Mexican-Style Rice

Cinco de Mayo was yesterday, and if you live in northeast Ohio you’ll either 1) ignore it, 2) find yourself in a restaurant that wouldn’t know real Mexican (to say nothing of Tex-Mex) food if it jumped in their lap, or 3) make it yourself.

For the last 9 years, I’ve opted for number 3.

I guess ideally, I should have posted this recipe prior to Cinco de Mayo, but since I make Mexican food on a fairly regular basis – and you should, too – I figured it would be worth putting up post-weekday-reason-to-drink-margaritas anyway.  Well, that and the fact that it’s the first time I’ve ever really made it successfully.

For some reason, Mexican-style rice, or sopa seca, is something I’ve never been able to master to my satisfaction.  Something of an oddity, really, since things like handmade tamales and traditional chiles relleno pose no problem for me at all and neither of those dishes are what you could call “quick and easy.”  However, since I was making enchiladas for the “holiday” (I found some wonderful organic, sprouted corn tortillas at our local natural foods store) and I’d just made western-style beans a few days before, I wanted some rice.

I wanted some good rice, and I found the recipe over at Homesick Texan.  Lisa is a marvelous cook (her blog is where I found the aforementioned western-style beans originally) and I was more than willing to try her version of Mexican-style rice.  With a few modifications – I like peas and carrots in my Mexican-style rice and subbed half the tomato paste with some homemade Enchilada Sauce while cutting back on the cumin – it was just marvelous.  Not only did I love it, but Beloved, Jolly and Darling Daughter also ate it with great enthusiasm.

Really. Good. Stuff.

Mexican-Style Rice. A must for any Cinco de Mayo feast, this recipe for Mexican-style rice is easy, delicious and pretty much perfect.

Click the image to enlarge

Mexican-Style Rice
Serves: 6
[i]Adapted from [url href=”http://www.homesicktexan.com/2008/06/with-beans-comes-rice.html” target=”_blank”]Homesick Texan[/url][/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/enchilada-sauce/” target=”_blank”]Enchilada Sauce[/url]
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine the rice, chicken broth and kosher sea salt in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Remove from the heat. Stir again, then cover the saucepan with a dry, clean dishcloth and place the lid on top. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. While the rice is cooking, sauté the onion in the butter in a shallow skillet over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, enchilada sauce, cumin and peas and carrots and continue cooking until the vegetables are warmed through, another 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the onion/vegetable mixture from the heat and stir in the cooked rice, lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed, and serve immediately.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 197 calories, 3.7g total fat, 7.9mg cholesterol, 347.9mg sodium, 313.1mg potassium, 35.3g carbohydrates, 2.2g fiber, 3.6g sugar, 6g protein

 

 

Migas

Well, hello there.

If you’re wondering if I’d fallen off the edge of the earth, you’re not alone – I’ve been wondering that myself.  But no, just extremely busy (more on that tomorrow).

I’d mentioned a bit earlier that ever since The Young One has been off to college, I hadn’t felt much like cooking.  Or at least cooking anything worthy of a blog post; most of it’s been either recipes I’ve posted before, or stuff so simple that you could hardly call it “cooking.”  A lot of it couldn’t even remotely be considered “paleo” (but again, more on that tomorrow).

At any rate, I have prepared a few things worthy of a photograph and blog post – this is one of them.

My first husband was (is, I suppose, since he’s still living) Hispanic, and his grandmother was one of the finest cooks I’ve had the privilege to have known.  It was she who introduced me to authentic Mexican cuisine, rather than the Tex-Mex I’d grown up with, and her handmade tortillas, refried beans, menudo, and caldo de res were beyond compare.  I couldn’t wait for the holidays every year, when she and my mother-in-law would crank out enormous batches of tamales, both sweet and savory, and the buñuelos she made us as a treat for New Years were the best I, or probably anyone else, have ever tasted.

And she introduced me to Migas.

In the Mexican-American household – or at least, her Mexican-American household – Migas is a simple dish of eggs scrambled together with bite-size pieces of corn tortillas, and I loved it from the first time I took a bite.  Having said that, it occurred to me when I made this particular recipe that I hadn’t eaten it in over 25 years.  You see, when I was pregnant with Darling Daughter (in 1986 – yeah, I’m that old), migas was one of those things that, for no good reason I could tell, just turned my stomach – I simply couldn’t eat it. (Pregnancy will often play horrible tricks like that on you.)  I re-entered the workforce when she was about 6 months old, and I guess it just never occurred to me to ever cook it again.  I don’t know why.

Fast forward to a couple of days after Christmas.  Jolly and The G Man had spent Christmas Eve with us, and I had made Mexican for dinner, which included beef and cheese enchiladas.  (Hey, it was our Christmas Eve dinner – we could eat what we liked.  And we did.)  So, here I was, left with half a package of corn tortillas sitting in my fridge, softly calling to me, “Here we are…are you going to let us go bad?’

