After the Great Mole Feast of ’09, which will be spoken of in hushed and reverant tones in the Potts/McCoy house for years to come, it seems almost anti-climactic to post a second menu from the Junior League of El Paso’s Seasoned With Sun. Especially a ridiculously simple meal like this one.
In the Mexican cooking section of the book, I passed up enchiladas, tacos, burritos, chimichangas, and tamales, because I’ve made those things many times. However, I’d never made tapatias, and thought it was fun to say in a Beavis voice. Dinner plans have surely been hatched on flimsier premises.
To prepare tapatias, fry corn tortilla in hot oil until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Prepare toppings and spread over hot tortillas.
12 corn tortillas
3 cups pinto beans
2 tablespoons oil
4 cups Longhorn, or sharp Cheddar cheese
1 head lettuce, shredded
1 can tomato puree
1 onion, minced
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4-6 peeled green chiles
Fry and mash cooked pinto beans in oil. Put a layer of mashed beans on top of each tortilla and top with cheese and lettuce. Serve warm with a sauce made of tomato puree, onion, oregano, vinegar, oil, salt and chile.
Now, the next evening, when we went out and bought a container of fresh salsa, and put that on top of the refried beans and cheese and lettuce and yummy fried tortillas, these were absolutely delicious.
However, as served with the sauce recipe published in Seasoned With Sun, it was just sort of weird. I like Tex-Mex food, and I like Italian food, I just don’t really like them at the same time, and this was basically spaghetti sauce.
Now, the veggie side course, on the other hand, will be joining the starting line-up of my work night recipe arsenal. I mean, it’s all well and good to spend all day laboring over crawfish beignets or sauerbraten or mole from scratch, but I don’t cook like this all the time. Over the years, we’ve created a serviceable rotation of things that make for a reasonably tasty and quick dinner — bean burritos, falafel, these little chicken roll-ups made with Pillsbury crescent rolls, and a Potts/McCoy specialty we call “Redneck Casserole” (it involves ground beef, macaroni, cheese, two cans of Campbell’s soup, and is delicious).
Calabacitas, though healthier, fresher, and generally better for you than Redneck Casserole, are equally satisfying and tasty. Especially in the summertime – there’s just nothing that tastes quite as good as corn cut right off the cob, except perhaps corn on the cob.
2 pounds summer squash, or crookneck squash
1 small onion, minced
3 ears corn, cut from cob
6 green chiles, roasted and peeled
1 tablespoon lard or bacon drippings
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
Thinly slice squash and chile. Saute onion in lard and salt. Add corn and fry until golden brown. Pour water into frying pan. Add squash and chile. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until corn is tender.
These are also good with a little shredded Cheddar on top.
To roast chiles, just put them on a cookie sheet covered with a piece of tin foil to make clean-up easier, and pop them in the oven at 400 degrees, give or take. Flip them periodically as they roast until the skins are evenly blistered, about 20-30 minutes. Then, wrap the chiles in a damp towel for about ten minutes to steam the skins. After this, they should be cool enough to handle. Cut the chiles open, remove the stems and seeds, and peel off the skin.
There are recipes I’ve tried out in the past few months that I would not make again if paid, and others that I’ve already forgotten (and somehow, these are worse than the memorably bad ones). However, it’s nice every once in awhile to find recipes that, while not show-stopping, are simple and good enough to make every day. The jalapeno cornbread from week 5 (Pine Bluff, Arkansas) was like that. And come to think of it, that would probably taste really good with calabacitas.
Next week: Off to Tampa, Florida, for Spanish flavors, a big trip to the butcher, and pirates!