Saturday, February 25, 2012

Picadillo - Mexican Hash

Nat asked for this one. I've adapted this from the McNair's cookbook. When the kids were young, they all complained about the raisins. But Nat says they use them with ground beef in Argentina. I always served this with corn or flour tortillas. Nannie served her American style hash with grits. You'll have to let us know what the tradition is over there, Nat!

2 lb. ground meat (I always used 1/2 turkey & 80/20 ground chuck)
2 large onions, chopped
4 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped (2 c. canned can be substituted)
1-2 potatoes, chopped (optional)
2-3 carrots, chopped (optional)
2-3 zucchini, chopped (optional)
3/4 c. raisins
1 Tbs. vinegar
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. sugar 
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin 
1/2 tsp. pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped

Sauté meat and onions in frying pan until meat is brown and onions are clear. Drain off fat. Mix in remaining ingredients, stir and simmer for about 45 minutes. Add the garlic and cilantro in the last 10 minutes. Use as a main dish with rice or as a filling for tacos. Serves 6-8.

Phil's Italian Tex Mex Beef Stew

Phil concocted this recipe in Italy about a week ago . I'm listing the ingredients but there is a secret one that you'll have to find out about when you read his recipe. Any word on Neesha's twins, Phil?? 

3 small onions, chopped                                5 small tomatoes, chopped
several big mushrooms, chopped                  5 small potatoes, chopped
1 lb. or so beef stew meat                              2 zucchini, sliced              
1 frozen pork sausage (optional)                   cumin (1 t. approx.)                     
2 stalks celery, chopped                                 salt (2 t. approx)
5-6 carrots, roughly chopped                          garlic, minced, (3 cloves or so)
1 bell pepper, chopped                                   1 leek, tough green part removed
2 spicy peppers (serrano, jalapeno)               (optional - add with peppers if using)

First I chopped up three smallish onions, and several big mushrooms. Then I started sauteing them along with my beef stew meat. Then I added a frozen pork sausage (no need to do that -- it was just in the freezer left by a roommate who moved out, and I was just making freezer space. It was a delicious addition, but no need to gild the lily for future cases).
Instead of chopping everything ahead of time like I usually do, which is a little too OCD, I finally just started doing what you always recommend and adding stuff as I chopped. So then I added two stalks of celery to the skillet, followed by 5-6 carrots, chopped roughly, then a bell pepper, then two spicy peppers, and something with an Italian name that I'm not sure about only because it was the first time i cooked with it, but I think it might have been leeks. Unmistakably in the onion family but long , big, and cylindrical.

Then I chopped up about 5-6 smallish tomatoes, 5-6 smallish potatoes, and 2 zucchinis. I didn't add them at that point because I knew they give off a lot of water so it would be time to transfer it all to a stew pot at that point. So I transfered it all to a stew pot. 

Then came the special part. Sadly, this is the last time I can make this stew while in Italy, but you can make it. I then added one small box (9.5 oz) of Dona Maria mole. It's really good and I tasted it beforehand to make sure it didn't taste salty or artificial or something that would mess with the taste of my otherwise fresh stew, and don't worry it's fine. I added the small box along with some dried red peppers from Mission, Texas. Our friend Neesha (who writes comments on your food blog, and who is expecting twins any day now) sent Drew and I a care package this past fall with fun Mexican food we couldn't get here, and the mole mix was the oddball thing I never used till last night. But I'm sure you can find it in the San Benito HEB.  I also added some cumin, of course I salted the whole time, and then I put the lid on and simmered for an hour. Oh, I added garlic toward the end.

It was delicious. The vegetables cost me 7 Euro and the stew meat was 4 Euro, so about $14 in total, guesstimating the conversion to dollars. But it should last me about 5-6 good meals. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

cách kho thịt

rửa thịt sạch xắc ra thành cụt vuông ; bầm tỏi + ớt+ nước mắm + đường + bột ngọt , trộn với thịt để khoảng 20 phút bắt nồi lên bếp bỏ vô ít đường saò cho vàng rồi, đổ thịt vô nấu sôi đê lửa nhỏ đền khi thịt mềm

we made this last week. the recipe was handwritten and given to us by aunt number 5. it means:

wash the meat well and cut into cubes; add garlic, chili, fish sauce, sugar, msg, let marinade for 20 minutes. put a pot on the fire and add a little sugar until it gets dark, then put in the meat, cook on a low fire until it's tender.

Supplementary notes
The recipe is very traditional because it is so vague about the ingredients. Here is the extra information you need to actually prepare this.
1. "a little sugar" means enough sugar to melt and make about a quarter cup of caramel
2. the meat to use is pork belly. i used about a two pound portion of a pork belly with ribs attached. add just enough water to cover and simmer it with the top off.
3. after bringing the meat to a boil you will spend a good hour skimming off the foam that rises to the top. this is important to do so that you have a clear sauce at the end.
3a. After skimming you will want to adjust the seasoning by adding fish sauce (for saltiness) and granular sugar. The broth should be very sweet and salty. You are not supposed to drink the broth, just add a spoon or so on top of your rice, so you should not be too concerned. Also the broth needs to be strong in order for the dish to keep preserved.
4. once you have been skimming for a while, add in about a dozen boiled eggs. the eggs are supposed to absorb the sweet and salty sauce. duck or quail eggs are most traditional, but chicken eggs will also work.
5. in most recipes like this they use fried garlic rather than fresh garlic. to make fried garlic just mince a good amount of garlic and fry it in oil until golden, then let it cool and harden.
6. msg ("sweet powder") is of course optional. i put about a teaspoon. if you are skeptical, here is a simple experiment:
Rinse well a handful of spinach leaves. Heat a bit of peanut oil in a skillet, add some minced garlic to brown, then add the spinach, sprinkle about a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of soy sauce. Cook a minute or two until wilted. Now do the same with another handful of spinach leaves, but add a quarter teaspoon of msg with the sugar. Can you taste the difference?
7. You should not eat this dish alone, but serve it on the side with a vegetable main course. The dish reaches its peak flavor after 10--20 days sitting in the refrigerator or sitting out at room temperature. If you set it out at room temperature, then bring the whole pot to a boil twice a day. If you store it in the refrigerator, then when you take it out, heat the whole pot up, serve out however much you will eat, then let it cool and store back in the refrigerator. If you just serve it as a side dish and only have a couple of bites with every other supper, then you will notice it improving over time. The eggs especially are transformed after sitting in the broth for two weeks. In Vietnam some families will eat one pot, reheated every day, for a full month.