Sep 14
Mexican Fiesta!
posted by: dawn in Beef, Chicken, Comfort Food, Mexican, Uncategorized on 09 14th, 2010 | |

Tyler and Becky Celebrating his Birthday

Bill’s son Tyler turned 18 last month.  To celebrate I asked him what he wanted for dinner — Mexican!!!!

I invited his girlfriend & my parents over and cooked up a storm.  I got so darn excited about eating dinner that I forgot to take any pictures.  The Menu:

Jalepeno Roasted Chicken
Chili and Cheese Rice

Re-fried Black Beans
Marinated flank steak
Flour Tortillas
Fresh Salsa

If you are reading my blog, you’ve likely come to realize I’m currently obsessed with Mexican food.  I absolutely love the flavors.  My dad used to joke about ordering in a Mexican restaurant “hmm,  do I want the beans, tortilla and cheese or should I have the cheese, beans and tortilla?” For a long time, I thought that was true.  But it’s not, the flavors are so layered with nuance when the cooking is done with passion.  It’s easy to see how Rick Bayless spent 20 years perfecting his Mole.  Every time I cook these foods I learn something.

In July we took a cruise on Princess and had a fantastic time.  The best excursion was in Cozumel.  My wonderful amazing husband researched and found a private cooking class in a woman’s home Cocina con Alma.  Josephina teaches small groups to make traditional dishes.  Along the way she explained the ingredients, the history and methods.  It was a fantastic experience.  Check out her site. We made the pork roast!  I plan to write another post with more detail about the class, but the point I wanted to make here is that she opened my eyes to simplicity.  Her salsa is the recipe I wrote about in my chicken tortilla soup post (linked to above).  It’s a 6 minute recipe and when you make a batch it disappears.  I can buy “fresh” salsa that will sit in the fridge for weeks!  With her recipe I’m lucky to have enough to put on my eggs in the morning.

Her class gave me a good dose of confidence and I’ve been playing around since then.  My family seems to love it as I’m not seeing any leftovers.  So for Tyler’s dinner I made a pretty ambitious menu.  The recipes for the chicken and rice came from the food network (Mexican made easy)  I changed up the rice a little adding more garlic, using chicken stock instead of water and upping the amount of peppers for flavor.  I have to tell you that recipe ROCKS.  It has the trifecta – easy, tasty and cheap.  The roasted chicken recipe came from the same episode.  I’ve made it three times now.  At first I was worried about the Jalapenos making the dish too spicy but when they cook down they are amazing.  The chicken gets flavored all the way through.  It’s stunning.

Josephina teaches tortillas in her class.  We made delightful corn tortillas that were light and flavorful.  When I came home and tried to make them I could not reproduce the results.  Mine were “corny-ier”  and the texture wasn’t light.  I experimented with the recipe, mixing in some flour with the masa trying to reproduce what she did.  I couldn’t.  I am assuming it’s a difference in ingredients.  So I switched to flour tortillas.  They are not effortless, but they are not in the same class as what you can buy in the store.  Worth every second.  I found the recipe online (link above)  I use my mixer to combine the ingredients and they turn out fine.

So now, I’ll finally give some actual original recipes.  I don’t usually link to other people’s recipes but I think it’s part of the learning process.  Research and make it your own.

I’ve made the flank steak about five times since July.  The keys are marinating and quick cooking over high heat.  Flank steak should be sliced thin against the grain or ti will be hard to eat.  This is the current favorite at the house beating out steak.  For the marinade I used my Salsa Rojo which freezes well.  Marinate the steak for about 30 minutes to an hour then cook over high heat for about 3 minutes per side.  The grill works best, cast Iron is second best but beware, it smokes,  a lot!

Re-fried beans are easy enough to buy in a can.  And they aren’t horrible.  In fact they are pretty OK.  So you may think why bother.  Please please please just once try it from scratch.  When you soak dried beans and cook them you get a different texture, a better texture.

Re-fried Beans

1 lb black beans or pinto beans
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 onion in quarter plus 1/2 onion fine dice
2 bay leaves
6 Tbsp Lard (yes lard) divided
3 Tbsp salt
2 whole cloves garlic
2 minced cloves garlic

Soak beans overnight with the baking soda.  Rinse drain.  Cover with water in a dutch oven or stock pot, add 1/4 onion, 3 Tbsp lard, salt,  bay leaves and 2 whole cloves garlic.  Bring to a rapid boil.  Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 90 minutes or until they are tender.  Remove onion, bay leaves and garlic cloves.  DO NOT DRAIN THE BEANS.

In a large skillet over medium high heat add lard and cook onions until soft.  Add garlic and then add about 3 cups of beans.  Use a slotted spoon so you don’t get too much liquid.  Heat the beans through.  Move to a food processor and process till smooth adding cooking liquid as needed to get the consistency you like.  Return to pan.  Add 1 cup whole beans.  Serve with cheese, sour cream, fresh onions.  I’d tell you what to do with leftovers but I’ve never seen them!

Cheers!

I think Mexican food is better with beer.  I always love IPA.  In this case I like the Stone IPA because it’s crisp and balances the rich foods.

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