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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside (at night)

We are finally getting some decent Fall weather here in Northern Nevada! I am really enjoying the chilly nights and mornings. The trees are starting to turn colors- more on that in another post.
I've started to cook more in the kitchen and less on the BBQ- although, the BBQ is still a staple throughout the winter!

I've posted a recipe in the past for my 'Santa Ana Green Chili Posole' that relied on canned green chilis and green enchilada sauce...but I've never made 'real' Posole Rojo.  I can't say that anymore!

When I worked at Sacred Heart Church, Klamath Falls Oregon I remember that the Pastor, Fr. Roga, LOVED Posole made with meat on the bone. He used to say that it wasn't posole if you couldn't pick the meat off of the bones in the soup!  He liked the green posole, but he didn't like the pork shoulder meat I always used- he preferred chicken wings and legs, or pork neck bones.

Father Roga is on vacation in Tanzania, Africa this month, so in his honor, I decided to try to make 'real' posole rojo with pork neck bones.

Just a 'heads up'...this is not a fast recipe.

I bought a bag of chili pods at Centro Market in Carson City- a fantastic local Mexican market. I also bought cilantro, hominy, fresh limes, radishes,avocados and pork neck bones.

I cut off the stems of the dried chilis, shook out the seeds and quickly roasted them in my cast iron fry pan until they were soft- not toasted!! I can't emphasize this enough- only toast them on medium heat- do not let them 'brown' or burn!!  Yes, use the whole bag. You won't regret using the entire bag- trust me.

Once they are softened by heating, place them in a large bowl and cover with HOT water. The chilis need to be submerged in the water- so, you can do what I did and use a couple of large glasses.  leave them submerged in hot water for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime, add a tiny bit of oil to the cast iron pan.
I also had a small pork shoulder ( about 1/2 lb) so I cut it into small chunks and tossed it, and the pork neck bones, in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1 tablespoon of ground cumin. Yes, use your hands- it gets messy. But, it's all good.

Brown all the meat in the cast iron pan, a batch at a time...

...and set the meat aside after browning.

Next, remove the soaked chilis from the hot water (SAVE THE WATER) and add them to a blender. Add 1 cup of the soaking water to the blender, 1 tablespoon of salt and 5 large cloves of garlic to the blender.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and press on the solids! Get all that chili goodness out! Discard the solids.

Add one whole rough chopped onion to the cast iron pan along with 2 more rough chopped garlic cloves and a teaspoon of oil.

Saute for a few minutes, then add 1 cup of the chili soaking liquid to the pan. Scrape up all the browned bits of goodness and boil for a minute- the pour all of it into a dutch oven or crockpot. Add all the meat and pork neckbones and cover with the remainder of the stock liquid. Add chicken stock to just barely cover the meat and bones.

Open a large can of hominy and rinse it well under cool water.

Add the hominy to the meat and broth.

Add 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon of Mexican oregano and 1 bay leaf.

Then, add 2 cups of the rojo- red chili sauce. Reserve the rest for serving with the posole.

Cook for 2.5-3 hours- until the meat is very tender.

At this point, I stopped cooking and cooled the posole overnight in the fridge. Then I cut all the meat off of the neckbones, put the meat back into the posole and skim any fat off of the surface.

I re-heated the posole and added a little water to make sure it was broth-y. I also added another teaspoon of salt and brought it to a simmer.

I served it with sliced Mexican green onions, sliced radishes, slices of avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped tomatoes, lime wedges and shredded cabbage.

It was amazing! Serve with some of the warmed extra rojo sauce stirred into the posole. I also added some steamed corn tortillas on the side- but the posole was fantastic!

Even better the next day for lunch!

Monday, October 6, 2014


We've had some cold-ish weather in the evenings here in Northern Nevada and I've had a hankering for some comfort food.

Since I am a So Cal girl at heart, Pho immediately came to mind.

Pho is a Vietnamese style broth used for a noodle soup. I used a combination of several recipes to get just the right flavor.

I used this amazing recipe by Charles Phan for the prep since I think that roasting the onions and ginger gave it a delicious depth of flavor. I also used some of the excellent suggestions by smitten kitchen to the Charles Phan recipe and added some of my own twists to the broth.

For example, I roasted the chicken before adding it to the stock and skimmed the stock constantly, to keep it clear. I also simmered it on very low to keep it clear. I also added all the additional suggested seasonings; a cinnamon stick, 4 star anise, 1 tsp of cardamom pods, 1 tsp of coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds and 6 whole cloves.

I separated the meat and strained the broth through several layers of cheesecloth...
and cooked the rice noodles separately

You can cook the rice noodles, rinse them in cold water, and store them in the fridge in cold water until you want to use them in either a bowl of pho or in spring rolls.

When you are ready to make a bowl of pho, you add chopped baby boc choy, fresh (rinsed) mung beans and some of the meat to the bowl. Top with a handful of the cooked noodles and top with boiling hot broth.

Serve with fresh mint, fresh basil and lime wedges.

Eat, and repeat.


It's been a tough few weeks in the Laughlin household. My dear brother-in-law, Jeff Laughlin, was in the hospital for a month and succumbed to an infection at the age of 52.
It's been very hard on all of us who loved him and his family.
We had a very solemn and tear-filled Mass of the Resurrection for Jeff on Friday at Holy Family Catholic Catherdral with all of the family gathered, followed by a very fun celebration of life with many toasts to Jeff at the Tustin Ranch Golf Course.

Our son Patrick was able to attend and our son, Chris, attended with his fiancee, Eleni. So did many of our extended family members.
Chris had the great idea to hit a bucket of balls in Jeff's memory- Jeff LOVED to golf and was a very good golfer!
All of the Laughlin cousins participated.

We also took several photos of all the Laughlin cousins together...
 We were happy that so many people attended the service and celebration to honor Jeff- he was such a big personality and had a big heart to match.
It was an honor to be there for him.