Ham Hocks

So I did the Green Beans with Ham Hock and New Potatoes recipe from Food Network last night. This is what fresh green beans are for. The picture was taken after I’d devoured a bunch of it already.

The recipe is really perfect. You simmer two ham hocks for 45 minutes, which gets a bunch of yummy out of those knuckles. Then you throw in the beans with some sugar, and I think the sugar does more than add a bit of sweetness; I think it helps to break down that tough cellulose. I only had a pound of beans, so I used 1/4 cup of sugar. After they simmer a while, in go the potatoes and salt. The result is beans that are nicely seasoned, easy to gobble, and that still offer that somewhat resistant mouthfeel. The potatoes give up some starch to the beans at just the right time, I think.

Another observation: I have only worked with ham hocks once before, and I did not bother at the time to go hunting for meat. I did with these, and I was surprised how much good pork one can find from this hard-working part. To throw on some color, I threw these hocks into my air fryer for five minutes. Once I removed the fatty layer, but I was able to find maybe a quarter pound of really nice meat. Next time, though, I’ll save this step for later because it is a good bit of work, and the potatoes and beans do not need the meat. Why add another step while you have a delicious steaming bowl of beans and taters to serve? Save the carving for later; the meat will serve another purpose. I’m thinking spaghetti sauce or tacos.


Tonight’s Chicken and Rice

This was done in my three-quart Instant Pot. It turned out real nice. Here’s how I did that tonight. This is more for me to keep track of what I did, but if it gives you ideas for preparing a meal, mazel tov.

I had two pounds of chicken breast. I cubed them. I browned them in a hot cast iron skillet, pouring a bit of kosher salt on each batch. This is real browning, by the way, not throwing all two pounds of meat in the pan and hoping some of it will turn GBD. It won’t. Treat each cube like a little steak you’re trying to get rare in the middle.

I set the meat aside and set the cast iron skillet off to cool a bit. Into my three-quart Instant Pot I put one cup of chicken broth (reduced sodium) and 1/3 cup of water. I stirred in 1 and 1/3 cup of long grain white rice. I threw in the browned chicken. I stirred it up a little.

Then I used the rest of the can of the broth to deglaze the cast iron skillet. I took this yummy soup and set it aside, and then I put my cast iron skillet in a warm oven to dry.

I got out a saucepan and made a roux. A roux is when you cook a tablespoon of all-purpose flour in a tablespoon of butter until the flour seems a bit cooked and the mixture is a nice yellow. Then I let the saucepan cool for a bit, then threw in the yummy soup and went to work with a whisk. But before I did that, I turned on the Instant Pot to pressure, five minutes.

Then I made a gravy by whisking the stuff in the saucepan up.

When the Instant Pot counted down to 0, I released the pressure immediately. I opened the cooker and stirred the contents. I stirred in a cup of frozen peas. I stirred in the gravy. I also threw in about 1/4 cup of half and half I happened to have so that the half and half wouldn’t go bad and would actually get used.

It’s not a dump and go recipe, though it could be if you forgo the steps of browning the meat first and sopping up that nice fond in the pan to make a yummy gravy. But why in the wide wide world of sports would you do that?

Chicken and rice can be prepared in many different ways. Aside from my oven method, this here is my favorite. I might take the IP time down by a minute next time as I am always nervous about overcooking chicken breast, especially when they’re cubed, though they came out okay. Also, I have this groovy jerk seasoning I got at Niblacks that I’m fond of, but I try not to overuse it.

My IP recipe book grows. Slowly, but working on it.

(I read the recipe at I Don’t Have Time For That before I did this.)

Egg to Go

I don’t need big breakfasts, but I need breakfast, and I generally need to break fast about an hour or so into my shift. I don’t wake up famished. My appetite generally takes some time to kick in. Plus, that first hour? That’s for coffee.

So I’ve been playing with ways to take single-egg dishes to the job. The latest iteration:

First you get one of these

Then you poach an egg, let it cool a bit, and put it in there.

Then you get one of these

and cut it in half and throw it in there.

LITTLE TINY BREAKFAST

Try The Reuben

The bar stool upon which I sat today at lunch was crooked, and it wobbled. Either that or I kept encountering a divot in the floor. I am not certain which was the case. Regardless, my seat had a wobble.

This is not the kind of thing one experiences at the newest latest pub. I did not have a wobbly bar stool when I had lunch at Bar Louie Saturday because I took my car in because the front tires were regularly losing up to 10PSI, and when the mechanics perched her up on the rack, they discovered my brakes were nearly gone and offered to replace them, so I ended up having a meal at Bar Louie next-door, and I can assure you that my bar stool did not wobble there.

No, that wobbly bar stool is a well-earned scar at a joint called J.B. Quimby’s Public House, which is an old-shitters’ joint and one of the finest pubs in western New York and certainly in all the land. Quimby’s has dings and pock marks, and it has earned them and wears them with swagger. And today I had the pleasure of lunch there with my Dad and my brother, and it was really good. I had the reuben melt, and it was delicious. Dad had the Cuban with these cheesy potatoes that must be experienced because they were delicious. My brother had a quesadilla.

During this excursion, we took in a football game on the television. We watched the Buffalo Bills play the New Orleans Saints right here in Buffalo.

The team from the Big Easy ended up besting the Bills 47-10. As quoted in the Democrat and Chronicle today, linebacker Preston Brown said “We weren’t good.”

Having discussed my really nice Sunday today, I share this. For reasons. From the book Illusions, by Richard Bach:

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.

The current of the river swept silently over them all—young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.

But one creature said at last, “I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.”

The other creatures laughed and said, “Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!”

But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, “See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!”

And the one carried in the current said, “I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.”

But they cried the more, “Savior!” all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a Savior.