Thursday, July 25, 2013

Call me a chicken; I don't give a rat's hat.

Last weekend turned out to be, not just a good weekend, but an awesome one. It all started with dinner and a movie on Friday. We decided to watch "Only God Forgives". It was quite the dude movie; among the audience there was not a single lady in sight. It literally felt as if we had crashed a massive guy's night-out party at the movies (I kept waiting for the strippers to pop out of somewhere). The film itself was a pretty cool, interesting, a la Tarantino movie, so think Kill Bill in Thailand with Ryan Gosling. Maybe the movie was that awesome, or maybe I liked it because I was already feeling happy since I had my Iskender kebab just minutes before. I love eating anything doner-ish, man; it’s my comfort food. I still happily remember how my love affair with Turkish food started and the many smiles that it had brought me since. 

It all started in a sunny September day. I had just moved to Spain and my friends and I just got to Madrid, without a place to stay, or any kind of realistic housing plan. Oh, the innocence of the 20 year olds... At the airport we were talked by the taxi drivers into taking 3 different cabs to reach the city center to try finding a hotel. I mean, what could go wrong? Well, we were dumped in different parts of the city. At least I learned the first lesson a traveler should be aware of: neither trust taxi drivers nor look like a lost tourist (even when you are one), under any circumstance. One of my friends, Eric, was lucky and had the chance to be with the non-douchy driver and together drove around the city trying to find us. When they finally found us, they picked us up and took us to different hotels until we found one with a vacant room we could actually afford.
People may say that I'm an angry driver, but I'm sure they have never been driven by that taxi driver. From him, I learned my favorite go-to curse "me cago en la leche" which is hilarious since it literary means "I poop in the milk" (which in turn it's a PG version of the real curse in which poor dear old God gets the chocolate treatment). Anyway, we stayed at the hotel for a night, and then wondered throughout the city trying to find a more affordable hostel we could stay for a bit longer; a place we could stay at until we could find an apartment. We did find one, and next to it we met this Argentinean guy who was working handing out fliers promoting a Turkish restaurant. We actually became good friends (and we are still friends to this day). I took the flier, and for the first time ever, I went to a Turkish restaurant, and had my, first "top notch, all-halal" doner kebab. It immediately became comfort food for me, and at 3€ including a drink it became my happy, happy meal. Since then, every time I eat a kebab I remember those days in Spain, and all the Turkish restaurant friends I made those days.

Comfort foods are dishes we associate with happiness, adventure, feeling safe, and feeling like being at home. I have collected an arsenal of comfort foods through the years. Through time, comfort foods had been the grilled cheese sandwiches and 7ups I had as a kid when I was sick, the pork-tasting roasted turkey my father would make for Thanksgiving, the potato balls stuffed with ground pork (rellenos) I had as a treat during a day in the town, the guanimes (boiled flour dumplings) my Grandma would make us for lunch, and the fried chicken my Mami would make us for dinner, breast always reserved for me. But as time passes, I have gathered comfort foods that have me-memories. These are foods that give me comfort in two ways. I really feel happy when I make them, and I feel happy when I eat them. So when I feel a bit down I go for my "coq au vin" (no pun intended), or if I’m feeling homesick I make the always perfect “arroz con pollo”.

Back to my super-fun weekend, I followed a good Friday with an even better Saturday. I went to my partner’s father birthday party and I had a blast, and Sunday we went hiking and grocery shopping. I was so happy by the end of the weekend that I decided to cook some comfort food to stretch that happy weekend feeling all the way to the end. I decided that I wanted to have a chicken that reminded me of my mother's. She fried her chicken without breading it. I wasn't going to bread, or fry, mine, either. So I took a whole chicken, cut as individual pieces, and seasoned each part with a spice blend (Morton's Nature's Seasonings) which resembles the Puerto Rican adobo the most, but without the MSG. Normally I mix the spices myself, but to be honest, I just wasn't feeling like it. I drizzled olive oil on a baking/roasting pan and placed the chicken in it. I added ground achiote (annatto) and dry thyme. I covered the chicken with pieces of lemon and added more thyme. I covered the pan with foil and into the oven it went, for an hour, with the last 5 minutes being uncovered. 

