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Archive for the category “chili”

Cornless Tamales…What?!

tamales loaded

Growing up in south Texas we adopted a Christmas Eve tradition of a tamale feast. This year was no exception. We made enough for Christmas Eve, Christmas Morning as well as New Years Eve! Our tradition used to include purchasing tamales, then piling them with queso, guacamole, meaty chili and chimichurri. A few years ago, when we no longer spent Christmas in San Antonio, there was difficulty finding good tamales. Tamales were available, but they were just off in size and flavor. We had no choice but to start making our own. At the time we made the masa with corn meal, and perfected the flavor of it to wonderfully compliment the pork filling. Now that we are watching our carbohydrate intake, the reliance on corn products is nil, which we wanted to carry over into our holiday tradition. If you have ever had tamales, you know there is a specific texture to masa in a tamale, and there is supposed to be a hint of smoky spiciness to the middle meat filling. Some people may be on the verge of offended when I talk about masa without corn, for the word typically represents a corn-based dough used for all kinds of dishes, including pupusas, tortillas and of course tamales. For our version we used flaxseed meal and coconut flour to achieve the required texture. We also used what may seem like a lot of salt, but with the flaxseed and coconut products it is needed, to give a little help to the pork for it all to work together and carry the spice flavors through to the final dish. The tamales turned out flavorful and robust, able to compete (in a good way) with the toppings, and with a texture almost exactly like corn masa. Big D appeased me by measuring the ingredients this time around so we could record an actual recipe it for posterity. He is usually an eye it, taste it, add more, dash here, sprinkle there kind of cook, so it was a bit of a stretch, but he survived. With my mom visiting for the holidays we had loads of fun showing her the process and had three generations of family in the tamale-making production line, just like things should be. I hope you enjoyed your holidays and consider our scrumptious medley in your future celebrations. We will never forget it and hope to repeat it in the years to come!

Cornless Tamales….What?!

2 cups coconut flour
2 cups golden flaxseed meal
¼ pound lard, melted
2 eggs
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp sea salt
5 – 6 cups liquid retained from meat filling

24 – 36 corn husks, soaked in water for at least one hour

Meat Filling
2 pound pork roast
1 small onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 jalapenos, diced
1 cup roasted green chiles (canned or fresh), diced
2 chipotle peppers with adobo sauce from can (use about 1 Tbsp of sauce)
1 cup water
2 Tbsp sea salt

1 Batch fresh or canned beef chili
1 Batch Guacamole
1 Batch Chimichurri
Queso (1 pound processed cheese loaf melted with 1 can Rotel tomatoes and chiles)
Sour Cream

Sear sides of the pork roast in a large skillet, then place roast in a crock pot. In the same skillet add bacon grease and melt over medium-high heat. When melted add onion, garlic, cumin seeds, jalapeno and chiles. Cook until seared. Add chipotle peppers and adobo sauce to mixture and continue cooking until combined and heated through. Transfer seared mixture to crock pot over the roast. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and water, then cook roast on low for 8 – 10 hours. Turn crock pot off and let cool for a few hours. Drain liquid and shred meat with a fork, retaining the liquid for masa.

While meat cools make the masa. Combine flaxseed meal, coconut flour, cumin, salt and garlic powder in a bowl. Add lard to mixture and combine into a dough. Add liquid from the meat one cup at a time until it is the consistency of soft peanut butter – you will need anywhere from four to six cups.

To build the tamales pat dry one corn husk, then lay it flat on your work surface. Spread masa evenly in the middle of the husk, leaving 1 – 2 inches clear at the top and bottom, and along one side. Drop a row of pork along the middle of the masa, to the very edges of where it is spread. Gently roll the tamale, making sure the masa completely envelopes the pork in the middle. Overlap the sides of the husk and fold the small end up. A small strip of husk can be used to tie around the tamale to keep it closed, or just lay completed tamales face down so seams to not come apart. Repeat process until you run out of supplies.

In a deep stock pot with pasta/steamer insert, fill bottom of pot with water, but no higher than the bottom of the steamer insert – tamales should not be sitting in water at all. Fill the insert with tamales by lining them up vertically, with folded end down. Place cover on pot and heat to boiling, then turn heat down to simmer, making sure steam continues to rise. Steam tamales for about one hour, until the masa is firm and they are heated through. Remove tamales from pan and lay out in a single or double layer, allowing them to dry out a bit. When ready to eat, unroll the tamales from the husk and eat plain or smother with your toppings of choice.


