Come find yourself...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Clint Eastwood Will Bitch Slap That Dry Pepper

This is the kind of meal I imagine Clint Eastwood would eat. You ever really looked at Clint's body? The man is diesel. He's 118 and has the body of a 50 year old guy on steroids. His arms and chest are amazing...I don't have a thing for the guy, but he's in great shape and is one hell of a good director, so he's aces in my book.

This is the kind of meal he'd eat. It's full of flavor, got some fun, sorta obscure chili's in it and low on calories and fat. I've said it before and I'll say it again - homemade Mexican food is great for you. You don't need piles of fat or cheese to make it taste great - you just need the right peppers and the right cheese (used sparingly) to have a great restaurant-quality home cooked meal.

A word on dried peppers - most home cooks don't use them. They seem to think they're weird and foreign. The truth is they're cheap and amazingly tasty. Once a home cook uses them they never, ever go back. But they are weird and they are new, so unless you don't know what to do with them, you'll get confused as all hell.

I've read countless books and blogs who tell you what to do with them. I have to be honest -- I can't follow most of them. It's true - the sublime (and very cute) Rick Bayless, the American king of Mexican food, is the dude to listen to. He's totally cute. He's so chill and has a healthy body weight (that tells you something - he doesn't cook with cheese and oil).

He uses fresh ingredients so his sauces taste like nothing you've ever had. Layers upon layers of taste and flavor. And all this mostly because he uses dried peppers.

I made a sauce the other day which was a combination of peppers. Guajillo and Ancho.

Guajillo's are one of the most common dried Spanish chili's on the market. You can find them in many, many stores. They are very mild and carry very little heat, but they add a sweet complexity to sauces which is hard to match. Ancho chili's are simply Poblano chili's dried. Poblano's are super popular in Mexico and almost always mild, but sometimes they can fool you and carry a bit of heat.

You can find dried chili's in a lot of supermarkets in the 'International section' or, sometimes, hanging on the shelves above the fresh vegetables. I buy mine from Penzey's Spices (I'm a whore for Penzey's - they could ask me to bend over and I'd say yes). A packet of 6 Guajillo chilis is $2.09 and a packet of 3 Ancho chili's is also $2.09. Very affordable. And I'm Mr. Cheap at the supermarket!

Bottom line -- dried chili's do NOT have to be soaked in hot water if you are going to chop them up and put them in a simple red sauce with tomatoes and spices. And the seeds in them do NOT have to be taken out, contrary to popular belief. BUT...they are much easier to work with if you DO soak them and they mix up much smoother in the sauce. So...if you have time, soak, if not don't worry and don't listen to anyone else about this. I've used tons of chili's so I know what I'm talking about.

This is a very simple sauce you can make in a jiffy. There is a surprise ingredient in this you won't expect. Get ready. It's weird but it works.

Today's meal:


This is Mr. Bayless. SO adorable and SO talented. And straight.

Oh, well.



(This makes a LOT of sauce - you can easily cut this in half and have some to freeze)
  • 1 package of dried Guajillo peppers (max of 8 pieces in bag)
  • 2 packages dried Ancho peppers (max of 7 total peppers)
  • 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, diced (if you must, take out the seeds from one pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil
  • 2 large white onions, diced medium
  • 5 cloves garlic, diced medium
  • 1 28 ounce can whole plumb tomatoes in sauce
  • 1 28 ounce can whole plumb tomatoes in puree, (yes, there is a big difference)
And, get ready...
  • 2 ounces of crème fraîche* (weird, I know, but it works)
  • 1-3 teaspoons of honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
*Crème fraîche is the European equivalent to sour cream in the states. It is less sour and much thicker than sour cream and imparts a very clean, rich taste to foods. It has close to 30% milk fat and has no additives or artificial ingredients like sour cream. Avoid 'lite crème fraîchee' as it may curdle in sauces and is only suitable for dipping and cold creams. Lite only has up to 10% less milk fat, so you aren't saving that many calories.

