Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Days That End In "Y"

So, the last real entry I made was for our pre-week, and Monday, with our empanadas.  Moving on to Tuesday, then.  Angel says "Aw...that was a good meal" with a faraway look in her eyes.  The menu was for enchiladas verde, refried beans and Mexican rice.

This time around, the Mexican rice was awesome, not bland and sticky.  It was flavorful, with roasted tomatoes and chunks of peppers, and seasoned rice -- oh man.  For a main dish we had chicken enchiladas with queso fresco, cilantro and a spicy jalapeno/tomatillo sauce.  Also awesome.  We then had refried beans made from scratch -- simmered all day, mashed and fried, with monterey jack cheese melted on them.  Not bad, but a bit bland and totally overshadowed by the rice and enchiladas.

Enchiladas Verdes, Mexican Rice, Refried Beans & Cerveza

Overall, Angel had been scared of this meal because everything she'd read had said that it was uber-hard to cook but she says that it was actually a really easy meal.  In retrospect, she wished she'd de-seeded the peppers in the sauce, because it was pretty darned spicy.  We know all about the seeds and veins in chili peppers, and capsicum and Schofield units and so on.  Angel admits she simply forgot.  Still, the kids liked the rice and the beans, even if they didn't go for the enchiladas.

Wednesday was crazy.  Angel worked and got home at almost seven p.m. after a truly hellacious day, so we had to scurry and toss together our recipe for enchiladas with chicken, spinach, mushrooms and onions, and we went without side dishes because we were pushing the kids' bed-times.  We did use the leftover sauce from the night before as the base for a similar tomatillo/jalapeno sauce.  I think that the enchiladas this night were even better than the night before.

Chicken, Mushroom, Spinach & Onion Enchiladas

The recipe was easy enough -- we used pre-sliced button mushrooms and a bag of spinach readily available at the local supermarket, same with pre-made tortillas -- and they were pretty darn good, if in need of a bit more spice.  The kids hated 'em of course...they had mushrooms.

Thursday was sort of a cheat night -- Angel went on our son's 4th grade field trip and didn't get home until late.  We were supposed to have Swiss chard tacos and caramelized onions with cheese and red chilis, but I got a call from her on her cell...and let me tell you that the background noise when someone calls from a crowded school bus sounds exactly like they're calling from a school bus.  "Can we just do leftovers tonight?" Angel asked.  And that was just fine, I think, since they were all Mexican food leftovers.  We feasted on rice, empanadas, soup, enchiladas and beans.

And that brings us to Friday.  This is the day I went on our oldest daughter's 2nd grade field trip (all 2nd-graders are completely insane, by the way) and when I got home, Angel drove into town and picked up the three kids of someone we know so they could spend the night -- making the total in our house into seven children and two adults.

For Friday night, Angel found a recipe that is supposedly a staple -- Chilorio, pork with chili sauce, in tortillas.  We roasted a pork (or some piece of one, anyway) and shredded it, and made a chili sauce in the blender which the meat got simmered in, then fried.  Holy Lord, talk about delicious.  Everyone liked it, including kids which weren't even ours. Gable said it was too hot, though it was tasty, but it was well received, and actually pretty simple.  Savory, spicy and a little bit hot in that "bite the back of the throat" way.

Chilorio and Frijoles


Recipes:

Tuesday:

Enchiladas Verdes

Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in chicken breast halves
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed
  • 5 serrano peppers
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, combine chicken breast with chicken broth, one quarter onion, a clove of garlic, and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, and then boil for 20 minutes. Reserve broth, set chicken aside to cool, and discard onion and garlic. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken with your hands.
  2. Place tomatillos and serrano chiles in a pot with water, enough to cover them. Bring to boil, and continue boiling until tomatillos turn a different shade of green (from bright green to a dull, army green). Strain tomatillos and chiles, and place in a blender with another quarter piece of onion, 1 clove garlic, and a pinch of salt. Pour in reserved chicken broth, so that liquid just covers the veggies in the blender by about an inch. Blend all ingredients until they are completely pureed. Pour salsa in a medium saucepan, and bring to a low boil.
  3. Pour oil in a frying pan, and allow to get very hot. Slightly fry tortillas one by one in hot oil, setting each on a paper towel afterwards to soak some of the oil. Finally, dip slightly fried tortillas in low-boiling green salsa, until tortillas become soft again. Place on plates, 3 per person.
  4. Fill or top tortillas with shredded chicken, then extra green sauce. Top with crumbled cheese, chopped onion, and chopped cilantro. 
--from the Allrecipes website

Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans)

Though refried beans can be bought in cans in the grocery store, homemade Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans) are much more flavorful.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Frijoles (above)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Procedure

  1. In a large bowl, coarsely mash the Frijoles with a fork or wooden spoon.
  2. In a large frying pan or skillet, heat the oil for about 30 seconds over medium to high heat.
  3. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until onion is golden but not browned.
  4. Add the mashed beans and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Salt to taste.
  5. Scoop the beans onto a warmed corn tortilla, and add a bit of shredded cheese (such as Monterrey Jack or mild cheddar).
Serves 4 to 6.
--from the Food By Country website

Authentic Mexican Rice

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

    1 cup uncooked rice -- your choice
    2 cups cold water
    2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
    olive oil
    1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
    small roma tomato, chopped into about 4 pieces
    hot pepper of your choice, sliced lengthwise (I use jalapeno)
    tomato sauce (id say a little less that 1/4 cup)
    1 teaspoon comino seeds (cumin) ground into powder
    1 tablespoon vegan chicken bouillon
    salt, to taste

Directions:

This is an authentic recipe (other than the vegan chicken bouillon) passed down to me by my boyfriends mother, a mexican american who grew up in Texas right on the border with Mexico.  Its as authentic as you can get!  this is the type of rice I was raised on, and it is wonderful.  Some people expect it to be spicier or richer.......I wouldn't call it bland but it is a main staple simple dish, but it can be spiced or dressed up if you want, according to your taste.  its versatile!