The answer to that would be, “No.”  And Migas, which Beloved had never eaten before, was the result.

Ironically, this version is a gussied-up, restaurant-style, Tex-Mex version of the simple dish Grandma taught me, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious.  You can, of course, make it with just the eggs and tortillas, but the addition of the vegetables is just wonderful.  You can also leave out the cheese and half and half for a dairy-free version, or you can leave out the tortillas if you’re avoiding grains.  It won’t be Migas without them, of course, but it’ll still be pretty darn good.

Migas. Simple Tex-Mex comfort food at its finest.

Click the image to enlarge

Migas
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 8 corn tortillas, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the eggs and half and half until well blended; set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion turns translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the jalapeno and cook for another minute more.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan. Stir the tortillas into the vegetable mixture and cook for one minute; pour in the egg mixture and stir gently to combine. Reduce the heat slightly and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the eggs are softly scrambled. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then gently stir in the tomatoes.
  4. Divide the Migas between 4 plates; top each with cheese and serve immediately.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 479 calories, 30.8g total fat, 430.2mg cholesterol, 350.2mg sodium, 457mg potassium, 27.7g carbohydrates, 4.3g fiber, 3.8g sugar, 23.7g protein

Chicken Cacciatore

I’m running a bit late this morning – we’re trying to recover from a weekend of College Student At Home.  Let’s just say it’s going to be a few weekends before THAT happens again.

How did Bill Cosby put it?  Oh, yeah…BRAIN. DAMAGE.  And we simply can’t afford it – college is cheaper.

Seriously.

Anyhoo, today’s recipe is so very good that I’ve made it twice in as many weeks – and I don’t even care for Italian food all that much.  This dish is simply stunning, nor is it difficult to make.  And while it isn’t a quick recipe, it certainly takes much less time than many braises.

You can use a whole chicken, cut into pieces, if you prefer – I just used drumsticks and thighs because that was the first thing I grabbed out of the freezer.  I also used a jar of tomato sauce we’d recently canned, along with fresh tomatoes from our garden but a 28-ounce can of chopped tomatoes would work well if you don’t want to peel, seed and chop them yourself.

This was excellent served over Japanese sweet potatoes mashed with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and the same fresh herbs used in the cacciatore, but it would go equally well with regular mashed potatoes, rice, polenta or even pasta, if you’re so inclined.

Chicken Cacciatore. This rustic and satisfying dish is classic Italian cuisine at its finest.

Click image to enlarge

 

Chicken Cacciatore
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Instructions
  1. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large heavy skillet, melt the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and cook, in batches if necessary, just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium; add the peppers, onion and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, broth, capers and herbs. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer; cover and continue cooking over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 418 calories, 18.8g total fat, 140.7mg cholesterol, 397.7mg sodium, 1100.4mg potassium, 21.6g carbohydrates, 4.5g fiber, 11.3g sugar, 32g protein

 

Jaeger Schnitzel

Not too far from our office in Podunk is a small German restaurant.  We used to eat lunch there occasionally before we changed our diet, and the item on the menu that Beloved liked best was the Jaeger Schnitzel.  It was a massive pork cutlet breaded and deep fried, topped with an onion-mushroom gravy and something they said was sauerkraut.  I was kind of “meh” about it, but he enjoyed it so I never really gave the dish much thought.

It occurred to recently that we haven’t been to this restaurant in over two years; since I’m not a huge fan of German food I haven’t missed it at all.  But it also occurred to me that I had some pork loin chops in the freezer and a brand new batch of sauerkraut in the fridge, so why not make it myself?

So…I did.

Jaeger Schnitzel translates to “hunter’s cutlets” and was originally made with venison or wild boar backstrap that had been pounded thin, fried and served with a mushroom gravy.  (Since I’ve never eaten wild boar backstrap, I’ll reserve judgement on whether or not that is a good way to prepare it, but I recoil in horror at the thought of pounding what is probably my favorite cut of red meat in the world – venison backstrap – into a cutlet and frying it up.)

There’s a lot of debate over whether or not to bread it – apparently the original recipe called for simply dredging it in flour, if it was given any type of coating at all – but it’s generally accepted that pork is the meat of choice (if you use veal cutlets and bread them, it becomes wienerschnitzel).  However, it seems that this is one of those dishes that has many variations, all of which are based on personal preference:  cook it the way you like it best.

So…I did.

Most recipes call for onions, mushrooms, beef stock and red wine.  I had no mushrooms in the house when I made this (which was fine – mushrooms is one of those things I have a fairly “take it or leave it” attitude towards) and I tend to lean towards lighter liquids when dealing with lean pork, so I decided to use just the onions along with white wine and homemade chicken stock for the sauce.  I also decided to bread it because, hey – it’s breaded and fried.  Being both from Texas and of German heritage, I’m rather partial to that preparation myself.

