Thursday, January 1, 2009
portland comfort food
winter is the time for hearty soups, filling casseroles, and starchy goodness. anytime is good for comfort food but once the weather starts to get nippy i often turn to these old friends. here in chicago it has been unusually cold this early in the season. just last year i was in portland where 35 degrees is insanely cold and it never snows. those poor fools got hit with arctic blast 2008 and i find myself wishing i could be right there with them making snow angels.
i moved to portland broke and jobless so eating out had to be on the cheap cheap. a short walk away from the falcon was a small portland chain called laughing planet. i quickly discovered my favorite dish. a couple years later i returned to chicago and miss that tasty little number. i have recreated it in a somewhat modified version. this is like a great big hug from portland.
there are three components that brings this dish together beans + grains, caramelized starchies, and a cool, tangy salsa. that being said there are many variations that could come from this dish. serves two.
get the goods:
1 1/2 cups cooked black or pinto beans (1 15oz. can) if you are cooking the beans it is best to soak them overnight to decrease cooking time. you can also cook them ahead of time or start this step right away. add a piece of kombu or other seaweed to the pot to help increase digestability and reduce major stink bombs!
1 to 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice or quinoa for a nutty flavor
4oz. tempeh, cut into 1 1/2 in. cubes or triangles (optional)
1 large sweet potato, diced 1 in. chunks
1 plantain blackened, but firm, sliced into 1/2 in. rounds
1 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs shoyu/tamari/soy sauce
1 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
5 to 8 tomatillos
1/2 of small onion
preheat oven to 400 degrees. at this time if your beans are not cooked get started on that first. the next step is to prepare the marinade for the sweet potatoes and plantains. combine the syrup, vinegar, oil, shoyu, cumin, and cayenne in a small shallow baking dish and whisk together. add the tempeh(if using), sweet potato, and plantain to the dish and mix to coat. set aside to allow the flavors to develop. start cooking your grains. the oven should be ready for the marinade mixture. cook for about 45 mins, until sweet pots are tender, stirring every 15 minutes. now make the salsa. chop the tomatillos, onion, and jalapeno (seed if you dont like some heat) into large chunks and pulse in food processor until pureed. add the juice of 1 lime and salt to taste. place into sealed container and chill in the the fridge. (this can be made in advance) by now everything should be about ready. pull out the baking dish from the oven and set aside to cool. combine the rice and beans into one pot, or not. i usually serve this in a bowl starting with the rice and beans at the bottom, the starchies next, and top with the salsa. serve with a wedge of lime. i will often add some steamed or braised kale, collards, or cilantro for some green.
this recipe will probably make nick and i the only ones dreaming of portland, so what. get yr own damn comfort food. but try this hug on for size.