Sunday, June 15, 2014

Love on a Plate...

I woke to discover my husband staring, wide-eyed, at the ceiling in the darkness of our bedroom.

“Are you okay?” I whispered.

“I was just thinking that I really hope she looks like you,” he muttered, “I don’t think I am bad looking or anything, but I am not sure I would look good as a girl.”

A mere two weeks later, my husband’s middle of the night worries about becoming a father became a 7-pound 14-ounce crying reality. She was a beauty of a baby who resembled her father from the moment she was born.

“Don’t expect me to be great at this baby thing,” my young husband said to me as he cradled his female-likeness in his arms, “but I give you my word that I will amaze you when she is in middle school.”

Despite his insistence he would be a lackluster father in his early parenting years, my husband spent hours snuggling and fumbling his way through diaper changes, sleepless nights, and early morning feedings. Over time, and without ever really noticing, he had laid a solid foundation of trust that would sustain his relationship with our daughter for years to come.

Caring fathers everywhere display patience, tenderness and love over the long and slow build of years that make up the precious relationship between a father and his child. A father’s layers of caring for his children in the early years allow him to influence their lives in a million colorful ways during middle school and beyond.

Like so many father’s out there, my husband seems to underestimate all he has done oven the years to transform our kids into the impressive people they are today.

Embracing a little kitchen creativity, I created a delicious and manly meal suitable for serving as a sign of appreciation for all the complex ways dads makes monumental differences at home.

In this comforting Father’s Day dish, homemade fry bread gives the stacked entrée an indulgent foundation from which to grow. Cooking pork low and slow takes considerable patience, but yields delectable results. Layering the two items together leaves just enough room to pepper the plate with a few colorful details to round out the dish.

Make mealtime into a metaphor this Father’s Day and show the men who matter to you how much you care.

Happy Father's Day.

Father’s Day Fry Bread Stacks
Honor Father’s day by serving up a dish that celebrates the strong foundation, endless patience, and tireless attention to detail that fathers display every day.

For the Slow Cooked Pork:
¼ cup canola or grapeseed oil
1-4 pound pork shoulder roast
Salt and pepper
2 Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, quartered and seeded
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup apple juice
2/3 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1-14 ounce can reduced sodium chicken broth

For the Colorful Bean Compote:
2 ears sweet corn, shucked
1 cup pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 bunch scallions, sliced
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
½ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the fry bread foundation:
2 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1 ½ cups cold water
Oil or shortening for frying

For serving:
2 avocados, mashed
Scallions, sour cream, hot sauce and cheese if desired

To prepare the pork: Heat the canola oil in a large dutch oven over high heat until hot, but not smoking. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper and sear on all sides until deeply golden brown-about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the browned meat to a sheet tray. Add the onions to the pot and reduce heat to medium. Season the onions with salt and pepper and allow them to cook stirring frequently until soft and golden brown-about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, jalapeno, cumin and turmeric and cook until just fragrant-about 45 seconds. Add the apple juice, cider vinegar, and chicken broth to the pot. Stir well and return the pork to the mixture (the liquid should come halfway up the sides of the meat). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover the pot tightly. Place into a 300 degree oven for three hours or until meat shreds easily with a fork. Keep warm until ready to assemble the stacks.

Make the bean compote: Place the corn in a pot of cold water and add 1 tablespoon of sugar if desired. Bring to a boil, cover pot and remove from heat. Allow corn to stand in the water for 15 minutes before allowing to cool. Using a sharp knife cut the kernels way from the cob and scoop into a mixing bowl. Add the beans, tomato, pepper, cilantro, scallions and jalapeno to the corn and mix well. Whisk the lime juice and olive oil together and season with salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the remaining ingredients and set aside until ready to assemble the stacks.

Prepare the fry bread: Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the water and mix gently until a soft dough forms; do not over work. Allow the dough to rest in a covered bowl for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 6-8 balls. Dust a rolling pin and cutting board with flour and roll each dough ball into an oval ¼-inch thick. Heat the oil until hot but not smoking and fry the bread in batches until golden brown and crispy on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). Drain on paper towels.

To assemble the dish: Place a piece of fry bread on each plate. Top with a portion of pork and a generous helping of bean compote. Garnish as desired and serve at once.

Serves 6-8.

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