Pre-Happy New Year! It’s the end of 2017, and before we hop on a plane to begin our foodie adventures in Europe (follow me on Instagram for frequent moments of food envy), I wanted to share my last DFW restaurant meal of 2017 — Beto and Son at Trinity Groves — you’ll want to check this out. Continue reading “Beto and Son at Trinity Groves”
So, I’m late to the game — Meso Maya has been around for a while now. I’ve driven past and even called to ask a few questions about the menu. And, honestly, based on its early reviews and the lackluster love received over the years, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try it. That was until it inched its way across the loop and into my neck of the woods. Meso Maya had planted its huarache where I could no longer ignore the smells of handmade corn tortillas and mesquite grilled meats. Continue reading “Meso Maya”
Classic Roasted Tomato Salsa
Last week, Chef Rick Bayless posted a challenge to create a personalized version of Classic Roasted Tomato Salsa and a dish you’d use it in. I’ve always been a sucker for a good salsa. And, when he announced this salsa contest, I armed myself with fire and tongs. Continue reading “Classic Roasted Tomato Salsa”
There are very few things, if any, that scare me in the kitchen. As an avid eater, I’ll pretty much try anything and love diving into the rich history and culture behind all food. And, for the most part, there really hasn’t been a recipe I’ve come across or food I’ve wondered about that gave me pause when attempting to recreate it in my own kitchen… except for one thing… menudo.
Menudo has always just been there for me. It’s comfort food. I grew up eating it. For those who don’t know about menudo, it’s a traditional Mexican soup that’s made from (just wait, don’t go anywhere) cow’s stomach, pig’s feet, hominy, and seasoned with Mexican oregano and a red chile sauce.
You there? Are you still reading? Hello? Okay, good. I promise. It’s delicious! I love it!
My Aunt Adelma is a Master Menudo Maker, and she was even our “Madrina de Menudo” (Godmother of Menudo) for our wedding! We didn’t have Padrinos de Lazo or Arras (Godparents of the Rosary or Coins) – we had Padrinos de Menudo (Godparents of Menudo), okay? No joke.
That’s how important menudo is in my life.
When I show up on Sunday at any Tex-Mex or Mexican restaurant, it’s on the menu. When we have a Christmas or New Year’s Eve family party, it’s being served. When I take Sunday breakfast over to Grandma Ollie’s, it’s right next to the pan dulce and barbacoa. When I have a hankering for menudo, it’s never more than a few miles away, waiting for me to christen it with a sprinkle of cebollita (onion) and a splash of lime juice. But, I’ve never attempted this sacred dish in my own kitchen.
Why, you ask?
Because even though I know the flavor profile, basic ingredients, history, and process, I was scared it wasn’t going to live up to the menudo in my head! I didn’t know if I was ready to hit up this iconic labor of love. I was terrified that I was somehow going to bring shame to Aunt Adelma’s signature dish and end up with some pathetic, watery mess. (Plus, it takes forever to cook and stinks to high heaven when it first starts to cook. So, I really never had the desire to make the magic happen within my own four walls, especially when I knew where I could order it.)
Yet, two days ago, as I was thumbing through one of my Ma’s favorite recipe books, the menudo bug bit me.
I was going to make it; I was going to stink up my brother’s house to do it, and it was going to be amazing.
After researching for hours, reviewing about 15 menudo recipes, making calls to New Mexico and South Texas to get any input from relatives, I was ready to create my own approach, and I was determined to avoid using any “menudo mix” in the process, a packet of spices most grocery stores carry in the spice aisle. I was going 100% authentic – all the way.
First thing was to create the Chile Colorado, a red chile sauce that gives both the flavor and rich red color to the menudo, and I was going to use Bear’s Grandma Julia’s base recipe to get started. This recipe is something that Bear remembers growing up in Las Cruces, and he said this was the base sauce for many of his grandmother’s dishes. The only thing I added was the onion to help mellow out any bitterness from the chile (I know, total Texan move – sorry, Grandma Julia – I’m not New Mexican enough to do straight chile.)
Chile Colorado Sauce
During this step, be sure to either use gloves and/or avoid touching your eyes. The chile capsaicin will hurt like Hades if you get it in your eyes or any sensitive areas.
4oz Dried Whole New Mexico Chile Pods
1/2 Onion, quartered
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 tsp Salt
Remove the stem from each dried chile pod, and then shake out any seeds from within each pod.
