Sunday, January 29, 2012

Trattoria Brown - Café Rio Pork Salad

We at Trattoria Brown love us some Café Rio. The following recipe is a take on the particularly lovely pork salad we developed attending grad school. The cooking is broken up into eight major components: pork, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, beans, rice, and dressing. Other components that require no cooking are: romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese, sour cream. For best results, these components need to come together quickly.



• 3.5 lbs pork shoulder (a.k.a. pork butt)
• 10 oz. can red enchilada sauce
• 8 oz. Dr. Pepper
• 1 ½ cups light brown sugar
• 1 can chopped green chiles
• 2 teaspoons salt

• 8 plum tomatoes (a.k.a. roma tomatoes)
• 1 handful cilantro — buy 1 bunch, you’ll need it later as well
• Juice of ½ lime
• ½ tablespoon olive oil — if you don’t have olive oil, skip the oil
• Salt to taste

• 3 avocadoes
• 2 cloves garlic
• Juice of ½ lime
• Salt to taste

• 8 6 or 8-inch flour tortillas
• 2 ½ to 3 cups vegetable oil
• Salt to taste

• 2 cans black beans
• 1 onion
• 2 tablespoons olive oil — if you don’t have olive oil, use vegetable oil
• 1 can low sodium chicken stock or chicken broth
• Salt to taste

• 1 ½ cups long grain white rice
• 3 cups water
• Juice of 1 lime
• Zest of 1 lime
• 1 handful cilantro
• 1 ½ teaspoons salt

• 1 Hidden Valley Ranch buttermilk packet
• 2 tomatillos
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1 cup mayonnaise — not Miracle Whip, mayonnaise
• ½ chipotle chile packed in adobo sauce or ½ chopped serrano chile — optional


• 2 heads or 3 hearts of romaine lettuce
• 1 container sour cream
• ½ pound cheddar cheese



Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place pork in crock pot bowl. Add brown sugar and green chiles. Pour in enchilada sauce and Dr. Pepper. Put aluminum foil over bowl and cut 8–10 slits. Place in oven and cook for 5–6 hours.

Take bowl from oven. Remove pork to a cutting board under which you’ve placed two layers of paper towels. Place liquid into sauce pot, turn burner on high, and let boil while you pull the pork. Now, take two forks and pull the pork apart. Pull until the entire butt is reduced to a big pile of stringy pork. Remove unnecessary fat globs.

Place pork in liquid. Reduce until mixture is not runny. The pork is runny if you pull some out with a tong and you see a string of liquid coming dripping off. A few drops is okay, but no liquid strings.

Place pork in container and set aside.

* You can make the pork ahead. Pork placed in an air tight container will keep for 5–7 days in the fridge. If you do make ahead, remove pork and reheat it in a sauce pot before using.

2. Dressing

Husk the tomatillos and cut them in half. Roast them in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.

While tomatillos are roasting, place ranch packet in a food processor. Add buttermilk and mayonnaise. When tomatillos are roasted, place them in the processor and process until smooth.

If you want your dressing spicier, add ½ chipotle chile or ½ serrano chile before processing.

* You can make this ahead. Dressing stored in an airtight container will last 3–4 days, at a minimum. I wouldn’t make it anymore than a day ahead, however. You want the freshest taste possible.

3. Rice

Place rice in a strainer and clean with running water. Place in a medium non-stick pot with an oven proof lid. Add water and salt and zest. Place in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until fluffy.

While rice is cooking, finely dice cilantro. Remove rice from oven and fluff it with a fork or spoon. Add cilantro and lime juice. Place in a bowl and cover with saran wrap. Set aside.

4. Guacamole

Cut avocados in half and core them. Remove the meat and place in a food processor. Mince garlic and add to food processor. Add lime juice and salt. Process.

Processing time depends on how chunky you want you guac. I like mine smooth, so I process until the mixture looks like butter. If you like your guac chunkier, then process for less time.

5. Salsa

Cut tomatoes in half. Remove seeds. Dice tomatoes into fairly small pieces and place them in a mixing bowl. Finely dice cilantro and place in bowl. Add olive oil, lime juice, and salt. Mix.

