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May 31, 2012 09:19 PM

June 2012 COTM, The Homesick Texan: Beef, Pork, and Fowl; Seafood

Please use this thread to report on the following chapters from the June Cookbook of the Month:

Beef, Pork, and Fowl, pages 187 - 215
Seafood, pages 221 - 246

If you are reporting on a recipe that has not yet been reviewed, please hit the reply in this box. If you are discussing a recipe that has been reviewed in this thread, please hit the reply in that post. That way the discussions will be grouped together.

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  1. Campechana (Mexican Seafood Cocktail), p. 222

    This isn't Goode Company's recipe, which has been published elsewhere. Nor is it a standard seafood cocktail recipe like you would find in restaurants throughout Texas. Goode's recipe is ketchup based, and would therefore be sweeter than this one. What you find in most restaurants is also sweeter, and lacks the green olives. My own version has more lime than this one, and some sugar. Another thing unusual about this version is the chipotle in adobo. An odd thing to add to a seafood cocktail, to my mind. Chiles, yes; smoked chiles... maybe not.

    The recipe calls for fresh tomatoes or canned fire roasted tomatoes (which pretty much means Muir Glen tomatoes, doesn't it? So why not just say so?). If using fresh tomatoes, you are instructed to put them under the broiler for "a couple of minutes" on each side "until blackened". I have good tomatoes available now, so I went with fresh. The tomatoes did not even begin to blacken after two minutes per side, so I let them go longer. There is no instruction on whether or not to skin the tomatoes. I left the skins on the ones I pureed, and took the skin off the one I diced, as it was a bit leathery.

    So, 1.5 cups of the tomatoes go in the blender (now we're in cups, when we were in pounds. Why?). My pound of tomatoes was three, so I put two in the blender and diced one. Why should I dice tomatoes that are going to get blended? The chipotle in adobo goes in the blender too. This puree is mixed with chopped green olives, cilantro, onions, minced garlic, serrano chile, and cumin (I would not normally put cumin in a seafood cocktail, and neither would Goode Company, if the recipe in the Houston Chronicle is to be believed). You then gently stir in shrimp, crabmeat, and avocado. I used two avocados instead of the one called for, because mine were very small, and I love avocado. And you serve with tortilla chips.

    This is quite a bit different from my recipe, which is a sweeter, but also tarter, version, and without the smokiness of the chipotle and definitely without the cumin. But this version makes for a really nice dish. One common fault of these cocktails is that they end up too saucy. This looks like a lot of sauce, but once you add the shrimp, crab and avocado, it isn't too much at all. The seafood is nicely coated with the sauce, without the whole dish becoming soupy. I used smaller shrimp, but the same total weight as called for. As with the Pico de Gallo, I wouldn't normally use cumin, but the small amount here is hardly noticeable. All in all, I would recommend this dish, especially if you have never had a Mexican seafood cocktail, which, IMHO, no matter what version you make, beats the American version hands down.

    6 Replies
    1. re: MelMM

      Forgot to note, there is no salt called for in this recipe. If you use canned tomatoes, they would have salt in them, so no problem. But if you use fresh, as I did, you probably want to add some salt.

      1. re: MelMM

        MeIMM, would you be so kind and post your seafood cocktail recipe? I am making Mexican dinner tomorrow including ceviche - seafood cocktail would be a lovely addition.

        1. re: herby

          Well, I guess I shouldn't have said "my recipe", because that implies that there is a recipe.

          The sauce I use starts with a can (the small size can, 8 oz, I think) of tomato sauce (not a pasta sauce, just plain tomato sauce). To that, I add a dash of worcestershire sauce, a tiny dab of mustard (maybe 1/2 tsp), a few shakes of hot sauce, and then lime juice and sugar to taste. Start with the juice of one lime, and a tablespoon of sugar, and go from there. It takes some tasting and adjusting to get it just right.

