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D: The Cookbook, a Cautionary Tale

Cookbook_CoverPerhaps you have heard about the cookbook turned out last week by our culinary team. Chad Houser and the folks from Cafe Momentum pitched in (a portion of the proceeds gets funneled to the latter). Nancy nearly killed herself producing it. So did Krista. Todd designed the ever living snot out of it. Kevin Marple’s photography is stunning. You’ll find more than 100 recipes from the best chefs in Dallas. And so on and so on. You really should order a copy for yourself. And maybe six or seven additional copies for your enemies (to confuse and fatten them). At $14.95, it is ridiculously underpriced. Seriously, someone should get fired for that screwup.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be trying selected recipes and reporting on how those efforts turn out. Or I might do just this one post, go back to serving my family a steady diet of nothing but pork products and quinoa, and give up on the whole series-of-recipe-trials thing. We’ll see.

This week: Swine Blue Tacos, a recipe from Jeana Johnson and Colleen O’Hare, the Good 2 Go Taco ladies.

My 8-year-old daughter chose this recipe. We live down the street from Good 2 Go, and she’s familiar with their work. Also, she likes tacos. I doubt she gets the “swine blue” pun. But I didn’t ask her. Maybe she does.

My long-suffered wife, God bless her, did the grocery shopping Sunday morning to acquire the ingredients. That she neglected to wear the old Marion Barber jersey that gets us a 10-percent discount on game day at Albertsons is an oversight that I’ve already forgotten about. I mean, it would have saved us only, what, 20 bucks? We’re rich. Twenty bucks is nothing. Same goes for the children’s vitamins that she threw out because the kids didn’t think they tasted enough like candy. It’s only money. My sole complaint: we should skip the trips to the grocery store and save time by simply throwing the cash directly into the garbage.

So she returns to the house with the aforementioned groceries, around noon, right as I’m about to pop out to Home Depot to buy another sprinkler because the one in our backyard has been destroyed. Both kids claim to have no knowledge of how this happened. Very suspicious.

The missus points to the open cookbook, propped up in a cookbook stand, and says, “I need you to get this started.” She has to get the daughter to her soccer game. Sorry — soccer games. Two games, conveniently scheduled with an hour downtime between them, so that we have to spend nearly the entire day at Moss Fields.

“But I’m going to Home Depot,” I protest.

“No, you’re not. You’re starting dinner. Because the pork butt has to cook for eight hours. If you don’t start now, we’ll never eat dinner in time. Now start cooking!”

I might be totally misrepresenting how this conversation went down. Yes, that’s possible. But I’m the one with access to the blog. Also with approval power over comments. So you’ll have to trust me.

Which brings me to the most important thing about the Swine Blue Tacos, the thing you must realize if you intend to execute the recipe: THEY TAKE ROUGHLY NINE HOURS TO PREPARE. Sure, you stick the pork butt in a Dutch oven with veggies and broth, and you cook it at 275 for eight hours, but first the veggies must be charred, and the pork butt must be grilled until it, too, is charred. (As the cookbook says, “Don’t be afraid of the crispy black bits; they add flavor.”) Add it up, and, as I say, from start to finish, you’re talking nine hours.

This means that starting at noon is not advised — especially if you need to feed an 8-year-old girl who has played two soccer games. Because if you start at noon, here is what will happen: your daughter will come home from soccer and excitedly approach the oven timer. “Only five hours and 30 minutes!” she will say at 4 o’clock, not doing the math and figuring out that these tacos won’t be ready until well after she should be asleep. You, though, you’ll have figured it out. You’re smart like that. But you will say nothing. No, no. Spoiling the gustatory hopes and dreams of an 8-year-old is no fun. You keep your mouth shut and try to enjoy the smell of garlic and pork wafting through the house.

In my experience, if you start at noon, and if you have an 8-year-old daughter, it will all come crashing down about 90 minutes before the tacos are ready. That’s when the inevitable can no longer be postponed. You’ll break the bad news to your daughter and get out the frozen Bertolli pasta.

taco
Bear in mind that I took this photograph near 10 o’clock, after having almost died of hunger.

But here’s the other thing that will happen if you start at noon: at 9:30, after your daughter is in bed and dreaming about vitamins that taste like Smarties and Starburst, you and your wife and your 14-year-old son, all of you famished to the point of hallucination (“Is Andrew Luck going bald? Luck can’t be going bald.”), you will gorge on delicious pulled pork tacos topped with a blue cheese vinaigrette slaw. Everything will once again be right in the world.

One more suggestion: the recipe for the vinaigrette makes about twice what you need. Cut it in half.