Larb Stuffed Loaded Baked Potato

I’m always looking for something to do with my leftovers and to be honest I am a bit surprised I had any leftovers from a recent Thai/Lao larb fest. I will also be honest and state that larb is probably one of my top 10 things to eat. There’s something about the medley of flavors and the interaction when grabbing a bit of sticky rice and nubbing it down into the herbaceous larb. I’ve done a bunch of different things outside of the standard larb recipe, of which includes leftovers. Everything  larb fried rice, larb bao, and larb quesadillas to name a few. This one on the other hand goes right up there with an excellent use of leftovers, still has that great heat (depending on how you make the larb), and is filling to boot. This one is larb stuffed loaded baked potatoes. I can probably chalk this one up with all of the potato skins I’ve made in the past as well.

Thai Larb Stuffed Baked Potato Recipe
Thai Larb Stuffed Baked Potato Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of leftover larb (feel free to use beef, pork, or chicken)
  • 1 baking potato
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt

That’s it. Granted you may thinking making larb takes a bunch of time, but seriously, it takes about 5 minutes, or as long to cook your protein

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees, or use your microwave if you want to roll that way, and poke some holes into the potato with a fork.

Take some olive oil and lightly coat the exterior of the potato, and season with a bit of salt. I love a crusty, salty potato, and yes, I eat the whole thing.

Bake or microwave the potato until it is knife tender in the middle. This takes about 8-10 minutes in the microwave, or about 45-60 minutes in the oven.

Once the potato is fully cooked, remove it from the oven, take a butter knife and make a long slit through the top, then carefully using your fingers give it a pinch to make a nice open pocket.

Warm your leftover larb in a skillet, or microwave, then generously load the larb into the baked potato. You can see the extra Thai chilies I added (nice boost for vitamin C), and how loaded it is. I also wanted some extra heat. Did I mention that I find myself eating a Thai chili a day? For whatever it’s worth, it hasn’t kept the doctor away, but I do love them.

If you are looking for a great and interesting take on a loaded baked potato, give this one a shot, but by all means, if you have not had Thai/Lao larb you must make it. It’s addicting. Hope you enjoy!

Lechon Kawali

Snack, Crackle, Pop. Repeat. I’ve said this before but Filipino food is on the rise, and much like many top chefs have predicted, Filipino food will begin to surprise you. If you have never had Filipino food, just give it a try. Granted, I have yet to find a sweet Filipino dessert that I like (but then again I do not like many desserts as I am not a sweet tooth), but the savory dishes are to die for. This one might be the one to top it off. There are many common, top, Filipino dishes that you might already be aware of such as Pancit, lumpia, or even Kare Kare, but there is one that is top notch, and that is lechon kawali.

Your cardiologist may not like you after this, nor probably your primary physician, but in moderation, this Filipino crispy pork is so simple to make, and makes a perfect party food. Traditionally made with pork belly, you can also try it with pork ribs just make sure you have plenty of fat to render on the second cooking cycle. Yep, there are two cooking steps going on here.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless pork belly, cut into 2 inch long strips
  • 1 head of garlic, skins removed, bulbs smashed
  • 4 whole bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • water
  • salt
  • canola oil
  • dipping sauce
    • White Vinegar, to your liking
    • Soy sauce, to your liking
    • Chopped garlic, to your liking
    • cracked black pepper, to your liking
    • 1 Thai birds eye chili, smashed, optional or Thai chili flakes

I recently made this for my son’s birthday party, as well as another Filipino gathering and both times they rocked the socks off of the party guests. You know you’ve done right when the Filipinos are giving you a thumbs up, a hug, or a high five after eating your food. This is a winner.

Start by adding the pork belly, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, soy sauce, and enough water to cover the pork belly into a large pot or dutch oven. Cover, and bring to a simmer, cooking for about 1 hour. This is to tenderize the pork, and infuse all of the great flavor from those aromatics.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe Ingredients
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe Ingredients

After 1 hour or so, get a baking sheet out and line it with a wire rack.

Take the strips of pork belly and lay them on the rack, making sure any of the excess liquid goes back into the pot. Once the strips are laid out, lightly salt them with kosher salt. This will assist with the dehydration process and get them ready for the next step the following day, if not hours later in the day.

Place the baking sheet, uncovered in the refrigerator. I do this over night.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe

When you are ready to go with the next step, take the pork out of the refrigerator and cut them into bite sized cubes, about 1-2 inches in size. Go larger if you prefer.

Heat a pot of oil, about 2-3 cups of canola oil, in a medium sized pot, and bring this to about 350-375 degrees.

In batches, fry the pork. This should take about 5-7 minutes per batch. Once golden and the fat is rendered and crispy, remove with a slotted spoon or kitchen spyder and place onto a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil. Let the oil in the pot come back to temp, then repeat until the lechon kawali is cooked.

