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Mexico, One Plate at a Time: Soups, Stews, and Sides

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November 2006 Cookbook of the Month: Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the soups, stews, and sides chapter of Rick Bayless' Mexico One Plate at a Time here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed

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  1. Sunday evening I made the carnitas, the country ribs with bone submerged in lard and cooked in lard to cover with lime zest until golden and succulent. It was served up with warm lightly warmed in lard corn tortillas and guacamole. Wonderful as always. The first time I made the dish I used lime zest. This time I used Boyajian lime oil in the lard. That was the better choice. Not in your face lime, but the fragrance was lovely.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Candy

      Sounds good (I like the tip of Boyajian - I might try the orange), but I can't find the recipe. What page?

    2. Mexican Beans - from the pot

      Simple and tasty. Used pink beans, bacon drippings, onion, and no epazote (couldn't find it). Definitely added much more salt than he called for. I did add crumbled bacon too since I had some left over from my bacon drippings. In the end, I thought it was good - subtly smoky and a touch sweet. However, my husband thought that it needed something extra - he is a big fan of borracho beans that have bacon, beer, and tomatoes. I could probably tweak this recipe to arrive at something similar...

      ***

      Classic Mexican White Rice

      Nice. I liked the addition of the fresh lime juice. My only critique is that the rice turned out a touch oily, but I did not measure my oil, so I could have put in more than what was called for. Next time I will be more conservative with that. Will make again.

      16 Replies
      1. re: akp

        Mexican Beans from the pot (p.187).

        I made these yesterday, and also plan on making refritos. I used pinto beans, bacon drippings too, onions, and no epazote. I have dried epazote, but in "Mexican Kitchen" he says not to use it. I also added a dried chili (ancho with stem and seeds removed) - a suggestion from MK that I always use when I make these tasty beans. They freeze well too, especially if using for refritos.

        Picture:

        http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/47...

        1. re: Rubee

          I'm curious, Rubee. In MK does he say not to use dried epazote at all? or just not in the beans? Very odd that in Authentic Mexican he implies it's okay to use dried epazote in cooked dishes, in MK he says it's not (at least, not in this one), and in OPAAT he doesn't address the issue at all.

          1. re: JoanN

            Yes, that is curious. In MK he says "in my opinion, dried epazote is right for medicinal tea, not for cooking". In "Mexican Everyday", he mentions that the dried epazote in Mexican markets is a medicinal herb, not culinary, and mostly consisting of stems, and that even dried or frozen leaves don't have much flavor. I did just check my Penzey's dried epazote, though, and the label says it's "user friendly epazote, very fresh" and "unlike" that sold at Mexican grocers. Hmmmm. Maybe I should have tried it.

            1. re: Rubee

              The Dried Epazote in Mexican markets is meant to be used as a digestive tea... definitely not for cooking.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                That's what I'm wondering - he says not to use dried epazote at all. But I wonder if he's just talking about Mexican markets, and not quality dried herbs like Penzeys?

                1. re: Rubee

                  I use the dried from penzeys in a pinch! It turns out just fine! :)

                  --Dommy!

                  1. re: Dommy

                    I must agree on not using the dried epazote from the store. I tried it a few times and didn't enjoy it. I haven't tried Penzeny's though. I've got a bunch of fresh leftover that I won't be able to use up, so I am thinking of drying it and then testing it out later.

                    1. re: nja

                      Freezing works okay... you will lose potency... but then you can just use greater quantity.

                      1. re: nja

                        After reading all this about dried epazote, I won't use the one I bought. It didn't smell 'right' for food I thought, but for a tea it would be right, I think. Will try that use instead. Thanks all.

                        1. re: nja

                          The penzey's is just as good as the one we dry at home when my mother gets the crazy idea to grow it (Like Cilantro, Epazote is a easy to grow, but can be a pain, it's best just to buy it from the herb vendor)

                          1. re: Dommy

                            Thanks, Dommy! I have barely used my dried epazote from Penzeys and will use it in the Bayless recipes if I can't find fresh.

                            1. re: Carb Lover

                              You can use it any time you make beans! I do!! Also it can be added to soups and other veggies. It's SLIGHTLY astringent though, so it takes some tinkering with when used in recipes... :)

                              --Dommy!

                            2. re: Dommy

                              epazote is waaay easier to keep growing than cilantro...cilantro bolts and you have to keep reseeding. epazote seeds itself and turns into a big plant...it's a pretty hearty weed!