Orange Chicken Redux

Adaptability. The need for it comes in small and large ways. With two aging oranges in the fruit bowl the chicken in the freezer was calling to be joined with them. My original idea was to make a stir fry, with the sauce caramelizing around the meat and veggies, trickling down into the rice and filling every bite with a sweet spiciness. In the end, the dish was delicious, but only after a bit of adapting. I pulled the chicken out of the fridge when it came time to make dinner. Arghh! Still frozen! Since I hate defrosting meats in the microwave – it always partially cooks it and encourages rubberiness – my options were to wait way too long to start dinner, make something else, or switch up the recipe. I decided to (sigh) bake the chicken instead of stir fry. Not the end of the world, but not exactly the plan.  I jumped in and went with the flow. I am including directions for what I did (redux) and what I meant to do (original). In the end it turned out yummy with a slow heat from the sauce.

Orange Chicken

4 chicken thighs, skinned and deboned (redux version used chicken with skin and bone intact)

Salt to taste

3 Tbsp canola oil

2 oranges, juiced with meat

1 tsp red chili flakes

2 Tbsp chili sauce

1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce

1 garlic clove, diced

½ medium onion, julienned

4 cups stir fry vegetables (snow peas, carrots, cauliflower, watercress, etc)

Original Directions

Mix chili flakes, chili sauce, teriyaki sauce and orange juice. Set aside. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, sprinkling it with salt to taste.  Heat oil in wok at medium high heat. Add garlic to oil until browning begins. Add chicken and cook until half cooked. Add onions until they begin sweating. Add remaining vegetables and until almost done, covering if needed to speed up cooking. Turn up heat, add sauce and continue cooking and tossing until chicken is cooked and veggies are desired crispness. Serve over rice or noodles.

Redux Directions

Heat oven to 350F. In a small bowl combine ½ the oil, all the chili flakes, chili sauce, teriyaki sauce, orange juice and garlic. Set aside. Arrange onions in the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish. Season chicken with salt and arrange on top of the onions.  Pour sauce over chicken, making sure it runs over all the meat. Bake in oven for 45 minutes until juices run clear. Heat remaining oil in wok over medium high heat and toss until vegetables begin sweating. Turn heat to high. Draw about one cup of juices from the chicken dish and add to the vegetables. Toss the vegetables and sauce until they are done and the sauce thickens. Serve chicken, vegetables and sauce over a bed of rice or noodles.



Layered Chili Bake

This dish is a huge, gluttonous monstrosity. It is meant to be. I combined a couple of comfort foods into one dish. I will explain.

Big D makes chili and is really good at it. He uses three kinds of chilies – including powerful chipotles – along with onion, garlic, cumin and stew meat, as well as tomatoes, secret ingredients and sometimes some beer. He starts it in the morning in our well seasoned iron dutch oven. It simmers on the stove top all day, making the house smell like the Mexican restaurants I frequented when growing up in San Antonio. He stirs it, adds some of this and that, tastes it, stirs it some more. The result bursts with a smoky, spicy flavor that does not reveal its heat until about five bites into your meal. We always have leftovers that just don’t taste the same after they have been frozen, so there is always an urgency to eat it for days until it is all gone. I can eat bowl after bowl of it topped with cheese, sour cream and cornbread, but I get to a point when I look forward to the flavor, while also wanting some variety.

The other day we had some chili in the fridge, but I was craving a casserole. I was actually craving a casserole my mom used to make – layered enchiladas. I recall it had corn tortillas, ground beef, cheese, some mixture of sour cream and condensed soup, onions and tomatoes. My brother and I would gobble up a plate full of the casserole somewhere between school, soccer practice and homework. It was so good. I wanted the flavor of Big D’s chili and the texture of my mom’s casserole. I can do that. I know I can!

Necessity is the mother of invention, although there is debate as to who first made such a declaration. My craving necessitated a casserole, so I made one. This casserole adds some variety to our menu, freezes well, and stretches out a batch of chili.

Warning: Big D’s chili is usually thick and meaty, so if you try to use a watery canned chili I don’t want to know about it and cannot guarantee your results.

Layered Chili Bake

12-15 corn tortillas
1 cup salsa
4-6 cups leftover no bean chili (chili with beans should work, but control yourself and don’t add any separately)
2 cups sour cream

2 cups corn, cooked
2 cups cooked pinto or black beans
3-4 cups shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 9×11 casserole dish. Add 1/2 cup of the salsa in the bottom of the dish and cover with 4-6 tortillas. Make sure the bottom of the dish is completely covered by overlapping the tortillas. Use half of the chili to make an even layer on top of the tortillas. Follow the chili with half the sour cream, 1 cup corn, 1 cup beans and about a cup of cheese. Continue by repeating once again the layers, ending with a top layer of tortillas. Cover the top tortillas with the remaining salsa and cheese. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 10-20 minutes until hot and bubbly.




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