For today's shopping challenge, my mother asked, "can you get a pound of beef cheeks?" So on the way home, we tried to find a carniceria/taqueria combo that might sell prepared meats by the pount. I struck out at the first two butcher shops we tried, then I got the bright idea of making a stop at the newish supermercado, Mi Pueblo on the corner of Sanborn and E. Alisal.
Mom hadn't been in here before. She commented that when it was Safeway, she was in here just about every other day of her working life. When she stepped in the door, her eyes got very wide with wonder at the transformation. This is a beautiful, well-stocked store.
We wandered over to the "Deli-Mex" counter to see what types of cooked carnes might be available. No beef cheeks, but a huge mountain of carnitas of every shape and cut ($5.99/lb.) for the choosing. And next to it was an even bigger pile of chicharrones, just the pork rinds or with meat. What a time to be without my camera! The chunks of meat, offal, rind, and riblets were intertwined with a cebollito here and there and roasted jalapeños for a spot of green. Contrary to my own preference, my mother wanted a softer and not as crispy piece that would be easy to chew. With much pointing, the counter helper got her tongs on just the right chunk of fatty carnitas from the butt.
A case of hot stew-y foods had trocitos en salsa verde (chile verde), tinga de pollo, res y papas, and many other choices. I pointed out the beef tongue in red sauce ($3.99) to my mother and asked if that would suit her instead of the beef cheeks. We tried a half pound, ladled into a styro cup then sealed in plastic.
These made up our dinner tonight. Dad especially liked the lengua. Near inch size cubes of soft tongue are bathed in a mildly piquant red salsa that he enjoyed with some rice. The carnitas proved to be as tender and moist as they looked and very tasty.
My mother has her eye on the roast chicken special and the fried-to-order fish for her next visit.
Mi Pueblo Food Center
950 E Alisal St
Salinas, CA 93905
Other locations in Watsonville, Modesto, San Jose, Mountain View, Hayward, and Oakland.