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Food for Fighting Pain: Frijoles Borracho and Pork Loin Roast

Pintos

I was in a lot of pain yesterday with the rehabilitation exercises for my shoulder and all. Enough pain that I essentially had no appetite. Of course, the pain meds don’t help the ol’ appetite either. I knew it would be like that too; they warned me.

I want to keep my strength up, of course, while I’m trying to mend. There’s a lot of healing going on (although it feels more like the bloody thing is exploding, half the time), and that takes nutrition. Last I looked, food is a wonderful source for nutrition. Which got me to thinking:

What would I eat (if I felt like eating) to help with this recovery? Proteins. As in meat and beans.

Time to rummage around in the pantry. I found a nice, one-pound bag of pinto beans and some other things to go into those; like petite diced tomatoes, and an onion, and some fresh, ripe jalapeño chiles. I started the soak on Friday night, before bedtime, and the beans were ready to simmer the next morning. In went a can of low-sodium chicken broth and some water, enough to cover the beans by an inch or so. I brought them up to a strong simmer, then turned them down a bit and added the onion as diced bits.

I raided the spice cabinet then, and added cumin, mild curry, chipotle powder, some dried Italian herbs, black pepper and so on. In went the chiles, thinly sliced, and the tomatoes. The liquid was a bit low, so I added a half-bottle of Negra Modelo. (I set the other half aside for later; the meds keep me from killing the evidence finishing it off.) As soon as the beans were tender I added about three ounces of tequila (It’s arguably a painkiller). I didn’t mash any of the beans up; that’s a common trick, to take a potato masher and smash some of the poor, unfortunate legumes to make the broth thicker. When I make cornbread to go with beans, then maybe I stomp some. Otherwise, too much work.

Pork Roast

On the meat side, I found this pork loin roast, about a three-pounder, in the freezer. After carefully thawing it I brined it. Very simple: one bottle of beer (same flavor as above) and about the same amount of water; three tablespoons each salt, molasses and light brown sugar. Stir gently until the solids have dissolved, then you’re ready to brine. I washed the pork, then to add a bit more flavor I chopped up about a quarter cup of cilantro leaves and placed that with the meat into a two-gallon zip-top plastic bag (you know the kind) and poured the brine over. After sealing the bag (excluding as much air as possible) I put the whole shebang in a big bowl in the fridge. (Why the bowl? In case the bag leaks.) Three hours later the roast was ready to cook.

First I put the oven on at 350° F. While that was heating I took the roast out of the brine and put it on a rack in a 9 x 13 baking dish. I made a paste of garlic powder, dried herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil, then smeared that around on the meat. A thin coat this time, rather than the thicker layer I use when I’m making spicy pork. Next, to keep the pork juicy I placed about six half-length strips of bacon on top of the roast. Cover lightly with foil and into the hot oven for about 90 minutes.

After the pork reached 160° F on the ol’ trusty meat thermometer I took it out and let it stand on a cutting board while I got the rest of the meal together. Nothing fancy, just reheating the beans and so on. When I sliced the meat log some nice juices were evident! I served this dinner pot-luck style (they’re big people, they can help themselves rather than overwork the injured guy), and everybody pronounced themselves happy with the outcome.

Except, somehow, not much of the bacon found its way onto the other diners’ plates. My story is that there wasn’t enough room…

If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Then Go Exercise More…

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