6. Beans

Dice onion. Place olive oil in sauce pot over medium high heat. Add onions and salt and sauté for 4– 6 minutes, or until translucent. Place beans in a strainer and clean with running water. Add beans to pot. Pour in chicken stock or broth. Turn heat to high and reduce until mixture is no longer soupy. Turn burner to low and let sit.

7. Tortillas

Place oil in a large pot over medium high heat. When oil has come to temperature introduce tortilla. Fry until first side is lightly brown. Flip tortilla and lightly brown the other side. Remove tortilla and place in a place lined with four layers of paper towels. Salt to taste. Repeat this process until you have fried each tortilla.

Take Tortillas two at a time and cube them — four lengthwise slices and four vertical slices works well. Store tortillas on a plate or in a bowl.

8. Other ingredients

Shred cheddar cheese and place in bowl. Chop romaine — ½ wide strips work well. Open sour cream.

All the cooking and prep is finished. Now it’s on to . . .



Plate components as follows (portions are entirely up to you, but if you’re not a hog, this recipe feeds 4–6):

1. Tortillas
2. Pork
3. Rice
4. Beans
5. Cheese
6. Sour cream (on one side)
7. Gauc (on side opposite sour cream)
8. Salsa
9. Romaine
10. Dressing

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Trattoria Brown - Farro Salad with Tuna and Hard-Boiled Eggs

Farro is an ancient grain still rather popular among Italians. It has a bulgur wheat quality to it, which makes it quite perfect for cold, refreshing vegetable salads. Honestly, this is more of a summertime dish, but it has just enough heft to take you through a cold winter's day.


2 cups whole-grain farro
4 cups water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped and seeded
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 can tuna, packed in olive oil
2 tablespoons rinsed, drained, and chopped capers
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste


In a slow cooker, combine the farro, water, and salt to taste. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, or until farro is tender but still chewy.

While the farro is cooking hard boil the eggs by placing them in a medium sized pot filled with a good amount of cold water. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for five minutes. Turn off heat and let sit in water for another five minutes. Remove eggs and place them under running cold water for one minute. Then let them sit until just before assembling the salad. At this point, peel the eggs and slice them.

When the farro is cooked, place in a colander and rinse with cold water for 30-45 seconds, then drain. Place the farro in a large bowl and add oil and vinegar. Stir until combined. Add garlic, tomatoes, green onions, olives, tuna, capers, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until combined. Top with the hard-boiled eggs. Serve immediately.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Braza Express

Address: 180 North University Avenue, Suite 150, Provo, UT 84601. 801.344.5555.

Review: Brazilian food is a big thing in Utah. This is unsurprising since at least 97% of Utahns have served their LDS missions in Brazil. And king of the Brazilian food concepts is the churrascaria, or steakhouse (think Rodizio Grill or Tucanos). Not wanting to compete directly with the aforementioned churrascaria juggernauts, Braza Express tweaks the Brazilian steakhouse idea and creates an almost a quick-eating experience.

I ordered the combo plate.

It came with a choice of pretty much everything Braza makes. I chose black beans and chicken rice, top sirloin, tenderloin, chicken, sausage and peppers, fried bananas, grilled pineapple, and a cabbage salad. To drink I had a cashew juice.

Let's start with the most enjoyable parts of the meal. The black beans and chicken rice were pretty stellar. Brazilian black beans have that great sort of beans and ham hocks feel to them, and Braza's were the real deal. Likewise, the chicken rice was the right combination of white rice studded with little savory chicken bits. And then there was the cashew drink. I've never had anything of the sort before, and it was quite enjoyable. The cashew essence came through, and the hint of citrus lightened the drink. Very refreshing.

And then there was everything else. The meats were nothing more than okay. For example, the tenderloin was perfectly cooked, and incredibly salty. I'm talkin' it made me pucker salty. The other meats weren't as salty, but they weren't as well cooked either. The fried bananas were dry. The grilled pineapple lacked that nice grilled flavor you'd expect from well, the grill. It tasted like heated through pineapple. Meh. The cabbage salad was unremarkable, and the roll was a standard hard white roll.

