Tag Archives: Cumin

Yucatecan classico: Cochinita pibil

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I’ve had a continual craving for pibil–the classic southern Mexican pork (cochinita) or chicken (pollo) dish of braised meat wrapped in banana leaf–ever since I was introduced to the chicken variety in a town outside of Chichen Itza, Yucatán, two Novembers ago.

There’s a satisfactory version on the menu at Taco Mesa, and Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly’s editor, says Conde Cakes in SanTana carries Yucatecan cuisine, but I’ve been cooking a variety of Mexican dishes at home lately and wanted to end the run on a high note. It’s a 27-hour wait from start to finish, and you’ll be left with orange, achiote-stained hands, but making the dish yourself leaves you with a happy belly and a true appreciation for this classic Mexican dish.

Read the full how to over at OC Weekly’s Stick a Fork In It blog.

Stretching your pesos: Fat Dude’s Mexican fiesta, Part 4—Chicken quesadilla with black beans and pickled red onion

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If a quick meal is what you need, look no further than the versatile quesadilla. The quesadillas of my youth were nuked in the microwave and made with Mission flour rounds filled with a couple of Kraft singles. Not healthy and totally uninspired–a sad meal for my 10-year-old self.

My grown up tastes have led me to greener pastures, quesadilla-wise. I’ve found pure bliss in wonderfully-gooey Oaxaca cheese, salty cotija crumbles and the acerbic bite of pickled jalapenos.

To make the quesadilla at top, use 1 uncooked flour tortilla (about 140 calories; less fake/processed ingredients) and 1.5-2 oz. of Oaxaca (Mexican white) or cheddar cheese. The chicken from our chicken tostadas (recipe) makes a flavorful addition to the meal, and I always throw a handful of pickled jalapenos into the mix.

Click here to learn how our friend Gustavo Arellano of OC Weekly cooks up a proper quesadilla.

I chose to add black beans (recipe) and pickled red onions (recipe) because extra ‘good stuff’ never hurt–especially the addition of the black beans, which really turn this snack into a fiber-filled meal. Finish with some chopped cilantro, a sprinkle of cotija and a spritz of lime juice to round out the flavors of the dish, if you happen to have those items on hand.

Stretching your pesos: Fat Dude’s Mexican fiesta, Part 1—Shredded chicken tostadas

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We had Nadia’s cousins and brother over for football this weekend. We’re all big, hungry dudes, so you know I had to whip up something tasty.

I bought a lot of chicken–too much chicken for the tostadas I planned to make–so I’ve been tinkering with new ways to use the leftover ingredients since Sunday. But before we get into reincarnating the leftovers, it’s best to show you the recipe that left me with a Mexican bounty.

If you are looking for a healthy, frugal meal that will carry you through, look no further than the humble tostada: Corn tortilla, beans, meat, veggies, salsa, cheese and condiments.

For the recipe I made, the ingredients were: Pinto beans, chorizo, shredded chicken breast, shredded iceberg lettuce, pickled jalapeno, Oaxaca cheese, cotija cheese, Mexican crema, salsa verde, cilantro and lime.

A healthier me would have omitted the chorizo and the crema, but it was game day and I splurged. But, a little bit of either—about two tablespoons of chorizo and a two teaspoons of sour cream or light sour cream—ain’t gonna hurt none. (Read more: 8 Fatty Foods with Health Benefits—Sour Cream.)

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You will get 8 to 10 tostadas from two chicken breasts, depending on how large they are. Forget the quantity I use in the pictures, as I said, I cooked for an army and still have leftovers. Anyways, let’s cook!

Make the dry rub: It made enough for 10 large chicken breasts: 2 T kosher salt, 2 T garlic powder, 2 T onion powder, 1 T Cambodian Kampot peppercorns from Pepper Project (any black peppercorns will do though), 1 T of paprika, 2 t Mexican oregano, 2 t cumin, 2 t chili powder, 1/2 t cayenne pepper and 2 bay leaves.

Run the mix through a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and that’s it.

For an alternative dry rub made with chipotle chili powder, use Chef Brian’s Chicken Taco Spice.