As my for my side dish I wanted to make a ratatouille, my “let’s survive grad school” comfort food. I do ratatouilles even with my eyes closed (bitch, please), and it makes me happy to prepare it (and it makes me even happier to eat it, I admit). I really wasn’t making a true “Ratatouille Nicoise” because I wanted to use more of the produce I had, while it was at its peak. I layered carrots (Mon Dieu!), eggplant, zucchini, yellow peppers (jaune?…Mon Dieu!), onions, canned (yes, canned) diced tomatoes and finely minced garlic (and then more onions...) in a casserole, added red wine, olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh oregano. Normally you would used marjoram, basil or/and thyme, but the animals have been messing with my basil and thyme, so I used only oregano, and prayed the French gods for forgiveness. I covered the casserole and instead of cooking it on the stove I set it in the oven (so the coq wouldn't feel so lonely) and cooked at 450F for an hour.

After an hour, I got my comfort eating all this food. The chicken was great. It was crispy on the outside, still juicy in the inside. I loved the refreshing flavor courtesy of the lemon - thyme combination. The adobo worked its magic bringing additional notes, salt and spice to the meat and the achiote, as always, added complexity with its nutty, yet refined taste. This was great chicken with a minimal amount of work and an hour to spend at my own leisure. What else can anyone ask for? The veggies were also great. They were not swimming in liquid (that was important to me). Had there been too much liquid I would have had to reduce some of the liquid on the stove and then add it back to the veggies. The fresh oregano added a very nice flavor and aroma to the dish, making me a very happy Frenchy-Rican. I love using tomatoes from a can to make this dish, and I feel no shame. I save my fresh tomatoes to eat on their own, which I really enjoy.

This meal feels very hearty, but it’s actually a low calorie sweetheart. The whole dinner is well under 500 calories for a generous serving (which is why I felt free to add some avocado and tomatoes on the side). I love dishes that use different veggies because I can make sure I get different nutrients,  giving me a more complete nutrition. The other great thing is that when I use all that fresh produce, all at their appropriate ripeness, it allows me to really enjoy the pleasure of eating vegetables. It isn’t fun to eat anything if you don’t really enjoy it. It makes a huge difference to eat fresh, local vegetables when you eat food that actually highlights the vegetables. To me, that’s comfort. Next, we re-define “soul food”, lol.

On the road shortcut
4 carrots
1 eggplant
2 zucchini
1 can tomato
2 large onions
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
1/4 wine
1 teaspoon oil
1 yellow pepper
1 taspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 cloves finely minced garlic

Peel and cube the carrots, eggplant, and zucchini and add to a casserole as layers. Add half of the sliced onions. Add the rest of the ingredients as layers (ending with the remaining onions). Cover and cook at 450F for an hour. 

1 whole chicken, in pieces
Adobo or other spice blend
Dry thyme
Lemon wedges
Olive oil

Drizzle olive oil on a baking or roasting pan. Season each chicken piece with the adobo or other spice blend and add them to the pan. Sprinkle achiote evenly and then sprinkle with dry thyme. Top with lemon slices and add some more thyme (optional). Cover and cook in the oven at 450F for an hour. Uncover during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Check my fruit basket

Oh, summertime... The sun is up, the heat is high, and you want to spend time outside enjoying the outdoors while you can. So you grab your sunscreen lotion and a six pack of beer, and head out to enjoy yourself, and to bask in the sun. However, as obvious at it may seem, we forget that it is extremely important to keep ourselves hydrated to withstand the heat and be able to keep up with our lives. If you have some sense of what's good for you, you are not counting on soda or beer to keep you hydrated. Soda and beer bring way too many empty calories (no useful nutritional value) and if you count on them to quench your thirst, you'll be consuming, again, way too many calories. Beer can actually dehydrate you. Diet pop isn't any better. What it lacks in calories it overdoes in artificial ingredients; ingredients your body won't recognize as natural and will have a hard time deciding what to do with (like artificial sweeteners actually making you hungrier).

