Friday, October 14, 2016

Oaxacan Black Bean Soup

This is another easy, delicious recipe from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. Even my husband liked this, and he's not a bean soup lover.

I didn't add the shrimp because I couldn't wrap my mental taste palate around them in black bean soup. Also I was just throwing this together and didn't have any. We didn't miss them but I might try them next time.

Oaxacan Black Bean Soup
Makes 7 cups, serving 6

  • 12 ounces (about 2 cups) black beans, picked over
  • 4 avocado leaves or 1 stalk fennel, roughly chopped (I used a bit of ground fennel seed)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) chorizo sausage, casing removed, crumbled
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • Salt, about 1 teaspoon (I needed much more ... about a tablespoon)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 to 6 corn tortillas (preferably stale sort-bought ones), sliced into 1/8-inch wide strips, for garnish (Bayless says you can use broken, good quality chips instead of frying up the tortilla strips ... and I did. Delicious!)
  • 8 ounces (about 12) medium-large shrimp, peeled (optional)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or pressed, salted farmer's cheese

The beans
Place the beans in a medium-size (4-quart) pot, cover with 6 cups water, remove any beans that float and heat slowly to a simmer.

If using the avocado leaves, toast them briefly directly over a medium gas flame or on a hot griddle. Add the avocado leaves (or fennel), chorizo, and onion to the beans, partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the beans are fully tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. If you see the beans peeking up through the liquid, add hot water to cover them by 1/2-inch.

Finishing the soup
Use an immersion blender to coarsely puree the soup, or puree in batches in a food processor or loosely covered blender. Return it to the pot. Add enough water to thin to a medium-thick consistency. Taste and season with salt.

Heat the oil in a medium size (8 to 9-inch) skillet over medium-high. When hot, add about 1/3 of the tortilla strips and fry, turning frequently, until they are crisp. Drain on paper towels. Fry the remaining strips in 2 batches.

Serving the soup
If using the shrimp, devein each one by making a shallow incision down the back, exposing the (usually) dark intestinal track; scrape it out. Heat the soup to a boil, add the shrimp and cook until just done, abut 2 minutes. Ladle into warm soup bowls, top with a few of the crisp tortilla strips and sprinkle with a little cheese.

Bayless has several variations including this one which I might try: leave out the avocado leaves and chorizo, using several chopped canned chipotles added with the dry beans.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tacos of Tomatillo Chicken with Wilted Greens and Fresh Cheese

This is from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen which has some of the easiest authentic Mexican recipes ever. And the most delicious. We found this made a good one dish supper.

This looks much more difficult than it is. Just forge ahead and don't worry.

Tacos of Tomatillo Chicken with Wilted Greens and Fresh Cheese

For 1-1/4 cups Essential Simmered Tomatillo-Serrano Sauce
  • 8 ounces (5 to 6 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed.
  • Fresh serrano chiles to taste. (roughly 2), stemmed
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped 
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
  • Salt, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, depending on the saltiness of the broth
Other Ingredients
  • 12 corn tortillas (plus a few extra, in case some break)
  • 2 cups firmly packed sliced chard leaves, lamb's quarters (quelites), sliced amaranth greens (quintoniles), purslane (verdolagas) or spinach (all pieces should be about 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long. I used kale
  • 1-1/3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (you'll need, for instance, 1 very large chicken breast for this amount; it's a good way to use up leftover chicken ... and if you don't have any see Poached Chicken recipe)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or pressed, salted farmer's cheese

To make sauce
Roast the tomatillos and peppers on a baking sheet (I lined mine with foil) 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened and soft on one side, 5-6 minutes, then turn them over and roast the other side. Transfer (including all juices) to a food processor or blender.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium, add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until deep golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook 1 more minute, then scrape into the food processor or blender. Process to a medium-coarse puree.

Heat the remaining 1/2 T of oil in the skillet and set over medium-high. Add the puree all at once and stir for about 5 minutes, until noticeably darker and thick. Stir in the broth, partially cover and simmer over medium-low for 10 minutes. (The sauce will be a little soupy.) Stir in the cilantro and generously season with salt.

(You can make this a few days ahead and refrigerate until needed.)

Finishing the dish
Heat the tortillas. Bayless recommends steaming in a vegetable steamer, wrapped in a kitchen towel. Boil for 1 minute, then turn off and let stand without opening for 15 minutes. I just heat mine on the griddle, though to be fair they are made with a little flour in them to facilitate things like folding without breaking.

Bring the sauce to a boil and add the greens. When the mixture returns to a boil, stir in the cooked chicken, and simmer until the greens are done (chard 3-4 minutes; spinach about 2 minutes). I cooked the kale for about 8 minutes. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.

When you are ready to serve, make the tacos one at a time, spooning a portion of the filling into a warm tortilla, sprinkling the cheese, and folding it over.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Poached Chicken

From Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. This turned out some of the tenderest, juiciest chicken I've ever had. It's a great technique for a lightly flavored broth as well as chicken to use in various recipes.

Poached Chicken
Makes about 1-1/2 pounds poached chicken, about 3 cups shredded. 

1 medium white onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 good size (3 pound) chicken, cut into quarters (I used a 5 pound chicken, came out great with same timing)
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram (didn't have it, didn't miss it)

In a large (6-quart) pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. (I used 10 cups because of the larger chicken.) Add onion, garlic, carrot, salt and chicken back (if you're lucky enough to have a separated one - I did because I cut up a whole chicken myself), neck, heart and giblets.

Skim off any foam that rises after a minute or two, partially cover and simmer over medium-low for 20 minutes.

Add dark meat quarters, skim again after a couple of minutes, then add bay and marjoram; partially cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add breast quarters, skim when the liquid returns to the simmer; partially cover and cook 13 minutes. Remove pot form heat and let chicken cool for a few minutes in the broth.

Remove breast and leg quarters from broth and set aside Strain broth, discarding solids and spoon off any fat that rises to the top. (Refrigerate broth covered, for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to 3 months. Wait until then to remove fat which will have solidified.)

When the chicken quarters are cool, pull meat off bones in coarse shreds. Meat will keep covered and refrigerated for several days or frozen for a few weeks.