Tag Archive | "tortillas"

Tia Lety’s Chipotle Pot Roast Tacos — Easy and Delicious

Tia Lety’s Chipotle Pot Roast Tacos

I recently got a Cocinaware Dutch Oven, which came with the easiest recipe for something called pot roast tacos. All you had to do was take a roast and cook it with salsa, then make tacos with it. I could do that without thinking about it.

It was also easy to play around with the recipe. I didn’t have the chipotle and garlic salsa called for, so I used what salsa I had on hand. I also used cabbage leaves instead of corn or flour tortillas to cut way, way back on the carbohydrate count. And I altered the fillings to include a pico de gallo made with the first serrano pepper from the fall harvest as well as sliced radishes. (If you are using a corn or flour tortilla, you could add shredded cabbage for a sweet note.)

You could also spoon a little of the salsa from the pot onto the taco, if you want it a little more moist. You could even use pork shoulder instead of beef.

The main thing is to make it the way you like it.

Tia Lety’s Chipotle Pot Roast Tacos

2 to 3 pound boneless shoulder chuck roast
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 (16-ounce) jar chipotle and garlic salsa or your favorite salsa
3 large tomatoes, peeled and sliced thin
3 avocados, peeled and sliced thin
2 red onions, sliced thin
1 (30-count) package white corn tortillas

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Season the roast with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the dutch oven over high heat for 3 minutes. Add the canola oil and brown the roast on each side for 3 minutes.

Add the salsa to the roast, cover the dutch oven and place on the lowest oven rack. Cook the roast for 2 hours or until the meat is tender enough to fall apart easily.

Place the taco fillings on a platter and serve the chipotle beef with heated white corn tortillas.

Makes 30 tacos.

Adapted from Cocinaware


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Griffin to Go: The Upper Crust

No-knead Bread

Shortly after I moved to San Antonio, I gave up hope that I’d ever be able to find a loaf of bread with a truly dense crust. After all, the bread of this city is anything but hard. It’s the tortilla, and the best tortillas, handmade and oh-so-pliable, can’t be beat.

Still, I longed for a crust that was so thick I had to bite it with my side teeth, bread as rustic as I remember at my grandmother’s house in Germany. She didn’t make it herself. It came from a neighborhood bakery that produced the most beautiful rounds of rye I’ve ever seen or tasted.

Until a few years ago, I never really gave much thought to the idea of baking my own bread. I rarely eat it at home, so most of an entire loaf would likely go to waste. Yet several years ago, my friend, the late Mary Singleton, taught me the basics. She showed me how to knead the dough (and not overknead it) and to practice enough patience to let it rise several times before putting into the oven.

She also taught me how to add whole wheat to the mix, which would bolster the fiber count. I’m diabetic, so my daily bread, with all those carbohydrates, could literally be a killer. Added fiber is said to help cut down the effect of the carbs.

My only problem with her recipe was the crust was soft. I know plenty of people who remove the crusts from even Wonder Bread. I’m sort of the opposite. You can give me the crusts and keep the center.

Fast forward to early this year. Fellow food writer Ron Bechtol had a party in which he served up a loaf of just-made bread. It had the best crust imaginable, hard and chewy, plus a soft center without being spongy. It was no-knead bread, he said.

I had heard talk of this recipe ever since it ran in the New York Times a few years ago. But I had never tried it. So, when I saw Jim Lahey’s book, “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method” (W.W. Norton & Company, $29.95), I decided to give it a shot.

(For those of you who have tried the version that ran in the Times, take note: Lahey, who opened the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City,  has revised his method somewhat. So, you may want to compare the two. The book version, for example, calls for a higher oven temperature.)

The dough needs to sit for about 20 hours total, plus an hour or so for baking, then the bread needs time to rest before cutting into it, so think about starting a day in advance.

No-knead Bread just out of the oven.

The dough goes together in a matter of seconds, as the recipe says. All I have to do is let it rise, or ferment, as Lahey calls it. There really is no kneading. If you want to use a wooden spoon instead of your hands, you can do that, though I prefer the tactile pleasure of getting my hands in the dough. (I also enjoy the kneading, which is therapeutic, but that creates a different bread.)

Then you wait. You wait 18 hours. Just when you’ve almost forgotten the dough, you have to remove it from its bowl, shape it and let it rest again for two more hours. (The recipe says you could do the first step after 12 hours and the second after one hour, but then Lahey says it’s better to wait a full 18 hours and then two hours more. Why argue with someone who knows what he’s doing?)

Toward the end of the second rise, you need to heat your oven to 475 degrees with a Dutch oven in it. (If you are using Le Creuset, which I don’t have, read Lahey’s instructions first so you don’t ruin the handle.) When the dough is ready, carefully remove the Dutch oven. I say carefully because the handle on mine was so hot that it burned through the silicone mitt I was using.

