Saturday, January 26, 2008

Frijoles Refritos

Classic Mexican Refried Beans

In order to make authentic and delicious refried beans, and keep your cowboy happy, of course, you need to start by making Frijoles de la Olla (Mexican Pot Beans). If you've already got some Frijoles in the freezer and you've just been waiting for the Frijoles Refritos recipe, go ahead and start thawing them out. You'll need about 4 cups of Pot Beans.

This recipe is also from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. Buy it if you can find a copy, you won't be sorry.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups, 6 generous servings

2 Tablespoons lard (I don't measure this. You shouldn't either. Just use a generous amount)

1 medium white onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

4 cups undrained, seasoned cooked beans (you can use practically any variety here, either canned or homemade), preferably slightly warm for easy mashing

Salt, if necessary

About 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Mexican queso fresco, queso anejo, pressed, salted farmer's cheese, dry feta or Parmesan, for garnish

Handful of tortilla chips, for garnish

1. Frying and mashing the beans. In a large (10- to 12-inch) well-seasoned or nonstick skillet, heat the lard over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden, about 10 minutes. (just like you did for your Frijoles de la Olla). Stir in the garlic, cook for a minute or so, then use a slotted spoon to scoop in about 1/4 of the beans, leaving most of the liquid behind. With a potato masher or the back of a large spoon, mash the beans into a coarse puree. Add another portion of the beans, mash them in, and continue until all of the beans have been added and coarsely mashed.

Add about a cup of bean liquid (or water if you have no liquid) and stir frequently over the heat until the beans are still a little soupier than you'd like to serve them (they'll thicken as they sit--[Rick likes his] finished beans the consistency of soft mashed potatoes). The total cooking and mashing time will take 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt, if necessary.

2. Serving the beans. Spoon the beans onto a warm serving platter (or onto individual plates), sprinkle with crumbled cheese, decorate with tortilla chips, and they're ready.

Advance Preparation: The finished beans can be covered and refrigerated for several days. Add more water or bean liquid, as needed, to thin them while reheating.

We like to roll these up in tortillas with some queso fresco and salsa. Or sometimes serve 'em on the side of our famous Grilled Lamb Tacos. Yeehaw!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Baked Pancake

These are simple, delicious and can be quite eleganty presented. Cowboys love them too! (My cowboy husband said they were "like a German pancake," whatever that means.) One batch will make 4 servings, although they are so tasty you might decide you want two. I got this recipe from a friend in Colorado; it's a great and impressive recipe to serve to guests. It also makes a special family breakfast.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place 2-1/2 Tablespoons butter in 9-inch glass pie pan and melt in oven.

In blender or food processor, combine:
1-1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Process until smooth.

Remove pie pan from oven and increase temperature to 425 degrees. Pour batter into pie pan and return to oven. Bake 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake 8 to 10 minutes longer. Invert on serving platter. (This part is a bit tricky, to be honest. You will most likely need a knife to loosen the edges, place the serving platter upside down on top of the pancake and invert, then use your knife to loosen the bottom as you are hovering the hot pie pan over the serving platter with oven mitts because it never just comes right out. It's possible you may need to assistance of another person until you get the hang of it. That's what I did.)

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, cut into four or more wedges and serve with fresh berries and warm maple syrup on the side. Of course a true cowboy will ask for whipped cream, so you should be sure to have some of that handy as well.

Enjoy this delectable breakfast!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Potato-Venison Egg Casserole

I love recipes that can be prepared in advance. It's so much easier when you know you'll have a crowd of hungry cowboys to feed the next day!

This recipe is from an awesome cookbook we have, called The Complete Hunter: Venison Cookery. Every single recipe we have tried in this book, a total of 9 so far, has been excellent! If you or your husband is a hunter, you need this book.

This will make 8 to 10 generous servings. We fed four adults and four hungry kids, with plenty left over!

