Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Feeling a little Mexicany?

I really like Mexican food and if you stick with the corn versions of tortillas it is inherently gluten free.  The most common grain in Mexican food is corn........I will digress here for a second - Corn is also HEAVILY GMO'd and I can not stress enough the need to find a reputable 'dealer'....'purveyor'.....source.  Because there are no laws (as of yet) about labeling GMO'd foods I can only suggest you read packaging.  Many companies who make a point of using non GMO'd grains make a point of labeling it as a non GMO'd product.  At the very least make sure it is organic.  Organic products are not all non GMO'd but many of them are......I will now return to our regular scheduled programming......

Almost two years ago a dear friend of mine (hi Linz!) moved away from this fair city and gave me her slow cooker/crockpot.  I had never had one and had no idea what to do with it....well not 'no idea' but wasn't super inspired.  I flipped through the silly little cook book that came with it (she still had it) figured out what could be made with it and then ignored that.......I mean who is gunna drink Hot Spiced Cherry Cider made with cherry jello out of a CROCK POT? or eat Hot Cheese Dip made from something called 'cheese roll' out of a 4 QUART CROCK POT? Or better yet, cook up 8 hour Teriyaki chicken wings, rinse it out and cook up rice pudding made out of cooked rice, sweetened condensed milk and sugar!?!?! I could feel my teeth ache and diabetes setting in just reading the recipe.  It all seems too weird to me. I want to stress the point that it is a 4 QUART crock pot.....it is huge...like I can fit both my feet into it big (don't ask me how I know that)....can you imagine making that much Hot Cheese Dip?.....I bet soaking your feet in hot cheese dip is pretty fantastic...but I will save that for another blog post.

One of the recipes that I have held on to for the day I have a slow cooker is baked beans. Mexicany slow cooked beans. I used to be a regular at this dive.... bar..... Tex Mex restaurant.  The food was pretty good and the kitchen was open til 3 am so when I worked as a bartender I ate there a lot. They would make fresh batches of the refried beans every other day.  I loved beans day and have wanted to learn how to make those beans.  So I figured it out.  You may stumble across other more classic recipes for Mexican beans but they can call for unusual ingredients that few of us would have around the house, like avocado leaves so I have altered this one to stuff that most people would have.

Mexicany Beans
You can do it stove top if you can turn the heat down low enough but much easier in the foot bath crock pot.  I really love that I can start these in the morning and leave them gently bobbing away until dinner time. HINT – This makes a pretty huge batch - freeze some.

1 pound (about 2 ½ cups) of dried beans
(any Phaseolus (impressed much?) bean will work, like a white, red or black navy, not a lentil, garbanzo or favas.)
2-4 tbsps of bacon drippings
(yes keep the fat after you cook bacon)
1 medium white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 hot pepper (optional)

In a colander, rinse beans well with water.  Pour the beans in a large pot with 8 cups of salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat.

While waiting for the water to boil, in your slow cooker throw the other ingredients, the onion, bacon fat and spices.  If you want spicy add the hot pepper,de-stemed and cut in half. Once the beans have come to a rolling boil pour the beans, water and all, into the slow cooker.  Set on high and let cook for at least 6 hours, stirring occasionally.  Serve with a little grated cheese, Mexican rice, a veg. HINT – the leftover rice and beans make a yummy base for fried or poached eggs for breakfast the next morning think Hueros Rancheros
What better than pairing it with good Mexicany Rice?

Classic Mexican Red Rice
I like to make this one in a rice cooker.  Like the beans you can set it up and walk away.  Makes life easier.

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 white rice
1 cup good bottle tomato salsa
1 cup chicken broth
salt (optional)
1 cup frozen peas (optional)

In a medium size pan heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the rice. Stir frequently until the grains of rice turn from translucent to milk-white, about 5 minutes.

In your rice cooker, add the salsa and stock.  When the rice is ready pour it into the cooker.  Stir a couple of times.  Put the lid on and let cook normally.  Add the peas right before the rice is done.  If added too early in the cooking they will get mushy.


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