Under the Influence


(Photo Credit MenuPages blog.)
It’s Cinco de Mayo, and for those of you not whooping it up at your local cantina, I thought I’d recommend a home version of the game. Ignore the take out commercials, break the influence of bland Mexican food and make these instead:

“Real” Tacos: a variation of Cuban Ropa Vieja in “The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors.”
1 3 1/2 lb. pot roast or stew meat or pork roast (Remember: “if it’s swine, it’s fine….”)
salt, pepper
olive oil
1 cup water (for bullion)
1 chicken bullion cube or a can of chicken bullion
Juice of a lime or Real Lime equivalent
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bell pepper (seeded, cored, chopped) or dried pepper flakes
1 cup of tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder

Salt and pepper the meat. Heat a large covered frying pan, add some olive oil and brown the meat on all sides. Add the bullion and cover. Cook until the meat is falling apart (about two hours.) Shred meat, remove to a bowl with the liquid. Add more olive oil, sauté the garlic and onion until clear. Add the bell pepper, sauté for a few minutes. Add everything else and sauté for a moment. Add the meat and liquid back into pan and simmer for 20 minutes to a half hour.

Garnish as normal with lettuce, cheese, jalapeño peppers, more onion, etc. I usually make soft tacos, but you can flash fry those in oil in a deep pan and make incredible taco shells, too (see photo above.)

Watch: Under the Volcano with Albert Finney, Anthony Andrews and Jacqueline Bisset. Sure it’s about the Day of the Dead… but still, will you have time to read the much better novel? A good runner up for those who can stomach cartoon levels of violence is “El Mariachi” and its sequels.

Drink: a good 100% Agave tequila (I’m partial to reposados) with a shot of tomato and lemon juice on the side or a shot of a citrus soda like Fresca. Beer works well, too.

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3 Responses to Under the Influence

  1. Hooray! I’ve been using a modified fajita recipe for the last year. So glad to have this – can’t wait to try it.

  2. Hi Mrs. B, I think you’ll like them. Be sure to get some lime juice in the mix as it really makes the difference. If you fry the tortillas, use a long pair of tongs to hold them open in the oil. And be careful as the hot oil tends to run down the inside of the handle if you tip them while flipping or taking the finished tortillas out of the pan.

  3. Lisa says:

    Nah… I say go for some Cheech & Chong!

    “Beaners… eat lots of beans…”

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