and now for something completely different …

i was challenged to create an all mexican/tex-mex menu this week by one simple statement from my husband. we were talking about my enchiladas (which he loves – he gets this glossy, starry look of utter infatuation in his eyes when he mentions them) and he said “we don’t eat enough beaner food in this house” (i should note here by the way, that i am indeed a beaner and the word is a term of endearment in our home. okay disclaimer over. if that word offends you, get outta here. and get a sense of humor while you’re at it.). and he’s right, you know. anyone who knows me personally knows that i am biracial, half mexican, half white, and grew up straddling those cultures in most aspects of my life EXCEPT where food was concerned. my mother was schooled in the art of good old southern cooking, think gravy’s, comfort foods, fried chicken, soul food, etc. when she married my dad, a man born and raised in mexico, she found she had to widen her scope. i know that she learned quite a bit from my grandma (dad’s mother), and my aunts as well, and pretty soon she was cooking mexican/tex-mex food better than any mexican i ever knew… her tamales were AMAZING, her tacos, divine, and her enchiladas (those i make that my husband adores) were also pretty amazing. to make a long story very short, i grew up learning to cook mostly mexican food. maybe that’s why i’ve branched out so completely from the food i’ve always made. but this week’s menu has really got my mojo running, and i’m finding that i’ve missed this taste. last night we tweaked classic tacos al pastor (grilled pork tacos marinated in orange juice, assorted spices, pineapple juice) and served in corn tortillas with grilled pineapple slices).
tonight, i finally made a chili colorado that made me double-take, thinking maybe my grandma had come to visit and cooked dinner without my knowing it … if there’s one thing i absolutely love about food it’s the memories and feeling of utter joy that it often inspires. eating this chili colorado brought back a flood of memories, scooping the silken, deep ruby colored gravy and tender beef into super-airy flour tortillas at one of my grandmother’s famous birthday parties in the retirement community in which she lives while people danced to the live conjunto around me. it was delicious and i’m insanely glad i found the recipe (the one i used is located here, visit if you’d like more specific measurements than mine). if you have a lazy sunday (or even if you’ve spent your weekend working outside like i did) please consider making this dish. it is absolutely amazing and super simple. Chili Colorado de Res You need: a couple dried ancho chilies (i use these in abundance when making tamales so i had plenty. if you’re lacking these or any dried chilis, please visit Mex Grocer or Gourmet Sleuth to order them pretty cheaply) a few small-to-medium New Mexican chilis water (at least 2 1/2 cups) beef, cut into cubes (i used some tri tip and it was fabulous) vegetable or canola oil 2 minced garlic cloves salt, pepper small white onion, chopped 1-2 tablespoons flour 1 teaspoon mexican oregano 1/2 teaspoon cumin To rehydrate the chilis, i placed them in a pot with the water and heated them on low (it’s not a great idea to boil them, that kind of makes them bitter). you might have to weigh them down with something. i used the pestle part of my molcajete . this should take about 30 to 45 minutes. when they’re done, i let them cool down enough to handle easily. in a colander in the sink, i pull off the tops of the chilis, and rinse the seeds and membranes off. puree the chiles in a blender or food processor. set the chilis aside. do NOT discard the rehydrating liquid. you’ll need it in a second. in a pot, heat up a couple tablespoons of oil. salt and pepper the beef cubes. sear these in the hot oil until well browned all over. dump the leftover rehydrating liquid into the beef, set it to low heat, put a lid on it, and simmer the beef for about an hour. while this is cooking, mince your garlic cloves and add a little salt to them. squish the garlic with your knife to make a garlic paste. chop some onion and set all this aside. after the beef has cooked about an hour, take out about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and add to the blender with the chilis. puree this. in a separate pan, heat 1 tablespoon or so of oil. add the garlic paste and the onion. saute until the onion is soft, but not browned. sprinkle your flour into the onions and garlic and cook for a minute or so. take off the heat. add this mixture and the pureed chilis into the beef. stir in the oregano and cumin, and salt and pepper. make sure this is on low heat, cover, and simmer for 1 and a half hours, watching it every so often, stirring, and adding water if necessary to keep the gravy from thickening up too much. make some flour tortillas while this is cooking. serve the chili colorado with the tortillas, and if you do it right, you shouldn’t even need a fork. just use the tortillas to sop up every last bit of that gravy. top with chopped onion and cilantro, if you want. DSCF1833

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