Make Offal Great Again!

Any fool can whip up a jar or two of chicken liver pâté. Growing up, it was a staple around the house, usually taken with a glass of sherry on Sundays after Mass, and from the age of ten or so, I was allowed a sip, just enough to wet my lips, enough to feel how it was to be a grown up.The combination of dry sherry with chicken liver pâté, taken on an empty stomach, after Mass or not, still sits in my inside pocket pleasure bank of memories, and still, to this day, generates interest and groovy salivations. In fact it’s one of the most pleasant memories I have of being a kid, along with the mischievous pleasure of stealing cigarettes from Sunday visitors, as my parents were strict non-smokers. Mother thought it a fearful habit. Continue reading “Make Offal Great Again!”

Brodo

Spring time is when we tend to lighten our diet. We say goodbye to the comforting foods of winter and welcome again spring onions, asparagus, dandelion greens, radishes and hardy survivor shoots of greens. But spring, as we all know, brings its share of bluster. An untrustworthy, capricious season cut with unstable, schizoid days. A mad time.


Recent hail brought devastation on a biblical scale to the garden. Spring onions were  mercilessly lashed and shredded into submission. Asparagus ferns, who only a day before, were dancing joyfully in the breeze, were cruelly whipped into unrecognizable rags. Parsley didn’t stand a chance; reduced to a choppy clump of humiliated, quasi headless stalks. Chives were decapitated and their purple heads rolled with the hail.
So, it was with uncanny foresight that I happened to harvest enough spring onions and chard the day before the deluge, to make a quick and simple soup with the last of my frozen chicken stock.
Chop spring onions and some garlic and sauté softly in olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add chicken stock. Add other greens. I used chard and peas. Season with salt and black pepper. Add a douse of olive oil to the bowl and fill it up with broth. A little shaved Pecorino Romano can be nice on top.

Pipian Verde

 

author photo: Ionah DeFreitas…

When Greens Cafe opened in the mid eighties, one of our signature dishes was grilled chicken breasts with tomatillo sauce. We made the sauce by chopping onions, tomatillos and cilantro, which we blitzed with cumin, salt and chicken stock. It was good and tasty, but, I later realized, a little one-dimensional.

blacken tomatillos and onion on a hot comal…
chiles blistering on an open flame…
suffocate them in their own steam in a plastic or paper bag to loosen the skins…
removing the charred skins…

Years later, while traveling in the Yucatán, Ionah and I had a memorable Sunday lunch in Mérida, in a grand but crumbling old colonial hotel, with toucans and giant palms in the dining room, which was a kind of exotic bird house open to the sky. I kept my hat on and she wore a colorful scarf. Continue reading “Pipian Verde”