Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for the ‘Mexican’ Category

Chile Braised Pork Tacos

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 5, 2012

Anytime I ask my son what he would like for dinner, the answer is always Mexican.  He definitely got exchanged  in the hospital and really belongs with a nice Mexican family, who is wondering why their son craves Indian/Jewish foods!  A few weeks ago, he went so far as to place check marks against recipes in Sunset’s Mexican Cookbook, in case I was tempted to oblige.  This dish is described by Sunset as a basic pork filling for a taco or burrito.  It is really delicious and simple to make.  There is nothing but pork, dried peppers and a few spices in the original recipe.  However, I also added some onions and sweet red and yellow peppers, because I just can’t bear to cook meat alone.


2 lb. lean boneless pork butt, cut into 1″ chunks

3 cups water

6-8 small sweet peppers, chopped coarsely

1 onion, chopped

8 dried ancho chiles or 3 tbs. sweet paprika (if you want this less spicy, adjust to your tolerance)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

2 tsp dry oregano leaves

2 tbs. red wine vinegar


garnishes (shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole etc).


1. Place meat in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat and add water.  Add half the salt.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer until meat is tender (about 1 hour).  Skim off excess fat.

3. Remove stems and sees from chiles, break into pieces and whirl in a coffee grinder (or blender) until finely ground.

4. Add to pork along with garlic, salt, oregano and vinegar. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens (35 min-45 min). Taste and adjust the salt.

5. Serve with heated tortillas and garnishes.

Posted in Main Dishes, Meat, Mexican | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Roasted Tomato-tomatillo salsa

Posted by fourclankitchen on August 28, 2011

I am back after a long vacation and some tribulations en route.  Back to this sweltering heat and a pitiless, cloudless sky.  But the tomatoes are still good and that is nothing to sneeze at.  I have been experimenting with Mexican food and am very taken with the idea of roasting/broiling  vegetables briefly before incorporating them into a sauce or salsa.  Although I prefer a fresh salsa for same-day consumption, this roasted gives you a mellow, deep flavored salsa, that lasts in the fridge for a couple days. It is ideal when you are having people over.


1-2 tbs. oil (optional)

4-5 medium sized vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into halves

4 small tomatillos, skins removed and throughly washed and halved

1/2 sweet onion (e.g., vidalia) crudely cut into large pieces

1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped

salt, lime, Hungarian sweet paprika, cumin powder: to taste


1.  Start the broiler in your oven (I set mine to low).  Move a rack close to the heating element.

2. Lightly oil the vegetables and sprinkle them generously with salt.  You can omit the oil and go with just salt as well.

3.  Broil for ~ 10 min, until the vegetables are just beginning to brown.  Remove any vegetable from the oven if it starts to char too much.

4. Put the vegetables into a food processor and pulse till they meld together.  Add, lime, paprika, cumin (start with 1/2 tsp of each).  Then taste and adjust the salt.

5.  Add cilantro and pulse the food processor briefly again.

Note: 1, Substitute cayenne for sweet paprika if you want to kick up the heat.  Or, throw in half a seeded serrano or jalapeno, depending on you heat tolerance.  Enjoy.

Note 2: If you cant find tomatillos, add a couple more tomatoes instead.  This will also give you more intense red color.

Posted in condiments, Mexican, salads, Uncategorized, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cochinita Pibil (Yucatan Pork in Achiote Paste)

Posted by fourclankitchen on May 4, 2011

A local interior Mexican restaurant here sells Cochinita Pibil, which I get whenever we take out of town guests for a night in town.  Cochinita Pibil literally means little pig buried and roasted in a pit. This stuff is nectar and ambrosia for flavor junkies like me.  The pork  is marinaded in sour orange juice and ground up Annato seeds, which impart both a red color and a flavor to the meat.  The sour orange juice can be replaced with regular orange juice and lime juice which together tenderize the heck out of a pork shoulder.  It is then slow roasted for several hours till it falls off the bone.  I have previously taken a shot at it that was delicious, but a little Indianized.  But then, I bought Rick Bayless’ new book and went to his website and had me an authentic recipe. This recipe is adapted from his Website (which calls for 12 lbs of pork) to suit a small birthday celebration in my family. 


1 1/4 tablespoons achiote seeds (I found these at Whole Foods)
1 tsp  dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1  tsp black pepper corns
1/2  teaspoons cumin seeds
1/4  teaspoon whole cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon powder preferably freshly ground
6-7  large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

3 tbs.  fresh lime juice

3 tbs.  orange juice
2 lbs. bone-in pork shoulder (Boston butt) roast

2 large onions, thinly sliced.

