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Cochinita Piblil.  Rick Bayless's extremely simplified version for slow cooker.

We've learned, to our astonishment, that the crockpot was expressly invented to recreate the conditions of communal shetl ovens for making Cholent.  It is very apparent that the crockpot was not invented to recreate the conditions of a pib.

I've never had a truly acceptable Cochinita Pibil outside the Yucatán.  But a lot of the reason for that is that, outside the Yucatán, I've never had a Cochinita Pibil cooked in a piba pit lined with stones in which a whole piglet in a Seville orange/achiote marinade is buried and roasted, wrapped in banana leaves, over the heated stones and some coals.  So the thing isn't that mine was so much better than all the lame Cochinita Pibils I've had in restaurants up here:  it's that it wasn't any worse.  (OK, Aaron Sanchez's was better.)  For dinner at home, it was really kind of great.

Rick Bayless made two choices I disagreed with -- although I only modified one.  Seville oranges are hard to come by here.  Assuming their unavailability -- a 100% correct assumption in my case -- Bayless has you use limes instead.  The universal approach is to use the juice of normal oranges (to preserve the orange flavor accents) blended with the juice of limes or lemons (to supply the requisite sourness and, more important, acid).  I have access to bitter Mexican limes, so I used the juice of an orange blended with their juice, knowing that the Mexican limes would really tarten things up.

Bayless also omits charred garlic, a typical Yucatecan ingredient that is a pretty key component of this dish.  I don't know why:  maybe he thinks it would scare people away (he keeps this recipe VERY simple) (the hardest part was sourcing the banana leaves with which I lined the crockpot).  But really, how hard is it to char some garlic?  I really don't know why I didn't.  If I ever make this again, I will.

Topped with the requisite onions marinated in more of that orange/lime juice (minus the achiote).  Tortillas to wrap, of course.

On the side, the inevitable refried black beans.  And a salad of mustard spinach dressed with a little sour cream and a lot of Oregano Indio, with scallions, radish, and pepitas strewn on top.

Let's let Desi take us out of this once more:

Now this is a dish that actually GOES with a Vouvray Moelleux.

1985 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moellieux "Le Mont"

This bottle doesn't go back to our nation's Bicentennial.  Only to the year I got married.

Le Mont is Huet's flintier Vouvray -- even the Moelleux.  This is a splendid bottle.  There is (still) some tension here (as you'd expect in a similarly old Riesling and perhaps no other similarly aged wine).  But the key characteristic is harmony.  While the Chenin Blanc acid backbone gives the sweet notes a kick, the main thing you notice is how integrated they are.  This is a complex wine, and you taste a lot of different things.  But they feel of a piece.

Did this wine go with a slighty spicy (Hungarian Hot Wax pepper on top), a little sweet, a lot tart, citrus sauce?  Are you kidding?

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Wait.  It appears that Desi Arnaz didn't do the original version of "You Can in Yucatan".  It was by the song's composer, Xavier Cugat (in whose band Arnaz played percussion before he went solo).  Cugat did the original version of "Babalu", too.


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8 hours ago, Sneakeater said:

Bayless also omits charred garlic, a typical Yucatecan ingredient that is a pretty key component of this dish.  I don't know why:  maybe he thinks it would scare people away (he keeps this recipe VERY simple) (the hardest part was sourcing the banana leaves with which I lined the crockpot).  But really, how hard is it to char some garlic?  I really don't know why I didn't.  If I ever make this again, I will.

This is interesting, because I definitely recall Bayless charrring everything he put into one of his salsas, on a TV thing way back when TV things counted (at least, when food tv things counted, and weren't all competitions).  He'd "roast" or char them on top of the stove, on a griddle, comal, or cast iron pan, till they were blackened all over.

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I find that people who write slow-cooker recipes assume the audience will be lazy or unambitious.  Or maybe it's just that they perceive -- and really, they aren't wrong -- that the point of cooking in a slow cooker is that you just dump a bunch of stuff in and let it cook.

Bayless has a stove-top (or maybe it's oven) Cochinita Pibil recipe that includes many more ingredients, more variously prepped, than this one.  OTOH, you can't have the stove-top one cooking while you're out at a show.

