Until I lived in Texas, my experience with Mexican food was very limited. I ate a lot of bean burritos (no onions) from Taco Bell across the street from my office. The only Mexican food I made at home was tacos using McCormick dry mix, prepared corn tortillas and bottled picante sauce. Not proud of this; just stating the facts.
I’ve had great Mexican food in Texas, and two are my favorite. One is the brisket taco from Mi Cocina; it goes great with a marguerita on the rocks. The other is any food from a taquería. Taquerías remind me of lunch wagons back in Hawaii. The food is home-cooked, authentic and basic, plus it always hits the spot.
The 2009 Texas issue of Saveur Magazine quoted the owner of Casa Jurado restaurant saying, “We don’t eat Tex-Mex here. . . No combo plates.” The article intrigued me and I decided that new recipe #4 is that of this El Paso restaurant owner – salpicón, a shredded beef salad with lime and avocado. It was described as “pure, fresh-tasting food.” I hoped it was also easy.
Sangria ala Ricardo
- a bottle of dry Spanish red wine
- 1/2 cup cointreau
- 1 1/2 cups of fresh squeezed orange juice
- 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup of Roses lime juice
- 1 lime thinly sliced
- 1 lemon thinly sliced
- 2 fresh peaches cut in 1/2 inch cubes
He refrigerated it in the morning and its fragrance was quite heady whenever I opened the fridge. I was tempted to take a sip before dinner . . . but didn’t even stick in my pinkie for a tiny taste (applause).
The recipe called for two pounds of beef brisket, which is from the breast or lower chest of the cow. This is a very muscular cut; it has a lot of connective tissue because it supports 60 percent of the weight of a standing or moving cow. Thus, it needs a long cooking time to tenderize.
I simmered the meat with two smashed garlic cloves, two bay leaves and a large sliced onion. At about 2.5 hours, I was concerned that the beef didn’t seem to be getting any softer. I prodded it a lot. At about three hours, it started to come apart, and I let it simmer for 15 more minutes for good measure.
After it cooled, I shredded the meat and prepared the additional ingredients that included cubed Jack cheese, three Roma tomatoes that were cored and seeded, chopped cilantro, fresh lime juice, scallions, and chopped chipotle chiles en adobo.
The latter is a new addition to our pantry. In my Filipino culture, adobo is a term we use for chicken and pork that’s been cooked in various ingredients, the primary of which is vinegar. Spanish adobo is different. It refers to the immersion of raw food, in this case, chipotle chiles, in stock and spices. It was originally used as a process to preserve without refrigeration and enhance flavors. The chipotle chile en adobo has a wonderfully smokey flavor and I added more than the tablespoon called for in the recipe.
The result is a dish that truly tantalizes the palette. The different flavors complement each other, and because of the chunkiness of the ingredients, one is obligated to take several bites to savor the fullness of flavors.
p.s. The peaches in the sangria must be eaten!