Posts Tagged ‘Mexican’
I’m not sure I’d ever made real Mexican food. Don’t get me wrong. Box tacos are a guilty pleasure. But calling box tacos Mexican cooking would be like calling a jar of Ragu and boxed spaghetti Italian cooking. The closest I’ve probably come is fish tacos with a side of fresh guacamole. Maybe some of my enchiladas have gotten on the path. But, with the purchase of a new cook book, it was time to give it a real try.
The new cook book (Truly Mexican) offers up recipes ranging from the simple to the devilishly complex. I decided to ease in with a basic Adobo sauce (recipe below). And the basic sauce was even easier than I expected. Maybe a few extra minutes (at max, 15 minutes of real cooking time) compared to the crappy slightly seasoned tomato sauces I’ve played with in the past.
On my first go, I decided for pork (recipe below). After making the sauce and cutting the pork, a bit of hands-off cooking yielded delicious fall apart pork. With a little cilantro, Mexican cheese, and a small bit of sour cream I had some rock’n tacos. For a full meal, I added some beans and rice. So freak’n good!
This last weekend I made the same meal with chicken and a few eggs on the side for an at home brunch. The chicken recipe tracks the pork with a reduced cook time (for sliced chicken it was about 20 minutes of stove top in sauce cook time).
The cook book tells me the sauce can keep in the fridge for a week and on both cookings it seemed better the next day. (I’m eating Sunday brunch leftovers for lunch as I type.) I think I might next need to make the sauce a couple days in advance. Then I’ll be just 30 minutes away from my next taco night!
Basic Ancho Adobo
- 2 1/2 onces ancho chiles (5 individual chiles), wiped clean, stemmed, slit open, seeded and deveined
- 1/2 cup water for blending, more if necessary
- 1/4 cup Seville orange juice or distilled white vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sale or 1 teaspoon if kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-low heat, and toast the chiles 2 at a time, turning them over frequently until they’re fragrant and they’ve developed light brown blisters, about 1 1/2 minutes per batch. Soak the chiles in enough cold water to cover until they’re soft, about 30 minutes. Drain and discard the soaking water.
Put the 1/2 cup of fresh water in the blender jar with the chiles and the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth, at least 3 minutes, adding a little more water in necessary to puree. For a silkier, smooth texture, strain the adobo through a medium-mesh sieve.
Pork in Adobo (Cerdo en Adobo)
- 2 pounds pork shoulder or other pork stewing meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes.
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons
- 1 1/2 cup of Adobo
- 2 cups of water or chicken stock
Pat the pork dry and season it with the salt. Heat the oil in a 4 to 5 quart heavy pot or skillet over medium-high. Brown the pork (us e multiple batches is needed–avoid having the pork pieces sitting on top of each other), turning occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes per batch.
Reduce the heat and return all the pork to the pot. Carefully pour the adobo over the pork. If the adobo is in the blender, swish a little liquid around in the jar and add it to the pot. Simmer, stirring to coat the pork and fry the sauce, until the sauce is slightly thicker, about 5 minutes. Add the 2 cups of water.
Cook the pork, covered, in an oven in an ovenproof pot in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Season to taste, vinegar, and additional salt. (The recipe also instructs that you can reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, gently simmer the pork, adding a couple table spoons of water from time to time to maintain a silky texture until the pork is tender, 1 1/2 2 hours)
No. I’m not dead. Just warped-up in work and studies. I’m in progress on a post on some great Mexican cooking I’ve been able to squeeze in. Those meals have all included this been recipe from Truly Mexican a cook book I wrote-up a while back.
This black bean recipe is great pair for a taco night or just eating over rice. The mashing and added liquid means the beans are sitting in a tasty bean sauce. In fact, I’ve had this little dish over rice for dinner countless times in the last few months. (Aside: I love my rice cooker.) Reheated, the beans and rice make a great lunch. The recipe is easy to double or triple and it’s great to have some in the fridge for a near instant meal or side.
- 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, including liquid
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Chipotel Chile Powder (or sub in a couple drops of very hot hot sauce)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer the beans vigorously, mashing them slightly with potato masher or fork. Season to taste with slat.
BOOM! In under 10 minutes you’ve got yourself some awesome beans!
Last year, Loren posted about gifting Good Meat to his brother. After receiving the book, Loren’s brother sat down to give it Saturday read with a few cups of tea. I had the much the same experience when I got my hands on Truly Mexican.
The author Roberto Santibanez is the head chef of Fonda (the restaurant that redefined Mexican food for me). Before I’d eaten at Fonda, I heard Santibanez on The Splendid Table and knew I had to learn more about real Mexican food. My meals at Fonda have blown me away and I could only resist buying this book for so long.