                  2. re: JoanN

                    You should taste epazote before you add it to a dish. I bought a start one year, decided it was the grossest thing I ever smelled or tasted, and despite that the plant self-sowed and has been coming back every year since- and we've even moved! Someday I hope to find somebody who wants some so I can give them the fresh stuff. I can't even imagine making a tea with it.

                    1. re: EWSflash

                      Epazote is a weed, it self propagates and is extremely hard to eradicate. It is definitely an aquired taste :-)

                  3. re: Rubee

                    I made plain black beans from the pot with a bit of salt at the end and everyone loved it - such simple but tasty and wholesome dish!

                2. Made the Classic White Rice too, it was good. I may cut back a tad on the oil as well. The rice reminded me of my grandmother's white rice. Used chicken stock. Forgot the parsley, but didn't need it.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: morebubbles

                    I thought about it and realized that I used freshly-made chicken stock (not defatted), so that contributed to the oil. Will chill & defat as I usually do next time & it'll be fine.

                    1. re: morebubbles

                      Made the classic white rice to accompany chicken w/ pumpkin seed sauce (see report on entrees thread) and it was very tasty. Used the reserved poaching liquid from the chicken. I skimmed off as much fat as I could and didn't find the rice too oily. Loved the aromatic chicken essence engorged in each kernel of rice. Omitted the parsley as well...

                      Photo:
                      http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        The rice is great on the reheat as well!

                    2. re: morebubbles

                      Same. I liked this much better than the tomato rice. I didn't use the parsley because it was raining and dark outside in the garden. But it tasted great. The time to cook was also accurate, also unlike the tomato rice. No picture because it was too white. It didn't look like anything but a white blob in the pot and on the plate.

                    3. Red Tomato Rice (pg. 174)

                      I served this with the Chicken and mushroom with chile. Like the entree, this was just ok. It took a lot longer to cook, which was very annoying because I had timed it to be ready when the chiles were. In theory, the tomato rice should have been delicious because the onions and garlic were pureed with the whole tomatoes and simmered with the rice. I wonder if I would have liked it better if I made this with a different dish. We ended up using the sauce from the entree and putting it over the rice. I also may have liked it better if it didn't take twice as long to cook as the recipe stated. It was pretty though.

                      http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/47...

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: beetlebug

                        Hmmm... Oddly enough, as much as I have been urging people to make rice this month, this is the first time I have ever noticed that Bayless blends the raw onion and garlic into the tomato in this book. I've followed his White and Green rice recipes since those were relatively new to me, but I was already happy with my red rice before I got this book so I never read through all the steps in his recipe. I assumed he sauteed the onion and garlic just like he does in the white and green recipes. That's what I always do. In fact, here's a write-up.

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                        The flavor of sauteed onion and garlic should improve the results. I once forgot to add garlic to mine and the difference was obvious.

                        -Nick

                        1. re: nja

                          Thanks. I'll try it this way. I do like tomatoes and rice together, just not that recipe.

                        2. re: beetlebug

                          Red Tomato Rice - p. 174

                          beetlebug I truly wish I'd remembered this book was a COTM before I'd selected the recipe for my Cinco de Mayo menu. I couldn't agree more w you, this was hugely disappointing and bland. It's so rare that Rick disappoints me but this was just not worth all the effort. Like you, I also had an issue w the cooking time and mine took at least twice as long as Rick suggests. The only positive attribute of the dish IMHO was the textural element the carrots added. I didn't use the peas because I find they suffer when a dish is being held for serving but I'm glad to hear that even with the peas, the dish was still disappointing. I won't bother making it again.

                          Luckily the other dishes on our Cinco de Mayo menu were much better. Here's a link to my post and more photos if anyone's interested:
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8463...

                           
                           
                        3. Mexican beans from the skillet (Frijoles Refritos):

                          I adjusted his recipe since there were just two of us. Heated a cast-iron pan and added a couple of tablespoons of bacon drippings (enough to coat the bottom). I STILL haven't gone food shopping, so no onion. Added about three cloves of chopped garlic. Used a slotted spoon and added a few scoopfuls of the pot beans. Mashed with a potato masher. Had nice flavor from the garlic, bacon drippings, and the ancho I had added in the pot. They were a side dish to the chiles rellenos I made last night.

