Monday, January 26, 2009

Carne guisada, Tex-Mex stew

I receive many emails from y’all, asking when I’ll be writing about a certain favorite Texan food. I’ve had requests for everything from deep-fried pickles to peanut-butter pie. But the most requested recipe is for carne guisda.

Carne guisada, which translates to “stewed meat,” is a slow-simmered dish that varies across the state. Some people make their carne guisada with pork, others with chicken. The most common meat used, however is beef.

Another variable with carne guisada is how the gravy is made. Some people opt to cook their meet with tomatoes, potatoes and sweet bell peppers, while others just simmer the beef in water and chiles.

You’ll see your carne guisada as a group of distinct cubes floating in a rich sauce. And you’ll see your carne guisada where the meat has cooked so long it’s hard to tell where the meat ends and the gravy begins. My carne guisada, like my chili, deliciously falls into the latter category.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Making my own Mexican chorizo

When I was young and silly, I found a recipe for mussels and chorizo. I loved chorizo—it was that tangy, spicy sausage I ate mixed with my scrambled eggs at my favorite Mexican breakfast joints.

The recipe called for slicing the chorizo, which I did. The chorizo was a little soft and squishy, but I managed to carve out a few pieces.

I threw it in the warm skillet. And almost immediately, the bright-red sausage squirmed free of its casing. Instead of round symmetrical slices of sausage, I had little bits and blobs of sausage. But I wasn’t that disappointed. It still tasted like chorizo should taste and I just thought that I’d bought a badly made batch of chorizo. (I was in Iowa, after all.)

I went back to the store and bought another package, this time checking the expiration date to make sure it wasn’t terribly old. Again, I took it home and tried slicing it. This time, it didn’t even wait until I added it to the skillet before slithering out of its case like a snake shedding its skin.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

An epiphany about grapefruit

I have a confession to make: I don’t really like grapefruit. And this makes me sad. Don’t get me wrong—grapefruit is pleasing on many levels. It’s pleasing to the eye with its bright red color, pleasing to the nose with its clean, floral scent and pleasing to the touch with its receptive flesh. But for me, it’s not so pleasing to the taste—I find it too bitter and it makes my face contort into unattractive shapes.

I’m not completely adverse to grapefruit-flavored things. Fresca is one of my favorite soft drinks. And grapefruit bread, if done well, can be a delicious treat. But the thought of tucking my spoon into a halved grapefruit just fills me with dread. That is, unless you add sugar.

If you know me, you’ve probably heard me trumpet my lack of a sweet tooth. But I think we both know that I’m just lying to myself. And while it’s a New Year and like most people I am trying to temper some of my appetites in order to regain my pre-holiday health. I also can’t avoid that grapefruits are in season and if I’m going to get any joy out of eating them, I’m just going to have to add sugar.

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