          Into this sauce, I stir in fresh diced tomato, chopped cilantro, and a minced jalepeno or serrano chile (or two, depending upon my mood and how hot they are). And some onion, in a fine dice - not too much, as you don't want to overwhelm the seafood. Then I mix in the seafood, which is usually just shrimp, but can include shrimp, crab, oysters, octopus... whatever's good. I don't usually measure it, but about a pound of seafood. I guess I should mention that the shrimp would be cooked, shelled shrimp. Oysters would be raw. Octopus would be cooked, and cut up. And finally, gently stir in some avocado, diced in 1/2" cubes. I like avocado, so I use a large one, or if they are small, two. I serve with extra lime wedges and hot sauce on the side.

          Because of the avocado, this doesn't hold well. Well, it will taste just fine, but gets an ugly muddy brown. You can make it an hour or two in advance, and put cling wrap right down on the surface, but not, say, a day ahead.

        2. re: MelMM

          So, do you still prefer your recipe or do you consider this a fairly equal alternative?


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            To me, they are two different dishes, not two recipes for the same thing, so they don't have to compete with one another. I liked her seafood cocktail, and would make it again when I want a less sweet, more savory version. I will also continue to make my seafood cocktail.

            I do think I like her version of the Goode Company cocktail better than other recipes (even Goode's recipe). Other recipes are ketchup-based, and therefore would be sweeter, and I see that as a clash with the green olives. If I want to make a sweeter dish, I'll use my version without the olives, and heavy on the lime and avocado.

            1. re: MelMM

              Interesting! I think I'd prefer more savory... Might be fun to compare though! Thanks!


        3. Pasilla Tomatillo Braised Short Ribs - p. 195

          I had some beef short ribs hiding in the freezer and this recipe jumped out at me due to my love of tomatillo. I've never noticed boneless short ribs for sale here, so I used bone-in. I also had no where near 4 lbs (even with the bone), so I scaled the sauce in half. Fresh tomatillos are difficult to get here, although we were lucky enough to have some in our CSA box at the end of last summer, so I used canned tomatillos (I think one 400ml can is close to a half pound). The aroma from this dish is wonderful and the meat came out perfectly moist. These will be repeated at some point. We shredded it and had it in tacos.

          To make, pasilla chiles are toasted, soaked, and then diced. The short ribs are browned in oil, lard, or bacon grease (I went with bacon grease) and then removed from heat. Diced onions are cooked in the grease, and then tomatillos are added followed by garlic. The ribs get put back in along with beer (I used Boreale blonde), the diced pasillas, cumin, cayenne, and half of the chopped cilantro. It simmers covered for 1.5 hours. The lid rid is removed, more cilantro added, and it's simmered for another 1.5 hours. Top with a bit of lime juice and serve.

          6 Replies
          1. re: TxnInMtl

            I'm so excited to hear these came out well Txn, I'm making them tomorrow as we LOVE short ribs. Like you, I will be using the bone-in version. I can't imagine making short ribs without the bone as its the marrow that adds the sweet rich flavour to the broth. Can't wait!! Thanks for posting!

            1. re: TxnInMtl

              Pasilla Tomatillo Braised Short Ribs – p. 195

              Huge thanks to TxnMtl for covering this so well above and for suggesting the use of tinned tomatillos because, as it turned out, I wasn’t able to get any fresh from our market either so I too used a 14oz tin. (drained). As you’ll see from my photos, I also used bone-in short ribs because that’s what the butcher sells and, the bone is really what this cut is all about, isn’t it?!

              Our beer of choice was an Innis & Gunn Canadian Cask – a full-bodied, oak aged ale. Since LF indicates you may use beer, beef broth or water I opted to use one bottle of the I&G and some homemade beef broth. Following TxnMtl’s lead and insights regarding the cumin (of which mr bc isn’t the biggest fan in the first place), I omitted it. This dish was aromatic and enticing as it simmered away atop the stovetop. Since my liquids did not cover the meat, I opted not to completely uncover the pot for the final 90 min simmer as I didn’t want the meat to dry out.

              mr bc & I really enjoyed this dish. I shredded the meat in some of the stock and made tacos topped w Monterey Jack cheese and some of the coleslaw from this book whereas mr bc preferred to enjoy the ribs served whole atop some steamed rice. Were these the best short ribs we’ve ever had? No. Were they tasty? Yes. I particularily liked the tang that the tomatillos brought to the mix, a very nice contrast to counter the richness of the meat. The spritz of lime stirred in at the final stage of cooking further enhanced these flavours. I did need to salt my final dish prior to serving.