Add the de-stemmed/seeded chile pods, the quartered onion, and salt to a large pot and cover with water just until the pods are covered. Heat over medium-high and bring to a boil, using tongs to flip over the chile pods to ensure all sides are met with boiling water.
Once the chile pods have softened and the onion is cooked through and nearly translucent, use tongs to remove the soft chile pods and onion, and transfer ingredients to a blender. Do not use any of the water that was used in the pot, as it is bitter and will ruin the sauce. Discard the boiled water.
To the warm chile pods and onion in the blender, add minced garlic; then, add fresh water to cover half of the contents only. Blend on high until the mixture creates a paste-like consistency. The sauce will have a similar appearance to a thick/chunky tomato sauce.
Remove the contents of the blender into a fine mesh sieve, and using a spat or spoon, work the contents through the sieve to create a beautifully bright, velvety red sauce absent of any chile or onion pieces. Set aside.
This is Chile Colorado! You can use this sauce as enchilada sauce, seasoning for meats, and/or use it for menudo.
2 lbs Beef Tripe
1/2 lb Beef Honeycomb Tripe
2 Pig’s Feet, split
2 TBS Mexican Whole Oregano
1 Large Onion, quartered but attached at the stem
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Bay Leaf
1/2 Lime Juiced
2-4 tsp Salt
3 15.5oz Can White Hominy
Chile Colorado (4oz recipe above)
It’s very common practice to open the windows or doors when making menudo because the initial boiling of the tripe can be quite aromatic.
Beef tripe can be found in most Hispanic markets, and if honeycomb tripe is unavailable, add 1/2 pound of regular tripe instead.
Honeycomb tripe looks exactly as you think it might, a honeycomb.
Remove one end of the onion, leaving the stem side intact. Using a knife, gently quarter the onion without going all the way through the stem. The onion should hold together and just add flavor this way. Set aside. Thoroughly rinse the tripe and pig’s feet under running cold water in a colander, making sure that every part has been washed over with water.
Cut the rinsed tripe and honeycomb tripe into bite-sized pieces. Add all the rinsed tripe, pig’s feet, quartered onion, minced garlic, 1 TBS of Mexican oregano, 2 tsp of salt, and two bay leaves to a large stockpot (10qt).
Cover the ingredients with water, and fill the 10qt stockpot 3/4 full. Spin the onion if you like a little pizazz while cooking. I know I do.
Bring the stockpot to a full, rolling boil and let boil for approximately three hours, watching the water level closely. You can reduce to a medium-high simmer and cover after the first hour, but a constant low boil is necessary for the full three hours. After three hours, add the Chile Colorado and remaining Mexican oregano to the stockpot. Continue to boil for another hour. After the fourth hour, taste and add the remaining salt if necessary. Add the lime juice and hominy to the stockpot. Continue boiling covered for another 30 minutes.
Menudo will be finished when the tripe is tender and nearly melts in your mouth when chewed. Garnish with chopped fresh onion, additional Mexican oregano, and a squeeze of lime. Accompany your menudo with corn tortillas heated on a comal (South Texas style) or with a buttered and toasted bolillo or hoagie roll (New Mexico style) that can be found in any market.
This was, by far, one of my greatest kitchen accomplishments, and that’s not me bragging. You know I would tell you if it was a disaster. Thank God it wasn’t!
My entire family loved it, and I was just so happy that this labor of love turned out so well that I needed to share the recipe.
It made me so proud to use Grandma Julia’s Chile Colorado base recipe, and it made me proud that my Grandma Ollie loved it so much once it was done.
Never again will I fear a recipe. When you love cooking and love the culture behind the food, that love serves as the perfect seasoning to make any dish sing. Well, that and research and remembering what you did by writing it down. But, you get the picture. ¡Buen Provecho!
Lazy Fajitas at Home
Sometimes you just need fajitas a la pajamas. In other words, you don’t have to get all doodied up to head out to your local Tex-Mex joint to have grito-inspired fajitas. You are 100% capable of delivering superstar, melt-in-yo-mouth steak, chicken, and shrimp fajitas from the convenience of your own kitchen in the convenience of your own
chones pajamas (dangerous to cook in chones – let’s not be that lazy).
We’ve all been there. Sometimes ya just don’wanna. And, that’s okay! Because I have the hook up for you, and it doesn’t even involve going outside to start up the grill. Plus, it’s much cheaper, and the margaritas are endless when you’re making them at home. And, while I don’t usually promote shortcuts, this definitely does the trick for a lazy day.
