Have a Mexican Fiesta! (part 1)

Happy Friday!

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Yes, it’s another squirrel. πŸ™‚

This post has nothing about injured ribs, running, tired legs, headbands, training plans, fast paces, cool socks, or CrossFit. Do you think you can survive without all that stuff? Of course you can! I promise that you’ll be overloaded with it next week. πŸ™‚

Fiesta!

This is the first in a two-part series on how to have a Mexican Fiesta in your dining room! Carne Asada, homemade beans, homemade guacamole and salsa, and even a cactus salad! (which, honestly, I didn’t make. Cactus? Those things are prickly.) Today, you get to learn how to make authentic carne asada and some homemade beans. I chose black beans because, well, I love them but you could certainly use pinto, pink (yes, PINK! Perfect for mother’s day!), or anything that your heart desires. And trust me, they don’t take as long as you would expect but they do take some time and it is TOTALLY worth it.

I got the recipes from Rick Bayless’ “Mexico – One Plate at a Time” cookbook. Rick Bayless is an American chef who specializes in tradition Mexican food and his recipes are absolutely divine. Sure, some require some work but you know what, it’s all worth it when you sit down at the table with your family and/or friends and enjoy the meal, the experience, and the moment. No, you don’t have to wait for Cinco de Mayo to roll around again to try these recipes. It’s your house, your dining room, your rules – you can have a Mexican Fiesta whenever you want! Ole! Margaritas optional.

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Carne Asada (literal translation – “grilled beef”)

Eight 6- to 10-ounce beef steaks (bone-in rib or strip, ribeyes, boneless strip, tenderloin, chuck steaks and sirloin steaks all work in this dish)
2 limes
4-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Oil for grilling

1. Squeeze the juice of two limes into a large, nonaluminum dish. Mix the garlic and salt in another dish. Dip the steaks into the lime juice, turning to coat both sides. Smear all over with the garlic salt mixture. Cover and marinate for no more than 2 hours.

2. Light a gas grill to medium-high heat or light a charcoal grill and set the cooking grate above the hot coals once they’ve ashed over. Remove steak from marinade, place on grill and cook, turning once, until your desired “doneness” (yes, I did just make up that word). For medium-rare, a 1/2-inch steak will need about 2 1/2 minutes per side over medium-high heat. Remove from grill, let rest covered approximately 5 minutes (this allows the juices to set in the steak and helps the steak stay juicy when you cut it). Thinly slice and serve with guacamole, salsa, cactus salad, and tortillas, if desired.

Mexican Beans!

1 pound dried beans – you pick!
3 tablespoons pork lard OR 4 thick slices smokey bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Kosher salt

1. Rinse the beans and place them in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot and measure in 2 1/2-quarts water. Remove any beans that float, then add the pork lard or bacon, onion and garlic. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a strong rolling boil. Reduce the heat to about medium-low (just enough to keep the beans at a bare simmer, partially cover the pot and cook until the beans are thoroughly tender, about 2 hours depending on the type and freshness of the beans. Stir the beans every 15 minutes or so to make sure that none are sticking and the water still covers the beans, allowing them to more or less float freely. Add additional water as necessary.

2. When the beans are completely tender, season them with 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Let simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes for the beans to absorb the salt; then taste and add additional salt as necessary. The beans should have just enough broth to cover them. If too soupy, simmer briskly until broth is reduced, stirring frequently; if not brothy enough, stir in a little water. Keep warm over very low heat until ready to serve.

– jennifer

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