NOTE: If you are frying these bad boys, make sure you reserve some for yourself because if you turn your back, trust me, these babies will be gone. This happened to me when I brought them to a party for our friend Miguel to chop up and fry. I didn’t even get a single piece! No worries on that part however, as I know that when I am snacking with the family, that I am sure to get a few pieces.

And that dipping sauce? Go for it. The combination of garlic, vinegar, soy, and chili. That’s a whole other level when it comes to dipping sauce.

If you are looking for a great party appetizer, and don’t mind frying with a bit of oil, this one is sure to please and is a real crowd pleaser not only for those wanting to try some Filipino flavors, but for those who love great, easy food. Hope you enjoy!

Mexican Barbacoa Recipe

The slow cooker rarely gets put away in our house. Based on our busy schedules is pretty much the reason why, and I am typically the one hustling around trying to feed four hungry people every day. Not that I have a problem with that, but the slow cooker always comes to the rescue, and typically anything I throw in there is a real winner. This particular recipe known as Mexican Barbacoa is a real winner, and is something that is only typically served in our our Mexican restaurants on the weekend. This homey doesn’t have time for that, plus I typically stay away from local tacquerias on the weekend.

Mexican Barbacoa Recipe
Mexican Barbacoa Recipe

For one, we are big fans of shredded meat, especially when it comes to tacos, and this one is no exception. You are going to love the texture, flavor, and simplicity of this Mexican barbacoa.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs beef chuck roast
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 8 oz can of chipotle chilies in adobo
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced, or chopped (your call)
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp ground Mexican oregano, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • flour or corn tortillas, warmed
  • black beans, cooked, optional
  • fresh jalapenos, thinly sliced, optional

Start by adding the 2 tablespoons of oil to a large dutch oven or large skillet. Bring this to a medium heat. The goal is to add the beef in batches to get a nice sear on all sides before placing it into your slow cooker.

Once browned, add each piece to the slow cooker, and repeat with any remaining beef. Once the beef is added, rinse out the skillet or dutch oven, return back to the stove, let the water evaporate, then add in the additional oil bringing it back to a medium heat.

Add in the onion, garlic, and chipotle chilies in adobo sauce. Add in the beef stock, and let this come to a quick boil. Add in the cumin powder, oregano, salt, pepper, and lime juice, and give a good stir Add the mixture to slow cooker, and add to your high setting. Cook this for about 6 hours.

Mexican Barbacoa Ingredients
Mexican Barbacoa Ingredients

After 6 hours, check on the beef and make sure it is fall apart tender. If not, continue to cook until it is and shred all of the beef, making sure everything gets nicely incorporated. Cover and let this cook for about 20 minutes longer to all of that shredded beef and soak up all of that delicious stock.

During this time, cook your beans, and warm up your tortillas. Slice up any additional things such as limes, jalapenos, or onions.

Mexican Barbacoa Recipe
Mexican Barbacoa Recipe

Now it’s ready to serve. I like getting a bit rustic, laying out some barbacoa, beans, chilies, and have things on standby like fresh cilantro, and salsa.

Layer your tacos to your desire and dig in like it’s no one’s business. Forget about waiting for the weekend for this Mexican barbacoa. Go for Tuesday, because who doesn’t love a Tuesday, right?

Hibiscus Iced Tea

I love shopping at my local Mexican grocery store. I have said it before and I will always say it as to how much fun I have browsing the aisles. Granted I’m pretty much the only gringo roaming the aisles, but that is just ok by me. At my particular store, one of the end caps is loaded with dried chilies and an array of spices. There are things I have never heard of before, such as different dried flowers for cooking, but one recently grabbed my attention, and one that I knew. Hibiscus flowers.  These dark burgundy looking dried flowers were grabbing my attention, only to be brought home and turned into a refreshing tea, that I knew my wife and I would love.

Hibiscus Iced Tea Recipe
Hibiscus Iced Tea Recipe

If you are not familiar with hibiscus tea, don’t worry. This stuff is brewed all over the world, has a great taste, and is super easy to make.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz bag of dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 8-10 cups of water
  • Additional items could be lime, ginger, or allspice berries

Start by adding 5 cups of water, sugar, and cinnamon stick to a pot. Bring to a simmer, add in the dried hibiscus flowers, and let this steep for about 30 minutes.  If you want to explore with lime, ginger, or allspice berries, go ahead.

After 30 minutes. Strain the mixture, reserving the hibiscus concentrate. This is your base, so if you are wanting to use this right away, mix about equal parts of concentrate to cold water, served over ice. My batch was pretty much gone in one day due to everyone loving it so much.

Hibiscus Tea Recipe

This hibiscus iced tea is comparable to a blended cranberry juice flavor with that kick of cinnamon. Not only is it super refreshing to drink but it’s loaded with awesome health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, great for the liver, blood pressure, and it has anti-cancer properties, all of which my body probably needs.

If you are looking to impress some guests and help boost their immune system, why not give this hibiscus iced tea a try. It’s a winner! Hope you enjoy…