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sides help!

cooking for the dad's side of the family for the first time.

i want to make bobby flay's recipe for his spice rubbed pork tenderloin (basically enhanced chili powder) with red bell pepper sauce and cilantro oil. he serves it with a tamale but i want something more general. they've never had mexican food before, so i can't make anything in that line. is there something safe and yet impressive that would complement it?

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  1. Mashed potatoes go with everything and are delicious. Grits would also work well.

    Braised fennel or leeks if you want a vegetable.

    1. Polenta would work well as a starch. I agree entirely on the braised fennel or leeks for vegetables, especially if you put some garlic into them.

      1. Mexican rice and refried beans or black beans

        3 Replies
        1. re: Hank Hanover

          Hank's suggestion sounds like it's in line with the flavors you will be creating in the main dish. A harmonious meal is the way to impress.

          If you wanted to get a little different, how about sauteed, diced sweet potatoes garnished with seasoned pepitas and some skillet cornbread. A tomatilla salsa with chips to start and some hibiscus iced tea to drink. Dang, now I want to make this.

          1. re: charlesbois

            What about a mexi-corn style dish? Saute a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes in some butter and garlic until they pop and get kind of 'jammy' for lack of a better term. Add a bag of frozen corn kernels and some chili powder to taste,not to heavy handed. A half teaspoon or so. Add a quarter cup of water and cook til heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. I think the black beans are a good idea too. I make them with canned beans. Saute half a small onion and a clove of garlic in a pot. Add a heaping tbsp of Goya sofrito or jarred salsa in a pinch. Cook for a few minutes to marry flavors and add a pinch of oregano,cumin and chili powder. Add a bay leaf and a quarter cup chicken stock or water. Simmer low for twenty minutes or so stirring it now and then. So good.

          2. re: Hank Hanover

            good choice hank. I'd do the black beans with lots of cumin, garlic, and onion, and the rice with a little saffron, diced tomatoes, and maybe a little orange zest...and of course garlic and onion..ok, im predictable

          3. This recipe is gorgeous to look at, not spicy despite jalapenos, and very refreshing. I add a dusting of ground cumin to it just before dressing. I've made it both with and without the beans, fabulous either way: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

            3 Replies
            1. re: mcf

              That looks very tasty, thanks for the link.

                1. re: ChristinaMason

                  It's so refreshing, a summer staple in our house... and colorful. I make a half recipe when it's just the two of us, it's best made fresh and eaten same day, though is good enough the next day. Hope you make it and enjoy it as much as we do, and think about adding that bit of ground cumin...

              1. I think I posted to the wrong person for your request to 'sides help. If so please read the mexi-corn and black beans and let me know if it was of any help. It is one of the posts on your thread. Good luck with the pork. I am trying a pork loin tonight. Yikes! I hope it is not dry.

                1 Reply
                1. re: suzigirl

                  pork loin only becomes dry when it is overcooked. err on the side of pink rather than cooked through.

                  to the op: i like the idea of polenta as mentioned above and also the leeks. people are funny about fennel so i wouldn't go there with unknown palates.

                2. I think that rice pilaf or mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach would go nicely.

                  1. If you want something similar to the tamal, but approachable to that side of the family, why not go with Alton Brown's Better Than Grannie's Cream Corn recipe - http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al... . It really is extremely good, easy to make and a crowd pleaser.

                    1. Here are a few non-Mexican ideas
                      Hasselback potatoes, Straw pancakes with herbs(Rösti), Pommes à la Dauphinoise and an endless parade of Potato dishes.
                      Rissotos work well as side dishes and are very versitile(but do take last minuet attention)
                      For vegetables stay seasonal, Peas, Asparagus, Spring Carrots, Spring onions ,Leeks, etc.....

                      1. Maybe just a simple rice pilaf and some steamed fresh or frozen young green beans with butter. If they are "simple eaters", this might be the best way to go for a first meal. You can always "kick it up a notch" later.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                          A local steak house chain is revered for its rice pilaf, for which there are several copycat recipes.

