of braised beef tendon and consider it to be a cure for arthritis.
It sounded (and looked) better than it turned out to be.
I'm not sure exactly what I didn't like about it except perhaps that it wasn't mellow. It had onions, garlic, a little white wine, butter, olive oil, a bit of beef stock. The beef stock was probably a mistake. It was too dominant. I'd try chicken or vegetable next time. The broth was also too soupy, so either a little flour or some cream. Cream! Now there's the answer. But then again, is there anything cream wouldn't fix?
OK. This is not pulled pork for 40. It's pulled pork for 400.
I'm exaggerating just a little but, wow! I figured by the time you rendered all that fat, pulled off the skin, pulled out the bones and cut off any remaining fat there wouldn't be much yield. WRONG. In any case, here's how it went:
7:00am - two into the oven; two onto the off side of the barbecue, everything set at 300 degrees.
They're nowhere near done but getting dark. At that stage I made the judgment call to cover them. I did not want dry pork! After an hour and a half covered, the foil was discarded, the pan juices got transferred to a pot to become the base for the barbecue sauce and the pans went back into the oven/ barbecue for another hour.
1:30pm - the three smaller ones are done.
The meat is pulling away from the bones; a big fork pierces easily right to the middle and pulls back out without resistance. The larger shoulder went back into the oven for another half hour. They all cooled for an hour or so and then it was shredding time:
The sauce is simmering now ("Texas Barbecue Sauce from an old New York Times - pan juices from the pork; ketchup; cider vinegar; bacon; a dash of hot sauce; a dash of liquid smoke). We will LIGHTLY sauce the meat and serve more on the side for anyone who wants it, but there is so much meat we'll have to toss it with the sauce in the huge stock pot!
Get them the heck out of the brine! I came to my senses. 36 hours is too long. I brined them last night because I wouldn't have time tonight, but in the end I couldn't risk it. So out they came tonight:
Somebody remind me ... how did I get roped into this? Anyway, 40 pounds of pork shoulder are getting prepped today (Wednesday) for a barbecue (Saturday):
In a brief departure from the food motif, what is occupying an extraordinary amount of brain space around our house right now is the annual invasion of the ground-digging cicada killer wasps.
When they first arrived, about five summers ago, there were around 20 of them in our back yard. They were HUGE and kinda scary. I actually saw one of the larger ones move a small rock out of the way of its burrow. A little internet research said the males don't even have stingers though, and the females use theirs almost exclusively to kill cicadas (or vice versa; who cares). Since they were apparently harmless we decided to join the internet crowd that found them "fascinating." Each wasp digs a single burrow ...
... but each burrow has four or five underground tunnels, into which the female lays one egg. Mom then kills cicadas and places one next to each egg for the young wasp to feed on when it hatches. You see where this is going? One wasp; four or five eggs each? The second summer there were about 60 wasps, and they scared the bejeezus out of all our visitors. I wasn't all that happy about it either; they may not sting, but they are either curious or aggressive and fly right at you.
By the third summer, when the wasps were telling friends about the fascinating humans in THEIR backyard, we declared war. We've tried hornet spray, mothballs down the holes, boiling water down the holes, fabric softener down the holes (gotta love those internet suggestions) and our neighbors think we're CRAZY; the most effective method so far is us out on a Saturday morning in our bathrobes, cappuccino in one hand, pink butterfly net in the other: swoop, stomp, sip, swoop, stomp, sip. (If you want to try this method, you don't have to wear your bathrobe, and the nets don't have to be pink.)
I like to think we're winning, but in reality we're just holding the line. We never manage to kill enough wasps before they lay their eggs to prevent the next summer's invasion. Still, if we hadn't done anything there would be a thousand wasps the size of cows by now. The next plan is to try to take better care of our lawn next year. Apparently they like dry areas with sparse vegetation and a lush, green lawn deters them. Ha! I'll report back next summer. All the things we've tried so far were supposed to work too.
The garden herbs I plant in great quantity along the front of my flowerbed help keep the deer from eating my flowers and also flavor lots of meals. At the moment, they're growing like mad and had to be cut back. Here's a mix of rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, mint and tarragon getting mushed up with some salt and oil to be stored in the freezer. When I defrost some, I add lemon juice, crushed garlic and Dijon mustard to make a wonderful marinade for chicken or vegetables ...
So, it's a neat little trick. When you have more scallions than you'll be able to use before they go bad, tuck them into your planters or into the ground in your garden. They almost always still have a little bit of root left on them when you buy them so this works well. They keep for ages and you can pick some when you need them (beware of chipmunks - I found one running across the deck with one of my scallions in his mouth like a dog bone...). The one above got forgotten for a few months. I wasn't really trying for the Guiness Book of World Records, but this may be the world's largest scallion. I'm going to use it tonight!
My sister told me to try this. She made pasta with white beans (pasta e fagioli). I tried pasta with mock clam sauce (mushrooms, garlic, parsley and clam juice). I am very impressed.