Then you place your dough in the scorching hot Dutch oven, cover it and bake for 30 minutes. After that, remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is done, about 15-30 more minutes.

That’s it. The hardest part of baking this bread was handling the Dutch oven.

  • The best was having bread so good I could eat half a loaf in one sitting — not something I should do on my diet, I know. Thankfully, friends have gladly welcomed halves of loaves, each time I’ve tried the recipe.

Now the fun begins. Add to the recipe. Add rye flour (with a touch extra yeast). Or chocolate. Or olives. Or apricots and almonds. Lahey offers ideas to get you started. He also offers some pizza recipes that demand your attention. But that’s another story …

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WalkerSpeak: Exercise Your Senses

Ripe StrawberriesWhen I was young, we lived in a barrio neighborhood in an Arizona border town. My 4-year-old brother hung out with a pretty 3-year-old named Rosalinda, who lived across the street. My sister often hung out inside with a book. But I prowled the neighborhood. My mild Montana-by-way-of-Iowa upbringing had not prepared me for such things as scorpions, tarantulas and centipedes. These were scary. But the subdued, complex beauty of the Sonora Desert always drew me outside.

Late in the afternoons in summers we were introduced to another element in our new home. Rain-blue thunderclouds would gather overhead and the ferocious storms we referred to as “monsoons” would turn the unpaved street in front of our house into a torrent of light brown mud. As suddenly as they began, these rambunctious storms would stop. The sun would come out. Soon, a warm, powerful scent would rise up from the desert floor, filling not just our nostrils but our imaginations. Later, I would learn that wet creosote and acacia bushes imparted much of the scent. But damp earth and all that it harbored, was part of the romance, too. For it was a romantic scent. It brought tears to my eyes when, after a long time away, I’d catch the first whiff of desert as the door to my arriving airplane was flung open on a summer’s evening. Visiting, I would yearn as much for this scent as I did for glimpses of home.

But what does this have to do with food?

I’ll answer my own question by saying that all of the senses are involved when a place in time, or a place in the desert or a place in the wilderness becomes iconic in our memories. When it comes to taste, we don’t just remember a flavor, but we add a backdrop: sitting in our grandmother’s kitchen, sitting in the sun on her wooden chair. Focusing in more closely on day to day things, think of picking up the most perfect strawberry in the basket. We look at it and appreciate the pure crimsonness of it. We handle it, feel the grainy roughness of the seeds, catch the aroma, then take in a bite anticipating that exquisite red berry taste. All of the senses are engaged.

Sensory pleasure is the great equalizer. It is as available to simple folk as it is to rock stars or rocket scientists. Money is not required to develop a good palate or to appreciate a well-made meal or anticipate a taste that only summer can bring. Or, even to summer at a particular location — say, beneath a sprawling tree on an Iowa farm, gathering fresh morels. Or, your uncle’s backyard grill in San Antonio, with billowing savory meat-scented smoke right at your nose.

During the year we lived on the unpaved street in Nogales my senses were on full alert to the new sounds, scents and flavors. Yes, I had to learn to shake my shoes in the morning to be sure no critters had crawled inside during the night. But I also could, on certain evenings, stand in a neighborhood friend’s backyard while his mom cooked tortillas on a comal set over a fire in an old oil drum. Nothing had ever been quite like this – the black spots where the tortilla would burn a little, its pliable softness, and its incomparable taste when drizzled with honey.

In a few years my explorations would take me across the border to Nogales, Sonora. I sought out backstreet places selling hot, fragrant corn tortillas in tall stacks, wrapped up tight in white paper; I looked for the small shops that carried homemade, stretchy cheese to go on those tortillas. I’d stop into a shabby hotel and make my way back to the kitchen, run by a Chinese family, where I could order the absolute best chicken tacos in the city. I learned the difference between mayonnaise and Mexican crema (barely even related, except in appearance).

Our senses awaken to that which is new. They are dulled by the steady thump of the ordinary. We forget that they are given us as a birthright, as tools for our explorations. Even those missing one or another of the senses, sight or hearing, often are compensated by having another one sharpen. We are the ones who ultimately decide whether we’re going to use and appreciate them, or misuse and lose them.

In the realm of taste, it doesn’t mean seeking out more and more extraordinary flavors or more expensive items off restaurant menus, or more exotic locales in which to dine. A few evenings ago, as we watched a movie, my husband left the room, returning minutes later with freshly popped popcorn in a steel bowl. I might have had microwave popcorn at work sometime over the past year or stunningly overpriced, lukewarm popcorn at a movie theater. But this was really good popcorn. As I put my face down toward the bowl to inhale the buttery scent, the warmth of it came up at me like breath. A simple thing, but oh, so good.

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