The cookbook offers up page after page of instruction, recipes, and beautiful photos. The reader is taken through the basics (how do you core a tomato, roast garlic, or pit an avocado) through easily executed salsas, guacamoles, and adobos to the advanced 22 ingredient multi-hour process that is the legendary mole poblano.
Another thing I love about this cookbook is the fact that Santibanez recognizes that owning the book doesn’t mean that you automatically live in Mexico or give you access to markets filled with the proper ingredients. To help bridge the gap between grocery store reality and Mexican cooking necessity, Truly Mexican lists a number of websites where more obscure chilies and other ingredients can be purchased and offers a few alternative chili peppers for some of the dishes. I know it would be great to make my way to a proper store to purchase these items, but it’s nice to know I don’t have to to get what I need.
I haven’t gotten to cooking anything from here yet, but, once I’ve take care of Thanksgiving leftovers, Taco Tuesday better look out! For now, I’m happy to page through this tasty tome before bed.
It’s rare, very rare, that a restaurant can change my whole understanding about a class of food. Fonda is one of those rare restaurants. Fonda has made me believe that Mexican food can be sophisticated. I’ve always loved Mexican food; both the massive Americanized platters of corn tortillas flooded with sauce, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole and the more authentic corn tortillas or rice and bean dishes. But I’ve never thought of Mexican food as fancy or high end. Both of the usual varieties are satisfying but can hardly be called elegant. Even the nicer Mexican spots seem to put out food that still approximates Don Pablo’s, just with better ambiance and a long tequila list. So my elevation of Fonda deservers a thorough justification.
However, a thorough justification is going to have to wait. I want to return a few more times before making my full report. For now I’ll keep it short. I’ve dined at Fonda a few times and sampled their happy hour menu and, while I did have one major service failure here, the food has always impressed. Good enough that I don’t feel cheated for paying $16 for the enchiladas.
It’s now officially a new year’s resolution to get back to Fonda a few more times and pound out a proper post.
This has been a disappointing football season so far, as any Vikings fan will tell you. Not only are the Purple stinking it up, but they’re doing so in the most frustrating way possible. They have some pretty damn good players (Kevin Williams, Jared Allen, AP, Antoine Winfield, Percy Harvin) but they prove week after week to be entirely incapable of playing like professionals. What’s more, they aren’t even in full blown re-building mode, as evidenced by the fact that before they re-structured Adrian Peterson’s and Chad Greenway’s deal they were right at the salary cap. I can accept losing from a team that’s trying to get young or is trying to free up cap space to make some moves, but we’re doing neither and sucking royally.
But at least we have something to look forward to now that Donovan “Chunky” McNabb has been benched for our first round pick, Christian Ponder. He may not be any better than McNabb… no, wait, I’m not going to go with that disclaimer. He will be better than McNabb. He showed a couple of things in his debut last week which are going to be huge upgrades. 1. He’s accurate, or at least far more so than D McB. He was putting passes right in front of people IN STRIDE, as opposed to 2 feet above a receivers head and 3 yards behind them. 2. He’s got some mobility and he’s able to throw on the run. Did you see that safety McNabb took last week? He saw a blitzer coming up the middle and just laid down in the end zone. Ponder looked pretty good at avoiding the rush. Finally, I think Ponder cares about winning. If the Vikes wanted McNabb last offseason they should have given him a contract so loaded with incentives that he would have earned slightly above minimum wage in that week 1 stinker where he piled up 39 yards over the course of the game, because you can absolutely tell he does not give a shit what happens in these games because he’s making $5 million in his last year in the NFL.
Enough football talk, time for football food. The other week Rick and I had another of our patented football ho-downs with 10.5 straight hours of food, beer, smoking and football. During this particular one, I got to try out a new Food Network recipe which turned out amazing. The only downside of it is that it’s pretty heavy and somewhat greasy, so if you’re not careful you will eventually have wished that you had a bit more self control as you nurse an over-full belly.
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil*
- 1/2 pound Spanish or Mexican chorizo
- 1/2 pound mushroom caps, quartered
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
which has more than enough fat to render out without adding additional oil.
Well that last game sucked huh? If you would have told me that the Vikes would hold New Orleans to 14 points and have only one turnover, and STILL lose, there’s no way I would have believed it. Oh well, at least my fantasy team seems to be doing well. Hopefully I won’t have to console myself this way all season long.
I hope you liked the buffalo chicken dip from last week. This week’s offering will be even more tasty, if for no other reason than it contains BACON! I absolutely love these little buggers, and every time I have made them they received rave reviews and inspired prolonged nagging that I should make them again. I like to make these when I’m going to a party or someone else’s place because you can make them completely beforehand and then just throw them in the oven when you get somewhere…. And also because I would eat the whole batch by myself if someone else wasn’t around.