Put a little olive oil (tbsp or so) into a medium-sized pot and heat to a medium temp.  add the rice, uncooked, and brown in the oil.  Make sure all the rice is lightly coated with the oil.  you do not have to stir the rice around very much at first, while browning, but as the rice becomes browner you want to be stirring it around to make sure it all browns evenly and doesn't burn. It will turn BROWN....its not burning unless its turning dark/black.  Towards the end of the browning, add the garlic so that it is sort of sauteed/browned.

Next, dump the water on the rice (it will steam up loudly) and add the remaining ingredients.  Stir well and cover (with a small air escape).  Reduce heat to medium-low to medium, and let cook for 20-30 minutes.  (cooking time and temp varies with your stove....check after 20 min to make sure you don't burn!)

The essential part of this recipe is DO NOT PEEK while the rice is cooking

When it is ready, all the water will be absorbed, the rice will fluff, and each grain will be split open because of the browning.  It should be dry, not saucy.  You can adjust the spices/peppers to your taste.  The recipe can be changed by keeping with the 1 cup rice/2 cups water ratio, and adjusting remaining ingredients.

Goes great with any manner of mexican beans or as a side dish to mexican entrees such as tacos, enchiladas, burritos, etc.  Also great by itself!

This dish is a staple in my house!  it is cheap, easy, and yummy!

Serves: 6 large servings

Preparation time: 30-45 min
--from the Vegweb website (though we didn't 'go vegan' for this)

Wednesday:

Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas with Spinach and Mushrooms (Enchiladas Verdes de Espinacas y Hongos)

3 garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (I like 2 serranos or 1 jalapeno), stemmed and quartered
1-1/2 lbs (10 to 12 medium) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into quarters
3/4 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish
3 Tbs vegetable oil or bacon drippings (divided use) plus some for the tortillas
2 cups chicken broth
8 oz mushrooms (button, oyster or shiitake are good) stemmed and sliced.
1 lg. red onion, thinly sliced
10 oz (about 10 cups) spinach, stems removed
1 cup shredded cooked chicken (about 1/4 of a large rotisserie chicken) or cubed ham (optional)
Salt
12 corn tortillas, preferably store-bought (!)
3 Tbs Mexican crema, sour cream, heavy cream or creme fraiche
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
1 cup (4oz) crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese

Turn on the oven to 350 degrees.  With a food processor or blender running, drop in the garlick and chiles one piece at a time, letting each piece get finely chopped before adding the next.  Add the tomatillos and cilantro; process until smooth. (note, to this point we used leftover similar sauce from the previous nights Enchiladas Verdes)
Heat 1 1/2 Tbs of the oil in a 3-qt saucepan over medium-high.  Add the puree and cook, stirring nearly constantly, until the mixture has reduce dto the consistency of thick tomato sauce, about 7 minutes.  (The more you cook down this base, the richer and sweeter the tomatillo sauce will be.)  Add the chicken broth and simmer over medium heat for about 10 min to blend the flavors.
While the sauce is simmering, heat the remaining 1 1/2 Tbs oil in a very large 12-inch skillet over medium-high.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring nearly constantly, for a couple of minutes, until they begin to brown.  Add about 3/4 of the onion (reserve the rest for garnish) and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another minute or two, until the onion looks translucent.  Add the spinach and optional chicken or ham and cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or so, until the spinach is wilted.  Season with salt, usually a scant teaspoon.  Cover to keep warm.
Lay out the tortillas on a baking sheet and spray or brush lightly on both sides with oil or bacon drippings, then stack them in twos.  Slide the tortillas into the oven and bake just long enough to make them soft and pliable, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the oven and stack them in a single pile; cover with a kitchen towel to keep warm.
Stir the crema (or stand-in) into the sauce.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 tsp (add the sugar if the sauce seems quite tart to you).  Holding a tortilla by one edge, dip most of it into the sauce, then lay it on a plate.  Spoon a heaping 2 Tbs filling down the center, roll up and lay seam side down on a dinner plate.  Repeat with 2 more tortillas, arranging them on the same dinner plate.  Douse the enchiladas with about 1/4 cup of the warm sauce, sprinkle with a quarter of the crumbled cheese and garnish with some of the reserved onion and cilantro sprigs.  Assemble the rest of the servings, and carry to the table without hesitation.
--from Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless


Friday:

Chilorio -- Pork with Chili Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless pork
  • 4-5 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup lard (oil can be subsitituted with different results)
  • 3-4 dried ancho chiles (or other similar chile)
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

In a large pot, simmer the pork in the water or broth, covered, for 2 hours. During the last 20 minutes of cooking time, ladle out enough liquid to cover the dried chiles in a bowl. Let the chiles soak in the liquid until they are soft then remove the stems and seeds. When the pork is done simmering, drain off the liquid, but reserve 1 cup. Pull the pork into bite-sized chunks Heat lard in a large pan until melted. Fry the pork in the lard until browned. Remove the pork and set aside. Then cook the onions in the lard until translucent. Remove them from the pan and set aside to cool.
In a blender, add the chiles, onions, spices and reserved liquid. Blend until smooth. Drain most of the lard from the pan and put the pork into the pan with the blended chile sauce and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken the sauce and bring the flavors together.
--from the Mexicanfood.about.com website

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