What is comfort food to you? Meatloaf, fried chicken and mashed potatoes? All great dishes, but if you grew up here in the southwest, theres a good chance your taste buds are equally tuned-in to beans, burritos, and chili verde.Its only natural that the zesty Latin flavors are making their way north to the United States. After all, were all Americans here both north and south of the border. Think about it: Great cuisine is like a cultural ambassador, munching down the walls that separate us one tasty bite at a time. While all the countries of South America have unique and delicious foods to offer, here in Colorado, its Mexican food thats done the best. I spend a lot of time in Mexican restaurants, and without exception, the best ones arent fancy, theyre the ones that excel at the basics. Forget about fancy-shmancy dishes and elaborate presentations, the secret to great Mexican is simple great ingredients, seasoned and prepared to perfection. And when it comes to la cocina de Mxico, were talking homemade beans, flavorful tender meats, fresh tortillas and zesty sauces featuring a variety of chiles.Here are some basic recipes to start you on your way to making the best Mexican dishes ever! Chef Mick Rosacci, Tonys Meats & Specialty Foods. Classic Pork Green Chili3 pounds pork, cubed1 tablespoon oil3⁄4 cup masa flour1-3 teaspoons salt*3 cups chicken stock5 cups fresh roasted green chiles1 tablespoon fresh oregano1-2 jalapeos (optional)1 tablespoon minced garlicOne 14-ounce can tomatoes, choppedIn a Dutch oven, brown pork cubes in oil (in batches if necessary). Add spices and flour and mix well. Slowly add chicken stock, stirring well to avoid lumps. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and let simmer until meat is tender and sauce is thick (about 2 hours). Adjust seasoning as desired. *Careful with the salt, some stocks are salty. Carnitas3 pounds pork shoulder, skin and bone removed water 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 1 medium white onion, medium dice 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder salt and pepper 12 warm corn tortillas Cut the meat, with the fat, into 1-inch cubes. Barely cover the meat with water in a heavy, wide pan. Add the salt and bring to a boil, uncovered. When the liquid reaches a boil, lower the heat, and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated. At this point, the meat should be cooked through but not falling apart. Lower the heat a little more and continue cooking the meat until all the fat has rendered out of it. Keep turning the meat until it is lightly browned all over. This entire process should take about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the meat and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat over medium low heat. Add the onions and saut until translucent. Add the garlic, reserved meat, and chile powder. Cook for a few minutes more, stirring constantly. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Carne Asada2 pounds beef skirt, flank, chuck, or rib eye steakcoarse sea saltoreganolime juiceSprinkle meat with coarse salt, oregano and lime juice to season, and place in a plastic bag. Refrigerate at least two hours, to overnight, turning several times.Grill over medium coals to desired doneness (if using a chuck steak, grill slowly until well done). Serve with beans, rice, sauted onion, red or green chili and fresh tortillas. Mexican Black Beans1 tablespoon olive oil 4 garlic cloves, minced 1 large jalapeo, seeded, chopped 1⁄2 teaspoon (generous) ground cumin 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained11⁄2 cups chicken broth fresh lime juice chopped fresh cilantro (optional)cotija cheese (optional)Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, chili and cumin and saut 30 seconds. Add beans and broth and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Coarsely mash beans with potato masher. Continue boiling until thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro and cheese and serve, or use in place of refried beans in your favorite dishes.Refried Beans3 tablespoons olive oil1⁄2 onion, chopped 2-3 cloves garlic, minced scant 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cuminOne 151⁄2-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed2⁄3 to 1 cup chicken broth ⁄ stock sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Saut the onion in olive oil over medium heat until tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic, cooking and stirring for about 30 seconds, then add the spices, continue to cook and stir until fragrant, 30-60 seconds longer.While onion cooks, remove about 1⁄3 of the beans and reserve, mashing the remainder with a fork.Add the mashed beans and 1⁄2 cup of stock to the onions and garlic, simmering and stirring until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the whole beans, stirring, simmering and adjusting with additional stock as needed. Cook until mixture is slightly thick, adjusting to taste with salt and pepper if needed.Flour TortillasFar better than store-bought, these are well worth the few minutes they take to prepare.2 cups flour1 teaspoon baking powder1 teaspoon salt2 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening3⁄4 cup warm waterMix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut in shortening. Blend until mixture is the consistency of coarse meal. Add water slowly and mix. Knead mixture. At this point, the dough should begin pulling away from the sides of the bowl. If dough is a little sticky, add extra flour a little at a time. Separate into 10 or 12 2-inch balls. On a clean, dry surface, roll balls into thin tortillas (as round as you can) and brown both sides on a hot griddle.Basic Red Chile Sauce3 ounces mixed mild chiles (Anaheim, New Mexico, etc.)6 cups water4 cloves garlic1 shallot1 tablespoon olive oil1 cup rich chicken broth or stocksea salt and oregano to tasteToast chiles in a Dutch oven until starting to soften and aromatic (stir regularly). Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low, simmering until tender (about 30 minutes). Drain and cool.Meanwhile in a small heavy pan, cook whole garlic cloves and shallot in oil very slowly until golden brown and soft, about 15 minutes.Remove stems from cooled chiles and discard, add chiles to blender along with garlic and oil, and 1 cup of rich chicken broth ⁄ stock puree until smooth. Remove and strain into a bowl, seasoning to taste with sea salt and oregano crushing herbs with your fingers to awaken the oreganos aroma and flavor. Serve with anything and everything!Camarnes DiabloButterPeeled shrimpBasic Red Chile SauceSaut shrimp in butter for one minute. Add chile sauce to taste and cook 1-2 minutes longer do not overcook! Serve immediately.Arroz con Chorizo (Mexican Rice with Chorizo)1-2 fresh chorizo sausages, removed from casing1 cup rice3⁄4 cup chicken or pork stock1 small zucchini, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice1 carrot, cut into 1⁄2-inch dicekernels from 1 ear of fresh corn2 cups of your favorite salsa (homemade if possible)salt and pepper to tasteChop or crumble chorizo and cook in a heavy pan, remove meat with a slotted spoon and drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat. Add rice and cook on low to toast lightly, 5-10 minutes.Add the salsa, raise to a simmer and cook until reduced and thick, about 7 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, heat the broth to a boil, add to rice, cover and reduce to a simmer, cooking for about 10 minutes. Add zucchini, corn and carrots, stir and cook for 5-10 minutes longer, remove from heat and rest covered for at least 5 minutes before serving. The Perfect Margarita1-3 ounces 100 percent Agave Tequila1 ounces Cointreau, Citronage, or Grande Marnier1 ounces fresh lime juice1 cup cracked iceCombine all ingredients in a shaker and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a glass with a salted rim.
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