Posts Tagged ‘mexican recipes’


The Mighty Bean

We are a family of bean lovers!  I wrote my first bean cookbook almost 30 years ago and I have a new one coming out this winter – The Mighty Bean published by Countryman Press. They both are filled with recipes we love. Refried beans are right up there with the top 5 favorites even though they are not as heart healthy as we should be eating – but you really do need that bacon fat for the depth of flavor good refried beans have.  This is about as close as I come to making a traditional Mexican refried bean.  I like to make a batch and keep it on hand for making a quick burrito, enchilada or tostada.  If you keep a can of Hatch Enchilada Sauce (which I find to be excellent) and some tortillas on hand you can have a tasty Mexican-inspired dish on the table in minutes!

Refried Beans

Serves 6

1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked (see page 00)

1 cup diced onions

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves – Mexican oregano is great if you can find it

Salt and pepper

1 cup bacon fat

Place the beans in a large saucepan with cold water to cover by 2-inches.  Add the onions, cilantro, garlic and oregano and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil; then, lower the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 2 hours or until the beans are very soft.  The beans should still be liquidy – if not, add water throughout the cooking process.  When the beans have softened, season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and drain well, reserving the liquid.  Place the beans in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and, with the motor running, add the cooking liquid a bit at a time.  The beans should be a bit rough – do not puree.

Place ½ cup of the bacon fat in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the beans and cook, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes incorporating the fat into the beans as you stir.  Cook until the beans are a bit dry.

Remove the beans from the heat and let cool.

Then, return to the heat and, using the remaining ½ cup of bacon fat, repeat the frying process.  You may not need to use all of the fat.  

Serve as a side dish or as a topping for tostadas or as a filling for burritos and/or enchiladas.

Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.  May be frozen.  Reheat before using.

NOTE:  When frying the beans for the first go-round, you may add finely diced onions, tomatoes and/or minced garlic to the mix.

You can also incorporate 2 cups of shredded queso blanco or Monterey jack cheese just before serving.


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We do love Mexican flavors and often have some version of Tex-Mex burritos, tacos, or enchiladas on the menu.  However, once in awhile I go to my Diana Kennedy cookbooks and do something traditionally Mexican.  And, sometimes, I will see an ingredient that says Mexico and buy it whether I’m putting a Mexican meal on the table or not.  The other day, the market had the freshest, greenest, perky paper skinned tomatillos that were singing “buy us, buy us”.  So, of course, I did.
I had planned to have grilled chicken for dinner – using my trusty grill pan and decided that a lovely Tomatillo Sauce would be just the thing to perk up the chicks.  Not only did it do that very nicely, but it also added some zest to some grilled sandwiches we had for lunch the following day.
I first grilled the tomatillo along with shallots and garlic. Then, I chopped the grilled mix in a food processor along with some cilantro and a jalapeño.  Seasoned it up with lime juice and salt and we had a most delicious charred tomatillo sauce to zest up our dinner.




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As you can tell, lately I’ve been on a Mexican food kick – burritos one night, mole the next, and then for breakfast a big plate of beans and eggs in the form of huevos rancheros.  As much as I love pico de gallo (the ubiquitous dip served with chips in every authentic or wanna-be Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant), it is impossible to make at this time of the year ‘cause the tomatoes are so anemic and tasteless, so I try to make my own “authentic” Mexican cooked sauces to keep on hand when I need a south of the border fix.

To make the huevos, griddle up some corn tortillas (one for each serving and a couple for dipping and cleaning the plate).  Top with refried beans, then with 2 fried eggs, sunny-side-up, drizzle with tomato sauce, and serve as is or with a side of yellow rice.  On this morning, I grilled some of those sweet little peppers that come, pre-bagged, in a colorful mix that I found languishing in the back of the fridge to accent the plate as we were having friends join us.

Here’s my sauce:

1 pound ripe (ha!) tomatoes

Couple of chiles – jalapeño, Serrano or whatever is available, cut in half, lengthwise

3 cloves garlic

Cilantro or epazote to taste

Salt to taste

            Place the tomatoes, chiles, and garlic in a stovetop grill pan over medium heat.  Grill, turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until nicely charred and soft to the touch.  You might have to step away from the stove from time to time as the fumes from the cooking chiles can be powerful.