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It's a big responsibility having The Best Hash In The World in your refrigerator.  What if the Russians were to get it?

Of course, it's even better reheated, as it gets even crispier.

Topped with a French fried egg.

Haricots verts sautéed with Calabrian pickled onions on the side.  This is a debased version of something @small h made a couple of weeks ago.  I kind of view that as my role in life.

2020 TerraVox Chateau Chouteau

You remember TerraVox:  that Western Missouri producer of mainstream-style wines made from hybrid grapes.

This is their "European-style" white blend.  No info on what the constituent grapes are.

Their wines tend to taste OK with food, not so OK without it.  So points to this wine for tasting fine without food as well.

It's tart.  It has some backbone.  There are unnamable flavors following up the crabapple and lemon (I was hoping it might resemble Chardonnay in some way) you taste up front.  For all TerraVox's pretensions toward mainstream "elegance", they can never get there:  the grapes, which tend to be kind of gross, won't let them.  That's why I now insist that native- and hybrid-grape wines need to be made in a Natural style:  you've got to go with the funk rather than fighting it (I believe that's a George Clinton lyric).

But still, admitting I haven't tried their celebrated Norton yet (I'm saving that for Fall venison season), this is by far my favorite of their wines that I've had so far.  It's, it's, palatable.

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Fried shrimp with (finishing up the) COMEBACK SAUCE.

It is a disturbing truth that what is probably the best thing I have ever made was a mixture of ready-made off-the-shelf ingredients.  But even the inventor of Comeback Sauce mainly made it that way.  (MAYBE he made his mayonnaise from scratch.)

Cole slaw on the side.  Not made by me, but purchased at the fishmonger.  (I swore the sales clerk to secrecy, but here I am admitting it on the internet.)

I wanted a sharp light white with this, maybe with a little fizz.

Hey, I know.

2021 Txakolindegi Ugabe Unfiltered Txakoli "Balea"

Yep, I'm the first person in history ever to think of drinking Txakoli with fried seafood.

This isn't all that "light" and "sharp", though.  I mean, it is -- but compared to this producer's filtered bottles, this is thicker, more full bodied in texture and a little bit rounder in flavor.  Which means:  THERE'S MORE GOING ON.  For a Txakoli, this is pretty complex:  it's a quaffer -- but it's not just a quaffer.

Nice wine.

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32 minutes ago, Sneakeater said:

Yep, I'm the first person in history ever to think of drinking Txokoli with fried seafood.

I remember sitting out on the deck at La Rampa in San Sebastian -- a tourist trap, maybe, but a good one -- eating fried spider crab and drinking Txakoli and thinking that food and wine couldn't get any better.

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Same Cochinits Pibil, with a new batch of refritos from the same beans.  Same tortillas.  Same salad.  Same pickled onions.  (I do have to express my astonishment that I can pickle onions.)

I read someone say somewhere that Nebbiolo was a good pairing for Cochinita Pibil.  That just seemed wrong to me (and not just because pork isn't really eaten much in the Piemonte).  But then, I thought, what about a lighter mountain Nebbiolo blend?  That takes Nebbiolo closer to its Pinot Noir side.  (I even used a Burgundy glass to accentuate this.)  Might be just the thing.

2011 Proprietà Sperino Costa della Sesia Rosso "Uvaggio"

I've always thought that people probably drink this overperforming Alto Piemonte charmer too young.  But I have to admit that this bottle is a little too old.

It's not totally past it:  it's fine.  But the bloom is off this rose:  it's lacks the freshness of its younger self, and rather than any deepening or development of new flavors, a thin dryness is setting in.

So note to anyone (including me) who has any bottles of this (of this vintage) laying around:  drink up!

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I know that black bean refritos is the thing to eat with Cochinita Pibil.

But I just don't think black beans make as good refritos as red/brown beans (like say pintos) do.  The skin is just too thick (and the beans are just too small to mash).

So sue me.

(To be sure, this doesn't seem to be a problem in the Yucatán.  But unlike me, they know what they're doing.)

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