Tag Archives: Mexican food

Irreconcilable Differences: Huevos Divorciados

26 Jul
They remain good friends

My Summer of Spice continues with its Latin bent and a simple, savory and piquant way to start your day. Or end it (breakfast-for-dinner is always a welcome change of pace for me).

Huevos Divorciados (“divorced eggs”) is a close cousin of the familiar huevos rancheros available at most breakfast joints across North America. I stumbled upon the dish as I looked for a way to use up some of the extra salsas that take up half of my fridge at any given time. Inspired by other Mexican dishes that feature bright-colored red and green sauces, huevos divorciados pits one egg, smothered in salsa roja (Team Red) against its embattled mate, doused in salsa verde (Team Green). The tangy bite of the salsa verde serves as a nice counterpoint to the savory roja. While they might not appear to be on speaking terms, they reunite in your mouth to remake the magic that put them on the same plate in the first place.

Huevos Divorciados

Ingredient Rundown (per serving):

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium potato, thinly sliced
  • 1 half small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • chorizo, either one small link or 1/2 cup of ground and browned
  • spices (Penzey’s Northwoods Fire or other spicy blend, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper)
  • salsa roja
  • salsa verde
  • tortilla
  • olive oil/bacon drippings for frying
  • cilantro, chopped
  • guacamole (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
  • refried beans (optional)
  • shredded cheese (optional)

How I do it:

  1. Season and fry sliced potatoes until mostly cooked, 10-15 minutes on medium.  Add chorizo, onion and red bell pepper, continue to cook for 5-10 minutes until tender.
  2. Fry 2 eggs, leaving the yolk runny. Over-easy works for me.
  3. Briefly warm tortilla in skillet until lightly crisped.
  4. Place tortilla on serving plate and top with fried potatoes, vegetables, chorizo and optional beans and cheese.  Top with fried eggs, side-by-side and garnish one egg with salsa roja (red), the other with salsa verde (green) and plenty of cilantro.  Seperate with optional guacamole and sour cream.  Buenos dias!

This is a great excuse to use up leftover salsa or a reason in itself to whip some up.  Fresh homemade salsa is one of summer’s simple pleasures and you should always have some on hand.  Say no to that jarred spaghetti sauce stuff!  This dish works great as intended — a simple, bold, and hearty breakfast — and as an admitted lover of breakfast-for-dinner, I have been known to eat this meal at all hours.  It’s never not a good time for anything with a fried egg on it.

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Obsession: Chicken with Tomatillo-Poblano-Cilantro Sauce

1 Jun

Chicken with tomatillo-poblano-cilantro sauce

Some foods have a way of slipping under your radar, despite rocking your world every time you revisit them.  Tomatillos are firmly in that category for me.  Tart, tangy and refreshing as they are, tomatillos can be tough to wrangle up in Madison outside of their main growing season (May-October) and are often tucked away in ethnic or specialty sections of the produce department.  As such, they’re regretfully out-of-sight, out-of-mind on many of my grocery runs.  Thankfully, warm weather means my fridge has a steady supply of fresh salsa for snacking and salsa verde is one of my favorites so this illusive green-husked fruit is back in my life again.

Mexican food is so great because of the fresh, bold flavors and often simple preparations.  If you know my style in the kitchen, you know that’s precisely how I operate.  While this isn’t the quickest dish to whip up with the roasting and simmering involved, the crisp waves of flavor from the tangy tomatillos, spicy peppers and fresh cilantro make the effort well worth it.

Tomatillo-Poblano-Cilantro Sauce

Ingredient Rundown:

  • 8-12 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper
  • 1 small handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock (or water)
  • generous pinches of dried Mexican oregano and epazote
  • juice of 1 large or several key limes
  • salt to taste.

How I do it:

  1. Place prepared tomatillos and poblano pepper on a baking sheet and roast under your broiler for 6-8 minutes or until the skin begins to blacken in spots.  Flip and repeat.
  2. Place roasted tomatillos and poblano pepper in a blender or food processor along with chipotle pepper, cilantro, garlic, stock or water, lime juice and seasoning.  Blend until well-incorporated into a smooth sauce.

