Monday, December 17, 2007

Spicy Red Marrow Bone Crock Pot Stew

While picking my way through ice and slush and bitter wind this morning, I was reminded of the powerful warming effects of the spicy stews I had on the Navajo and Hopi reservations in Arizona last winter. I decided that's what I needed tonight.

The basic idea for this dish was to make a hot, red stew using one of my River Rock Farm marrow bones as a base. The bone provided a gorgeous layer of golden oil that floated on the top of the stew and then disappeared back into it. I soaked some pintos, then added them. It's nice to remember how wonderful a well cooked bean is. Not a bit overdone, they were still plump and firm. I dropped in a chipotle, and once it had reconstituted, I mashed it into a paste with some of the broth, then reintroduced it. I used a frozen scotch bonnet from Farmer Al, which I removed about three quarters of the way through. Two and a half diced onions, a bunch of whole garlic cloves, a can of tomatoes, and a chayote inspired by the Salvadorian take on menudo at Tacos Lupita.

The chayote is a perfect soup vegetable, and is almost exactly a cross between a potato and a zucchini, with the attributes of both and none of the drawbacks (mushiness and sogginess, respectively). Towards the end I incorporated a can of hominy, only because I couldn't find it dry. It was a shame that it couldn't spend the whole six hours in the crock, but it got to know the other ingredients fairly well. I ate the stew with a lime in hand, but was surprised to find that it's earthy heat begged no tang. The lime went into my beer, which reminded me a little of overdoing it in Cancun once, but was still a nice contrast of temperature, texture, and taste.

It kept me warm for hours.

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