- 6 large jalapeno peppers
- 5 oz cream cheese, room temp
- 4 oz goat cheese (I usually use Chevre)
- 5 slices bacon
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 1 Tbsp fresh herbs (basil, chives, parsley, oregano), optional
- Salt and Pepper
Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and ribs. Set these aside and make the filling.
First off, cook those bacon slices on medium heat until they are pretty well done. You want all the fat rendered out, and good amount of browning on the bacon. Remove from the pan, chop them up and then throw that in whatever mixing bowl you are using for the cheesy goodness.
Then mince the garlic cloves. Turn it into garlic paste by adding a pinch of kosher salt to the garlic and then grinding it into the cutting board. Some people use their knife for this; I prefer the back of a spoon. Pasting the garlic will bring out the juices to mix with the cheese, and make it more homogenous so people don’t get chunks of raw garlic in their mouth. Add the garlic to the bowl, along with the minced herbs (if you like), a few grinds of black pepper, and the cheeses. Mix well to combine and – if you have the time- cover it and refrigerate for an hour or two.
Then pile the filling into the jalapeno shells. If you’re looking for an exact amount to put in each jalapeno, you are a deranged and misguided person. Just eye it; it’ll be good for you. Put the poppers on a baking sheet and put them in an oven you’ve preheated to 350. Let them bake for 10 minutes, then transfer the sheet to beneath a broiler and finish them off for 2 or 3 minutes, until they look a little golden. DON’T START DOING SOMETHING ELSE WHILE THESE ARE BROILING!!! These things are small, and you will burn the whole batch before you get half way done with whatever it was you were going to do.
Note: If you have leftover cheesy-goodness, it makes a fantastic spread for a baguette or crackers. Try it sometime, and you just might forget about the jalapenos in the future.
I’m not entirely sure what to expect for this game, mainly because I think it might take Favre until after the bye week to truly be on the same page with all of his receivers. Here’s what I do know: AP is looking good. Last season we saw way more of those runs for no gun, or +/- 1 yard. Last week it looked like AP in year 1, where you knew every time he touched the ball was good for at least 4-6 yards. Throw in a few busted tackles and he can easily rack up 150+ yards in almost any game. I like what I see from him and this week I expect the Vikings to make a concerted effort to stick with the gameplan of feeding #28 the rock ALL DAY long.
We can’t look past Miami as much as we once could, they are definitely on the rise, but I like how we match up here. Our front seven has gotten, if possible, even better since last year and I cannot see the Fins running their way to victory in this game. I also don’t think Chad Henne has what it takes to win the game through the air when that becomes necessary. Vikes win in a low scoring rushing game, 21-17.
Arthur’s Two Cents: Looking back at last weekend I think that half the problem with Favre’s game was the offensive line. Yes, he isn’t completely in tune with receivers. BUT this man can throw the ball to anyone if he has the time. I think that versus Miami he’ll have at least a few more seconds in the pocket, which will give him time to look down field and come-up with some big plays.
Versus the Saints Favre didn’t seem to go for many long passes (only handful of attempts beyond 5 or maybe 10 yards). I’m not sure if this was his own caution or if it was Brad Childress’ play calling. Either way I think that against a team that is, still a threat, but not the defending Super Bowl champs, we’ll see at least a little of Favre from last year.
Honestly, I decided on posting this next recipe only partly because of how delicious it is. Mostly, I friggin love this headline photo and wanted to re-use it.
This dish comes from my aunt, by way of my mother, and god only knows where it first originated. BUT it is one of the tastiest meals that you can make given how absurdly simple it is. It takes about 5 minutes to make the fresh tomato sauce, and 4 minutes to cook the pasta and toast the pine nuts.
The name for this recipe does make me somewhat self-conscious of the whirlwind of Scandinavian white-ness which is my heritage; it’s called “Mexican pasta”. That always seemed such a natural name for it, like it just fit perfectly. Now it seems as contrite and overly broad as calling hamburgers “American meat” or referring to Coq-au-Vin as “French Bird”. But there you have it. Call it what you may, just try it.
You will need:
- 3 small ripe tomatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 2 Jalapenos, with seeds and ribs removed, finely minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
Note: this recipe will make 3-4 servings. If you want leftovers (which you will, trust me) double the recipe.
