Hi hounds. You may have noticed that a couple of weeks ago I was contemplating cooking my way through one cookbook and got some great feedback and encouragement. Well, I decided on using Rick Bayless' Mexican Kitchen cookbook for the following reasons: a) I already own the book; b) I love to eat Mexican food but know very little about cooking it; c) I live near a few supermercados so should have adequate access to ingredients; and d) I need to try the margarita recipes!
Even though Bayless is a gringo, he has travelled all over Mexico and has eaten and cooked w/ many families along the way. He explicitly addresses the gringo issue in his intro, and I like his attitude and philosophy of culinary translation and his obvious respect for Mexican culture and cuisine. It sounds like while he is creating recipes adapted to the American milieu, he has tradition and authenticity in mind.
I don't really have a set game plan, and instead of being all academic and clinical about the thing, I have decided to just go w/ the flow and see what happens. One change that I'm making is to regularly stop in at my local mercado to familiarize myself w/ ingredients and the seasonal tides of produce. The staff seem super friendly, so I hope to get to know them and tap their brains as well. I'm also hoping that my 4 yrs. of high school Spanish can be recalled from long term memory and be sharpened. Another note is that I bought a couple bags of produce, spices, and meat and paid around $14...confirmation that ethnic markets can be so affordable. Sorry for the wordy intro, but cooking is more than just about the food for me, and I'm excited about this new adventure where I will undoubtedly meet many new characters along the way.
I eased into the book by making one of the easiest recipes in the book last night: "drunken" pintos w/ cilantro and bacon (frijoles borrachos). See link for recipe. I already had the beans and bacon, so it fell into place easily. I subbed in salt pork for pork shoulder, but otherwise followed the recipe. Served it w/ my own creations of grilled spice-rubbed pork and safflower-infused rice.
Flavor was wonderful. Earthy and not too smoky. Cilantro and tequila def. added brightness and piquancy. Jalapeno added subtle heat. Beans were creamy and soft but maintained some integrity. I like my beans a little more firm so will reduce cooking time a bit next time. Thanks for letting me share. Haven't decided on my next assignment, but will keep you posted.