                          P. S. I have learned that the key flavor in beans that are not bland are the 'freshness' of the beans themselves. My husband and his family are Mexican, and when we would visit them in Texas, his sister made the best refritos but added no onion or garlic. I'd come home (buying dried beans from Stop and Shop or Shaw's) and mine wouldn't taste as good, no matter how much seasoning I added. Finally I stocked up on a local market the next time I went to Texas, including dried beans, and that made all the difference. I think the main thing is to find a market with a high turnover.

                          picture:

                          http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/47...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Rubee

                            I prefer my refritos without onion and garlic anyway. I find they get in the way of the flavor of the beans. Just salt, epazote, and maybe a few dried chiles in the water while boiling the beans, then refried in lard or bacon grease.

                            I also prefer black and peruano beans over pinto beans for refritos.

                          2. Salsa de Molcajete (p. 101)

                            The recipe is a roasted tomato and green chile salsa made in a molcajete, though you could use a food processor. Very tasty! I had some leftover taco meat, so decided to make empanadas, and thought a nice salsa from the book would be perfect alongside. Plum tomatoes, chiles (I used four serranos), and cloves of garlic are blackened and cooled. I crushed the peeled garlic and chilis in a molcajete, and then added the peeled tomatoes one at a time to make a coarse puree. Next, I mixed it with diced onion, chopped cilantro, salt, and the juice from half a key lime, and thinned it with a little water. Even without summer tomatoes, this still came out great - bright and fresh with just the right amount of heat.

                            http://im1.shutterfly.com/procserv/47...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Rubee

                              Those empanadas and salsa look great! Was the empanada dough from the book?

                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                Heh heh - once again, Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust. ;)

                            2. Smoky Chipotle Beans

                              This is really embarrassing. I made these this afternoon. I like them. They’re very spicy (I used 4 chipotle chiles), but that’s a good thing. I hadn’t intended to add the wilted spinach and masa “gnocci” that the recipe calls for. I just wanted the beans. I thought someone had said they’d made the entire recipe, but that the beans alone were so good they could stand on their own—-but now I can’t find where I read that. Maybe I just dreamt it.

                              Anyway, what do I do with the beans now? There’s lots and lots of liquid. When I’ve had beans with Mexican or Guatemalan food, the beans are thick. You have to plop them off a spoon. These beans are very, very soupy. Are the beans I’m familiar with refritos? Bayless says that a bowl of beans is served after the main course in case anyone is still hungry, but I’m obviously not going to do that. Do I refrito these? Do I serve them as a soup? Do I serve the beans without the liquid? And if so, what I do I do with all that tasty, but thin, soup? Are these the kinds of beans people talk about when they say “serve with beans and rice”?

                              I feel like such a jerk. Am I even making any sense to anyone who hasn’t made this particular recipe?

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: JoanN

                                Hi JoanN. Cooked beans (I've never made this particular recipe) can be served as a soup, I recommend it with any or all of these as 'toppings': cubed avocado, cubed cheese, some rice or croutons. Enjoy it! The ones that have to be plopped off a spoon are likely fried beans. Those are beans cooked (no tomato or chiles in the ones I make), refrigerated (after having some fresh as a soup), next day or 2 ground up in a blender with a bit of the liquid, then added to some oil in which you've fried some onion. Fry the bean puree to desired thickness (maybe 15 mins.). You could fry up in the same way whole beans & mash lightly as they're cooking (result:some will be more mashed than others), then serve topped with grated hard cheese if you want. A couple of corn tortillas on the side and you're set.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Hi Joan. You make total sense. I also remember somebody posting that about the beans being good without the gnocchi too, so you're not crazy. I haven't made that particular recipe, though I've made the "beans from the pot" many times. They are much brothier than 'refritos' (you can check out if these are what you're thinking of - I have a pic in my post above when I made the "refried beans" or refritos). He calls the particular recipe you tried more of a "stew" - I assume it would be thicker with the addition of the greens and masa gnocchi - that you eat in a bowl. You can use the ones you have (drain, mash and fry) for the refritos (p.187). I still have some pot beans left, and I'm actually going to use them for a recipe in "Mexican Everyday" for 'charros beans'. The recipe calls for the brothy beans (with enough liquid to cover), to which you add bacon, garlic, diced tomatoes with their juice, and pickled jalapenos. Then "ladle into small bowls, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve".