A few banana leaves or foil (optional, if you use a slow cooker or Dutch oven)

You will also need:  Tortillas, rice, pickled onions and salsa as accompaniments.


1. Achiote paste or marinade:

According to Bayless, you can buy achiote paste (he recommends the Yucateco brand, Amazon has it).  The reason he recommends you buy it is because the annato seeds are hard to grind up.  But if you have a powerful coffee grinder, this is not a problem.  So here goes.

1. Grind together the achiote seeds, oregano,the black pepper,  cumin, cloves and cinnamon, till the mixture forms a fairly fine powder (this takes a little patience, but make sure you do it so that your marinade is not gritty).

2. In a blender, combine the ground mixture with salt, the garlic,   lime juice and orange juice.  Blend until smooth.  You should have a smooth marinade.  The blender makes a finer paste than the food processor, so it is preferred here.

2. Marinade the pork:

In a large bowl, combine the  meat and marinade, turning the meat to coat it evenly.  Bayless recommends you marinade for several hours or overnight.  But, I skipped this step because I was planning on using the slow cooker.

3.   Cook the pork:

1.  Use the reserved marinade to coat the onions.  Place half the sliced onions at the bottom of the cooker, add the pork and then add the remaining onions. I cooked this on for 6 hours without banana leaves or foil. The resulting meat qualified for all the usual appellations (tender, succulent, falling off the bone, flavorful-did I forget any adjectives?)

2. Lift the pork out of the cooker.  It is likely to fall apart into pieces as you do it.  Place it on a plate and shred it (with forks or your hands)  as you would pulled pork.

3. Strain the onions out of the pan juices and mix in with the meat.

4. Pour off the pan juices into a small sauce pan and reduce to half the volume. Mix this into the meat as well.

5. Garnish with pickled onions and cilantro and serve with a salsa of your choice and tortillas or Spanish rice.

If you dont have a slow cooker, you could do this in a Dutch oven in the oven (Bayless recommends 3 hours at 325˚F).  Or you could do the meat on a grill as follows (instructions verbatim from Bayless, I did not try this): Heat a gas grill to medium-high.  Cut 3 sections of banana leaf, each about 1 foot longer than the length of a large roasting pan. Line the bottom and sides of the roasting pan with the leaves, overlapping them generously and letting them hang over the edges of the pan.  Lay the onions and meat in the pan, drizzle with all the marinade.  Fold in the banana leaf edges over the meat. Cut 3 more sections of banana leaf slightly longer than the pan.  Lay them over the top of the meat, again generously overlapping; tuck them in around the sides.When the grill is ready, either turn the burner(s) in the center to medium-low or bank the coals of the grill for indirect cooking.  Grill until the meat is thoroughly tender (work a fork in near the bone—the meat should easily come free), usually about 4 hours. If your grill has a thermometer, aim to keep the temperature between 300 degrees and 350 degrees.

Pickled  onions.  (This is different from Bayless’ recipe, but I usually have these on hand, so I used these).  This recipe is really in that cross-over place between Indian and Mexican food and is a standard Indian condiment).  I don’t have a formal recipe, but here is what I do.

1 large onion, sliced thin (sweet white or red)

A couple serrano peppers, sliced thin cross-wise (optional)

1/2 inch ginger cut into thin sticks

Enough white vinegar to submerge the above ingredients

Salt to taste.

Mix all of the ingredient together.  The flavors are best if you wait a couple of days before you need this.  If using immediately, leave out on the counter for a couple hours before serving.  Otherwise, store in the fridge.

Posted in Main Dishes, Meat, Mexican | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Enchiladas Tacuba Style

Posted by fourclankitchen on February 20, 2011

When I saw this recipe on Rick Bayless’ website.  I knew it had to be made. Now my son requests it every week and it has supplanted the tomato sauce based bean-stuffed enchilada that I used to routinely make.  You must try this, it is better than anything you have eaten at a restaurant.  Its a multi-step process, but really worth it.

Tacuba Enchiladas (adapted from Rick Bayless, Mexico -One Plate at a Time)
1 cup (lightly packed) roughly chopped spinach leaves

2 poblano peppers, cut into large strips (about 4-5 per pepper)

2 cups milk

2 cups chicken broth

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter—or you can use vegetable oil for the sauce + 1 tbs. more for roasting vegetables

4 fat garlic cloves, skin on (or 3 cloves garlic, minced)

1 onion, coarsely chopped for roasting (optional)

1/2 cup flour

 to taste (about 2 tsp. total)

3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (A rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled chicken, a recipe is provided below)

12 corn tortillas

A little vegetable oil for brushing or spraying

About 1 cup Mexican melting cheese (Chihuahua, quesadila) or mild cheddar


1. Roast the chicken( if you dont have any that is pre-cooked).
I like the following version for these enchiladas:  Season 6-7 skinless, boneless chicken thighs generously with a mix of oil, oregano, lemon juice, cumin, salt and paprika (these ingredients are not listed above).  Marinade for 2 hours or more in the fridge, then grill as usual.  Coarsely chop or shred the chicken by hand/with a knife.  You can also shred chicken very gently in the food processor-Do not overprocess to a pulp.

