Monday, November 11, 2013

Cookin' on the railroad

Friday last I cooked lunch for the maintenance of way crew on the El Dorado Western Railroad in Western El Dorado County, California. The menu consisted of:
To prepare for the meal, I roasted an eight-pound bone-in pork picnic shoulder at home Thursday evening. I normally use pork butt, but the supermarket didn't have any in stock. The shoulder yielded between five to six pounds of cooked meat once I discarded the bone. I also made the adobo sauce from dried chilies, formed the biscuits with pepper-jack and Parmesan cheeses, prepared the cobbler topping and packed.

After breakfast with the crew (at a Shingle Springs restaurant aptly named the Train Station), I drove to the grade crossing closest to the trestle that we were working on and waited for the train to pick me up.

Once we arrived at the work site, the crew unloaded the kitchen. I set up on a saddle perpendicular to the tracks and began the chili. (Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the chili.) To prepare, I sweated 2 diced onions with lots of minced garlic in olive oil, then dropped about 5 pounds diced pork into the pot. One (14.5-ounce) can of fire roasted tomatoes and 1 (12-ounce) can of tomatillos went into the pot next, along with 1.5 cups of the adobo sauce, a pint of beef stock and the pork drippings.

Two teaspoons smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons ground cumin and 1 teaspoon dried oregano seasoned the chili. I later added extra dried chili powder and garlic powder to boost the flavor. The chili simmered over a bed of coal for the next hour and one-half. A couple handsful of corn chips thickened the chili.

Nineteen biscuits fit snuggly inside a 14-inch camp oven. I had intended to brush the biscuits with cream, but forgot.

The berry cobbler is similar in construction to a dump cake. You pour frozen berries (12 ounces raspberries, 16 ounces blueberries and 16 ounces blackberries) into an oiled 12-inche camp oven. Half of the topping (scratch made with a fine consistence like cake mix) covered the berries. After the first topping dump had stated to brown, I covered it with the remaining topping and baked with coals for about 425 degrees until brown and crusty.

In the picture, I set the biscuit lid in the skillet and used it for bottom heat for maybe 5 or 10 minutes. Two rings of coals provided the top heat. The picture shows the cobble just before the second topping dump.