Veg rainbow

Chicken and Peppers

Ingredient Rundown:

  • 3-4 chicken thighs, de-boned and rubbed with salt and Penzeys Northwoods Fire or other spicy blend
  • 1/2  each of poblano, green, yellow, orange and red bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

Chicken simmering

How I do it:

  1. Add vegetable oil to cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Sear chicken thighs for 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned and crisp. Set aside.
  2. Sauté peppers and onion in reserved oil and chicken drippings for 6-8 minutes, or until softened yet still firm.
  3. Add prepared tomatillo-poblano-cilantro sauce to pan along with seared chicken thighs.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-25 minutes until sauce has thickened and chicken in tender.

Serve on a warm tortilla, preferably with some delicious accoutrement like sour cream, guacamole, and fresh salsa.  I happened to have some pineapple-roasted corn salsa and fresh guac on hand, which added cool, refreshing counterpoints to the warm, tangy sauce.  If you’re not on the tomatillo bandwagon yet, you should be.  This platypus of the tomato family has a lot going for it if you can track it down.

For Deer ol’ Mom: Venison Fajitas

10 May

The great thing about having parents who are avid hunters is the endless stream of delicious venison that I get sent home with just about every time I visit.  Dad recently returned from an excursion in Colorado with some great mule deer meat that we also happened to grill for his 50th birthday on Friday.  An extra thawed package remained in the fridge, just begging to treat mom to a great Summer-y meal on Mother’s Day.  I was happy to oblige on a beautiful day like today.  And wouldn’t you know it, I drove home with a passenger seat full of venison, a big potted mint plant for my porch (ahem, mojitos), and money for a haircut (clearly, I need some work :/).  I love Mother’s Day!

Venison Fajitas

Ingredient Rundown (serves 2-3):

  • 1lb venison steak (Colorado mule deer backstrap steak in this case)
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
  • spicy rub for venison ( if you don’t have any Penzeys Northwoods Fire yet, fix that)
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • plenty of chopped cilantro
  • ~1/3 cup of grapefruit juice (optional, happened to be in my parents’ fridge and seemed like a fun way to add some sweetness and acidity in a quick marinade)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • tortillas (flour or corn – I ended up using some foo-foo cilantro-jalepeno-flavored, fajita-sized flour ones)
  • sour cream and/or fresh pico to garnish

How I do it:

  1. Rub venison with spices, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper.  Add lime juice and grapefruit juice and allow to marinate, stirring occasionally, for at least half an hour but up to several hours in refrigerator.
  2. Slice bell peppers and onions, sprinkle with rub, salt, pepper, cilantro and citrus and allow to marinate along with venison.
  3. Fire up that grill.  Cook over high heat for 3-5 per side or until cooked medium.  You could pan sear the steak as well, but what fun is that?  It’s grilling season, damn it, despite the occasional 35 degree May hiccup.  Let meat rest for 5-10 minutes then slice thin.
  4. Saute the veggies with a tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat until translucent 8-10 minutes.
  5. Heat the tortillas (a few seconds in the microwave brings them to life) and assemble with condiments of choice.
  6. Take a shot of premium tequila with your mom.  She deserves it for being your mom and you deserve it for whipping up a quick and tasty meal.  Dig in.

Still cooking after all these beers: Salsa, Flour Tortillas, Chicken Tacos and Quesadillas

24 Feb

I realize it has been quite some time since I’ve done a cooking post.  A busy schedule, empty pantry, and lack of motivation of late have largely kept me out of the kitchen recently.  A trip to the grocery store this morning changed all that, and thankfully gave me the culinary kick in the pants I needed to get my lazy butt back in the kitchen.  A crisper full of fresh produce almost always leads to salsa.  Salsa goes great with tacos.  A little more cheese and a soft taco becomes a quesadilla.  This is how my brain works.  Let’s dive into some simple Mexican staples that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes from a modest set of ingredients.

Salsa

Fresh salsa is so easy to make and endlessly tweakable – I honestly don’t remember the last time I bought a jar of salsa (and quite frankly can’t help but think it tastes like spaghetti sauce).  Simple restaurante-style salsa takes less than 10 minutes to make and $5 worth of ingredients will net you about a quart.  No joke.

