huevos rancheros: like nasa, but for chickens.

do you remember space camp?  even if you didn’t go to the official super-fancy nasa-sponsored space camp, you probably took some summer school course about space or something as a kid.  and if you didn’t do either of those, chances are you probably wanted to and felt super dejected when you friends told you all of their awesome space camp stories.

in any case, being an astronaut is one of those jobs that mesmerized me when i was just a pup.  of course, i was more into the idea of becoming the president or a fighter pilot or a scientist.  but if a random member of nasa came up to me when i was a six-year-old and told me i was accepted to the official astronaut training program, you bet your butt i would have gone without thinking twice.  space is huge and amazing and full of possibilities for six-year-olds, especially when the farthest away you have ever gone in your life is the public pool.

anyway, i’m pretty sure that six-year-olds think about becoming an astronaut like chickens think about becoming huevos rancheros.

like six-year-olds and space, most chickens probably have only a vague knowledge of mexican food.  never in their wildest dreams would they have considered that they would become a delicious breakfast fit for a latin american farmer.  i like to think that if i were a chicken and i was given a choice, i would go for the rancheros sauce without thinking twice.  sure, i could hold out for a while and hope to become sous-vide or chicken cordon bleu, but more often than not i would end up something highly processed and much less tasty (like kfc, chicken nuggets, or instant ramen flavor packets).

well, i suppose that is enough strange asides for now.  it’s recipe time.

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the club sandwich: and i’m not even a member.

the term “club sandwich” is misleading for a lot of people.  some people think it is a particular sandwich composed of cold cuts, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.  some people attach the word club to a frilly toothpick.  still others qualify any sandwich that has three pieces of bread as a club sandwich

because it doesn’t seem like this issue will be settled any time soon, i decided that i too should contribute to the quagmire of opinions.  if you ask me, a club sandwich, rather than being defined by its contents, seems to be defined by its shape and the sides with which it is served.

some club sandwiches contain roast beef, some contain mustard, some are served with pickles and still others are not.  but i challenge you to find a restaurant version of the club sandwich that isn’t cut into triangles and served with a side of some form of potatoes (whether chips or fries or potato salad).  although it might seem strange, it makes sense to me that the defining feature of a club sandwich is its sides and the manner in which it is plated (namely, cut twice instead of in half).

my personal club sandwich contains bacon, tomato, and three pieces of toasted bread, but that is where the similarities to your run-of-the-mill restaurant club end.  homemade chips, homemade condiments, and crispy home-cured bacon make my club a homey force to be reckoned with.

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mexico in japan: carnitas seasoned tex-mex sliders

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japan excels at mimicking the cuisine of other nations.  in fact, it is often cited (by japanese people) that many foreigners come to japan to eat foods native to their own countries of origin.  chinese people often comment that chinese food in japan is better than the chinese food readily available in china.  similarly, restaurants which serve authentic italian and french cuisine are often top-notch (and super expensive).

but latin american cuisine, especially mexican food, is generally misunderstood.  because i have often considered mexican food to be one of the cheapest and most delicious foods to make, this fact confuses and enrages me.

despite this, to seem more international, school lunches often include menu items such as “mexican pork saute” or “taco rice,” which are terrifyingly dissimilar to any latin american flavor profile i have ever experienced.  which isn’t to say they taste bad.  they just taste exactly like a japanese cook used the ingredients he had on hand to make something that vaguely resembled mexican food he saw in a picture.

tragically, on such days, i get to hankering for real mexican food, which is an itch not easily scratched in japan.  hot peppers are practically nonexistent, fresh cilantro costs your first-born child, and tortillas are sighted about as often as big foot.  and so, in such moments of desperation, i turn to my old friend tex-mex.  no, it isn’t authentic mexican cuisine.  but it is delicious, contains ingredients i can actually find, and is a heck of a lot closer to the flavor profile of mexican cuisine than the japanese knock-offs are.

and thus, the carnitas seasoned tex-mex slider was born.

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and then countless recipes sprang out of the woodwork.

i’ve been posting and cooking, and cooking and posting, and drinking coffee, and then cooking and posting some more.  occasionally, i even sleep.

but that archiving stuff, i’ve been neglecting that.

and so, in one fell swoop, i’ve decided to upload a boatload of recipes that have been skulking menacingly on the hard drive of my computer.

give them a quick once over if you have time, and should you feel the need, try cooking them once or twice and tell me what you think.  constructive criticism only makes us better, and i could certainly do with a little improvement.

chicken, dressed to the nines.

if you hadn’t already guessed, it is sauce week in the poor man’s kitchen.  which means yesterday, i went out and bought myself a few cheap plastic sauce bottles and committed myself to making at least nine sauces this week.  but i can’t go about just drinking sauces out of the bottle, now can i?  i mean, i suppose i could, but i’m not so sure i would want to.

so instead, by taking mister mcgee’s lesson to heart, my plan is to make three meals this week which each highlight three sauces.  the goal of each of these meals is to take three pieces of a single food, prepared in exactly the same way, and by applying a different sauce to each, create three distinct and independently delicious flavors.

last night, chicken breasts were my sauce vectors.

i purchased three chicken breasts, butterflied them, cooked them in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then subjected them to my first three sauces of the week.  and i even had two insane canadians over to my house to share in the bounty.

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