South of the Border Comida: Prepared En Su Casa.
Mexican food from the 31 States of Mexico has migrated through the states and taken on many variations based on the region. The closer you get to the east, the more you will find folks using Puerta Rican influences. The closer to the border, the more Tex Mex, American influence you will find. Here in Canada, you will find it with our own take. You will find more authentic Mexican food in Calgary, where the likes of American influence are greater.
Where do you go to get your favourite Mexican food? Is it a burrito, enchilada, taco, tamale or empanada? Try your local taco joints or higher end Mexican food establishments to see what the fare is like. Though when you are ready for some authentico Mexican food, head to the kitchen because we have some killer recipes.
Hard Shell Ground Beef Tacos
2 cups canola oil (for frying shells in the Le Creuset 12 inch deep fry pan)
15 corn tortillas (store bought brands are fine)
2 pounds 93/7 ground beef (7% fat)
1 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese of your choice (Grated, using the Cuisipro 4-sided box grater)
2 heads iceberg lettuce
3 medium tomatoes (Using the Wusthof 5.5 inch tomato knife, seeded/diced/ dried on paper towel)
2 onions (white and diced)
2 bunches of cilantro (chiffonade/ no stems)
Optional: Parmesan cheese for shells
pickled onion or jalapeno
Seasoning for the ground beef:
1 teaspoon each:
dark chili powder
chile pepper (chile California molido)
black ground pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon each cayenne and annatto (achiote)
SIDE NOTE: There are many store-bought packets of taco seasoning that have a lot of these ingredients. They too, work just fine if in a hurry. Or, simply add to their spice, some of your own.
Using a lesser fat ground beef mixture, draining is not needed. The seasonings melt into the beef and onions perfectly.
1). Brown the ground beef 1st for 3 minutes in the Le Creuset 12 inch fry pan on medium heat
2). Add all the spices along with a quarter of the onions and cilantro
3). Cook in the Le Creuset 12 inch fry pan until browned through and moisture has almost been removed
4). Kill heat and let stand on stove-top burner
1). Heat oil to 375 Degrees in the Le Creuset 12 inch fry pan
2). 1st tortilla is a tester. Place in the oil gently, flip over using Danesco wooden slotted spoons. Dexterity comes with practice.
3). Once you know the oil is hot enough, and flipping over can be accomplished safely, proceed to tortilla #2 by placing gently in oil.
4). This time flip over in 5 seconds. Now start the crease/fold of your taco shell using the Danesco wooden slotted spoons. Press each side independently to obtain a golden brown, crisp on each side.
The Building of The Home-Made Taco
1). Shred the lettuce and cheese
2). Tomatoes should be dried and diced. Same with onions and cilantro.
3). Place a thin layer of cheese in 1st.
4). Beef comes next
5). More cheese please!
6). The lettuce and tomatoes are standard next in an American style taco. Onions and cilantro are more of the traditional Mexican flair. Adding both is where its’ at!
7). Top with salsa, guac or whatever you and your group wish to place on this beloved hand-held beauty from the South.
Refried beans glue the meal together. Traditional lard has been used for centuries. Today, people “lean” away due to the bad rap this product receives health wise. This recipe uses lard. Lard is lower in saturated fat than butter. Lard has high monounsaturated fats as well. Plus, we aren’t eating a tub. Just making some great “soupy” beans. The easy and tasty way.
3 pounds pinto beans
1 can chicken broth
1 teaspoon garlic and cumin
½ white onion finely diced
1 tablespoon favorite salsa
½ Monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup lard
Water to soak and cook
1). Discard dirt, rocks, and bad beans.
2). Soak over night in water covering all beans.
3). Using a Zwilling J.A. Henckels 8 qt stock pot, cook beans, covered, at a boil for 5 minutes.
4). Cover and let sit for 1 hour.
5). While beans sit, place a dollop of lard in pan and brown the onion.
6). Add beans to onions and mash with potato masher.
7). Add everything but cheese and bring to high heat until bubbly.
8). Top with cheese and mix.
With beans, come Mexican rice. The two go together like salt and pepper at a dinner table. Again, many boxed versions are out there. But, all come out more as a risotto than a true Mexican rice…It is best to make from scratch. Many recipes out there. This one is simple.
1 cup white rice
A jar of favorite red salsa (16oz)
1 ½ cups water
½ teaspoon each salt, garlic, cumin, chili powder
Some canola oil to fry rice
2). Fry rice in an All-Clad 11 inch square grill pan until a bit brown in oil.
3). Pour all ingredients over rice.
4). Bring to a boil and stir.
5). Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
6). Fluff with fork and add any optional ingredients.
Place the taco, beans, and rice on a dinner plate. Mexico has been replicated in your own kitchen. Remember with authentico Mexican food, it's about the spices and peppers.