In all, some very good, most not very good. I won't be frequenting again.

Rating: 4/10 (5/10 is average)

Braza Express on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bakery Street

Address: 1370 S State St, Salt Lake City, UT 84115. 801.486.0238.

Review: Anymore, there are relatively few times I experience something in the valley that makes me think, "Wow, never seen that before." Bakery Street (Street), a Brazilian bakery, caused such a reaction.

Since I'm not much of a sugar guy, Street's savory offerings had me at hello. That said, the selection of sweet confections with dolce de leche were quite enticing.

So, my friend and I ordered a bevy of goodies, beginning with a beef empanada, a chicken and potato coxinha, and a ham and cheese sope.

The coxinha (on right) was shaped much like Dan Akroyd's cranium in those old conehead skits. And for all its strange shape, this was a good little treat. The cone portion up top primarily mashed potatoes surrounded by a wonderfully crunchy breaded exterior. As you move down, you arrive at a pocket of spiced shredded chicken that makes this treat substantial.

In the center of the plate is the ground beef empanada. The exterior was nice golden, and the inside was simple beef and spices. Nothing stunning here, but empanadas are peasant foods, not haute cuisine.

And then was have the ham and cheese sope. The sope was beautifully fried. It was light, airy, and invitingly warm. The inside was an amalgam of stringy cheese and chopped ham. This is what a great snack food should be.

And then we ordered sandwiches. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of the sandwich I ate. What I do remember is (1) the size, which was friggin' huge; (2) the steak portion of the sandwich had dynamite flavor; and (3) the bread was a nice mix of soft and hard that made for a really enjoyable sandwich experience.

In all, I was surprised how much I enjoyed Street. I will be back often to try out the other sandwich offerings, which I'm sure will be stellar. Who knows, maybe even some sugary treats will be in order next time.

Rating: 7/10 (5/10 is average).

Bakery Street on Urbanspoon


Address: 317 S Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. 801.359.8447.

Review: So, it's a Saturday afternoon and you have a business lunch scheduled. The downtown restaurant you planned on frequenting isn't open. What do you do? What do you do? If you're me, you quick find another restaurant in the vicinity and start walking. Eva fit the bill, so we walked.

Eva is billed by some as a tapas restaurant. While there are some small plates, the majority of dishes are standard restaurant size. What is much more like a tapas restaurant is the ambiance. Intimate, hard-wood tables, good food.

I started with the chicken and blue cheese salad.

This is the kind of green salad I very much enjoy because it's not really about the greens. The star here is the chicken, which was tender and juicy, and the interplay between sweet components (e.g., grapes, apples) and savory ones (e.g., blue cheese, vinaigrette). Just as you bite into the not-too-strong blue cheese, you get a shot of crunchy, sweet apple. The acid in the grapes and vinaigrette help cut the fattiness of the cheese and the savoriness of the chicken. Well done.

Next up was the Greek mezze plate.

Quickly, this wasn't as good as the salad. The pita was okay, although I the strong flavor of what seemed to be fennel seed didn't really do it for me. The tatziki was okay, if not a bit runny, and the feta wasn't particularly flavorful.

Finally, my compadre partook of the full Irish.

I was happy to see this on the menu. For those who haven't been introduced to the goodness that is the full Irish, it's an Irish breakfast, complete with Irish bacon, sausage, potatoes, marmalade, toast, eggs, and a roasted tomato. (Honestly, it's pretty much the same thing as a full English breakfast, but don't tell an Irish person that. If you do, they'll sick one of those beady-eyed leprechauns on you.) And while I didn't actually eat this full Irish, I was informed of its hardy goodness. And since it looked and smelled surprisingly similar to the full Irishes I had all over Ireland, I believed what he was telling me.

Ultimately, can't wait to go back, especially when I want to stuff myself with meat and potatoes in the a.m.

Rating: 7/10 (5/10 is average).

Eva on Urbanspoon