Posted by: ashburnreviews | February 3, 2009

Why My Husband Wants to Punch Tyler Florence in the Nose

Last year we invited three couples over for the Super Bowl. We made a ton of food. And we decorated the heck out of the living room. We had one person show up. It was depressing and weird.

So this year, we wanted to have a low-key Super Bowl. No guests invited. And we wanted to make a simple meal. No decorations. Not a lot of food.

We took a liking to a yummy looking Mexican pork chili that Tyler Florence promoted on his big game bash cooking show. How could slow roasted pork be bad? And besides, it looked SO SIMPLE!

  1. Roast some veggies and pork.
  2. Blend the veggies.
  3. Shred pork.
  4. Mix.
  5. Eat.

Even now I am looking on the Food Network’s web site at the reviews of the dish, and everyone seems to have loved it and had no problem cooking it.

Sadly the day of our low-key simple Super Bowl was not to happen. Tyler’s pork turned out to be the never ending project and by the end of the night we were exhausted and hungry.

Here is how our day started…

My husband and I went to Home Depot to get some plumbing materials we needed for new bathroom fixtures. During that trip, we also planned to go to the grocery store and pick up what we needed for the Mexican pork chili. Kill 2 birds… so to speak.

At Giant, we thought we bought nearly everything we needed – except alas the tomatillos – because they had none to sell us. In this recipe the tomatillos are probably the key vegetable. (Although I should mention that some one told me that they are actually in the goose berry family… so maybe they are a fruit?)

We also had difficultly finding the needed shoulder meat at Giant because they did have one pork shoulder but it was about 7 pounds (and not 3 pounds like the recipe called for). So I asked the butcher to cut the shoulder in half for us. Which he did.

(By the way, I love that there are still butchers out there – people that you can watch cut and package meat. The world has become so industrial – it is nice to see some one whose ONLY job is to do this. It reminds me of “simpler times”.)

To find the needed tomatillos, we then went to Wegmans. Unfortunately the very crowded Wegmans only had 5 tomatillos. We needed 15. We bought the 5.

We then went to our 3rd grocery store of the day – Harris Teeter to buy the remaining tomatillos. Which thankfully they had.

At home again, I started to unload the groceries while my husband attended to the bathroom plumbing project.

I was still unloading grocries when my husband realized that the plumbing parts that he bought were not the right ones – so he went left the house to return to Home Depot to buy the parts he needed.

About the time he got back, I realized that I didn’t have cumin – but since I had curry (which has cumin in it) I decided to use that. The cumin along with fennel and salt and pepper was used to season the meat. I also realized that the toasted fennel seeds – which I did toast myself btw in a frying pan – were supposed to be ground. I had no grounding mechanism so I decided to use them whole.

As I’m seasoning the meat – about ready to sear the pork shoulder, I realize that the piece of meat that we bought has a bone in it and although the bone looks small… in feeling around the meat, it becomes painfully obvious that there is a large bone in there. Which means that we don’t have enough meat because if you took out the bone we would probably only have a pound and a half of meat I’m guessing. And we need 3. So do I cook with what I have or go back to the store (grocery store trip number 4) to get more meat?

I decide on more meat. Lets do this right.

My husband and I now visited our fourth grocery store of the day. Another Giant; This one closer to us – the other was closer to the Home Depot. While I am there, I am torn weather I should look to see if this Giant has tomatillos – only just to know – but opt against it.

We pick up another chunk of pork. This one is not a shoulder. I debated on having the butcher cut a new shoulder in two for us so we could take half of it – like we did in the AM… but just didn’t think I could have that conversation and opted instead to take this other cut of pork.

Home again home again jiggity jig….

I season the 2nd cut of meat. I sear both pork cuts all over. I place both meat products in the pan with the vegetables and place them in the oven.

I added chicken stock to the pan since it is supposed to be added to the sauce later on anyhow and I assume this will help the meat from over cooking. Maybe the stock contributed to my later problems… I am not sure.

