This has been a good food week around here. Monday, a fantastic Vietnamese minced pork dish. Tuesday, the killer pho. Last night, a lovely meal at a local bistro to which we’d not yet been. Which means: nowhere to go but down.
A Smackdown failure means I’m going to have to order in Second Dinner in about an hour. And I’ll probably use Delivery.com, which means I’ll earn more Delivery.com loyalty points, which I’ll probably use to order a Delivery.com-branded pink Snuggie. I’ll start by only donning the Snuggie around the house but will inevitably end up wearing it to run to PathMark in the dead of night for some Chubby Hubby, thus becoming That Person and needing to buy extra pints of Ben & Jerry’s to drown my self-loathing until I eventually am diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and have a foot amputated. And then I’ll be the angry one-footed lady in the pink Snuggie.*
And all because I started this stupid blog. Fuck.
*Just did it. Delivery.com. Dumplings and pork buns. AND SO IT BEGINS.
We were actually pretty excited about tonight’s dinner, chocolate black bean tostadas with chile de arbol sauce from Super Natural Cooking that seemed to have all the elements of a meal we would love:
- Ingredients that make your breath stink: Onions, Garlic
- Ingredients that make you fart uncontrollably: Beans
- Ingredients that make you drunk: Beer
- Ingredients that make you fat: Chocolate
What’s not to like? Plus, this book hasn’t steered me wrong before.
I sauteed up my onions and garlic, then threw in a mess of chili powder, cumin, allspice and cinnamon. I added black beans that had soaked overnight, some veggie stock and a bottle of Sierra Nevada Stout. Please note that I was home alone, and wielded the camera with one hand while pouring beer with the other. I assume you are suitably impressed by the high-quality photo I managed to produce. And no, I was not drunk when I did it. It just looks that way.
Major bummer #1: since we assumed these beans would be awesome I made a full recipe, a pound of dried beans. That is, a shit-ton of beans. I was all like, we’ll freeze some! We’ll make breakfast burritos with some! We’ll invite neighbors over to share! Our home will be a gathering place where all black bean lovers will sup from the communal beanpot!
While the beans simmered away, I started on the chile de arbol sauce. Normally, I toast dried chiles in a bare pan but was instructed to do so in butter this time, and the book is my command. The chiles went into hot water to rehydrate and were replaced by a whole heads’ worth of garlic cloves, which cooked for ten minutes or so until brown or soft.
The garlic and chiles met their demise in the blender along with some salt and veg stock, and I fried the resulting puree until it reduced by half, adding a touch of cream near the end. As I am not yet advanced enough in my photography to know how to make a blender full of thin, beige liquid look appealing on screen, you’ll have to use your mind’s eye. I’ll wait.
By now the beans were tender, so I stirred in a mess of chocolate. More chocolate than I thought was necessary, but I am not the one with the multi-cookbook deal here.* It quickly melted into the beans, creating a thick, glossy sauce.
Major bummer #2: I wanted pretty good chocolate for this dish but didn’t want to spend a fortune on individual bars, so I bought a box of Guittard chocolate discs. Which means a good deal of very high-quality chocolate that could have been profitably used for non-bean applications was expended on this recipe.
To finish up, I fried a few corn tortillas, scraped what I could out of an on-the-way-out avocado and crumbled up some queso fresco.
Major bummer #3, AKA The Ultimate Bummer: We didn’t enjoy it.
The first bite was just okay. The second was vaguely unpleasant. The third was kinda sketchy. And by the fourth, both Brian and I had to admit that we just didn’t like the dish. The chocolate utterly overpowered every other flavor in the beans; there was a bare hint of spice, but the aromatics and beer were subsumed completely. The saltiness of the cheese and heat of the chile sauce elevated things enough to make the first few bites possible, but one must know when to admit defeat.
In the end, there was nothing to do but scrape the whole pot’s worth into a plastic bag and chuck it. Some things can’t be pawned off on the dogs, who fart quite enough as it is. The whole enterprise made us so cranky that we both needed a cocktail afterward.
To sum up: DAMMIT STRAIGHT TO HELL.