              Slaw review here:

              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                Beautiful meaty short ribs!
                I had to look up "pasilla" -- I'll never keep all the chiles straight.

              2. re: TxnInMtl

                Oh My. I made this on the recommendation of TxnInMtl. I would have passed over them otherwise. I was unsure as I was cooking, as they did not seem to have a ton of flavor. But as with this type of dish, besides cooking them a long time, I made them the day before. Wow. The next day, voila. Not spicy just rich and flavorful. But not really heavy, if that makes sense. We served them with tortillas but they would be amazing over rice as well. Thanks TxnInMtl from your fellow misplaced Txn!

                1. re: Tom P

                  I'm so glad you enjoyed it. The best part of COTM for me is discovering gems that I had skipped over. I saw your recommendation for the stacked enchiladas and hope to find time to give that a try soon!

                  1. re: TxnInMtl

                    you must :) And let us know what you think!

              3. Jalapeno Mustard Roast Chicken - p. 205

                This was my first time spatchcocking a chicken and it worked great. The skin came out nice and crispy and the meat was still moist. The marinade was good. Yellow mustard isn't my favorite, but I didn't find the flavor overwhelming. The jalapeno added just a hint of heat and the honey rounded it out nicely.

                A marinade of mustard, jalapeno, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, ground ginger, cumin, and honey is mixed together in a blender or FP (I used FP). If I repeat this, I might go with fresh ginger instead. The spine is removed from the chicken with shears. The chicken is salted and rubbed with the marinade. We had to wait to remove the spine until after it had marinated because it was still a bit frozen when I needed to start it. She says you can marinate for up to 8 hours, but I went ahead and did overnight because I'm always running late in the mornings. The flattened chicken bakes at 400F until juices run clear, rest, and serve.

                1. Mexican Red Chorizo - p. 213

                  This recipe can be used throughout the book in place of store-bought chorizo. I wish I had learned this a while ago, because it's hard for me to find Mexican chorizo here. I usually end up substituting for other Latin American chorizos after making the trek to the Latin American market., but the dried chiles are much more convenient for me to find. If you make your own, you also don't have to worry about removing it from its casing which I've always disliked doing for some reason. She suggests that you can make larger batches and freeze the excess which I may have to start doing.

                  To make, guajillo and ancho chiles are toasted and soaked. They're then blended with apple cider vinegar and chopped onions and garlic until smooth. The puree is mixed with ground pork along with cinnamon, cumin, paprika (I used hickory smoked), dried oregano (I used Mexican), cayenne powder, and kosher salt. Ideally, you let it sit to meld for a while.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: TxnInMtl

                    TxnInMtl, I made the chorizo too, liked it very much. I noticed though that both my (good!) store-bought chorizo AND the chorizo in Robb Walsh's "Tex-Mex" both use red wine vinegar, not apple cider vinegar. Which do you use -- or does it really make a difference?

                    1. re: blue room

                      I used apple cider vinegar, but this was my first time making my own chorizo. I'll have to try it with red wine vinegar next time and compare, although I'm not sure how noticeable it would be with all of the other spices in there. Thanks for bringing that up.

                  2. Carnitas
                    page 201

                    Looking at this page in the book and comparing it to the online version is interesting. The online version calls for 1 cup of orange juice and salt. I modified the recipe to 3/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup lime juice, cumin, and salt. Rather funny since that is what the book calls for! Her online version gives credit to Diane Kennedy. Maybe she modified the recipe so it wasn't an exact replica?

                    But let me back up. For some reason my husband has taken to waking up with the birds, even before the sun has crested over the Atlantic. I am not this foolish. Today, by the time I awoke he had already been to the Market Basket. He had bought something called "Pork Sirloin." This cut, unlike most at the Market Basket, was small. He also bought some tomatoes, serrano peppers, cilantro and a red onion. Looking very pleased with himself, he announced that he wanted CARNITAS.

                    As I pulled out my standard carnitas recipe I remembered that this was Homesick Texan month and altered the plan. This mystery cut didn't have much fat at all so I scrounged around the freezer and found a packet of pork fat I keep for making sausages. I cut the meat into 2 inch cubes and let the meat hang out with some cumin, ancho chili powder and salt for a few hours.