For the sauce: dice the tomatoes, and add to a large bowl. Not aluminum though, I remember hearing something about how the acidity of tomatoes reacts poorly with aluminum bowls and gives the tomatoes an odd flavor. No, I don’t remember where I heard it but it sounds like something Alton Brown would say, and so I go with it. Throw the rest of the ingredients in the bowl. Mix that up well to make sure you aren’t going to get a random mouthful of raw garlic or jalapeño.
Ideally, I like to let it sit for at least an hour so the flavors can mend, and the salt can bring out the tomato juices. Its really the combination of the olive oil and the tomato juice which carries the flavor of the spices and makes this a workable pasta sauce as opposed to just tomato chunks on top of pasta. If you’re in a rush you can use it immediately, or you can make it up to 24 hours in advance.
Now there are only three more ingredients to make this complete: angel hair pasta, shredded white cheese (I usually use Mozz, but you could go for Monterey Jack, or goat cheese, or queso fresco to be more authentic) and lastly some toasted pine nuts.
When the pasta is cooked to al-dente plate it up, throw on some cheese while the pasta is still hot enough to melt it, top with the tomato sauce and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. A word to the wise: anytime you have a recipe this simple and fresh, the quality of ingredients you use will really shine through. If you can, find some heirloom tomatoes, fresh squeezed lime juice and a nice bottle of extra virgin olive oil.
Despite being of distinctly Scandinavian heritage, I absolutely love Mexican food. Something about the combination of spicy peppers, lime juice, and cilantro makes just about anything taste pretty damn good. Mexican food also plays very nicely with margaritas and beer, making it a great meal before hitting the town (if you can refrain stuffing your face with delicious tacos that is).
Mexican night at my place is somewhat of an endeavor since I make everything but the tortillas from scratch. Homemade black beans, onion salsa, beefy-chorizo goodness. But you can always make the sides beforehand and then just make the meat and beans before eating. Whatever, figure out the timing yourself, just get your ass to the store and buy these ingredients:
- 1 lb ground beef (Relatively lean)
- ¾ lb chorizo. Try to find the stuff that was ground in-house by the butchers. That stuff that comes in the high pressure plastic casings is basically a giant Mexican flavored Slim Jim.
- Package of tortillas
- Sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 can of Rotel chili peppers+tomatoes
- 2 large red onions
- 1 head of garlic
- 3 Jalapenos
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 2 limes
- Lettuce or cabbage
- 1 avocado
- Either beef stock, or beef bullion
- Spices :cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, salt and pepper
So we’ve got three separate recipes here. The meat, the beans and the salsa. You’ll have to find your own recipe for margaritas for now.
The salsa is pretty simple. Take 1.5 diced red onions (save the other half for the bean recipe); add it to a mixing or serving bowl. Add the juice of 3 lime halves, ¼ cup of minced cilantro, 2-3 cloves of minced garlic and 2 minced jalapenos. If you like your food spicy then leave some to most of the white ribbing from the pepper in there when you clean out the seeds. If not, make sure to scrape it all off. Add a few shakes of cumin and chili powder (I like to be precise with my measurements), a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix it all together and taste, see if it needs a bit more salt, pepper, lime juice, etc. Throw that in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavors mingle. No, there are no tomatoes in this salsa. They make salsa too watery for tacos, although perfect for chips. Finally, don’t be reluctant to try this even if you dislike raw onion. The lime juice pretty much neutralized the sharp onion flavor.
For the beans: throw a medium saucepot on the stove over medium heat. Let it preheat for a bit then add a 1 tbsp of olive oil and the remaining half of the diced red onion, with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Let the onions sweat for a minute or two, turn the heat down if they start to brown. Then add 3 cloves of minced garlic and stir. After about 30 seconds add the can of Rotel, but drain off most of the excess liquid first. Then add the can black beans which have been rinsed and drained. That needs to cook for 5-10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Leave the cover off because some of the liquid needs to cook away, but don’t let it get too dry. When the beans soften up, add 2 tablespoons of minced cilantro and the juice of half a lime then take it off the heat and mash it together. I use a potato masher for this; works great. If you don’t have a tato masher, you could probably use forks or spoons or something similarly primitive, but I will think less of you. Just go buy one.
For the meat: preheat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the beef and break it up in the pan then let it sit until it gets nicely browned on one side. Flip it over then add the chorizo and mix it up. Before starting the meat you should make this little spice slurry: take 1/3 cup of the beef stock; add ¼ tsp of cumin and ½ tsp of chili powder and oregano. You could also add 1 tbsp of minced poblano or chipotle peppers, if you wanted to. Top it off with 1/8 tsp of corn starch powder for a thickener, and then mix the slurry together. I tried to think of a less appetizing phrase than spice slurry but came up short. Anyways, drain the meat of most of its grease once the chorizo is cooked, then add the spice slurry and mix to coat the meat.