  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, regular oregano is fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large white onion, diced small
  • 3 large garlic cloves, diced small
  • 2 canned chipotle chili's, plus 2 tablespoons sauce
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat shredded and no skin
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 package Uncle Ben's 90 second brown rice
  • 1 cup salsa, see above recipe
  • 8 corn or flour tortillas

For the sauce...

Get out a large, non-stick skillet. Heat it up over medium-high heat until it's hot. Put half of the dry peppers into the hot skillet and using a spatula, press on the peppers for 1 minute, until you can smell them roasting.

Flip them over and do the same thing for 1 minute. Toasting the peppers brings out all the flavor without adding any calories or fat. Put the 1st batch of toasted peppers into a bowl.

Do this again with the remaining peppers. Put them in the bowl as well.

If you have time, soak the dry peppers. How? Pour boiling water over them for 30 minutes to soften. Drain the water and put them aside. If you do not have time, DON'T STRESS. This will still work.

Dice up the dry, roasted peppers into big pieces. You can keep the seeds if you want - it doesn't matter. Put aside in a large bowl.

Dice up the jalapenos. Put in 1/4 teaspoon of oil in the skillet, heat over medium-heat for 1 minute, throw in the jalapenos, cook for 2 minutes until browned, then add to the large bowl with the diced dry and roasted peppers.

Now add 3/4 teaspoon oil to the pan, heat, add the onions (with a tiny dash of salt to bring out the moisture). Cook for 5 minutes until translucent. Add your garlic and cook for 1 minute. One old trick in the kitchen - when you actually smell the food cooking, it's done! Garlic smells wonderful pretty fast, so that means you are done.

Turn the flame off and leave the skillet on the stove. Don't wipe it out!

Throw the onion and the garlic into the bowl with with the sauteed jalapenos, and the dry, roasted peppers.

Now - get out your blender. Add tomatoes and then add the bowl of peppers and onions. Puree for 30 seconds, or until smooth.

Carefully pour the puree into the skillet and cook over a medium-heat for 5 minutes. TASTE, TASTE, TASTE. You may need to add a bit of salt or pepper this point.

And get ready to make sure your lover or husband or wife leaves the rooms! The spices are strong and girl, they will make you cry!

Now, carefully add the crème fraîche. A dab does you. Add one tablespoon of honey. Don't be surprised if the sauce tastes a little bitter. Feel free to add up to 2 more tablespoons of honey and you're all set!

Put the cooked, thickened sauce aside.


Time for the Chicken Burritos!

LET'S COOK!Remove the meat from the chicken carcass (that word is so gross - 'carass'. ew and double ew).

Put the meat from the carcass (ew) into a large glass bowl.

Get out a clean 8 inch skillet. Heat up the oil for 1 minute over a medium heat.

Add the first 8 ingredients and cook for 5 minutes. Stir often, making sure it doesn't burn. This shit will make you tear up, so open a window or put on that fan. Andy hates this part. He coughs and coughs while my Mexican neighbors drool.

When it's done, throw it into the bowl with the chicken and mix in the cheese and mix. Heat up the rice in the microwave and throw into the bowl and mix.

Add ONE CUP OF THE SALSA. Mix, mix, mix.

TASTE, TASTE, TASTE. Add salt and pepper but watch that damn salt!

Now, get out a Pyrex dish - a large casserole version. Pour 1/2 cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan.

Heat up your oven to 325 degrees.

Roll up the chicken mixture into the tortillas and fill them tightly into the pan. I find it will hold 8 nicely. On this, you want a tight fit. Tight fit. No comment.

Drizzle some of the salsa over burritos, sprinkle on a bit of cheese and pop in the oven for 25-35 minutes. If the cheese or burritos are browning too quickly, spray a piece of aluminum foil with olive oil Pam and cover.


Mikey...Your Food Therapist!

No comments:

Post a Comment