Let the Machines Cook

Includes the recipes for “Deep-fried Breaded Shrimp, Rice with Peas and Parmesan, and Vanilla Ice Cream.”

It’s summer and one daughter and granddaughter are visiting, so there’s that tug between not wanting to do any cooking and doing a little as a treat for guests. I decided to just do it all in one day and let the machines take over. The rest of the week will just be opportunistic eating.

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I dragged out the Waring Pro® Deep Fryer (I see the newer ones are digital) and made some breaded shrimp. It couldn’t be easier, except for the three stage flour-egg-bread crumb process and the post eating clean up. In between, the frying is elementary and with no mess. Afterward everything except the heating element goes in the dishwasher after the oil cools, and you really can’t keep oil in which seafood has been fried, even if you strained it in cheesecloth, so disposing of a gallon of canola oil is a kind of a waste.

To go with the shrimp, I let the Black & Decker® rice cooker cook some arborio rice in chicken stock, with peas and Parmesan cheese.

After dinner, I made some vanilla ice cream in the Cuisinart® ice cream maker, with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis added as desired by each guest.

Deep-fried Breaded Shrimp, Rice with Peas and Parmesan, and Vanilla Ice Cream

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Deep Fried Breaded Shrimp

  • 2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 gallon cooking oil, or whatever your device requires
  • 1-2 cups all-purpose flour, seasoned to taste with salt & pepper
  • 3-4 eggs, whisked with 1/2 to 1 cup water
  • 2-3 cups breadcrumbs, seasoned or plain

Add the oil to the fryer and begin heating to 350° Set up the breading ingredients (flour, egg mixture, bread crumbs) in three separate containers for breading the shrimp. I put the flour in a large zippered bag and coated all the shrimp at once. I put about a third of the floured shrimp at a time in the egg mixture, turning them with a large spoon to coat. Then I put in the breadcrumb bowl with a slotted spoon to drain off excess liquid. I used another large spoon to turn the shrimp in the breadcrumbs. Shrimp are small enough that they are one of the few things you can bread without breading all your fingers in the process. I set out the breaded shrimp on paper towels to dry a little while the oil heated.

About ten shrimp in the basket cook in 1-2 minutes, then drain on paper towels while the rest cook.

Rice with Peas and Parmesan

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 teaspoons Better Then Bouillon® chicken base
  • 2-3 cups water (I use extra water because of the addition of cheese and peas)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 cup frozen baby peas

Plan your rice based on your cooking method and type of rice to be ready shortly after all the shrimp are fried. Follow your cooker’s directions. Arborio rice cooks quickly in a rice cooker—about 30 minutes. during the last five minutes of cooking, stir in the cheese and peas. With arborio rice, this is a creamy dish.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Recipe Credit: Cuisinart® Ice Cream Maker

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla

This simple recipe is not one that requires cooking an egg-based  custard and comes together quickly. Simply mix the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cream and vanilla. Start the machine and pour in the mixture. Churn for 25-30 minutes. The ice cream will be soft and about the consistency of an extra-thick milkshake. You can eat it or put it in the freezer for an hour or two to firm up. Serve with toppings, like Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cup Minis.

I hope this doesn’t sound like a complicated meal, because it really was simple and stress free. Tomorrow, the zoo and maybe some summer fare at Sara’s and Sally’s on the peninsula.


Updating the Gadgets

I finally had to get a new bowl for the Cuisinart® food processor, because the handle was so badly cracked I was holding it together with freezer tape. The old bowl has many hairline cracks, as well, that were just luckily holding together, and I’m keeping that bowl for a just-in-case moment, but it was really time to get a new one. I use the food processor frequently and the vibrations simply took their toll. Things like hard cheeses and meat can put a lot of stress on this glorious device.

I guess one good reason to use a top brand is that replacement parts are easy to find.


After I retired, I moved the Kitchen Aid® mixer out of the back cupboard to the counter where I will be more likely to use it. I don’t use it as often as I use the Cuisinart® but more often than I used to now that it’s handy. Speaking of replacement parts, I would like to get a few extra bowls for the mixer. We already have the meat grinder attachment that we use in the fall when we butcher deer that we have hunted, and it works great. These are two appliances that I have come to depend on and would want to replace if necessary.

Printing the Recipes

newsYesterday I remembered that there was a WordPress.com shortcode for setting up the recipe sections of posts for printing and for a standardized heading of information (servings, prep time, difficulty). Went back and fixed the ones that were already posted so you can print just the recipe without the rest of the post’s introduction.

Roast Shredded Pork Butt

Today we’re eating the pork in tacos, so it will be seasoned accordingly, but you could use the same cooking process for a barbequed pork sandwich by switching out the seasonings for barbeque sauce or rub.