First, if you’re having a super lazy day and you don’t even have any groceries, have no fear. Favor is here. While it’s not available everywhere yet, it covers most major cities, including the DFW metroplex and far North Dallas. It’s a magical button that lives in your phone as an app that you download, and when you ask it to do you a favor and pick up groceries, guess what??? Someone shows up a while later with all of the groceries you’ve asked for and no cash to exchange because you set up your account when you downloaded the app! I discovered this app back in July, and truth be told, because we love it so much, Bear decided to start running for Favor. No one is paying me for this, by the way. I’m just sharing the love because everyone deserves to have the option to stay at home in their pajamas every now and again while someone else does their grocery shopping. It works for food delivery and all sorts of things, but we’re focusing on the grocery hook up today.
1 Large Tomato
1 Medium Onion
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Large Avocado
1 12oz Ribeye Steak
1 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
8 Peeled and Deveined Shrimp (cooked or raw works)
Now, if you do not have salt, garlic powder, cumin powder, and olive oil as part of your pantry staples, I’m very disappointed, but we’ll talk about that later. Just add those to the list if you don’t have them on hand.
If you also do not have quality tequila in your freezer, that’s okay. Not everyone is as awesome as I am. Not to mention, you don’t actually need the tequila for the recipe, but if you have it, HIGH FIVE! You’ll need about four splashes (4 Tablespoons) to make the fajitas.
Once you have everything, get your prep work done.
French the onion and slice the bell pepper into thin strips and set both aside in a bowl. Slice the tomato into 1/4 inch discs, salt, and set aside.
Don’t know how to french an onion? No problem. I got you:
Now, cut the avocado in half. Take the pit of the avocado out, then using a spoon, scoop out the avocado meat, mash up with a fork, add salt, a squeeze of lime, zest of 1/2 lime, and a dash of garlic powder and ground cumin. Stir. Holy guacamole, Batman! Set aside.
This is when you start up your cast iron comal (flat griddle) or cast iron skillet on medium high heat.
Butterfly or pound out the chicken breast to ensure it is similar in thickness across the whole breast. If I lost you at “butterfly,” just pound out the chicken breast and don’t worry about being Michael Phelps.
Season the onions and bell peppers, chicken breast, steak, and shrimp in separate bowls using the following ingredients for EACH bowl:
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Tequila
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Lime Juice
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Garlic Powder
At this point, the cast iron comal should be screaming hot. Cook the ribeye first. Be sure to turn on your vent fan unless you want the fire department to show up while you’re in your pajamas. It will likely smoke but not for long. Cook the ribeye for approximately 6-7 minutes each side for medium-rare to medium. Once the steak is cooked to your preference, remove from the heat and let it rest.
Next up, chicken! Cook the chicken for 7-8 minutes each side. If you did not pound or butterfly the chicken, you’ll have to cook it longer until it comes to 160-165 degrees using a thermometer in the thickest portion of the chicken breast. Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly, remove from heat and set aside to rest.
Add the shrimp to the comal in a single layer. If you are using cooked shrimp, just heat through and flip to ensure you create a little char on the seasoned shrimp. If you’re using raw shrimp, cook for about 2-3 minutes each side or until the shrimp begin to curl into a c-shape. If it curls too much, you’ve overcooked the shrimp. So, keep watch and remove from heat when ready.
Then, add the onions and bell peppers to the comal and cook until the onions become tender but not translucent. This will leave a little bite to the veggies but keep that nice charred flavor in the mix. Remove the veggies from the comal. Lastly, add the tomato discs to the comal and char on each side, approximately 1-2 minutes each side.
Dress your ribeye with some grilled onions, tomato discs, and guacamole. Slice the chicken or serve whole with the shrimp and veggies, along with slices of lime.
You now have the most amazing meal, all done in your jammies! The best part is that you also have tequila and lime at the ready; so, you can even enjoy some margaritas along with your lazy fajitas!
To Tamale or Not To Tamale… That is the Question
Once a year I get this harebrained idea (which I believe stems from my upbringing) that urges me to spend two 19-hour days back to back, standing in a hot kitchen, working with argumentative ingredients that ultimately result in a severe backache and the euphoria that comes from eating a homemade tamale with a hot cup of coffee. Continue reading “To Tamale or Not To Tamale… That is the Question”
South Texican Kitchen Talk with Grandma Ollie: The Molcajete
Last week, Grandma Ollie stayed at our place to visit, and during our many adventures together, I decided to tape some of our conversations (with her permission, of course).