Ingredient rundown:

  • canned diced tomatoes
  • small to medium-sized onion, diced
  • bell peppers (any color, fresh or quickly roasted and diced)
  • jalepeño, minced
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • fresh garlic, minced
  • fresh lime juice
  • Seasonings – salt, cumin, garlic powder, dried Mexican oregano, epazote, dried chipotle, chipotle in adobo

How I do it:

  1. Mince 1 small onion, 1 small bell pepper, 1 large clove of garlic, cilantro (more the better), 1 jalepeno, 1 chipotle in adobo (optional).
  2. Throw that stuff in a blender
  3. Add one 1 14oz-ish can of diced tomatoes.
  4. Add a dash of salt, cumin and garlic powder, juice of one lime (I like to throw a pinch each of dried epazote and Mexican oregano for depth of flavor)
  5. Blend until nearly liquefied.
  6. That’s it.

I go this stuff faster than water.  Luckily it’s just as affordable.  A great cheap, healthy and quick snack and condiment to have around.

Flour Tortillas

I’ve actually never made tortillas from scratch, though I had a neighbor in California that would make them for me after school as a child.  A pat of butter and dash of salt made for a simple but decadent snack.  My lack of soft taco-sized tortillas at home and a little curiosity led to a quick search and a simple recipe, courtesy of texascooking.com

Ingredient rundown:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (they warn against bread flour, but that’s what I had on-hand for pizza dough and it worked just fine for me)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk (2% is fine)

I ended up making a half recipe, which made enough dough for 4 6-8 inch thick and chewy tortillas.  I also added a dash of garlic powder and a splash of the adobe sauce from the canned chipotles for a little character.

How they do it:

  1. Stir together the flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and vegetable oil to the lukewarm milk and whisk briefly to incorporate. Gradually add the milk to the flour, and work the mixture into a dough. It will be sticky.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with flour and knead vigorously for about 2 minutes (fold and press, fold and press). The kneading will take care of the stickiness. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rest for 15 minutes. (This dough will not rise, but it needs a rest.)
  3. Divide your dough into 8 balls of equal size, cover them, and let them rest again for about 20 minutes. Avoid letting them touch, if you don’t want them to stick together.
  4. Dust your work surface with flour. Working one at a time, remove each piece of dough and pat it into a 5-inch circle. With a rolling pin, roll out the tortilla, working from the center out, until you have a 7- or 8-inch tortilla a little less than 1/4 inch thick.
  5. Transfer the tortilla to a hot, dry skillet or griddle (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet with great results). It will begin to blister. Let it cook for 30 seconds, turn it, and let the other side cook for 30 seconds. Remove the tortilla, place it in a napkin-lined basket and cover with aluminum foil. Repeat for the remaining tortillas.

Chicken Tacos

With the salsa and tortillas knocked out, we’re a few fillings away from some pretty gnarly tacos.  I just bought a boatload of chicken thighs so my protein was settled.  I always like a little contrast from the usual salty-spicy core of tacos so in this case I though some lightly pickled onion and jalepeño would work well.

Ingredient rundown

  • tortillas (see above)
  • boneless chicken (I’m partial to dark meat, breasts will work fine, too)
  • strip of bacon, thinly sliced
  • onion and jalepeño, sliced into thin slivers
  • sweet bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • white vinegar
  • cilantro, chopped
  • salt, pepper, spicy rub (I always have plenty of Penzeys Northwoods Fire on hand)
  • salt and pepper

How I do it:

  1. Thinly slice half a small onion and jalepeño, add chopped cilantro and a healthy splash of vinegar and let soak, stirring often, while you prepare the chicken
  2. Rub chicken with salt, pepper and spicy seasoning blend.
  3. Add sliced bacon to hot skillet to render some fat out before adding seasoned chicken.
  4. Brown chicken for4-5 minutes on each side until lightly crispy and caramelized.
  5. Add sweet peppers during last few minutes to lightly saute.
  6. Remove chicken and slice into bite-sized strips.
  7. Assemble tacos with salsa and optionally, lettuce, sour cream and shredded cheese.

Quesadillas

As I said before, a soft taco is some extra cheese and a hot pan away from being a quesadilla.  (I also make a not-so-secret sauce out of ranch dressing and chili powder that I spread thinly on the tortilla before topping with cheese and other fillings – thanks college roomie Kate for that gem).  I add a scant teaspoon of vegetable oil to a skillet over medium heat and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and flaky-crispy.  The thick homemade tortillas really crisped up nicely into borderline gordita territory.  It’s good to be back.


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