Everything is supposed to cook in 2 and a half hours. At that time, the pork is supposed to pull apart.

At the two and a half hour mark, I checked the pork. It wasn’t pulling apart.

An hour after that, the meat that had no bone was pulling apart as expected, but the bone-in meat was not pulling apart.

A half an hour after that, the bone-in meat was thankfully pulling apart too. I take it all out of the oven.

I tried the pork, as does my husband. It was good.

And thus begins the blending process of all the veggies. This 2nd half of the day should be titled, “Why My Husband Needed a Ladder to Cook Mexican Pork Chili”. *sigh*

Bit by bit, I place the veggies in my blender. The blender acts up some – in that it is pushing the food products higher then they should be in the blender – but over all blending seems to start pretty good and most blending juices are staying in the blender.

The game started by this point. And as I’m not a big sports fan, I was okay that I was missing the game to work on dinner but I felt bad that my husband was missing it. He was busy pulling apart the pork while I was blending. I kept telling him, “Go ahead – go in the living room and watch it.” And eventually he did some, but then kept coming back in to help.

And then it happens. The blender has its first explosion – and by that I mean that the liquid mess that is in my blender comes jumping out of the blender all over my counter and cabinets. I am assuming that I over-loaded it. At the time, this made me laugh and made my husband jump a bit. I thought that I learn my lesson, and poured what was already in the blender into a sauce pan. I quickly cleaned-up around the blender, and start blending again with the remaining veggies.

I am trying to be really careful this time. Just one little bit at a time, and then pouring what is created into the sauce pan. I’m going S-L-O-W-L-Y. Unfortunately the blender explodes again. My husband says, “No more blending.” I try to kick him out of the kitchen again. This isn’t a big deal I say. He stays in the kitchen.

What happens next is the blender explosion to beat all blender explosions. The little plastic middle part of the top of my blender falls into the blender as it is blending. Even as I try and stop the blender from blending, the blender keeps going whrrrring. Now I don’t know how long the blender actually continued to blend – but it felt like it was happening in slow-motion. Green molten liquid spewed out of my blender on to the cabinets and counter and onto the ceiling and then back down on our heads and the floor. What a total mess! (Later we even found the green goo on the kitchen refrigerator 6 feet away or so.)

The blender finally stopped, and we’re trying to get a grasp on the damage to the kitchen, to the blender and to our dinner.

We even had to go get the ladder so we could clean up the green goo from the ceiling. Sometime later – after much clean up – I make the incredibly stupid mistake of pouring the green liquid that is in my blender into the sauce pan.

It was such a grand mistake because after looking at the plastic insert I realize that the blender had completely chewed it up. Of course it has. Very sharp blades – hence the blending ability. *sigh*

After washing the plastic insert off, here is a picture I took of the plastic insert after it had gone around and around in the blender.

You can probably see that it was much worse for the wear. And now I realize that the plastic pieces that wee knocked off the insert had to go somewhere. I look in the sauce pan, I think well maybe the plastic left the blender, and it is in our kitchen some where. Or maybe it has been torn up into such small pieces that it won’t even matter. Or maybe they are large pieces and we will easily find them. At this time, I’m hitting myself for pouring the last batch of liquid into the sauce pan.

I talk my husband into going and watching the game. He gave me one more, “no blending” warning. Yeah yeah yeah. How could I blend? At this point, I had what I assumed wasn’t even a working blender any more.

To no avail, I try to strain the green goo. The problem is that it is really thick and chunky, so straining does nothing. I try to look/spoon through the green goo but again since the mixture is so textured, I cannot see anything.

I should have thrown away the goo at this point – but I have worked so hard. After tasting 3 or 4 spoonfuls of the sauce and not feeling any plastic in those bites, I decide to throw caution to the wind and just assume that the plastic pieces are not in the goo. That they have some how traveled to some other area of the mess in the kitchen – which is now mostly cleaned up.