1 1/2 pounds uncooked fresh venison sausage (or hamburger), crumbled

1 pkg. (2 lbs) frozen Southern-style hash browns (we didn't have these, so we used shredded raw potatoes)

4 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese, divided

2 cups skim milk

6 eggs, slightly beaten

1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

Salsa (the book says optional, I say Highly recommended)

Sour Cream (Ditto.)

In 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook sausage over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink. Drain.

In large mixing bowl, combine sausage, hash browns, 3 cups cheese, the milk, eggs, onion, hot pepper sauce and salt. Pour mixture into 13 x 9-inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick vegetable oil cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 cup cheese (we used a bit more cheese).

Cover with foil. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Remove foil. Place casserole in oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean and top is browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Garnish individual servings with salsa and sour cream.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Frijoles de la Olla...A Big Pot o' Beans!

Frijoles de la Olla con Queso Fresco y Tortilla
(Classic Mexican Pot Beans with Fresh Mexican Cheese and Tortilla)

These beans are some of the best you'll eat. I'm not kidding. The original recipe came from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. If you love authentic Mexican food, and you can find this cookbook (there are just a few used copies on amazon) you should buy it. I have modified his recipe somewhat, so you will get my recipe. Guess it will be a "secreto" no longer...

And, before we begin, I feel like I must say this. Do not fear the lard. I'm serious. Lard is what gives these beans the best authentic flavor they can produce. There may not be another smell in the world that smells quite as good as onions fryin' in lard, you'll see. (perhaps the scent of the nape of a young boy's neck, but honestly it's a toss-up). Just remember, it's not like you're going to eat these each and every day for the rest of your life. Although after you taste them, perhaps you might be tempted. Lard is your friend. I'm not kidding. It will treat you and your taste buds well. (and if you don't eat them every day, it won't harm your arteries either).

This recipe as is makes 7 to 8 cups, serving 8 to 10 as a side dish. Sometimes we just eat the beans in bowls, or use the beans to make burritos, with some sour cream and cheese rolled up in tortillas. That is how much we love them. This recipe is also the basis for several other bean dishes, namely and most importantly
Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans). But for now, here we go:

1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) dry beans (we usually use pinto, but you can use black, pinto, pink, kidney or navy.)

3 Tablespoons lard (for heaven's sakes, don't measure. Just scoop out a big hunk of lard. I usually use a bit more.)

1 medium white onion, diced

Salt, about 1 1/2 teaspoons

We usually use organic pinto beans, but I didn't have any.
So today we're using organic white navy beans.

1. Cooking the beans. Rinse and sort the beans thoroughly. Put the lard in a large (5- to 6-quart) pot and set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until deep golden, at least 10 minutes. Sometimes 20 minutes. Here's a picture of onions that are not done, although a few of them are golden:

And here is the way I do it. These onions are just perfect:

Scoop in the beans, measure in 2 quarts of water, and remove any beans that float. Onions that float are just fine.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are thoroughly tender, at least 2 hours, depending on the type and freshness of your beans (there should be no chalkiness at all when you break a bean open. You can see chalkiness, and you can also taste it, it's a bit crunchy. Just make sure your beans are perfectly done).

You'll need to gently stir the beans regularly and add water as necessary to keep the liquid a generous 1/2 inch above the level of the beans. (I have to admit, my beans have now been simmering away for almost 2 1/2 hours, and I have not stirred them once. No biggie.)

2. Finishing the beans. Season with salt to taste, simmer another 10 to 15 minutes for the beans to absorb the seasoning, then remove from the heat, and they're ready to serve (to serve a bowl of beans, there should be just enough of the slightly creamy broth to cover the beans; for the best texture in both beans and broth, let the pot cool completely, then reheat before serving. If you can possibly wait that long.)

Advance Preparation--Covered and refrigerated, beans keep for at least 4 days. Reheat slowly, stirring often to prevent sticking.

