I get asked this question a fair bit, so I decided to make a blog post about it. For those of you who don’t know, one of my passions is cooking healthy food at home, from traditional American favorites to dishes from around the world.
On multiple occasions the question “What the best meal you have ever made?” has been asked of me. That, it turns out, is a question that requires a fair bit of detail to answer.
Let me start off with yesterday: my dinner consisted of a homemade soup, tasty if not simple and utilitarian. I had prepared it the night prior with the intent of consuming after returning from work, which is exactly what I did.
But that soup is of no great consequence, the effort put in was minimal and the result sufficient. It serves only as an example of how I prefer to plan my meals during my work week.
Twice Baked Potatoes
Now, if one asked my friends and family which of my dishes was their favorite, I can promise that the answer would be my Twice Baked Potatoes. All twice baked potatoes start from the same base: Potatoes innards, generous amounts of sour cream, an equally good measure of grated sharp cheddar cheese, a bit of butter, chopped green onions, and mayhaps a bit of crushed garlic. To this I add my one custom ingredient, the ingredient that shocks and amazes: At least two large peeled shrimp which are placed into each potato shell after it has been stuffed.
Preparation instructions are the same as for any other twice baked potato, merely bake the potato to near completion, cut in half, scoop out the insides, prepare the stuffing as described above, insert stuffing back into the shells, and bake again for a short bit of time.
Simple, though a bit of leg work in practice, but the end result is wonderful. No one expects, but everyone has been pleased by, the shrimp.
72 Hour Smoke Bacon Stew
Now I will not argue that my twice baked potatoes are not one of my best dishes, surely they are. But they are not the dish into which I put the most love into the creation of.
What I pour my heart into is the making of my 72 Hour Smoked Bacon Stew.
The first step in its creation is to acquire bone in smoked bacon from a European deli, of which I am thankful that I live near a number of. The bacon is then placed into a large pot which has been filled with tomato sauce (if I am truly feeling up to it, I have made the tomato sauce myself from purchased tomatoes). Some simple seasonings are added to the pot, a few bay leaves, and a wonderful chili powder variant that one can only acquire online.
This is then allowed to stew for a wee bit less than 3 days. Being tended to and watched carefully so that the broth does not boil away or bubble over.
On the first day, the house is filled with a wonderful smokey aroma. It is a pleasant harbinger of things to come.
On the second day, both the meat and the fat has fallen from the bone and it can be seen where the bone marrow itself has started to fall apart.
It is on the third day that one awakens to find that the bones have given themselves up to make the broth complete.
Now, what is left over are mere details. At this juncture I most often add a variety of beans to make a good hearty stew, but a variety of different rices will do justice as well. Other vegetables are added as needed and as requested by those I will be serving.
It takes a lot of time and dedication to cook, and the result turns out differently each time. But, when done properly, and there are many places to make mistakes, it is by far my favorite dish to prepare.