In cooking I truly believe that a recipe is just a place to start; use it more as a guideline than a rule. I have heard many people in my classes that only feel comfortable with following the recipe word for word. I do try to make a new recipe as written but more times than not I end up changing it, a little more of this, less of that, I’m not a mushroom fan so I have been known to grind them up, I probably shouldn’t have confessed that. Sometimes I change it for my families’ tastes; other times it is just a matter of finding what I can at my local grocery store. I would never, not try a recipe that sounded interesting to me just because I couldn’t find one particular ingredient, there are always exceptions to this rule but as far as flavorings go I feel you can use whatever floats your boat.
Case in point a couple of years ago my sister-in-law was visiting for Christmas and while I was at work she put together her rendition of Mexican Pork Stew. She didn’t have her recipe on hand but had made it many times before so she headed out to our local grocery store. It recall chuckling while she told me what was supposed to be in it versus what she found to substitute for the ingredients that she couldn’t find. Just recently she photocopied the page in her cookbook with the actual recipe.
Original version Adapted version
Canned tomatillos Salsa verde
Diced/seeded tomatoes Canned Diced tomatoes
Green hot chilies seeded Can diced green chilies
Since I had never had the “real” one and the one she made from my store was delicious I have made hers a few times and every time it gets eaten as a snack just heated up in a small bowl, made into a taco, and served over rice or noodle.
I hope you get a little adventurous and don’t shy away from a recipe just because there is something in it you are not a fan of, just substitute it for something you do like. Who knows you could come up with something even better than the original.
Mexican Pork Stew – My version adapted from Debs’ which was adapted from San Francisco A la Carte cookbook
3 pound boneless pork cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tbs olive oil
1 large onion diced
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes – I had some small tomatoes I needed to use so I seeded, chopped and added them
1 4.5 ounce can of green chilies
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 chorizo sausages skinned, sliced browned
1 cup chicken broth
In a saute pan add the oil and brown the pork on all sides small batches at a time; careful not to over crowd, place your crock-pot near the stove and transfer the browned pork into the crock-pot. Brown the chorizo I placed all of these in the pan and watched to get some brown on them, add to the crock. If the pan is dry use a little more oil. Saute the onions for a couple of minutes; add the garlic and cook a little longer; careful not to brown the garlic. Add everything to the crock-pot; cover to about halfway up the pot with chicken stock. Cook on low all day or on high 4-5 hours.
Serve with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and some sour cream. Sliced avocado is also wonderful served on top. Great served over rice or pasta or served with mashed potatoes. Also great as a taco, be sure to use a slotted spoon to drain the liquid. I also just love some in a small bowl with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream. endless possibilities.