The closest grocery store is a New York-based chain (going nameless here) that is a little upscale, and you can seldom find the right pork cut for this dish, because they must have some sort of bias against too much pork fat. Rarely you can find a bone-in pork shoulder, which also works, and probably the bone adds good flavor to the meat, but I have a bias for the boneless roast all neatly encased in that stretchy elastic web. So, I more often shop for meat at the local Giant Eagle or Walmart where the boneless shoulder or butt is always available. Maybe it’s the butt name that the high-end store finds distasteful, even though it comes from the shoulder. Hey, where did the butt name come from, anyway? Let’s ask Wikipedia.

The pork butt in Walmart is from Tyson®—is that the company from Arkansas or Georgia? (two states in which I have lived)—and I have to say that their netting is a little looser than most. At first I thought it was odd, but it turns out that it roasts the meat more quickly, so it has become my first choice.

Roast Shredded Pork Butt

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven: 350°

  • 3.5 lb boneless pork shoulder (leave the elastic netting on)
  • 3 cloves peeled garlic
  • Lots of salt and pepper

Place the pork butt in a roasting pan in which it is not crowded or touching the sides of the pan, where it will stick and burn. Cut the garlic cloves into about 3 slivers each and place them in cuts all over the top of the roast. I stick in a sharp paring knife, turn the blade 90°, then slide the garlic in next to the blade. Leaving the blade in makes it easier to slide the garlic in. Sprinkle liberally with salt and cracked pepper, cover and place in oven at 350° for about two hours before checking for doneness. After two hours, if it seems to be close to that falling apart stage, you can remove it to a cutting board and remove the netting for the third hour. Sometimes the roast will fall into big pieces when the netting is removed; sometimes not. Roast for about another hour, checking halfway to see if it’s ready to shred with a fork. I don’t know what happens on those days when it takes much longer or those days when it cooks more quickly. I suggest you make it on a day when you are flexible and unstressed. If you think the meat is unusually dry or your oven is super hot, you could add a little water to the bottom of the pan, but don’t overdo that. You want primarily roasted meat, not braised.

Remove the meat to a cutting board and shred with two forks. What you do next depends on how you want to eat it.

My roasting pan is one of those cheap dark blue speckled things. They are not heavy pans and that surely has an effect on cooking time and the final product. If you are lucky enough to have a covered enameled cast iron roaster, you might know how that changes the whole process. I looked at Le Creuset roasters earlier this summer and confirmed that I can’t afford one.

Shredded Pork Tacos

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3.5 lb cooked shredded pork butt
  • 2 onions, chopped and sautéed in olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (why do I only have ground oregano in the cupboard today?)
  • 2 dried ancho peppers, reconstituted and puréed ( about 1 cup, see below)
  • 1 small can chopped green chiles
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Soft taco flour tortillas or corn tortillas/taco shells
  • Condiments: queso fresco, avocado slices or guacamole, green or red salsa

You could do lots of things differently here. You could use a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, which has a nice smoky flavor and is hotter than the ancho purée. I like the combination of the ancho purée and the canned green chiles; I like the brightness of those canned chiles. You could use a shredded cheddar cheese and shredded lettuce and tomato for a traditional taco flavor, but I like the mild creamy crumbled queso fresco and avocado. Whatever you use, the steps to putting it together is quick once the meat is cooked and shredded. You could do that a day in advance.

  1. Sauté onions until translucent over medium heat
  2. Add cumin and oregano, salt and pepper, stirring for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add ancho purée and bring to boil
  4. Add  canned chiles and  shredded pork to sautéed mixture and heat

I don’t think I need to tell you how to put tacos together.

Leftovers: This recipe makes a huge bowl of shredded meat. If you have leftovers, you could eat them with red beans and rice, or even some polenta.

Reconstituted Dried Chiles

We lived in Texas for three years after grad school and got used to Tex-Mex cuisine, so I had to learn how to use dried chiles, because, for one thing, THERE ARE NO TOMATOES IN CHILI. I have no problem with beans in my chili, but there should be no tomatoes. Don’t argue with me on this point. Eventually, I will share my chili recipe.

  1. Rinse dried chiles, remove stems and seeds
  2. Tear into pieces so it fits in a small container or bowl
  3. Cover with boiling water; cover container with plastic wrap
  4. Set aside for about 45 minutes
  5. Place reconstituted chiles in blender with part of the liquid, adding more as needed to make a purée about the consistency of tomato juice (ironic, isn’t it?)
  6. Strain puree through a fine strainer to remove large pieces of pulp

You can’t keep this purée or freeze it, as it will separate and just not be the same. I have a cup that came with a long-gone hand blender that I always use for soaking the chiles. It holds two cups of water. For seasoning the tacos, I used only 1 cup of water for two chiles.

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