Saturday, 10 November 2012
A kinda Mexican supper
I've always been obsessed with Mexican food - mainly because, until recently, I've never had "the real thing": in my years in the UK there were only horrid Tex-Mex chain restaurants - a travesty of chicken goop and nachos smothered with fluorescent yellow cheese - only "helped down" by copious jugs of margaritas... There was a welcome respite though during a trip to California: we had the most gorgeous, fresh burritos in a student café in Height-Ashbury/San Francisco and in a surfers' shack outside San Diego. But we were very disappointed when we ventured south to Ensenada - although that was our fault as you really can't expect genuine Mexican food in this touristy border town... And I haven't been very lucky in Brussels either - there is a take-away that American friends swear by http://www.mexigo.be (but you have to order a week in advance and so far I've always chosen "unwisely"....). But while in London two weeks ago we went to a branch of Thomasina Miers' wonderful Wahaca restaurants http://www.wahaca.co.uk/ which has restored my faith in this brilliant cuisine: spicy slow-cooked pork tostadas, velvety vegetarian tortillas, crispy chicken taquitos - YUMMEE!
And at home, my version of chicken burritos is unashamedly "non-authentic" in every shape or form - but it is extremely delicious and the whole family adores it (it's evolved/adapted from a recipe by the great Australian chef Bill Granger):
a large bunch of coriander (leaves and stems)
2 tsps paprika (I use the sweet smoked variety)
1 tsp cumin
zest of a lime
3 tbs olive oil
black pepper and salt
red chili, seeded and chopped (to your taste)
750g chicken (breast or thigh), chopped into bite-sized chunks
With a food processor whizz up all the ingredients except the chicken into a rough paste. Mix thoroughly with the meat and leave to marinate (up to a few hours).
Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat and fry off the chicken pieces (you might have to do them in batches).
5 - 6 tomatoes, deseeded and cut into small dice
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and cut into small dice
a small red onion, cut into small dice
juice of 1/2 lemon
Combine all ingredients.
Black bean salsa (based on a Thomasina Miers recipe):
100g dried black beans (or 1 400g tin)
a small tin (140g) of sweetcorn, drained
a bunch of spring onions, finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 a lime
a generous pinch of cumin
2 tbs olive oil
Soak the black beans overnight in water. Drain and add an onion, a few cloves of garlic and a few bay leaves. Cover with at least 10cm of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for at least 2 1/2 hours until just soft, topping up with water if needed - then drain.
Mix with the rest of the ingredients, whizz up the dressing and stir into the salsa.
8 tortillas, heated in a non-stick frying pan for ca 15 secs on each side
8 taco shells, heated as per instructions (I use the microwave...)
a cup of thick plain yogurt or soured cream
a small handful of chopped coriander (stems and leaves)
You can also use white fish (cut into strips) instead of chicken.
I hadn't found tinned black beans in Belgium yet - but have just been told by a friend that Pueblo Latino in 1030 Brussels (St.Gilles) http://www.seetiz.be/fr/shops/brussels/3-pueblo_latino sell them! And all the Turkish and Morocccan supermarket/grocers sell dried ones.
If you forget to soak your dried beans overnight, you can boil them in the water vigorously for 10 mins, then leave to soak for a few hours. Then boil until just soft (which will be ca 30 mins longer with this process).