                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    You didn't dream it: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... :-)

                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                      Thanks, Katie. When I was searching for that recommendation I came across your original post saying the chipotle beans were on your wish list, but didn't see the reply to it. I'd love it if Dee S could jump in here and tell me if hers are as soupy as mine and what she does with them. I think I'll try refritos later today, even though I have none of the recommended fats and am not sure I want to buy either chorizos or bacon just to fry the beans.

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        You can use canola oil or olive oil (that's what I use) to make (re)fried beans. We make beans often, us Salvadorans!:) You can scoop out the beans with a slotted spoon & add the amount of liquid you want.

                                        1. re: morebubbles

                                          That's *exactly* what I ended up doing--even before I read your post. I used canola oil, scooped the beans out of the soup with a slotted spoon, and put them in the frying pan. It took a while for the liquid to boil off, but once it started to do so I knew I was on the right track. I didn't add garlic or onions since the original recipe (Smoky Chipotle Beans) already had quite a bit of both. Just fried the beans as they were. And they were terrific. Now that I see what's going on here, this is definitely a recipe I would do again. Hadn't realized how very versatile it can be. (I hear a chorus of "She's got it! I think she's got it!)

                                          Served them with Red Chiles Enchiladas, Street Style (See Starter, Snacks, etc.) Liked the enchiladas, but liked the beans even better.

                                          http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v73...

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            Next time you have a bunch of brothy beans... try browning some Chorio & Onions, add to the soupy beans & simmer for about 20 minutes then add roughly chopped baby spinach for one last minute. Good meal in a soup. You can add fried tortilla strips too for greater density.

                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                              Sounds great. I still have some beans left. May try that later this week. Thanks.

                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                Just had to tell you, EN. Friend and I got home late, tired, and hungry last night. Had some of my Chipotle Beans left. Fried up some chorizo and onion. Didn't have any greens, but did have some Parmesan and grated it over the soup. It may have been the best meal yet this month. I'm really coming to love those beans. This may be the one recipe I copy out before returning the book to the library.

                                          2. re: JoanN

                                            Vegetable oil is fine. He also gives the tip that if using vegetable oil, to use a little extra garlic and onion and brown them well to compensate for lard's "roasty" flavor.

                                        2. re: JoanN

                                          When in Guatemala, do as the Guatemalans do.

                                          I’ve been living here for five weeks now and these beans have become a staple for me, so much so, that re-reading my original post has me laughing out loud. I’ve made up a pot of these beans nearly once a week and have them with eggs for breakfast, with cheese, sautéed onion and/or chorizo, and/or rice for dinner, and mashed and fried, with or without toppings, as a dip with tostadas. I even made a chicken stock with a leftover roasted chicken carcass and used the stock and beans to make a bean soup.

                                          The first time I made these here, I bought canned tomatoes because that’s what the recipe called for and I’m very good at following instructions. The next time I was going to make them I had a Duh! moment. Why was I paying dearly for imported canned tomatoes when tomatoes are, not quite literally, a dime a dozen here. So I made up a batch of stewed tomatoes, peeling the tomatoes and cooking them in their own juices with just a touch of salt, sugar, and fresh oregano. Perfecto! I can also get fresh epazote at the mercado whenever I want it; really gonna miss that when I get back to New York.

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            Gosh that bean discussion was really good to read again. Curisously (or not) I have a pound of Jacob's Cattle beans sitting on the stove ready for an Ottolenghi application.

                                            When ya coming home? Miss your reports...

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              So sweet of you to say, Gio. Participating in COTM is perhaps the only thing I'm missing by being here. Shopping almost daily in the mercado has been an extraordinary experience: so much fresh fruit and produce for so few quetzales. But I'm hesitant to stock a rented kitchen with staples I'll use only once or twice, so although I've been following along, I've decided to just wait until I get back home to jump in again. That will be in early June, so I'll be following the upcoming nomination and voting threads with even more than the usual interest.

                                        3. I made the Tortilla soup with pasilla chile, fresh cheese and avocado
                                          I subbed ancho for pasilla--

                                          I actually changed this quite a bit. I made the "base" the day before; tomato, onion and garlic essentially. I'd also toasted the anchos. I'd decided ahead of time that I wanted to make it more substantial by adding chicken. So this is what I did--

                                          When it got to cooking the soup, I realized that I was being told to just take my "base" (tomato onion and garlic "paste"), add broth and cook. I was kind of like, and then what? And then bring it to the table and sprinkle with the toasted ancho and other toppings. Well sorry, that just didn't sound very intersting to me. Tomato onion and garlic soup?

