This year, to distinguish the overeating and TV watching from the other days of the week, my wife and I invited a few close friends over. Given that everyone present was equally as ambivalent about any actual outcome to the day's big game, our main objective then became preparing and eating food. And that brings us to recipe installment number three in the random collection of Denver On a Spit recipes.
But first, before I forget, we also drank some beer; and among these beers were three particularly tasty bottles from the Sam Adams' Barrel Room Collection that I was so generously gifted many months back while at a beer pairing event at Denver's own Table 6. Apparently they had a limited semi-exclusive release this Winter which happily included Denver, and although I normally buy most of my beer from one of Colorado's fine brewers, this was a nice change of pace and I do recommend all three.
Speaking of Table 6, my wife and I had a snack there late on Super Bowl eve, and like every time I've been there, I left happy, sated, inspired and, well, a little drunk. This time the inspiration came not from the skin of a chicken, but rather that of a pig. Get ready. One of the new starters on the Table 6 playlist: pork rinds wrapped in prosciutto, drizzled with olive oil and black salt. To call it simply delicious would be an understatement. This just made it on my top 10 list of all time favorites. OK, I know I exaggerate at times, but it's just that it made me unusually excited-- in a totally normal way. So I can safely say that it is at least the finest snack food, well, ever. Crunch, chew, pork, pork, salt, oil. Think about it. Here it is:
And when I say I left Table 6 inspired, I mean to say that I left inspired to copy. The next morning after shaking off my groggy wine and pork daze, I made a trip to Rancho Liborio Mexican grocery store on East Colfax and Havana, and picked up an enormous amount of freshly fried pork rinds, or as we call them in my house, chicarrones. I then zoomed over to that whole-market place and picked up some of that fine La Quercia American prosciutto (we're not watching Italian football after all) as well as some black salt. Later that afternoon I carefully wrapped pork in pork, served it to our guests and briefly basked in their praise, until my pork-conscious couldn't stand to curse my pork-karma any longer, and I spilled my secret.
Other new Table 6 menu items for me were Kumamoto oysters served with an apple balsamic jalapeño sauce, which provided a perfect backdrop to the buttery sweetness of these Hog Island beauties without drowning them out. And for dessert, in addition to the mainstay of milk chocolate beignets, we slurped down an apricot rice pudding with a Rice Crispy crisp that was absolutely divine. Scott Parker, Aaron Foreman and crew continue to impress with fun, innovative menu items, spot-on execution, excellent service and an inviting atmosphere.
But back to our Super Bowl party and a couple recipes. After gorging on those gorgeous pork snacks, we made proper use of our molcajete (unlike some places in Denver) and whipped up some guacamole. For this I like to chop a small slice of onion, a handful of cilantro, a clove of garlic and some serranos; which I then grind up into a paste in the molcajete. Then we smashed two avocados up with this paste, added a third, chopped avocado and a diced tomato. To finish it, we drizzled the whole concoction with juice of a half of lime and added salt to taste. Guacamole is hard to mess up, but this relatively standard approach never fails.
While dipping stuff in guacamole is always good, we did something different: we sliced very (very) thin slices of jicama (a watery, crisp and refreshing Mexican tuber) into which we added the guacamole, sprinkled on some smashed up chicarrones and served up as tacos. We forgot to buy some queso fresco, which makes it an even more perfect bite, but this is still a tasty and refreshing snack.
Here is our jicama taco with guacamole and chicarron:
For dinner we decided to cook up some burgers and one of our friends put together a nice burger-complementing salsa with the following ingredients: 3 chile poblanos, about 10 roma tomatoes, 4 thick slices of red onion, 2 cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh thyme. We roasted it all (except the thyme) on cast iron skillets, rotating each item until everything was blackened and my house filled with thick chile smoke. (By the way, make sure to keep the skin on the garlic). After removing the skin and most of the seeds from the poblanos (and the garlic) we blended everything up along with a handful of thyme, adding quite a bit of salt along the way. This is a very good salsa to top a burger, and along with a dollop of guacamole and a bottle of American Kriek, it made a rather wholesome meal. Look how good:
It was a heroic amount of eating and drinking we did that night. In fact, by the end of our meal, I was utterly worthless as a host, and I kicked back into a reclining chair, only to mumble a few feeble armchair commentaries as what actually turned out to be a pretty good football game came to its dramatic conclusion. Our guests parted ways not too much after that, and I fell asleep within minutes, content with another well spent Sunday.