Water is always your best option to keep you well hydrated. It can be drunk, of course, but it can also be eaten, and I'm not talking about my nasty ice crunching habit. Fruits are full of water so eating fruit will also bring some H2O 2 U. In fact, some fruits, like WATERmelons, are mostly water. Additionally, they are the original multivitamin packs. Fruits provide us with fiber, oils, minerals and vitamins, and other nutrients your body needs to keep you running smoothly, and to keep you away from the doctor. The more diversified your fruit intake is, the more likely it is that you are getting a well rounded nutrition (and a less rounded belly).

You know you can grab a peach and eat it. It's not rocket science; you don't need me or anyone giving you advice on the matter. However, if you find yourself trying to sneak a fruit here and there, or trying to use it as an ingredient in something you are making, it's ok to allow others to give you some advice. As I was eating my cactus pears and my peaches, I thought it would be fun to come up with easy ways to consume all that other fruit I bought at the market. I'll tell you in advance I really loved everything I made. Nothing was too fancy. And that's exactly what I was going for: things I could prepare with ingredients I already had, and that were simple enough that I could make them before or after work. I'll share 6 fruity recipes that are triple threats: simple, nutritious and delicious. They are listed from super easy, to less easy. But once again, none of them are really difficult.


1. No brainer: squeeze it real good

I'll be honest: I'm not that into grapefruits, which is why I've had a couple that have been hanging around for a couple of weeks. I knew I was not gonna eat them, so I decided to make a refreshing juice. I squeezed the grapefruits, and an orange. I added water and brown sugar. Easy. I added some ice and I was ready to kick the heat in the butt!

On the road shortcut

1 1/2 grapefruits
1 orange
2 cups of water
4 teaspoons of brown sugar

Squeeze the fruits. Add the water and sugar. Stir.


2. No jelly for my toast, I have my own.

Jellies, jams and preserves can be very tasty and bring you most of the nutrients of the whole fruits. However, they are loaded with refined sugar. All this preserved fruits exist because in the past fresh fruit was not available during the winter. Now we do (although they are not nearly as good), and we have plenty of access to fresh fruit during the summer. Take advantage and eat some fresh fruit instead. To top my Finnish rye toast I used fat free cottage cheese, and blueberries I partially squeezed with honey and some lemon juice.

On the road shortcut
Blueberry smash
1 cup blueberries
1 teaspoon of honey
1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice

Mix and mash with a fork for 2-3 minutes, or until it reaches the desired consistency.

A slice of toast (Finnish rye)
2 teaspoons of fat free cottage cheese
2 teaspoons blueberry smash


3. Quick and easy exchange: toss that salad

When I want a quick and simple salad, I just use lettuce, tomatoes and onions. (Hey, I can hear you saying "bo-ring". Stop it.) Even though tomatoes are technically fruits, I wanted an even more refreshing flavor for a hot-summer side salad. I substituted the tomatoes for apricots. Then I made a dressing using walnut oil, grapefruit juice, and honey. I couldn't stop eating it. I had an extra serving and ate it as dessert.
On the road shorcut
Half head of lettuce
6 sliced and cored apricots
1/2 red onion, sliced

Add all of the components to a salad bowl.

1 tablespoon walnut oil
Juice of 1/2 grapefruit
2 teaspoons of honey
Mix all the ingredients. Taste to make sure the oil is not overpowering your dressing. You may want to add more juice or honey if it's too walnut-ly. You can substitute the walnut oil for your favorite oil.

Add the dressing to the salad bowl and toss.

4. Got 10 minutes? Spike that breakfast

I always have breakfast. One of my favorite breakfast foods is oatmeal; I love oatmeal. The key of eating oatmeal often is adding a twist here and there every time you make it so it doesn't get boring. I cook my instant oatmeal in milk to add protein and flavors. This time the add-ins were slivers of almonds and dried cherries. I added almond extract, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt to deepen the flavors and upgrade my oatmeal from good to awesome.

