The other day, when I posted about slow-cooked pork shoulder, a bunch of commenters offered their ideas for jacking up the taste of the meat as it cooks: dry rubs, mostly, as well as citrus and barbecue sauce. They all sounded great.
So why was my pork cooked in such a simple brew? Water, salt and pepper, bay leaves, onion, garlic, orange rind. Nice, but not a kick in the teeth.
I kind of don't want a kick in the teeth, y'know? I'm not afraid of spices; I eat tostadas with hot salsa a couple of times a week. I love my spice drawer, and always try to use its contents when appropriate. Dressings, soups, gravies, you name it. That picture above is some home-ground, homegrown ají colorado chiles, hot and nice. It does get used.
But here we were with this pristine pork, humanely raised and slaughtered, tasty as the devil all on its own. Did I want to paper over its natural flavor with coffee, cocoa, vinegar, chiles, etc.?
Frankly, I didn't.
I have said before that the first Eat Local Challenge five years ago was like boot camp for my taste buds. Everything got clean, aligned, prioritized. Good food tastes good, period. No need for shock tactics.
And you might say that as a result, my cooking is bland. Oh, gosh. Perhaps it is.
But it tastes good. To me. Really good.
I wonder if you would even like it.
Today we're going to slop some of the pork-cooking liquid over a batch of black beans and white rice (Moros y Cristianos).
I think it will be flavorful enough.
What's your take on jazzing up flavors? Yea? Nay? Some?
Yeah, I know.