Monday, November 16, 2009

Da Kine

Pinto beans
Brea, California, circa 1965. Aunt Donnie sorts soup beans on my grandmother's linoleum kitchen table. After separating out tiny clods of dirt, she sweeps the beans into the chipped, white enameled colander that I love so well. They get a good thorough rinsing before going into a big pot of water to soak.
 
As I sorted my own pinto beans this morning, sights, smells and sounds whisked me back to that kitchen so long, long ago. Memory after memory washed over me. Early morning tea (with milk and sugar for me) with my grandfather at that same table. Nimble hands rolling out buttermilk biscuit dough. Fried chicken popping and sizzling in the giant cast iron skillet that was too big for me to lift on my own. The beans clinking into my own colander tapped out a sonata of one family's legacy of formidable cooks. I am just one more link in an accomplished chain. Is it any wonder I'm a food blogger today?
 
How funny that something as simple as beans could cause me to stray into such nostalgia. But don't let my reminiscence fool you, this is a post about Mexican food!
 
Championship Week is in full throttle, but a girl's still gotta eat, and I have a quick fix that is healthy and yummy. Like every good southern California boy, I've long since made it a staple: rice & beans. Great sides with any Tex-Mex main dish. Wrapped in a warm flour tortilla with a little cheddar cheese, it's a meal in itself. Sitting in the line up with Matty O'Food back in the day, we would oft discuss what would be for dinner after we finished surfing. If we wanted something warm that would stick to the ribs, it was refried beans, and Mexican rice. We called it Da Kine Mex, and still do.
 
Mexican Rice - a recipe by Blog O. Food
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 8 oz water
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2½ Tbsp olive oil
Sizzling garlicStir in rice to coat with olive oil
Toasted riceAdd tomato sauce and water to rice and bring to boil
Fluff and serveMexican rice
 
Gringos try to complicate everything, but Mexican rice is so easy. Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. While the oil heats, thinly slice whole cloves of garlic. Once the oil is hot, add garlic to the pan and stir constantly. Just as the garlic starts to sizzle and turn color, add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Continue stirring the rice frequently to toast without burning individual kernels. Once the rice has a light toasted color, raise the heat to high, add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for five minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
 
Refried bean - a recipe by Blog O. Food*
  • 1 lb dry pinto beans, sorted, rinsed and soaked over night, and rinsed one more time
  • 8 oz ham hock
  • 1½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese, sliced
  • Salt to taste
Soak beans over nightDrain cooked beans and fry in olive oil
Mash some of the beans and add cheddar cheeseRefried beans
 
Bring a pot of soaked, rinsed pinto beans to a boil in lots of unseasoned water. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 90 minutes. Begin checking the beans for doneness after an hour. The last 30 minutes of cooking, add the ham hock. The joint adds a lot of flavor the beans. Allow beans cool in their own cooking liquid before draining. Move cooked beans to a sauté pan with hot olive oil. Use a masher or fork to break down some of the beans. When the beans are heated through, stir in cheddar cheese to melt thoroughly. Season to taste. If necessary, cook in batches. The more often that you re-fry the beans, the fuller and richer the flavor will become.
 
Mexican rice & refried beans
 
A one-cup serving of pinto beans has only about 240 calories. Combining beans with a whole grain like brown rice results in a complete dietary protein. Pinto beans contain 75% of a day's folate requirements, and are an excellent source of fiber. Studies indicate that men who include pinto beans and other high-fiber foods in their diet obtain as much as a 60-point drop in their total cholesterol.
 
When I'm starving, nothing is quicker or more delicious than to heat up some tortillas on a burner and roll them up with hot refried beans and rice. If I have an extra minute or two, I'll prepare them chimichanga style by frying the rolled burrito on an oiled griddle, then top with sour cream and hot sauce. A guilty pleasure. My stepmother always eschewed such pretense, preferring instead to take deep swaths of rice and beans with torn pieces of flour tortilla. She worked like a skilled backhoe operator! I would sit mesmerized admiring her economy of motion. She was no slouch, my stepmom.
 
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food
 
 
*With considerable help from generations of Mexican cooks

1 comment:

Matt said...

Attention Villa Venetians! Matty O'Food here. Da Kine Mex (named with tongue pressed firmly in cheek) is the stuff of legend. BOF and I have made it together roughly a million time and I have stolen the recipe for my own deviant needs. It is a tie that binds. I will someday teach this to my son, Oblio.