                    As mentioned above, I modified the juice content. I modified so much I almost didn't review this recipe, but it turns out she came up with the same modifications!

                    I simmer the meat after bringing to a boil for an extra half hour and then started the second cooking process. Before the meat had totally browned it was clear that I didn't have enough fat. Not enough at all. I added some peanut oil to bring it to a finish.

                    Served with Rick Bayless's Roasted Tomato and Arbol salsa (, cured cabbage with lime, pico de gallo, homemade tortillas, and black beans on the side.

                    I liked these flavors a lot but I might prefer Rick Bayless' cooking method which uses the oven at two different temperatures which allows you to do other things while the pork does its thing.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: smtucker

                      Ah carnitas is one of the recipes I want to do for sure this month -- the online description sounds *so* good. It also seems very likely to freeze well.

                      1. re: blue room

                        If I were freezing, I might get the meat to the tender stage and then freeze portions that could be fried after thawing. I bet this would allow you to retain the texture of the meat and get that "just cooked" flavor. Best of both worlds.

                        1. re: smtucker

                          Great idea, which wouldn't have occured to me -- thanks very much!

                      2. re: smtucker

                        I've used her Carnitas recipe from the book and it pleased Mr. Shallots greatly who is somewhat addicted to a Carnitas burrito (with tomatillo sauce and a melted white Mexican cheese at our favorite Mexican restaurant.) The restaurant says they use dark beer in their simmering, but we like her recipe for making at home.

                        1. re: shallots

                          Oh wow, dear Dios that burrito sounds great to me too!

                        2. re: smtucker

                          Carnitas p.201

                          I hadn't made the version on her blog and in fact have never made carnitas before (being a Brit who now lives in New England). It was so easy to do though it takes a long time to cook. I was using half quantity of meat but kept the liquids in the same quantity as the recipe since I couldn't see a pan with no lid could keep that amount of liquid for 2.75 hours. I was glad I did as I cooked it for less time (I made my cubes smaller than 2 inches) and the liquid was all gone. The result was very tasty though I think I should have left more fat on the meat for the final stage of crisping.

                          I served it with flour tortillas and and Houston-style green salsa (p.59)

                          1. re: smtucker


                            Wonderful! I used a combination of the recipes found here: and here:

                            For three pounds of pork I used 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup lime juice, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin, and two stalks (just the stalks, not the heads) of green garlic for aromatics. I made the carnitas on Sunday and brought it to the point where most of the liquid had simmered away, but there was still a little left and the pork had not yet started to fry in its own fat. Last night I scooped out some of the pork with juices and fat and cooked it for about 10 minutes in a hot frying pan until it was brown and crispy on the edges. By this time the pork was falling apart into shreds, which is exactly how I like my carnitas. We had it in tacos with the tomatillo-avocado salsa from the Homesick Texan website and cactus salad (both reviewed separately).

                            This was a perfect carnitas recipe. The pork was absolutely delicious and tasted completely authentic, just like the carnitas I used to get at my favorite spot in LA, which is where the best carnitas comes from if you ask me. My son loved it too. Raves all around. Of course the real credit goes to Diana Kennedy. Still, I wouldn't have tried this recipe if not for this month's COTM, and I will be repeating it for sure!

                            It's funny, I only ever tried to make carnitas one time previously, I think from a Rick Bayless recipe, and I didn't like it nearly as much. This was carnitas perfection for me.

                            Even if you've given up on this book generally, don't miss out on this recipe!

                            1. re: Westminstress

                              We (my household, not Chowhound) have had just a little too much (delicious) pork lately, but I'm glad to see your review right in line with the last two that liked this. Sounds like this one shines.
                              By the by, best wishes and warm welcomes for your almost-here little one!

                              1. re: blue room

                                Thanks, blue room! Just a couple of weeks to go....

                              2. re: Westminstress

                                My pork never got soft enough to shred, much less fall into shreds. Wonder if it was the cut of meat I used - country style ribs...
                                Posted my results awhile back, but it's disappeared!