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Monday, April 14, 2008

Sloth-berry! Alligator Pear!

So I like to experiment on the stove, simple sautés and all that. But really, any "training" I have mostly comes from watching Iron Chef at one in the morning (they make some weird dishes.) We're basically working de novo here, and as you can imagine, my more daring experiments often end up tasting like crap. Such as last night, when I put some slivers of pan-fried pork in a wrap with pan-fried avocado and a little salt and pepper and really had to choke it down.

Now I like me some avocados. My girlfriend introduced me to the avocado-mozzarella-tomato wrap, and the Thai place in Richmond does a fantastic curry with avocados. Seems like the fruit is pretty versatile. But for whatever reason, there just aren't many recipes that call for avocado like they call for other fruits. Just look at tomatos - they get chopped, stewed, pureed, diced, fried, eaten on sandwiches, made into soup and stew and sauce. Same with potatoes that are mashed, creamed, au gratin, boiled, diced, and fried. But the avocado just isn't. In my poking around on the intertubes, almost all the recipes that call for avocados either A. are guacamole, or B. want you to chop avocados and just sprinkle them on at the last minute. Maybe that's just because avocados are simply weird. They're meaty, oily, firm, and hardly vegetable at all. They're like the happy green cheese of the plant kingdom - and that suits me just fine. But I just can't find where anyone is using that buttery flavor in a way that elevates the avocado above Bac-O's. Even when freakin' Alton Brown tried, Iron-Chef like, to integrate avocados into normal baked goods, he came up with a bunch of stuff that happens to have avocado in it and is, like, green and shit. He made butter, ice cream, and frosting. Unless you're making an ice-cream cake in the shape of a dinosaur, I don't think that's any reason to use an avocado as opposed to, well, anything else.

The avocado is more noble than such a sideshow of cuisine. So I decided to see what a pan-fried avocado would be like. Maybe it was the ratio of one avocado to one pork chop (= no.) Or maybe it was the relative blandness of the ingredients. Whatever happened, it was pretty nauseating. Dinner is dinner, so I chowed down, but I figured there had to be something better than that - I can't imagine that pork and avocados have never come in contact before.

So I tried again today and I nailed it. Try this sometime:

Tandoori Pork and Avocado Wraps

1 pork chop
1/2 of an avocado
a little lemon*
tandoori masala**
olive oil
light brown sugar
salt to taste***
1 flour tortilla, burrito-size

Take your pork chop and cut it into slices lengthwise, like you'd eat in a wrap. Do the same with your 1/2 avocado, and sprinkle it with lemon juice to keep it from browning. Sprinkle the avocados with a little salt. Combine a good large spoonful of tandoori masala with a healthy pinch of light brown sugar, and enough olive oil to make a spreadable mixture. Mine was wetter than a paste, and I put it on with a basting brush. It's probably not important how much of each to use, you can always make more.

Heat a skillet to about medium-high heat. Take your pork strips, get them covered in the spice mixture, and throw them in the skillet. Fry them on both sides until they're done but tender and the spices are kind of crusty (I did the dishes from the prep work and still had time.) When they're almost done, lay your tortilla over the skillet and it'll get soft and rollable. When they're done, fill the tortilla with the pork and avocados and wrap nice and tight. The hot, crispy, spicy pork is a nice complement to creamy avocados that soften with the heat in the wrap.

I guess you could add lettuce or something if you really cared to do that. I didn't and it was pretty fantastic. And yeah, I realize I just chopped up an avocado and added it at the last minute (irony!!2) but hey, I needed lunch, not a repeat of my frankenporkocado disaster wraps.

*I used Meyer lemons 'cause they're fun and they add some tangerine flavor.

**You can find it at any Indian grocery, and often at the high-end grocery stores.

***I always hate when people say that. How are you supposed to know how much salt to add until you've finished the dish? Whatever. Just give it enough salt to make the avocados pop, but not enough to make the spices taste bad. I guess that's not much more helpful.


Katie said...

The one thing that annoys me most about recipes is the "salt to taste" also. Sometimes I'll run across "spices" as an ingredient, like there is a jar labeled spices and you should just pull it out. I found when I was at clemson making my own meals, I would eat whatever I had made, whether it tasted good or not. But now that I make dinner for Andy and I, I just stick to recipes and don't try anything untested, cause I don't want to make him eat bad food. :)

Grotus' Acorn said...

I've subjected my dear fiancee to some pretty bad experiments. Most notably, the infamous "sweet pickled kumquats" incident.