I also freeze beans all the time! Today I made a double batch, yes two whole pounds of beans, and I will freeze more than half of those. Divide them into meal-sized (four-cup) containers, leaving room at the top for expansion, then freeze. Whenever you need some beans, take them out and gently reheat them in a pot. Or, you could take them out and convert them into delicious Refried Beans!

And would you just break down and try the lard already? I mean it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is for a “double batch,” which makes enough enchiladas for 16 to 20 hungry cowboys. You can also freeze a pan or two for a month or so. (instructions below) If you want to make a single batch, just cut all ingredients in half. I got a variation of this recipe from my friend Karen, a fiery red-head from Texas.

A typical serving is two enchiladas.

2 roasted chickens, deboned and shredded or chopped

2 large yellow onions, diced

2.5 pounds shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Colby/jack or a Mexican blend)

+ 40 tortillas

  1. Spray 9 x 13 inch pans with Pam oil spray.
  2. In each tortilla, tightly roll up: small handful chicken, some cheese and some onions. Roll up tightly, and place in pan with rolled part at the edge of pan and round loose end facing the middle of the pan—the round end will flap down and prevent the enchiladas from unraveling. Lift up each flap to put in the next enchilada—it’s alright if the rounded edges are sticking up a little when you’re finished.
  3. Squeeze enchiladas tightly in the pan, and if there is space to one side of your enchiladas, put one or two on that side of the pan as well.
  4. You may or may not use all the onions; if you run out of chicken, you can either get more or simply use cheese and onions for the remainder of enchiladas. It is important that the pans be tightly packed with enchiladas. (if you see you are running out of supplies, use a smaller pan for the last few enchiladas)
  5. Sprinkle generously with cheese.

  1. At this point, enchiladas may be tightly covered with plastic wrap and foil and frozen.

  1. To Prepare and Bake If Frozen:
    1. Thaw enchiladas overnight in refrigerator.
    2. Prepare Enchilada Sauce:
      1. Mix together in large saucepan:
        1. 2 16 oz. Containers sour cream
        2. 2 14 oz. Cans chicken broth
        3. 2 4 oz. Cans diced green chilies OR diced jalapeƱos
      2. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring until sour cream is melted.
      3. Ladle generously and evenly over enchiladas, almost up to rim of pan. (you may need to make more sauce; use 1 of each of the above ingredients)
    1. Bake at 350° to 375° for roughly one hour, until golden and bubbly.

  1. To Prepare if not freezing:
    1. Follow steps under 7.b. & 7.c., baking at 375° for about one hour.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bobby's Balsamic-Marinated Flank Steak

This recipe comes from one of our favorites, Bobby Flay. (We just call him Bobby). It's in his cookbook we have, Bobby Flay's Boy Gets Grill, on page 215. You'll just have to believe me when I say I didn't even have to look that page number up. That, my friends, is how good this steak is.

Some people are afraid of flank steak, or, like my dad, hadn't had a good flank steak until we cooked this up. Honestly I think a lot of people just overcook it. Don't be afraid of a rarer steak--this steak is best on the medium rare side, or even rarer than that. Trust me. You will not be disappointed.

Here we go:

Serves 4; can be doubled for 6 to 8 (no need to double the marinade)

½ cup balsamic vinegar

¾ cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped rosemary leaves

1 (1 ½- to 1 ¾-pound) beef flank steak

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Whisk together the vinegar, the oil, the garlic and rosemary in a large dish (or use a thick, sealable plastic bag). Add the steak and turn to coat. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours, turning every 2 hours.

2. Heat your grill to high.

3. Remove the steak from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly charred and crusty, 4 to 5 minutes. (do not close lid on grill unless it is cold and/or windy) Turn steak over, reduce the heat to medium or move to a cooler part of the grill, and grill until medium-rare, 3 to 4 minutes more. *(If your steak is larger, grill for an extra 1 to 2 minutes per side, but be careful not to overcook).

4. Remove the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into ½ inch thick slices against the grain of the meat.

Serve immediately with slices of grilled crusty bread and a salad. We usually just have steak, to be completely honest. We're beef people, after all.