Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Mexican Favorites

Watching Rick Bayless’s best season of One Plate At A Time from Baja (Friday 7:30 PM - Channel 11), I am inspired to position some new recipes and techniques into my anthology of Mexican classics.

Mexican is one of my favorite, winter comfort foods so when the weather turns nasty, like it did this week, I grab one of my Mexican cookbooks (anything Rick Bayless or Diana Kennedy) and head straight for the kitchen.
Bon Appetit!
This is a quick and uncomplicated recipe uses fresh radishes and cucumbers. I especially love this salad over tacos.
It’s also a simple recipe you can use as a base and incorporate other vegetables into the mix such as peppers and corn.
Radish Salad
12 whole radishes, washed and trimmed, thinly sliced
1 whole cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
pinch of salt
pinch of cracked black pepper

Begin by slicing the radishes and cucumbers as thin as possible. Add these to a mixing bowl, along with the remaining ingredients.
Toss well, transfer to a sealable bowl, and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
It’s simple to buy chorizo but it is so much better to make it from scratch. The taste of fresh chorizo for breakfast will convince you that you’ll never buy it again.
Purchase a meat grinder and you’ll soon discover that this delicious Mexican specialty can be ready in less than 60 minutes and an overnight.
Fresh Mexican Chorizo
Makes about two and a half pounds.
Adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless.

1 1/2 pound lean boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 ounces pork fat
12 medium dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves ground
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon each dry thyme and marjoram
1/4 cup cider vinegar
In a food processor, grind chiles and all spices. Add vinegar and about a cup of water (or more) to make a paste. Strain mixture into a large bowl.

Cut pork and fat into one inch cubes, and toss with spice mixture. Arrange in a single layer on a plate, and freeze for 15 minutes or until meat is firm, but not frozen. Freeze all bowls, utensils, grinding blades, and anything else that will touch meat, as well.

Grind the seasoned meat and pork fat coarsely. If you have a bowl with some leftover spice mixture, add the ground meat back to this bowl, and mix with your hands, to get as much of the spice mixture incorporated into the meat as possible.

Cover, and refrigerate overnight before serving.

This is a quick seafood cocktail that has great flavor and can easily be made up the night before.

With blending the sauce and the seafood, I don’t think that it looks extremely attractive but the taste is wonderful. Don’t be shy about adding the hot sauce.
I would chop the shrimp up into smaller pieces next time and also give it a good dose of sea salt.
You can try the “sauce” on the side with a pile of the shrimp and crab mixture and use it as a dip.

Mexican Seafood Cocktail : Campechana de Mariscos

1⁄2 cup fresh lime juice
1⁄4 cup ketchup
1⁄4 cup chili sauce, such as Heinz
1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1⁄4 cup chopped green olives
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup finely chopped white onion
1⁄4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1⁄4 cup tomato–clam cocktail, such as Clamato
1⁄4 cup seeded and chopped fresh tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
2 anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 serrano chiles, roasted and finely chopped
1⁄2 pound cooked and peeled medium shrimp
1⁄2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked and cleaned
1 avocado, cut into 1⁄4" cubes
Kosher salt, to taste

Combine the first 15 ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt; toss to mix. Fold in shrimp, crab, and avocado. Serve with tortilla chips.

This chili was so delicious but needs to be a little thicker so I would cook it longer or slow cook it all day.
It is an unusual but wonderful combination with the chorizo and lamb. I would have never thought of those two ingredients together but it is a impressive marriage of flavors.

It was also an exciting mix using the chili liquid instead of tomatoes and/or tomato paste. I’ve never made this before and really liked the smoky taste.

This has got all the right ingredients for a great chili. You just need to experiment a little to improve the consistency.

Smoky Lamb and Chorizo Chili
Adapted from Bon Appetit

2 1/4 cups unsalted chicken broth
3 ounces dried ancho chilies
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lbs pork chorizo, casings removed (about 4 or 5)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 ball of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
1 15 ounce can pinto beans, drained
Salt and black pepper
Grated cheddar cheese
Sliced green onions
Sour cream
Pickled jalapenos, chopped
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine first three ingredients in saucepan. Cover and simmer until chilies soften and broth turns dark red, about 10 minutes. Puree mixture in food processor. Strain mixture through mesh strainer, pressing on solids until all liquid is drained.

Cook chorizo in a large pot over medium heat until drippings flow freely. Add the onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin, and sauté until chorizo starts to brown and onions soften, about five minutes.

Crumble lamb into pot, and add salt and pepper. Sauté until lamb is no longer pink. Add chili liquid, and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for one hour.
Add drained pinto beans and simmer until thick, about 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream, green onions, grated cheddar, cilantro, and pickled jalapenos.

This is my favorite all time Mexican soup recipe because it is so easy to make. Come to think of it, most Mexican cooking is easy until you get into the add day complexities of moles. It was Mexican food that I learned to cook first.

It says a lot about the recipe because every time I’ve served it, guests have asked for the recipe and told me later just how much their friends love it.
You can use just about anything to dress it up and it will look and taste great.

It’s a celebrated, full-fledged meal with a chunk of crusty bread and a bottle of great Mexican wine from the Guadalupe Valley.

Tortilla Chicken Soup

serves 4

1 tsp. canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
4 c. FF chicken broth (32 oz box)
2 c. cooked, chicken – both dark and white meat from a rotisserie chicken
1 c. fresh corn
2 fresh tomatoes, sliced thin
1 fresh, whole green chili, sliced thin
Juice of 1 fresh lime
1/2 c. baked tortilla chips, crushed
1/4 c. shredded Cheddar and Colby Jack Mexican mix cheese
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1 c. diced, peeled avocado

Heat in a large saucepan. Add the oil. Add garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cook one minute. Add the next four ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Ladle into four bowls. Top with chips, cheese, cilantro and avocado.