Monday, May 09, 2005

I'm Back From Mexico

(It’s all a state of Mind)

Cinco de Mayo has past now. As a result of our celebration of Mexican Independence Day, I’ve spent a LOT of time looking into “Mexican” cooking over the past couple of weeks. So much time that I think Pat is getting tired of Mexican.

That will never happen to me. As I’ve said earlier—I LOVE MEXICAN FOOD.

I’ve watched the Food Network shows on Mexican cooking and I have dreamed about black beans and tortillas. Here is the main thing that I have learned about cooking Mexican style. Mexican food is really simple—it’s just different from southern American food or Cajun food or Italian food or whatever.

The good news is, while it doesn’t have to cost much per portion served, it is hard to make just a little Mexican food for two. Seriously, Mexican seems to be best done in larger quantities, and some of it takes a good deal of time to do properly, so you don’t want to try to make just three tamales or one burrito or whatever.

Instead of cooking a single dish with a single meat, I’m starting to do my Mexican cooking in a process of cooking up one or two meats (pork, beef, or chicken), then making different dishes by further processing the basic meats as the filling ingredient for finished product.

What I’m going to do now is describe what I’ve been doing over the past few days to make the meat fillings for a couple of dishes, and the byproducts, some soup and other side dishes.

First there is pork…

Pork tenderloin—about one pound (more if you got it, just multiply the other ingredients)

2 tbsp olive oil
½ yellow onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, pealed
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp powdered “herb ox” beef bouillon
4 cups hot water (enough water to cover your pork tenderloin)

This is really simple to do, so don’t panic. All you need is one six quart boiler.

Set the boiler on the stove top and turn the heat up to medium-low. Add your olive oil, the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until the onions are clear and tender, then add the garlic and cook a few minutes.

Mix your bouillon powder with the hot water and let it sit while you continue cooking.

Now turn the heat up to medium. Push the veggies to the side and toss your pork tenderloin in and sear it on all sides.

Once you have a nice “color” on the meat, add the water/beef bouillon mixture and stir every thing up. Turn down the heat to medium low, cover the pot, and step away from the oven.

Cook the pork until it starts to fall apart, about two hours. When the meat is done to your satisfaction, pull it out on the side and let it cool. Let your stock cool separately, and spoon the fat off of the top.


Black Bean and Corn Soup

I made this little dish up on my own, accidentally. I dumped a can of rinsed black beans and a small can of whole kernel corn into a boiler for the purpose of making a ‘vegetable medley” side dish, and ended up making soup after storing the mixture in the fridge for a couple of days.

(1) 15-1/4 ounce can of black beans, rinsed well
(1) 8-1/4 ounce can of whole kernel yellow corn
a few pieces of roasted red bell pepper
diced onion or scallions if you like
hot sauce to taste
a few twists of fresh black pepper
1 cup of liquid stock from the pork tenderloin mixture cooked as described above

If you try too hard, you can screw this recipe up. Otherwise, open the cans, throw everything in the pot, and cook it for an hour--longer if you have the time.

Eat the results, and shut up while I write up the other recipes...

Enjoy Y'all

The Redneck Gourmet

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