                          Basically, it's rice that is sauteed with sweated onions, to which are added chicken broth, spinach, and more butter than seems prudent. Since the OP's family is not used to Mexican food, it would be wise to include something fairly fatty as a side, to counteract the capsaicin in the entree. Alternatively, I like the idea of creamed corn too, since corn is a staple of Mexican and basic American cooking.

                        2. corn pudding!

                          now i can tell you two ways: easy peasy but still really, really good: sour cream corn muffin mix recipe (honestly, this is terrific for how simple it is!). everyone LOVES this, even food snobs <SNORT!> http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1950,... not a soufflé, but i'd venture it is soufffé-like…more so than a pudding. oh, i don't know…it is just darned good!

                          PITA but very delicious as well. tomalitos corn pudding from chevy's -- http://domesticdittodiva.blogspot.com...

                          frankly, i'm inclined to go for the former…..
                          no out of the ordinary flavors,,,,just good corn tastiness (and related to a tamale heh heh). i mean, who doesn't like corn pudding? (oh..someone will pipe up that they don't like it….and i think i know those usual suspects. LOL). this corn pudding is a "safe" bet, delicious, and a respite from any "crazee red chile" issues that some may have. ;-)).

                          i also agree with the green veggie, and i'd go for some nice crispy green beans, bright and lovely to complement the somewhat muted colors on the plate otherwise. ps, i don't want to mess up bobby flay's game, but i think a tart-sweet cranberry relish (on my mind from another thread) with a bright citrus note like lemon zest… would be a nice kicker. maybe add some toasted walnuts or pecans in that relish, too.

                          1. A mix of sweet and white potatoes, boiled and mashed with sour cream, grated white cheddar, and just a touch of chipotle en adobo OR smoked paprika.

                            I also think fresh pineapple would be very nice on the side, perhaps broiled to caramelize a bit?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ChristinaMason

                              Gratin potatoes cooked in garlic cream would be another good option. I know linguafood has posted a recipe on Chowhound a couple times. Worth a search.

                            2. The OP did not want to serve anything "Mexican" as a side.
                              "they've never had mexican food before, so i can't make anything in that line."

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: chefj

                                I assume you're replying to me. I did read and understand the original post, but thanks.

                                I think between the sour cream and the cheddar, using a very small amount of either chipotle or smoked paprika would enhance the flavor and compliment the main without being overtly "Mexican." Plus, the sweet potato would help to balance the spice in both the mash and the pork.

                                1. re: ChristinaMason

                                  No, I was actually responding to almost everyone who was posting "Mexican/South West" items which seems to the majority. Seemed like everyone missed that.

                                    1. re: chefj

                                      black beans are not particularly mexican...and a little cheddar cheese, and minced green onions make it lighter....i never use lard...i use olive oil in most things. Sundried tomatoes can also take it out of the mexican theory

                                      1. re: katy1

                                        Can't say I agree Black Beans are closely associated with Mexican, Central and South American cooking. But as always this is only my opinion.

                                      2. re: chefj

                                        I didn't miss it, I just thought the guacamole salad doesn't have strong unfamiliar type flavors when it's mixed, and would be a great side.

                                  1. It may be way off what you're looking for, but I love tzatziki with pork....strained or greek yogurt, crushed garlic, shredded cucumbers, a little evoo and vinager, salt....some people add dill or onions, but im not a big fan...i love the freshness, lightens the pork....even better with some french fries in olive oil...or baked

                                    1. As I can be away from any computer for weeks or months at a time, the fact that arjunsr hasn't responded yet is not an item to be considered on my part. I would like to know a little more about the people who have not been exposed to Mexican cuisine. I suggest that recomendations for Mennonites would be very different from that for recent immigrants from Bolivia.

                                      A little more info please.