Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Mexican Getaway...

...Day Two.
New York City sunriseIt was glorious Sunday, nearly 60°. Folks were running around as if it were a balmy day in May. I was out there myself most of the day, the heavy coat left in the hall closet, my favorite Samuel O'Reilly's hoody a perfectly adequate substitute. I hit the bookstands at the Botanical Garden shop, ran errands I'd put off because of the weather, watched a pick-up game of touch football in the school yard.

I didn't even think about what to do for dinner, and do you want to know why? Because it's Sunday, and what do we do on Sundays around here? Leftovers, that's what, or haven't you been paying attention.

Well, there was plenty of shredded pork from Saturday to make at least one more dinner, and probably a couple of lunches as well. So, I says to myself, "Self," I says, "how 'bout some tasty pork tostadas tonight?" I said it just like that! And here we are.
Tostadas started life as an economical way of saving stale tortillas from going to waste. Now, they're rock stars in their own right and like many dishes of humble origin, have evolved into almost unrecognizable celebrities. Since you all know I'm never one to put on airs (ahem), we'll be staying true to our Mexican roots. Here's what you'll need for BOF's authentic pork tostadas:

Vegetable or peanut oil
Corn tortillas
Black beans
Shredded pork
Red onion
Queso fresco

Sorting dry black beans
Soaking Black beans
Start with dried black beans. Sort through them, picking out any foreign objects, i.e. small stones, soil particles, etc., that you wouldn't care to eat. My grandparents always seemed to have a big pot of beans on the stove during my childhood, and I can still see my Aunt Donnie picking through pinto beans on an old Formica table. Rinse your beans prior to cooking as an added precaution. Now soak your beans: To ½-lb of dry beans, add 3-4 cups of hot water. Boil for 2 minutes, then set aside for one hour. Drain and rinse the beans one more time.
Soaked & drained black beans>
Cooking Black beans
Black bean ingredientsChopped onion
  • ½-lb soaked beans
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½-cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp dry cumin
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cooking until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Add soaked, rinsed beans and 4 cups of water or stock to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 3 hours. The house is gonna smell like a holiday with the cider vinegar wafting through the air. Once they are of soft, remove the beans from the heat but keep covered.

Add 1 tsp dried oreganoAdd 1 tsp ground cuminAdd 4 cups liquid to beans
Tostada assembly
Frying corn tortilla in peanut oilHeat about ¼ inch of peanut oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat for the tortillas. Fry one tortilla at a time in the hot oil, flipping a couple of times until they are slightly crisp, but still just pliable. Drain them on paper towels.

Spread a thin layer of black beans almost to the edge of a fried tortilla. Next pile warm shredded pork on top of the beans. Add a couple of slices of ripe, soft avocado. Sprinkle with diced red onion, chopped cilantro and crumbled queso fresco. If you fancy a little extra heat, go for a dash or two of your favorite hot sauce.
Spread black beans on a crisp corn tortillaPile shredded pork on top of black beans
Add avocado slices, red onion and cilantroTop with crumbled queso fresco
Pork & black bean tostadaMy father sometimes reads this blog, so I pledged never to swear in my writing, but holy smokes, this was no peasant meal. There was so much going on. I have to admit to cheating by adding a little of last night's reduction to the pork as I warmed it up on the stove. What an addition. Rich, sharp sweetness from the leftover pork; a nutty base note from the black beans and that tablespoon of cider vinegar would have been missed had it been omitted. Queso fresco has a saltiness and tang that should only be combined with raw onion and fresh cilantro. It all came together like... like a firework display on the 4th of July Cinco de Mayo.

I'm embarrassed to admit this publicly, but anyone who can cook this good ought to be able to quit his day job in exchange for a gig as executive chef on a Mediterranean yacht or at a Deer Valley ski lodge.
Pork & black bean tostada and wine glassThis is one dish that qualifies as a snack, appetizer, or meal in itself. I wouldn't serve a side unless one considers a frosty cold Mexican beer or glass of wine a side, in which case, go for seconds! Because I just can't help myself, I opened a bottle of 2 Brothers '05 Cabernet Sauvignon. 2 Brothers is the reserve label for Big Tattoo Wines. Theirs is a touching story and one that you should take a moment to learn. What's that? Oh, the wine, you say.
2 Brothers 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon wine labelWell, it's a young wine. I don't think any Cab should be opened before its 10th birthday, but not many winemakers can afford to age Cabernet for any length of time anymore, and so blending &  barreling tricks are employed to move the grape along. The nose or bouquet is what usually gives a young wine away for me. Vintner sleight of hand cannot mask the alcohol in a young wine. It can remind one of a trip to the free clinic. Still, 2 Brothers, I must say, has put out a very excellent reserve Cabernet. Once it opened up (about an hour after removing the cork), there were deep, black cherry and ripe red fruit aromas in the nose. A rich, full-bodied structure in the mouth with lots of ripe plum gave way to tobacco and a raw vanilla finish. I was frankly surprised at the complexity from such a young vineyard. And to think I shelled out 13 bucks for the bottle. Well, that made it all the better.
I have to tell you, it has been one rewarding weekend. The next time someone turns their nose up at your grandmother's handed-down recipes, or shows contempt for that hole-in-the-wall diner you love so well, point them to this blog entry, and politely suggest they pull their head out.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

1 comment:

Matt said...

Mexican food and tattoo paraphernalia, this is my kinda party!