On the road shortcut
2 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup dry cherries
1/4 cup almond slivers
A dash of cinnamon
A pinch of salt
3 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup instant oatmeal

Add the milk, dry cherries, almond slivers, cinnamon, salt, brown sugar, and almond extract to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to its lowest and add the oatmeal. Stir often while it thickens to the desired consistency. For me, those are an additional 2-3 minutes but it ranges from 1-6 minutes or so.

5. Bored of your sandwich? Upgrade to a fruity bread

Bread is so good. However, eating white bread most of the time deprives your body from the whole nutrition present in the whole grain. Whole wheat bread can provide that, adding much needed fiber to our diets. But if you are tired of having plain whole wheat bread try adding some nuts and fruits to add new flavor dimensions, plus more and diverse nutrients.  I baked this whole wheat bread using walnuts and dried black currants in the dough. If you are not willing to make your own bread, just check your local bakery or supermarket for interesting and healthy breads.

On the road shortcut
Yeast prep
1/4 cup milk at 90F
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package of yeast
1 teaspoon vital wheat gluten

Mix all the ingredients and let the yeast get active. It will take about 5-10 minutes. The mixture will thicken and get bubbly. 

Bread mix
1 cup of water at 90F
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dried black currants
Prepped yeast

Add all the ingredients to the bowl of the bread machine and bake according to the manufacturer's instructions.

6. Indulge sensibly; fruits can be dessert, or part of it

Easy and simple desserts using fruits can be awesome, and very rewarding. Even if you are indulging, eating a bit more sugar than you should, a fruit dessert brings additional micro nutrients than plain pastries won't. I saw an awesome recipe for a blueberry pie I wanted to make. I removed the crust so it was just a cooked parfait of blueberries, custard and meringue. You can visit the Taste of home website and check the original recipe as well. 

On the road shortcut
Blueberry layer
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup orange juice

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Stir in blueberries and orange juice. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Cover and set aside.

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups whole milk
3 egg yolks

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in milk until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolks; return all to pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature without stirring; set aside.
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar

In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved.

Assembling the whole thing
Pour blueberry mixture into 4 ramekins. Top with custard. Spread meringue evenly over filling. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Save those beans for a rainy day

Yeah... It's raining... Again... Last summer was dry as hell, so apparently the universe is playing at "making amends" by sending us some extra rain this year. I mean, really? At this rate we will soon be calling global warming “global wetting” to be describe this pain in the... Out control, this rain keeps falling down totally out of control. Rants and semantics apart, I must admit there is something about rainy days that wakes up the cravings in me, and, no matter how hot it is, it makes me long for that warmth feeling inside that only certain foods can provide. 

Back in my hometown, where we have a semi-arid tropical climate, we start craving "rain-food" after the first signs of a thunderstorm, or any rain for that matter, because we need something to warm us up during those 78F "cold days". Our favorite under-the-rain go-to dish is the funche. Funche is a corn porridge, similar to polenta, but much crumblier.  It is part of our regional heritage since we can trace its roots back to Northern Angola (home to a large number of the slaves forced to work in the region's plantations) where a similar dish is called funge. We normally eat it in three combinations; all of them calling for liquid of some sort, since the funche crumbles are kind of "dry" in the inside. Kids normally eat it with milk, the same way you would eat cereal. The most common way is probably to eat it is with "stewed" codfish, and even though I barely tolerate eating fish, I have to admit it is delicious. Finally there's my favorite way of eating it: topping it with stewed beans. Now, that's just heaven, but it's also surprising. For someone who has always enjoyed variety in his food, to crave beans in those days was madness, considering we ate beans at home every single day. But what can I say? I like my beans.

Now that it's been raining for days (actually, for weeks) in Cleveland, I started craving "rain-food" again. I don't really feel like having the funche itself, as much as I love it. I felt like eating the beans instead. I wanted a soup and I wanted the beans; so I made a bean soup. Simple; it's not HIV science (which reminds me I gotta go to work soon).

