“Sweetness. Saltiness. Sourness. Bitterness. Every delicious bite you’ve ever tasted has been a result of these four tastes coming together on your taste buds. We taste them as individual notes, and in concert.”
The Flavor Bible
This particular meal is a symphony. Not only in flavors, but in textures and all other senses. I’ve started to think about how food is always improved by creating a better balance of tastes and textures. What’s better than a salty, crunchy tortilla chip? A salty, crunchy tortilla chip with a glob of cool, smooth, slightly spicy guacamole.
The Flavor Bible offers the following formula:
FLAVOR = TASTE + MOUTHFEEL + AROMA + ‘THE X FACTOR’
Taste being those four feelings experienced by the taste buds. Mouthfeel being the texture experienced by the rest of the mouth. Aroma being what the nose perceives. And X-Factor being everything else you experience from the dish (visual, mental, emotional, spiritual).
But back to the almost-musical andouille and roasted poblano recipe I found at Bitchin Camero…
The plate is covered with cold, crunchy lettuce and bitter cilantro. It’s drizzled with olive oil. On top of that is a smoky roasted poblano pepper (soft, slightly spicy, but also a little bitter). Then we put a layer of soft brown rice mixed with salsa (spicy). On top of that is a warm medley of andouille sausage (salty, meaty and spicy), corn (sweet), onions (sweet) and salsa (spicy). Then we put chunks of quesadilla cheese (warm, creamy) and sour cream (cold, creamy). We took a bite, and instantly remembered what we forgot: a good squeeze of fresh lime (sour).
Every bite of this dish has the four tastes and a varied mouthfeel. You can hear the lettuce crunch in your mouth. You see several colors on the plate. You sniffle a little from the piquancy. And the kitchen smells great for hours.
I had leftovers probably four times during the week, and each time my tastebuds were equally happy. Make your tastebuds happy too. Make this dish.
Andouille Sausage and Roasted Poblanos
Original recipe modified from Bitchin Camero
- 4 large poblano peppers
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 Andouille sausages (if fresh, remove the casing; ours were smoked already so we just cut them into small chunks)
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup salsa (we used Trader Joe’s Salsa Autenica; original recipe used 1/3 cup enchilada sauce)
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
- 1 heart of romaine lettuce (original recipe used watercress)
- 1 bunch cilantro
- sour cream (original recipe used cojita cheese, which I would have loved to use if we had it)
- 2 tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375°. Start cooking the rice however you normally do (rice cooker, stovetop or microwave).
Set a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then the onions. Brown the onions for a couple of minutes, then add the sausage. Use a wooden spoon to break up any large sausage chunks and continue to simmer for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the sausage cooks through and browns and the onions turn translucent. Add the corn and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Stir in about 1/4 cup of salsa.
While the sausage and onions brown, prep the peppers. Wash them, then place them on a cutting board and see which side seems like the natural “up” side. Now, cut a straight line into the top layer of the pepper right down the middle, like an incision. Place your thumbs inside the slit and pull it open. You should have the bottom of the pepper intact with two big flaps on either side. Clean the insides of any seeds.
The original recipe stuffs the peppers raw with the cooked rice and meat mixture for 25 minutes, but to save time, we roasted them separately. Once the peppers are prepped, place them in a casserole dish or cookie sheet drizzled with olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and roast about 10 minutes, or until cooked through and slightly charred (flip halfway through cooking).
When rice is cooked, mix in about 1/4 cup of salsa.
Prepare plates with fresh greens drizzled with olive oil. Place roasted poblano flat on top. Layer rice and meat mixture on next. Serve with sour cream or cojita cheese (queso fresco would work, and a melted cheese is nice as long as you have some cold sour cream too). Make sure to squeeze a quarter of a lime over the entire plate. It makes all the difference.