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Your best bet to get the chicken tender enough to shred easily with a fork is to braise the meat. To get the chicken ready for braising, give it a good massage with the spice mix and let it sit out and temper for about an hour.

The braise: Heat an appropriate amount of oil in the pan for the number of chicken breasts you are using and sear all of the meat, browning both sides for 2-3 minutes per side. In my version, I first cooked the chorizo in the pan and then removed the meat, leaving behind the chorizo fat to cook the chicken in (with the addition of some canola oil). Once all the chicken is done, add a chopped onion and 3 cloves of chopped garlic to the pan, scraping the bottom free of whatever’s stuck to it.

Add a little tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes, until it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock (Video: How to deglaze a pan). Add the chicken back to the pan, and fill it about halfway up the height of the chicken with more stock. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

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When the chicken is done baking, it will be in a pool of braising liquid. Gently remove the chicken (it’s tender now, so it might fall apart) and leave the braising liquid to cool. When it has cooled, reserve it in a plastic container and put it in the fridge for later use (which we’ll get to on the blog soon).

Make the beans while the chicken bakes: Pinto beans or black beans, either one works here. Black beans are better nutritionally, so that’s a plus, but sometimes I like the lighter flavor of pinto beans better.

Heat 2 t of oil in a small pot and sautee 1/2 white onion and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. You can add spices at this point, including cumin and corriander, if you wish. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 can of drained black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Break up the beans while they cook. The liquid will boil out and the beans will thicken into a paste. Salt to taste.

Bake the tortillas: Crank the oven up to 400 degrees once you’ve pulled the chicken out. Hit as many corn tortillas as you’ll need with a spritz of cooking spray and a dash of salt (a solid serving is two per person; a lighter eater might want one and a side salad) and bake directly on a sheet pan for about 10 minutes. I start checking mine at 8 minutes, and keep checking them until they’re done around the 10-12 minute mark.

You want to leave them space on the pan and have the patience to cook them until they’re done right, or else they will be chewy and gross instead of crisp and awesome.

Knock out everything else while the tostadas bake: Shred the chicken with the backs of two forks. Slice the lettuce super thin with a sharp knife. Get spoons in the sour cream and the salsa. Whatever you gotta do to make it Tostada O’Clock.

Layer properly: Beans. Then meat. Then veggies. Then cheese. Salsas. Crema. Herbs. Lime.

Bonus! Breakfast tostadas!

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Tomorrow: Mexican rice bowls with braised chicken and pickled red onion.

Week 30, Meal 1: Mean green enchiladas

She’s gonna get pissed when I write this, but oh well. Wifey Nadia has some weird hang-ups about her Mexican food. She hates enchiladas because of the red sauce and can’t stand fajitas because of the seasoning. Both dishes are delicious to me, so her disdain for them baffles me.

She had a small panic attack when I told her we were having enchiladas for the first meal back, but I flipped  the script on her, like: “Boo. Chill. They’re salsa verde enchiladas.”

It’s true; she does prefer green sauce to red, though she still seemed a bit skeptical about Week 30, Meal 1: Black bean and spinach enchiladas verde. When it came time to eat, she couldn’t stop telling me how good these were.

And I agree. I’m a fan of black beans and cumin, and they work perfectly here. The smokiness of the cumin mingles with spice from ancho chile powder and a salsa packed with some sizzle from poblano and jalapeno peppers (and if you need more heat, add serranos or more jalapenos). I took one bite in the kitchen after taking the photo above and by the time I actually sat down at the table, I had already finished one enchilada. They look a mess in the pic, but I cracked those open to show you the delicious, meat-free goodies within.

Follow the jump for the recipe and the step-by-step.

Continue reading Week 30, Meal 1: Mean green enchiladas

Menu 30: Veggin’ out

I’m back in the kitchen this week after a long time away from Chef Brian’s menus, and while I have been cooking blog repeats and simple meals at home, I’m definitely glad to be back in the Fat Dude kitchen.

Chef Brian wrote this menu some time ago, meant as a way to get me back into healthy eating after I let my waistline go to hell for the last couple of months of 2011.