                                          So after adding the broth I crushed about half the toasted ancho chili and added it, and added two chicken thighs (for four people). Let it cook for about half an hour, then took the chicken out and shredded it and added it back to the pot.

                                          It was very good; somehow I can't imagine it being very "interesting" as written though, with all the "flavor" on top. Just MHO.

                                          In fairness where I live I don't get epazote (he called it important, but not essential), so maybe that was the missing ingredient as written.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: DGresh

                                            Epazote is pretty potent and can indeed 'make' a recipe... If you can't find it fresh, Penzey's makes a great dried version. :)

                                            --Dommy!

                                          2. Mexican Seafood Stew (pg. 159)

                                            I wanted a soup to go with my LahBitt Bread. So, I decided to make this stew. I liked it, a lot, but it was more work than I had planned on it being. It's also not the cheapest meal to make on the quick because of the seafood involved. Next time, I would add more dried arbol chiles (I used three and didn't taste any heat). I also didn't have epazote so I used cilantro instead. I would use more of it as well. I cubed 2 yukon gold potatoes instead of the small red skin ones. The potatos took longer to cook than the 15 minutes in the book. The lime juice at the end really brought out the flavors.

                                            The stew tasted better the second day. The tomato sauce base came together better after it sat for a while. The seafood itself was very tender. The base was a squid broth and it's pretty forgiving. I was worried about my squid because when I thought I had overboiled it (I had the lid on at a simmer but it was well over a simmer). But, it was still tender. For the fish itself, I used cod because it was on sale.

                                            http://shim1.shutterfly.com/procgserv...

                                            http://shim1.shutterfly.com/procgserv...

                                            1. Mexican Beans - From the Pot

                                              Miracle of miracles, I scored some fresh epazote in midtown Manhattan today. Decided that since the quintessential use of the herb seems to be in beans, that's what I'd do. I used the oil from some cooked chorizo, but decided not to add the onion in order better to taste the epazote. It's very hard for me to describe. A tiny bit bitter, with a hint of earthy citrus. I like it a lot.

                                              Of course it's somewhat unfair to judge it without the onions, but the recipe as written--as noted by others--doesn't have much oomph. And it definitely doesn't have enough salt. But I'm sure it will be easy to oomph it up quite a bit and I plan on doing so tomorrow.

                                              1. Tortilla soup with pasilla chile, fresh cheese and avacado

                                                I've made this soup many, many times. It may not sound interesting, but believe me if you use the freshest and best ing. you can find, it's just wonderful. I bake the tortillas rather than fry them and use the cheese Rick recomends unless I don't have on hand and then I use goat cheese. I love the creamyness of a nice ripe avacado with this and the melty cheese. Just wonderful. When I make this for company, there is always a request for the recipe. It's a very simple, basic soup, but has many levels of flavor. I use dried ancho chile,cook in oil for just 30 sec.,take out and then cook the onions and garlic in the chili oil. Think this adds another level of flavor. It's a nice soup to add other ing. as well. I really like it with crab or shrimp sprinkled in at end.Basic ingredients, wonderful complex soup. A real winner from Rick.

                                                1. Rice w Roasted Poblano, Spinach and Fresh Cheese – p. 180

                                                  I love all these ingredients on their own and I’m delighted to report that the final dish is greater than the sum of its parts. This is a unique and flavourful rice dish that proved to be the perfect accompaniment for our Soft Tacos of Grilled Chicken Breast w Tangy Green Chile and Grilled Onions, another wonderful recipe from Rick Bayless’s Salsas That Cook cookbook.

                                                  Poblano are roasted, skinned and chopped then added to a bowl. Broth is warmed until steaming. Rice is fried in hot oil and stirred until the grains have turned a milky-white colour. Garlic is then stirred in before adding the broth and roasted poblano. The pot is covered, heat is lowered and rice is cooked until done – approx 15 mins at which time the lid is removed and spinach is sprinkled over top before replacing the lid and allowing to sit for 5 mins. Cheese is sprinkled over the final dish then stirred to incorporate. Since I made the rice up a day ahead, I sprinkled the cheese over top and heated through in the oven.

                                                  A delicious dish that I’ll definitely make again.

                                                   
                                                   
                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                    Beautiful pictures! Now I want Mexican for dinner.

                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                      Thanks Rubee . . . likewise, you had me craving a Spanish meal!!

                                                    2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      Wow. That looks delicious. Maybe my Authentic Kitchen needs to move up the stack.