I started by making a sofrito, the Puerto Rican cooking base. I took out my mini chopper and almost pureed an onion, a green pepper, three cloves of garlic, and a touch of olive oil. I saved it so it would be ready to be used a few minutes later. I cooked two chorizo sausage links in olive oil, and removed them from the heat. They were covered with foil to keep them hot, and cooking. The pan was feeling hot and lonely so I added the sofrito and cooked for a few minutes and then added chili sauce to spice things up. Then I added cubed carrots and cubed red potatoes, and to give my bean soup some more depth I added red wine and let them party on for a few minutes. I seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin and Spanish paprika. The beans went in, and then I sliced the chorizo and added it too. Thank God nobody was actually looking at my face when I was making this soup. My pleasure face would have certainly made it into the food-porn section of the internet. In my defense, I wasn't faking any of it. Oh yes... It was great. After enjoying all those smells, I added chicken stock to seal the deal, and I left it simmering for an hour. Listo. Now it was time for a very cold shower. 

When I came back I had a very nice, decadent tasting soup. It had the boldness of a spicy soup because of the sausage and its paprika, but it wasn't hot per se. The carrots added a somewhat sweet, balancing flavor, and the potatoes played their role releasing starch, giving the soup body without having to add flour. The only tragedy of the process was my inability to take a picture that really attested to the humbleness, still rich flavors of this soup. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

Not only the soup was great in flavors, but it was definitely a winner in the calorie and nutrition department. It was about 500 calories, with about 18 grams of protein. There were all the nutritional benefits of the vegetables, the roots and the beans in the soup. There is also a bit of fat via the chorizo. Still, with just about 500 calories, all the other good components, and the happiness it brought me, I would not consider this soup a cheat meal, but a good friend. And as a good friend, it made me feel warm in the inside and gave me comfort through those rainy and stormy days.

And as I finished writing about rain and food, the sun came out. Was it the soup? 

On the road shortcut
1 large onion
1 green pepper
3 cloves of garlic
Drizzle of olive oil

Purée the ingredients in a mini chopper, food processor or blender. Save it to use it later.

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 chorizo links (about 4 inches long)
1 cubed carrot
1 cubed red potato (large)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon chili sauce
1/4 cup red wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 can red beans (drained and rinsed)

Preheat a stock pot and add the olive oil. Add the chorizo. Cook, turning every few minutes, until they darken somewhat evenly (about 5-8 minutes).  Remove them from the pot and cover them with foil. Add the sofrito, and cook for about 5 minutes, mixing  often to prevent burning. Add the chili sauce and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Add the cubed carrots and potatoes.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, mixing. Add the beans and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine, and let it simmer for about 3-5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for an hour. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Work that pork. Actually, there's barely any work.

It's way too expensive to eat healthy. I don't have the time to cook. I love X food too much to stop eating that way. I don't want to just eat vegetables. Those are some of the excuses I hear often when people are on the food, health or weight loss topics. Although I normally let people have their moment and let them make these non-sense "arguments" I know they are not real barriers that can keep you away from eating good food: food that is amazingly delicious and nutritionally rich for you as well.

Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. If there is something that is omnipresent in this country -besides pharmacies, of course- are supermarkets. We have supermarkets that range from the "We sell unknown brands only" to the high end markets filled with gourmet item after gourmet item. Choose one that is time and cost effective for you and stick to eat... I mean, stick to it. Most importantly, take advantage of the sales on the produce and meat departments. Foods that are in season will be cheaper and will taste better. As long as you don't start adding too much crap to your food (you may have to excuse my French) you can always turn it into something delicious, and better for you than regular pick up. Just use your imagination, or keep reading, and sharing, my blog every week.