This particular morning, we were admiring one of my molcajetes that my Tia Eloisa had given me. A molcajete is a Mexican-style mortar and pestle made from lava rock and is an essential tool in any Mexican or Tex-Mex kitchen, like mine!
Prepping Poblano Arroz con Pollo for the International Food Blogger Conference
Since 2009, food lovers, bloggers and the like have convened at the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) to explore food, writing, and technology, all while indulging in some of the best wine and food anyone can find at a conference. This year, I am partaking in the fun and leaving Bear and the cats to fend for themselves for a few days. To ensure the refrigerator doesn’t grow something funky, I decided to create a lil’ something from what we had already in the fridge and leave a good meal behind.
I started out with a large onion and three beautiful Poblano peppers just hanging out ready to be consumed. I French cut the onion and julienned the Poblano, then added about six large cloves of chopped garlic to the mix.
In a large skillet, I heated up a tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium high heat and then added the mixture to sautee until the onions started to get translucent and the Poblanos became relaxed.
While that was going, I chopped a couple of chicken breasts into bite size pieces and then seasoned the chicken with Knorr Caldo de Pollo (chicken bouillon a la Mexicana), cumin powder, and garlic powder. I didn’t add salt because the bouillon has loads of salt. Once the onion and Poblano mixture was nice and tender, I created a well in the center of the pan and then added the chicken to the center. After the chicken began to start browning on one side, I stirred it all together and created another well.
This time, I added 3/4 cup of white rice to the well and allowed each grain to be coated with some oil and to be toasted up nicely. Once the rice started to turn from opaque to a solid white, I went ahead and combined everything together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the skillet to lift up any fond (yummy tasty bits that get stuck to the pan when cooking).
In a measuring cup, I added the remaining smoky salsa I had made a few days ago, along with two tablespoons of table cream, making about 1 cup of liquid and then added hot water to the mixer to make it just over 1 1/2 cups total. You can use tomato sauce, chicken stock, or even use some of your favorite jarred salsa that you have on hand, as long as it totals double the amount of rice. I simply used what I had on hand. I added the liquid to the skillet and combined well, scraping the bottom of the skillet once again to incorporate that delicious fond.
Immediately, I covered the skillet and reduced the heat to medium low and left to simmer covered for 25 minutes. Whatever you do, DO NOT remove the lid. The key to perfect rice, alone or with a protein or veggies, is to start on medium high, then add one part rice to two parts liquid, let come to a boil, immediately cover and reduce to medium low for 25 minutes completely covered and undisturbed. You will have perfect rice every single time – we can both thank my cousin Normie for that tip. It changed my rice game forever. I even usually just cut the heat off once the time is up and leave it covered until ready to serve. Best rice advice, I’m telling ya. Check out this rice from a few meals ago. ——–> Right!?!
Once the Poblano Arroz con Pollo was done, I sliced a few salad or cherry tomatoes for a pop of color and freshness. Now, I can enjoy the IFBC knowing Bear has some amazing Poblano Arroz con Pollo to devour!
I can’t wait to share what I discover at the conference. From what I understand, we’ll enjoy an amazing tasting of Seattle’s very best restaurants, specialty shops and more, and if that isn’t enough, I have tons of restaurant visits planned… Seattle, here I come!
I’ve Been a Bad, Bad Blogger
I admit it.
I’ve been holding out on you. But, the guilt has completely overwhelmed me; so, now I must share… one word… Tupy’s.
For something like a million years, Tupinamba has been a staple of Dallas Mexican cuisine, and up until about 2010, north of the loop was destitute, lacking the love that only comes from a Tupy’s Taco Patron. Then, The Shops at Starwood in Frisco, off of Dallas North Tollway and Lebanon, brought happiness to the masses, and after hogging it to myself over these last few months, I’ve decided to come clean and share the love.I’m not afraid to say that I’ve pretty much worked my way through a majority of their menu at this point, and I have some personal favorites to share with you. Number one on the “I’m so hankerin’ for this, I need to have it” list is Tortilla Soup. I know… sounds wimpy. But, in the great words of Nacho Libre, “It’s tha’ Beeeeest.”
With allergy season blasting through the area, it was both a relief and a healing potion on several occasions these last few weeks. I have been so protective of this place and the gold within its doors that I even kept the soup top secret from my husband until he started to get the sniffles the other day. I knew exactly what to do… Tupy’s. Continue reading “I’ve Been a Bad, Bad Blogger”