But, as it turns out, I don’t need a kick start because I’ve been hitting the gym since the beginning of the year. And now that I have an exercise routine down, it’s time to get the knives out once again. Here’s what’s cooking for Menu 30: Veggin’ out:

Week 30, Meal 1: Black bean and spinach enchiladas verde

Week 30, Meal 2: Veggie-tofu stir fry with umeboshi plum vinegar soy sauce

Week 30, Meal 3: Vegetarian paella

As always, each recipe makes 2 servings, though you might have some leftovers with these recipes. But when has that ever been a bad thing? Follow the link the shopping list. Continue reading Menu 30: Veggin’ out

Chef Brian’s tri-tip chili

I was running low on grocery money this week so I chose to skip Week 29: Salads that don’t suck and instead bought meals I could stretch into many portions like pasta and polenta.

This was the most expensive dish I made all week, but I got five portions  out of it, and I split the provided recipe in half.

A little background, since tri-tip chili with bacon fat in it isn’t really what we do around here (though it should be, every week, lol): I recently needed a big bowl of chili for a work lunch and turned to Chef Brian for a killer recipe.

All I told him was that it had to have tri-tip in it, and you work your magic from there.

The chili didn’t take a lot of effort to make and turned out absolutely delicious. So delicious that I decided to make it again, and this time, I wrote about it.

Keep reading for the recipe and instructions. Continue reading Chef Brian’s tri-tip chili

Week 28, Meal 1: A deceptively simple chicken dinner

We’re kicking off Southern week with one of Chef Brian’s most flavorful dishes to date, Week 28, Meal 1: Blackened chicken over black eyed peas, kale and ham hock.

What comes off the menu sounding deceptively simple is actually a bowl of steamy pork broth crowded with nutritious kale, savory ham hock, earthy black eyed peas, sweet corn and a juicy chicken breast that’s been kicked up with one awesome spice rub.

I suggest doubling the recipe on this one. Trust me, you’ll want leftovers. Continue reading Week 28, Meal 1: A deceptively simple chicken dinner

Week 27, Meal 1: Mean green shrimp curry

I joked on the Fat Dude Facebook page recently about how I thought green curry paste only came in jars from Trader Joe’s. But the fact that this recipe calls for making Thai green curry paste from scratch reminded me of how far I’ve come in the kitchen.

I used to rely on boxed items as side dishes and pre-marinated meats for the grill or the oven. Now, I freaking make curry paste, and dishes using ingredients I’ve never even heard of before (Thai eggplant, wut?!).

For the first meal of Week 27, Chef Brian serves up a plate of vibrant Asian comfort cooking. Here’s Week 27, Meal 1: Shrimp green curry. Continue reading Week 27, Meal 1: Mean green shrimp curry

Week 27: Thai-m for Thai

Chef Brian’s put out quite a few ethnic menus in the past–Italian, Mexican and Vietnamese dishes come to mind most–but one country he’s left alone until now  is Thailand.

“It kinda surprises me that I haven’t done any Thai menus considering I love it so much, but now is as good a time as any,” he wrote to me.

True, this blog was born at a Thai restaurant–in many people’s opinions one of the best, if not the best in the country–yet we’ve failed to bring some of  those flavors into the Fat Dude kitchen.

No longer. Here’s what’s cooking:

Week 27, Meal 1: Shrimp green curry

Week 27, Meal 2: Tom Kha Gai

Week 27, Meal 3: Grilled catfish with Thai tamarind-chile sauce over cabbage slaw

The seafood recipes make two portions and the Tom Kha Gai soup recipe makes four portions. Follow the jump for the shopping list. Continue reading Week 27: Thai-m for Thai

Week 25, Meal 3: Chicken taco deluxe

The tacos I used to eat were mostly made of that oat-beef crap they sell at Taco Bell.

Sure, I’ve encountered my fair share of traditional tacos (corn tortilla, meat, onions, cilantro, salsa), but never in my life have I eaten as many as I have since coming to work in Santa Ana last year. They’re low in calories, freshly prepared and contain little, if any, processed nonsense.

While I’m all good with simple, I’m definitely not gonna hate when something with many components comes together to create the perfect bite.

Here’s Week 25, Meal 3: Chicken tacos with avocado puree, lime sour cream, and grilled corn-jicama salsa.

Continue reading Week 25, Meal 3: Chicken taco deluxe

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