Was it authentic Jaeger Schnitzel?  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  Was it delicious served with my simple-yet-tasty fermented sauerkraut?  Oh, HELLS to the yes.  We both loved it; what else matters?

Jaeger Schnitzel. It may not be authentic, but it's incredibly delicious.

Click the image to enlarge

Jaeger Schnitzel
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork loin, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Using the flat side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a small, heavy skillet, gently pound the pork slices between two sheets of wax paper to 1/4″ thickness. In a large ziplock bag, combine the tapioca and almond flours, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Measure out two tablespoons of the flour mixture and set aside.
  2. In a wide, shallow dish whisk together the egg and water. Dip a pork cutlet into the egg wash, then drop it into the bag with the flour mixture. Seal the bag and shake to coat the cutlet; set it aside on a flat surface, such as a baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining cutlets.
  3. Cook the bacon in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until crispy; remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat, reserving the remainder. Reduce the heat slightly; cook the onion until soft and golden, and transfer it the same plate as the bacon. Set aside.
  4. Return 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat to the skillet, increase the heat slightly and whisk in the reserved flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the wine and chicken stock and continue cooking. stirring frequently, until thickened and reduced by about half. Return the the bacon and onion to the gravy before transferring to a bowl. Cover and keep warm.
  5. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and return to the stove. Heat the remaining bacon fat in the skillet with the lard over high heat and fry the pork cutlets until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Drain briefly on paper towels.
  6. Plate the cutlets and top with the onion gravy. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 412 calories, 22.5g total fat, 125.2mg cholesterol, 968.8mg sodium, 675.2mg potassium, 15.8g carbohydrates, 1.7g fiber, 2.2g sugar, 31g protein

 

Breakfast Enchiladas

Well, hello there.

Yes, I’m back.  I didn’t post last week at all; I just couldn’t find the energy/time/inclination to do so.  It’s been a really strange, stressful summer – thank goodness it’s almost over.  I’d like to say it IS over and had fully planned to come back today with a post announcing I’d gotten my mojo back, but several unbloggable events over the course of the weekend, and the fact that I’m fighting off a particularly nasty stomach bug, have made me hesitant to think that, much less say it.

I’d really, really like to put this all past me – I’ll tell you what I can tomorrow – so I’m going to go ahead and act as if I have.  Fake it till you make it, and all that.

So.  The Young One came home for Labor Day weekend and after discovering that because he doesn’t want to get up early enough to actually go eat breakfast and had spent the week scarfing down Pop Tarts every morning (see?  THIS is what I’d been worrying about), I decided to send him back to school with an armload of breakfast tacos that he could microwave in the morning before making his zombie-like way to class.

It was a good strategy, but it left me with a dozen corn tortillas once I’d made enough tacos to stuff the freezer portion of his mini-fridge with something that resembled actual food.  Now, I like a good breakfast taco as much as the next person, I suppose, but why make tacos when you can make enchiladas?

So I did.

And they were muy bueno.

I am, in fact, lucky I got any at all, considering the way Beloved sucked them down.  Even the leftovers.

Please note that you don’t want the eggs to be completely cooked when scrambling, because they are going to cook some more once they go into the oven.  I’ve also included directions for softening the tortillas in the microwave before filling, as opposed to the traditional method of softening them in lard or oil, in an attempt to keep the calorie count somewhere in the realm of reasonable – and this isn’t a low calorie dish to begin with.

It is, however, a really nice occasional indulgence that is great served with fresh fruit and maybe even a Bellini. 😉

Note:  This can be assembled the prior evening and refrigerated overnight, so all you have to do is bake it in the morning.  Also, if you make your enchilada sauce with olive oil and vegetable stock, as opposed to lard and chicken stock, this will be vegetarian friendly, too.

Breakfast Enchiladas. Perfect for Sunday brunch, this easy-to-make casserole can be assembled the night before.

Click the image to enlarge

Breakfast Enchiladas
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 recipe [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/enchilada-sauce/” target=”_blank”]Enchilada Sauce[/url]
  • 12 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium poblano chile, seeded and diced
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large, heavy skillet melt the butter over medium-low heat and cook the onion, bell pepper and poblano chile until the vegetables are soft and the onion is golden.
  3. Increase the heat slightly and add the beaten eggs to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggs are softly scrambled, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Wrap the tortillas in a large, clean kitchen towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Turn the bundle over and microwave for another 30 seconds.
  5. Working quickly and carefully, fill the tortillas with the egg mixture and roll into a cylinder shape; place each enchilada seam-side down in a large glass baking dish. Pour the enchilada sauce evenly over the enchiladas and top with the cheese.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the eggs are completely set.
  7. Serve with salsa and sour cream, if desired.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 545 calories, 30g total fat, 418.4mg cholesterol, 495.2mg sodium, 828.1mg potassium, 43.1g carbohydrates, 6.2g fiber, 9.4g sugar, 27g protein