Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Homemade Mexican - one of my labors of love

I've always loved Mexican and Southwestern food. I've been cooking from "Feast of Santa Fe" by Huntley Dent for more than twenty years. Homemade tortillas and tamales and refried beans are just so incredibly different from the stuff in cans and most of what you get at "Mexican" restaurants. I haven't made these things in ages, and got a hankering for some of that this week. It was triggered by the nice meaty pork spareribs I bought on sale -- all I could think about was marinating them in mojo, cooking them low and slow, and shredding the meat. Shredded pork has so many yummy applications. First, soft tacos. Homemade tortillas, homemade red chile sauce (basically a Rick Bayless recipe), and guacamole. There's nothing like a freshly made tortilla! Except homemade tamales are even better. Take the shredded pork, add some red chile, some raisins, cinnamon, cumin, and toasted chopped almonds. Make the masa (with real lard, not shortening) and beat it until it's really fluffy. That's how you get really light tamales, not those heavy concrete ones that sometimes show up on my plate in a Mexican restaurant. Now, this is not a quick-prep meal. Making 16 tamales is time-consuming, then you need to steam them for about 90 minutes. I also put pinto beans on this morning, and while the tamales steamed I seasoned and mashed them up for frijoles refritos. During that time I also finished the chile sauce for the tamales -- red chile paste, tomato puree, some guajillo chile powder (for more heat), and simmer until the raw flavors are gone. Shred up some lettuce and jack cheese, slice a few radishes, and you've got one heck of a meal. Best thing about homemade tamales? They keep and reheat wonderfully. So I can look forward to some more tomorrow! I'm sorry about no photos today, we ate everything up before I even thought about taking a picture ;-) P.S. The weather is nowhere as nice today -- cold wind, rain, thunderstorms, and hail. And the soups turned out really well. Added diced red pepper to the beef barley, since Dave likes that and it's for his lunch. He says it's really good. (I can't eat bell peppers, even though I can eat chiles.)

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