There is a young lady in my office, let's call her WKG. She is a bold young woman. She moved to the city when she was 18 or so (just like me), very independent. She is quite pretty and sassy. She makes up funny words like 'fabulocity' and has fresh nicknames for some of the VPs, which make the rest of us blush, because she somehow gets away with all this brashness. She adds a refreshing air to our office.
She is Mexican and originally from El Paso. We were talking recently about Mexican food because I love it, and she knows how to make it. We have recently been making tacos often at home. But I have been unhappy with it. It requires a lot of effort, dishes and it makes a mess. My gut said it should be easier. WKG agreed. She told me to take some shredded meat-anything beef, chicken or pork and make some salsa and add some radishes (radishes??) and wrap it in a soft corn tortilla. Sounds good to me, and a lot easier than the fixings I usually make which includes putting the rice and beans INSIDE the taco and then it's so full it is spilling out the sides. (My dear friend TQ, who supplied that amazing salsa recipe last week, is clutching her chest right now in horror.)
So what about that rice, I asked WKG. How the heck do you make that unctuous red rice I always get in Mexican restaurants. I have made some crummy versions, but it never turns out right. WKG told me her secrets and it included white rice and canned tomato sauce and bouillon. I said to her-you know? I bet I can make this with all fresh ingredients and brown rice and it would taste just as good. She wasn't so sure-that wasn't the way her mother made it. I told her to give me a shot and - would let her know how it went. So here is what I did.
I took one cup of brown rice and sauteed it in a large skillet with a lid in some butter, about 1 and a half tablespoons. When the rice turned golden I threw in 2 medium chopped tomatoes and half of a diced medium sized onion. I would have added some garlic too, but I was out. Instead I added granulated garlic and some salt and pepper. I let that cook for a couple minutes all the while stirring the rice. I added 2 1/2 cups of water and a half a teaspoon of the bouillon paste I always use in place of homemade broth. After it came back to a boil, I put the heat on low and put the lid on and let it cook for about 45 minutes until the rice was fully tender.
Earlier in the day I made the salsa while the kiddies slept. I had a glorious collection of tomatoes, one green heirloom tomato that was ripe and green, not just unripe. I also had yellow as well as orange cherry tomatoes, and I had standard red tomatoes. To make my salsa I chopped all these tomatoes and marinated them with chopped cilantro, lime juice and a little flavorless oil. I used organic sunflower oil. I also added half of a MINCED (and I mean minced) habanero pepper that I roasted off the skin over my stove's burner. I let it all marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours. It looked like candy all mixed up.
For the tacos I just took some leftover pork from a pork butt that I made in the crock pot earlier in the week. The pieces that were left were super fatty. So I trimmed most of the fat off and threw the chunks into a dry skillet. The fat melted off immediately and crisped up the pork nicely. I did just as WKG recommended. I chopped up some CSA radishes, had my tomato salad/ salsa and some sliced avocado all wrapped up in some sprouted corn tortillas. And the rice? It was wicked. It tasted just like the restaurant versions I have loved, but somehow better. It was saucy instead of dry. It was deliciously salty, a great accompaniment to the tacos. In the picture I have poured some yogurt over the rice. I am no longer buying sour cream. It tastes just like yogurt to me, and yogurt I feel is more nutritious anyway. One less thing to buy.
What an awesome dinner. The kind that you just don't ever want to end. Thanks TQ and WKG for the inspiration and recipes. These are total keepers I think I can finally retire the over stuffed tacos.
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