I have a good example for you. I was at the supermarket, and I saw that short ribs, country style, were on sale, $2.50 a pound. I didn't think it twice, and asked the butcher to get me five of them ribs. Those were a bit over two pounds, and just about $5.50 for five generous servings (in your face, McD's). I know these are fatty girls, but they'll do just fine. As I have stated before, one, I love ribs, and two, if you cook something calorie dense, just pair it with a light side dish and you are done. Do not complicate things, or you'll be giving up soon.

For my ribs I made a quick and simple dry rub. I started with rock salt, added pepper, chili powder and cumin. I knew I NEEDED to add achiote. Achiote is one of my favorite seasoning. Many people are not too familiar with achiote, but they should be. Its English name is annatto. It's a red seed as small as a peppercorn that releases its beautiful red - orangey color when it interacts with oil. In Puerto Rico, we either infuse the oil with the whole seed and use the oil to cook (think of all those yellow rice dishes you've seen) or we use it ground to season meats. In the US you can find it either in the spice section or in the Hispanic section of many supermarkets. Even though achiote isn't used in everyday cooking by non-Ricans, it is used massively by the dairy industry, to give cheeses, especially cheddar, their yellow color (yep, otherwise they're white, just like the milk they are made of). It has the most delicate, still complex flavor, mmm. Anyway, the point is that I added it to my dry rub. I also added some brown sugar to bring out the flavors. What? You added sugar? - Come one, you only live once, get over it.

I mixed my ingredients and rubbed my ribs (sounds kinda funny, ha?). I used grape seed oil to sear the meat, about two minutes per side (all sides), and then I just covered it and transferred it to the oven to be cooked at 400F for 1hr. Then I had time to shower, relax, set the DVR, and watch my Spanish TV court show while the food was ready.

OMFG. There are no words to describe how good this food was. Ok, maybe there are and I just don't know enough English to use them... These ribs were mind blowing good. The meat was tender and juicy (spoiler alert: it microwaved awesomely the next day), but there was such a nice crunch on the outside. Oooh... They were perfect. The taste was kinda nutty (and I felt kinda naughty with such pleasure), courtesy of the achiote. Those were deep, complex flavors because the cumin and the achiote pair well together and the sugar balances the flavor. The ribs released quite a bit of fat in the Dutch oven, so before serving them I set them in a plate to let them drain and rest a few minutes. I didn't blot them to take additional oil out; it really wasn’t necessary, and I didn't want to taste paper towels with every bite. That's where I draw the line, people.

Calorie wise, this ribs are probably around 400-500 calories per serving. I really don't care because they are wholesome, fresh, and there is no MSG or high fructose corn syrup involved in their making. It's all natural, and the body knows very well how to digest natural food. I actually worry much more about eating a 100-calorie snack full of artificial ingredients. Eating well is a balancing game. If you are worried about calories just plan ahead, so you can save enough to enjoy this kind of dish later. And then just enjoy it.

We get it; I'm indulging with this dish. To compensate we had to have a light side dish. My better half made a garbanzo salad. It had cucumbers, peppers, and onions, and was dressed with a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Simple, nutritious, and darn good. You can see most of the ingredients are very light and low calories. Actually it was less than 150 calories per serving. And the garbanzos work hard for their money. You can enjoy guilt-free every calorie because they have fiber and protein, and vitamins and minerals, and so on. Mmm... Maybe I should be a garbanzo spokesperson. 

There you have it. Five servings of amazing food, for less than nine bucks total. It really doesn't get any better than that. You are lucky if you can feed one person with nine bucks in a fast food restaurant nowadays, and this feeds five, is actually good for you, and it has an amazing flavor. It takes under ten minutes to season and sear the meat. The extra hour you can use to do whatever you feel like doing while the oven does the work for you. And then you go and enjoy your dinner. Fin. No excuses with this simple, humble, unpretentious, super RICO dish. You're welcome.

On the road shortcut:
2.25 pounds of country style short ribs
2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of achiote
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons of grape seed oil

Combine all spices together, and rub them into the ribs. In a big, oven-safe, stove top-safe pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil on the stove. Sear the ribs for about 2-3 minutes per side. Cover and cook in the oven at 400F for an hour.