The Propane Chef stocks The Fox well with all kinds of edibles. Costco, 99 Ranch Market, Trader Joe's, Comercial Mexicana...whatever the country, the Propane Chef is there. Not even the smallest of local markets escape his scrutiny. The durable-food supplies we store in the bilge are extensive and could feed us well for a 3- or 4-week ocean passage. Of course, the Chef prefers using only fresh ingredients and saves those dried and canned supplies for times our fridge is empty and we can't find any source of fresh food. Which in Mexico happens, like, never.
When I did the latest food inventory upon leaving Mazatlan a few months back, I pointed out to the Chef that the bilge was still pretty full, and that we had bought some of our more durable food supplies back in Seattle in May. Of 2007. I suggested we start rotating out the older canned items and use them up before bringing any more such supplies on board. The Chef gave me such a stunned look you'd have thought I'd suggested he make a seafood salad by scraping the barnacles and algae off The Fox's nether regions.
"Y-you want me to use...CANNED FOOD?!"
"Well, not exclusively. Just sort of here and there. Sort of...."
"...Because we bought the cans to, you know, EAT WHAT'S INSIDE THEM?"
"<harrumph.> <snort.> <sigh.> OK. Sure. Fine."
Whew. The Chef was not happy. But the longer we stayed out at various anchorages, the more he needed to resort to canned products anyway. So it was all good. And when The Propane Chef cracks open a can, here's the kind of lunch he makes. He whipped up this chile-chicken cream soup with chile biscuits one afternoon when we had gone 16 days since having been in a port with access to fresh food. That's more than two weeks, people:
The chicken breast that went in the soup was the last bit we had in our tiny freezer compartment in the galley's fridge. The soup's cream base came from a can of Carnation evaporated milk - jalapeno flavor* - that I'd bought for the Chef in Mazatlan one day on a lark.** The evaporated milk was spicy but not unpleasantly so (those used to eating spicy foods might describe the effect as "a pleasant tingle"); and to enhance the soup's texture and color the Chef mixed in a small can of corn and used a larger can of mild-tasting poblano chiles for both the soup and the biscuits he baked on the side. He had previously dried his own cilantro, and that's what's in the glass jar on the right in that picture over there. This is the only kind of hand-dried leafy green herb we keep in small glass jars - we don't get out much. The dried cilantro was sprinkled generously on top of the soup as a fine, fragrant garnish.
When all was said and done, The Chef had used 3 cans out of the bilge which stopped the purser's nagging. I got a very nice lunch in return. Bonus: The Chef liked the chile-infused evaporated milk so much, he said he''ll be cooking with it again.
* Carnation evaporated milk, sold in Mexico, comes in Original Flavor plus some other flavors, like jalapeno, poblano or cilantro. Wild.
** Sometimes I play "stump-the-Chef" and get some sort of unusual fresh or canned food, just to see what Gary can make with it. I'm rarely disappointed.
GB here: My kind wife made more out of this meal than it truly was - I had bought the condensed milk flavored with jalapeno chiles when we first got into Mexico. [O RLY? ms] The canned poblanos were a real find - a large can of very nice chiles. You need the foresight to dry some cilantro - it goes real fast in the oven or a 110 degree cockpit. Here is the soup recipe.
1 chicken breast cubed
1/2 onion chopped
i clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1/4 can or 1 cup chopped poblano chili
1 small can corn
1 can evaporated milk with jalapeno flavoring
Saute the cubed chicken in a bit of olive oil until browned, add the onion and toss, add the chopped garlic - add 2 cups water, the bay leaf, cover and simmer for 20 minutes - you are making a stock. You could have added carrot, celery, or fresh peppers at this point - but we dd not have any of that stuff. After simmering, add the chopped chile, corn, and the poblano peppers - simmer for five minutes. Add the can of evaporated milk and return to a very gentle boil - don't overcook the milk cause it could separate. Serve with chopped cilantro and pickled jalapenos on the top.
MS here again...perhaps one day the Chef will discuss his biscuit recipe - but it's easy enough to mix in the rest of the canned poblano chiles - diced - into your own favorite biscuit (or cornbread) mixture...
m (& g)