Sunday, July 20, 2014

Return of the Blog: Barbacoa Tacos and Pico-mole

I may have forgotten how to stage pictures well during my sabbatical, or maybe I was just super ready to eat...
Following a two and a half month summer break (read: lots of working and traveling combined with the pain and lack of a grill from Kevin moving out of the apartment complex), I decided it was time to revive the blog and repair that hole in all my faithful readers' hearts (sorry, Mom).

After the time off, our telepathic connection proved to still be intact as Kevin and I both found ourselves craving tacos and margaritas Saturday, so we brought the band back together and got better acquainted with his fancy new house's kitchen. The result was a delicious night of Mexican goodness featuring Barbacoa and Bistec Tacos, Ninfa's Green Salsa, and Pico-mole (the glorious love child of pico de gallo and guacamole)

Barbacoa Tacos
Adapted from Food Network
Servings: 4-6
Time: 3+ hours
Veggie metamorphosis

8 dried guajilo chiles, stemmed and seeded
2-3 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and cut in half lengthwise
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 white onion, quartered, plus extra for garnish
Salt
3 cups chicken broth, divided
2 lbs beef chuck (I used bone in short rib)
1/2-1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup cilantro, plus extra for garnish
1/2-1 tsp fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 shot of tequila
Olive Oil
Tortillas

  1. Remember that you have a blog that you haven't written for in about two months.
  2. Get a Dutch oven warmed over medium-high heat. Add the dried guajilo and toast for ~ 20 seconds per side, pressing down on them while cooking. Set aside.
  3. Add the jalapenos, onion, garlic, and tomatoes and cook for ~ 10 minutes until somewhat stewed and charred.
  4. Combine all the cooked ingredients with 1/2 cup of chicken broth and salt in a blender and pulse until smooth.
  5. Heat up olive oil in the Dutch oven. Sear the beef on each side, turning occasionally until it's browned with a nice crust.
  6. Mix in the chile sauce, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne. Let cook for 1 minute.
  7. Puree the cilantro and thyme with the remaining chicken broth and add to the pot.
  8. Drop in the bay leaves and tequila shot.
  9. Bring to a simmer and cook covered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally until the meat is falling off the bone and capable of being shredded.
  10. Pull the meat apart using two forks. Discard any excess fatty pieces.
  11. Serve in a warmed tortilla with leftover chile sauce, cilantro and onion.
Perfectly shredded and uncannily juicy and delicious
I was a little worried that my hopes of making barbacoa may have been somewhat overzealous. Could the meat possibly reach maximum shredditude in time for us to actually eat that night? The answer was a resounding "yes". I was pleased to discover that half of the meat had already fallen off the bone when I opened up the Dutch oven for the last time, and the rest quickly followed the lead. This wonderfully succulent beef was beautifully packed with juiciness, flavor and just a hint of spice. While this was a truly stellar taco, I would definitely like to try it with beef cheek like it is traditionally prepared.

Kevin's Tacos Bistec
It is a well established fact that Kevin and I do not know how to make simple meals proportional to the amount of people eating. Ko and newcomers to our culinary adventures Jackie and Anastasia were able to witness our excess firsthand and then feel thoroughly disgusting from eating too much thanks to Tacos Bistek (seen previously here) and the greatest salsa compliments to any Mexican evening- Ninfa's Salsa Verde (also a past favorite) and Pico-mole.

Flour vs. corn tortilla- the ultimate debate

Pico-mole

Onion, diced
Tomato, diced
Avocado, peeled and chopped
Jalapeno, diced
Cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste
Lime juice to taste
Avocado improves everything: Fact
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. 
  2. Clean the bowl completely with the help of tortilla chips.
Pico-mole has a special place in my heart thanks to the crazy college enchilada adventures I had with Robin. During one of our Tex-Mex quests, we drove an hour to the fantastic Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen, where the delightful Sylvia rewarded us for our journey with free pico-mole. I have long since fantasized about the wonderful hybrid salsa, but I had not had it again until someone brought it to a recent cookout Robin and I had in Charleston. My love for it had been reignited, and I was not going to risk going years without it again. By keeping the avocado in chunks instead of traditional guacamashing, the freshness really comes through and we had the perfect, unique alternative to our creamy salsa verde.

Creamy, perfect Ninfa's style Salsa Verde
I may have still felt disgusting the following day thanks to the ridiculous overeating, but it was totally worth it. Kevin and I managed to both make two distinct, extremely tasty tacos and salsa that were so good they only had to compete with each other for rapidly dwindling belly space. Now, I just have to make sure I find myself horribly bored in hotel rooms more frequently to keep these writing wheels turning.

No Mexican cooking night is complete without margaritas. Kevin's new house really needs fancy margarita glasses, but we managed to make it work somehow.

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