2.    Roast the vegetables. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Generously coat the garlic, onions, poblanos with oil and salt.  Roast the vegetables, till nicely browned about 30 min.

Note: The original recipe calls for chopped fresh garlic and does not use any onion.  Instead it calls  for roasting the poblanos directly over a gas flame or on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, turning regularly, until the skins have blistered and blackened on all side, about 5 minutes for an open flame, about 10 minutes under the broiler. If you go with the latter option, place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and, when handleable, rub off the blackened skin, tear open and pull out the seed pod and stem. Quickly rinse to remove any stray seeds or bits of skin. Roughly chop.

4. Make the sauce. Place the onions (if using) and poblano peppers in a blender jar/food processor.  Add the spinach.
In a medium (3-quart) saucepan, combine the milk and broth, set over medium-low heat to warm.
In a large (4-quart) saucepan, melt the butter (or heat the oil) over medium.  Squeeze out the garlic,  then add the flour and stir the mixture for a minute.  Raise the heat to medium-high.  Pour in the warm broth mixture and whisk constantly until the sauce boils.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
Pour half the hot sauce into the blender with the peppers and spinach and blend until smooth.  Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sauce.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 2 teaspoons.
5.    Finish the enchiladas.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Smear about 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking dish.  Stir 1 cup of the sauce into the chicken.
Lay half of the tortillas out on a baking sheet and lightly brush or spray both sides of the tortillas with oil; top each tortilla with another one and brush or spray those with oil.  Bake just to warm through and soften, about 3 minutes.  Stack the tortillas and cover with a towel to keep warm.
Alternatively, if you are in a hurry, soak a paper towel in water and wring out as much water as you can.  Wrap 6 tortillas at a time  in the wet towel and microwave on high for 30 sec.  Put together these tortillas together, before nuking the next six (This tip is courtesy Rick Bayless also)
Working quickly so that the tortillas stay hot and pliable, roll a portion of the chicken up in each tortilla, then line them all up in the baking dish.  Douse evenly with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the cheese.  Bake until the enchiladas are hot through (the cheese will have begun to brown), about 20-30 minutes.

Posted in Main Dishes, Mexican, Poultry | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mexican Style Baked Salmon

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 22, 2011

This is my favorite way to make fish.   Its fast and easy and requires only a single cast-iron pan that goes from stove top to oven. The cast iron crisps the fish beautifully. Also, the prep is versatile and a gazillion combination of spices are possible (some are suggested below).  Here I made it with Mexican-ish spices to go with the patatas bravas posted in last week.  So here goes.


For the marinade:

2 tsp oil
1 tbs oregano, crushed between your fingers
Juice of 1/2  large lemon or to taste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp. Hungarian sweet  paprika (or 1/2 tsp cayenne if you like the heat)

Salt to taste

For the fish:

2 tbs. vegetable oil for frying the fish

3  1/3 salmon fillets, skin on the bottom (I used wild-caught sockeye)

Whisk all the ingredients for the marinade in a shallow bowl.  Add the fillets and coat completely.  Marinade for a couple hours in the fridge (at least 30 minutes).  15 minutes before you are ready to make the fish, preheat oven to 350˚F.  When ready,  heat 2 tbs. of oil in a cast-iron pan, until  the oil is nice and hot.  Place the fish, skin side down in the pan, sear for 2 min, then flip the fish and sear the other side  for 2 min as well.  The fish is now skin side down in the pan.  Remove the cast-iron pan to the oven (middle rack) and cook the fish for ~ 15 min (this will depend on the thickness of the fillet and the type of pan you are using).  The fish is ready when it flakes easily and no longer translucent.  Serve with a side of potatoes or vegetables and bread.

Variations:  1) Substitute the oregano with any other Italian herb(s).  2) Marinade the fish with lemon, turmeric, salt and oil. Heat oil in the cast iron pan,  temper the fish with cumin  or carom (ajwain) seeds, ginger and garlic- 2 min, sear the fish, then bake as usual.  You get the idea.

Posted in baked, Fish, Main Dishes, Mexican | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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