Remove from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle.  When cool enough to handle, core the tomatoes, stem the chiles, and push the skin from the garlic.

Combine the tomatoes, chiles, and garlic in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Add the cilantro or epazote and season with salt.  Process, using quick on and off turns, to make a chunky sauce.

Scrape the sauce into a clean saucepan and place over medium heat.  Cook for about 5 minutes just to allow flavors to blend.  Taste and, if necessary, add more cilantro and salt.

Serve or transfer to a container and store, covered and refrigerated, for up to a week or so.

And here’s my refried beans: 

2-3 tablespoons bacon fat or lard (if you want to be good use canola oil, but why?)

Any amount of cooked beans you like – either pinto or black (with cooking liquid separately reserved if you have it) – I usually make about 4 cups

3 cloves garlic, minced or more if you like

3 sprigs epazote or cilantro or more if you like, finely chopped

1 jalapeño serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

Salt to taste

Heat the fat in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the drained beans along with the garlic, herbs, and chile.  Cook, pushing down on the beans with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, until all of the beans have been mashed into the fat.  Lower the heat and season with salt.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently and adding reserved bean cooking liquid to keep the mixture moist, but not runny, for about 20 minutes or until the flavors are well blended and the mix is very flavorful.  Serve immediately or store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.


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For some time I have been promising my friend Deena (of tamale lady fame) to make mole for her.  I got to be a self-proclaimed expert at it when I was doing a lot of consulting – advising large companies on how to introduce new products into an ever-expanding marketplace.  I will admit that I’m a bit lazy these days and don’t use the mortar and pestle like I should, so mole making is not quite as time consuming as it once was.  Steve, my wonderful photographing husband, loves nothing better than the time he spends in Oaxaca, Mexico, an area known for its great moles so he has come to really appreciate the authentic dish.  A long story to say I spent the day making mole in preparation for a Mexican celebration of chicken in mole sauce, pinto beans, rice, and guacamole for Deena.  We’ll probably down some cerveza or cerveza preparada (tomato juice, beer, and hot sauce mix) or margaritas to toast the many wonderful cooks south of our borders.

Here’s my recipe for Mole Negro Oaxaqueño (Chicken in Mole Sauce, Oaxaca-Style).  Tradition says cook the chicken first and then proceed with the recipe, but I always have plenty of chicken stock in the freezer so I use that to prepare the sauce.  I make the sauce and when I want to serve it I sear the chicken pieces (I usually cut up 2 whole chickens, but you could use any parts you like – if you use skinless, boneless breasts, don’t overcook), add them to the sauce, and cook for about 25 minutes just before serving.  You can garnish with toasted sesame seeds or chopped cilantro if you like.  Tradition also says “use lard” but I opt for the healthier olive oil

2 ounces guajillo chiles, seeds and stems removed

4 pasilla chiles, seeds and stems removed

4 ancho chiles, seeds and stems removed

5 tablespoons olive oil

Two ½-inch thick slices French or Italian bread

1½ cups canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles with juice

1 cup chopped onion

¼ cup diced dried apricots

¼ cup black raisins

¼ cup unsalted peanuts

¼ cup slivered almonds

¼ cup cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups chicken stock or canned nonfat, low-sodium chicken broth

2 bay leaves

2½ ounces unsweetened chocolate

Salt to taste

Break the chiles into pieces and place in a small, heatproof bowl.  Cover with very hot water and set aside to soak for 1 hour or until very soft.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat.  Add the bread and fry for about 4 minutes or until the bread is turning brown and the olive oil has been absorbed.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Drain the chiles, separately reserving the soaking water.

Combine the chiles with the tomatoes, onion, apricots, raisins, peanuts, almonds, cilantro, garlic, sesame seeds, pepper, thyme, oregano, cloves, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Add the reserved bread pieces and toss to blend.

Working in batches, puree the mixture in a high-speed blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade, adding the reserved soaking water as needed to make a very thick paste-like puree.

Heat the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the paste and fry, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes or until the paste has taken on some color.

Scrape the paste into a large saucepan.  Add the chicken stock and bay leaves and place over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.  Add the chocolate and continue to stir until the chocolate has melted into the sauce.

Season with salt to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until the flavors have blended nicely.  (You can make the sauce up to this point; then cool, place in a nonreactive container, cover, and refrigerate for a few days or freeze for up to 3 months).



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