Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Soul Food Ramen Noodles ... Pork Hock Cutlet Stewed with Tomatoes and Okra

     Louisiana Style Slow Cooked Soul Food Gourmet Ramen Noodles! 
     A simple craving can lead to a new ramen noodle recipe idea!  Soul food is still popular after all these years and the comfort this cuisine provides is the reason why.  
     To cook soul food, a person kind of has to understand the meaning of the word soul as it applies to cooking.  In this context, soul means applying your own honest inner self and your good feelings to what is being cooked and sharing that soulful feeling with others.  This is only one of the thousands of definitions of the meaning of how soul applies to cooking food.  
     Soul food is spiritual, it is hope and it is kindness.  Soul food is color blind.  Soul food is doing what you do, the way you do and it inspires others to do nice things in return.  Soul food also means taking pride in cooking up a whole mess of good old fashioned country vittles for hungry folk who have hearty appetites!

     Country cooking, southern cooking, down home cooking and soul food cooking are all nearly the same, but not everybody applies soul to what they cook equally.  Some folks got more soul than others, but never let a thought like this get a person down, because in the end, if the food is on the table, then somebody had enough soul to make it all happen!

     Soul food often makes use of many items that snobbish folks have no taste for.  Chicken gizzards, chicken feet, liver, chitterlings, trotters, snouts, ears, neck bones and hocks are all items that down to earth country folk have a taste for.  Well, to be honest, chitterlings are kind of an acquired taste, even for down home country folk!  

     Some of the soul food recipes in the website were cooked and written in Chicago and some of those recipes featured smoked meats.  Chicago is a major meat packinghouse city and top quality freshly smoked meats are available there for a nice low price.  In the old days, smoking was one of the only ways to preserve meats, especially in the southern states where winter temperatures rarely got cold enough for natural ice production.  Salt curing was not always reliable, because curing salts were not always available when economic times were tough.

     Smoked ham hock is a popular flavor with nearly any kind of crowd.  Unsmoked, uncured, fresh raw pork hocks have a stronger flavor than cured smoked ham hocks.  Raw pork hocks tend to find their way into deep south cooking and soul food cooking close to the same day that a pig was slaughtered.  
     Pig leg meat is dark and stronger tasting than the rest of the pig.  Country folk tend to use tomatoes, vinegar, seasoning, onions and peppers to tame the strong flavor of uncured pork leg meat.  

     Stewed tomato and okra is a popular southern vegetable recipe.  Pork hocks that are stewed with tomato and okra is an old time down home favorite.  Especially in Louisiana, where some of the best tomatoes in the world are grown.  
     Cajuns are not the only people that use filé powder (ground sassafras leaves) in recipes.  Powdered sassafras leaf is a traditional Native American spice and stew thickener that does have some medicinal value.  
     Sassafras grows wild throughout the midwest and the south.  As kids, we used to go out in the Missouri woods and grab handfuls of sassafras tree leaves to dry and make tea with.  In the mid American south, people grind wild sassafras to be used as Filé Powder, just like this has been done for thousands of years.  
     Sassafras leaf spice tastes great with pork hocks that are stewed with okra and tomato.  If filé powder is added early, it thickens the stew.  If it is added late in the recipe, then it spices the stew up with a fragrant aroma!
     Traditionally, pork hock stewed with tomatoes and okra is served with rice.  Serving this Louisiana stew ham hock over ramen noodles is surely going to rock the world of gourmet ramen noodle recipe fans with good old fashioned soul food fever.  Get on the soul food train and enjoy the ride!

     Pork Hock Cutlet Stewed with Tomatoes and Okra:
     This recipe yields 1 portion!
     The stew does take quite some time to slow simmer, so this is not an instant ramen noodle recipe.  This recipe is slow cooked with soul!
     Pork Hocks are uncured and they are not smoked.  Ham Hocks are cured and sometimes they are also smoked.
     A butcher can use a meat saw to cut a meaty pork hock through the bone on request.  Thin cut pork hocks are available at Asian markets or Filipino markets.  Keep in mind, the meatier the pork hock, the better. 
     Step 1:  Select a meaty 3/8" to 1/2" thick slice of fresh pork hock that is sawed through the bone.
     Use a knife to barely cut through the pork rind that surrounds the meat  (One slice every inch or two.  This will keep the stop the rind from shrinking and curling the meat into an odd looking shape when the ham hock is stewed.)
     Step 2:  Heat a small sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium/medium low heat.  
     Add 1 chopped slice of smoked bacon.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Sauté the bacon, till most of the bacon grease has rendered.
     Add the pork hock cutlet.
     Sauté till the pork hock becomes browned on both sides.  
     Step 3:  Add 1/3 cup of small chopped onion.
     Add 1 chopped green onion.
     Add 1/2 of a chopped seeded jalapeno pepper.
     Sauté till the vegetables start to become tender.
     Step 4:  Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 cup of thick sliced okra.
     Add 1 cup of chopped overripe seeded tomato.
     Add 1/2 cup of tomato puree.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth.
     Add 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar.
     Step 4:  Bring the ingredients to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer the stew, till the ham hock meat becomes tender.  Add a little water if the stewing sauce becomes too thick, before the pork hock meat becomes tender.
     Step 5:  After the pork hock meat is tender, simmer and reduce the sauce to a medium thick tomato sauce consistency.
     Adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper if necessary.
     Keep the stew warm over very low heat.

     Soul Food Ramen Noodles ... Pork Hock Cutlet Stewed with Tomatoes and Okra:
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of ramen noodles in boiling water, till they become tender.
     Drain the hot water off of the ramen noodles.
     Place the ramen noodles in a shallow stew bowl.
     Step 2:  Place the stewed ham hock on the center of the ramen noodles.
     Pour the tomato okra stew sauce over the ham hock and ramen noodles.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of filé powder over the stew and around the noodles in the bowl.
     Sprinkle a few bite size pieces of green onion top over the stew.

     Comfortable tasting and hearty soul food Gourmet ramen!    

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