After looking at my blender carefully and cleaning it up – I decide to go on with the goo making. I hadn’t even started at all with the chicken stock or cilantro that needed to be added to the veggies.I warn my husband that I will be blending again. And then I hold a wash cloth over the top (my husbands excellent idea) and without incident blend cilantro and cold chicken stock. I add it to the sauce pan one bit at a time. The addition of this new pretty green resulting liquid really helps the color by the way. The goo goes from a pea-soup green to a pretty green fresh color.

I stir the goo around and I taste it a couple more times. Hmmm, I think, it seems a bit salty. Maybe I over-salted it? Again I worked so hard… I didn’t take this – as I should have – as an obvious clue to throw it away.

I look online – with my iPhone – to see if there is any way to de-salt a sauce. The main suggested solution that I see is to take a peeled cooked potato and put it in there for 5 to 10 minutes on simmer. I have no potato. And besides Alton Brown apparently says that that doesn’t work. On one site I see that some one suggests adding milk or cream to the sauce to help distract the saltiness.

I add milk and taste again. The bad news is that it is still salty. The good news is that after all these tastes I have yet to taste plastic. I take a couple more taste bites, and again no plastic.

I am feeling somewhat optimistic – I don’t know why – and I decide to add the shredded pork in there. I’m thinking at this point that maybe the wonderful pork will make the sauce taste better. I stir it all around and cook it some more.

One more taste. Darn. Guess what is in this spoonful? In addition to tons of salt, there is also a small plastic shard. I catch it and spit it in my napkin.

*Sigh* I kick myself. The pork alone was just wonderful. Flavorful. Juicy. Yummy. And I – in a moment of just wanting to make a good meal – added it to the green goo seasoned with salt and plastic. What was I thinking?

I take another taste. Although there is no plastic in this next bite, it does NOT taste good. Plus I’m freaked out about the plastic – now I’m picturing little plastic pieces that I cannot feel floating through my digestive system.

Do I just throw away the green goop and pork? Do we try and eat it? We are both hungry now – it is near the end of the 2nd quarter already. We both decide that we will risk it.

I scoop up bowls of the chili for my husband and I to eat. We have chips and corn bread and crumbled queso fresco (cheese) too.

We sit at the table and eat. It is just horrible. It is like eating a salty booby-trapped mess. After a couple bites, my husband catches a plastic shard and spits it out in his napkin.

At this point I’m done. My husband is done only about a minute later. We just throw it all away. What else can we do?

Here is a picture of what was left in the pan.

We even had a moment there where we couldn’t figure out the best was to dispose of it. It seemed to liquidy for the trash bag. And too much quantity (and too plasticity) for the garbage disposal. I thought about just keeping it all in the sauce pan with a lid on top and duct taping the whole thing shut and just letting the sauce pan go to a better place with the chili.

After some thought – I opted for the trash bag (sans sauce pan) and my husband just brought it out to the curb. I wanted it out of my house!

What a project. What a day.

The good news is that….

The Super Bowl – at least the last quarter which is the one that I watched – was interesting and entertaining. Not being a football fan myself – it was still very fun to see. Everyone played their heart out.

Another highlight was that at the first Giant that we stopped at we bought a cake shaped like a football (okay an Easter egg decorated like a football) and we had that for dessert. And it was very yummy.

In other good news husband’s plumbing project went well and we now have a new pretty faucet in the bathroom.

So the day wasn’t a complete loss I guess. Although next year for the Super Bowl, maybe we should just go to a bar?

Edit 11/17/09 So for the disgruntled person who felt the need to write me eight months after I wrote this article to belittle me for beating up Tyler Florance for my cooking mistake, I say this… Hey buddy, the blog entry was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. We are not seeking Tyler Florance down to punch him. I tried to make his dish and it turned out awful. The experience was funny. I shared it on my blog. If you don’t like it, don’t tell me. Just go find another blog to read. Obviously this blog is not for you.


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