Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de mayo

Happy Cinco de mayo! I hope you're all enjoying commemorating Mexico's victorious battle against French imperialism. In Mexico this is a great excuse to drink a lot and in Chicago it's an opportunity to drive around the loop honking like crazy and waving gigantic Mexican flags out the window. (Actually Mexican Independence Day, September 16th, is an occasion for the same). Here in Italy, I miss the downtown revelry so I made myself some Tequila-Drunken Pinto Beans with Cilantro and Bacon. El plato es muy bueno y sencillo. Asi se hace:

***By the way, I took this recipe from the "Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen" cookbook, then changed it a bit. For a guy who used to look like a Mormon boy scout ###, Chicago star chef, Rick Bayless really knows Mexican food. He seems to be on a mission to raise Mexican food to it's well-deserved level of "world-class cuisine" that deserves as much reverence as French or Italian. No Eurocentrism here! Any non-Bayless recipe I've ever seen that includes oregano has specified, "preferably Greek"; he always adds "preferably Mexican".

###You may have noticed that in this current edition of the book, they've made him over to look more like a Mormon beatnik.

1 generous cup dry pintos (soaked overnight in cold water)
4 ozs cubed pork shoulder
4 ozs bacon or pancetta
1 small onion finely diced
1 jalapeno finely chopped (with or without hot inner ribs and seeds-your choice)
salt to taste
tequila for drizzling on the finished dish
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 cup rice (I like arborio for this)
2 cups water

Put the beans in a medium saucepan with the pork shoulder and cover with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil then cover and lower heat to medium-low to simmer. Simmer for about 2 hours or until the beans are very tender. If the lid is not very tight, you may need to add water periodically to keep the level about 1/2 inch above the beans. Music to boil beans by: Chicago artist, Liz Phair's "Cinco de Mayo" on her album, "Whip-smart".

Once the beans are tender, fry the bacon slowly over medium low heat so that it renders a lot of its oil and becomes thoroughly brown and crispy. About 10 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and add the onion and jalapeno to the bacon grease. (Mmm... bacon grease...) Fry until golden brown. Add to the beans. Salt the beans to taste. The liquid of the beans should have a creamy texture. If it's too thin, mash some beans on the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. That'll thicken it up.

Keep cooking the beans over low heat to blend the flavors while you make some rice. Add the rice and water to another medium saucepan and bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes depending on the type of rice you use. Arborio has a warm stick-to-your-ribs quality that goes really well with this Mexican bean dish. It is especially good the next day placed in a small, non-stick frying pan with a little oil and made crispy on the top and bottom.

Plate the rice and ladle some beans on the side. Sprinkle some cilantro on top, then some of the reserved bacon. Finally add about 1 teaspoon of tequila to the beans and enjoy!


Blogger Unknown said...

Yum that looks delicious! If I wasn't feeling so crappy, I think I might have done that myself. Well another day... I miss burritos and tacos at time, especially fish tacos... YUM!

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great sounding dish (and I like the name too). Let's see, on May 5th all I can say is that I was tequila-drunken. Ouch... thank goodness for weekends to recover from it all. ;-)

10:18 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Expat, They don't have burritos or tacos in Canada? That's a shame.

Rowena, I got tipsy on a very large Tequila sunrise at "aperitivo" time. Hope you're feeling better. For my money, there's nothing like a big Tex-Mex breakfast to get you going after a night out on the town.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Susan, thanks so much for the Cinco de Mayo reminder. My Pilates teacher is from Mexico originally and I would love to wish her (albeit belatedly) and find out what she had on her table that day.

Mmmmmmm and this sounds like a really good dish to try, so I am going to write it down for when I buy pinto beans next.

Oh, and I LOVE Liz Phair!!!

4:07 PM  
Blogger Tracie P. said...

oh my god you're killing me. you really don't know how much i miss mexican food. i also used to watch rick bayless on pbs. loved his show, although he is a little wacky.

have you ever heard of fonda san miguel? probably not, but it's a fantastic interior mexican restaurant (my favorite!) in austin that's been around for about 20 years. the food is fantastic and they just released a cookbook. my friend gave it to me for xmas and i was able to make a few things while i was in texas--the recipes are great and the results are heavenly.

btw (re your comment on my blog)--there are indians here, but naples isn't a very culinarily adventurous city, generally speaking. in fact, there is a large chinese population too (and restaurants), but i have never met a neapolitan who likes chinese food. what does this tell me? that the chinese restaurants here aren't good. chinese food is wonderful--if the food were high quality i would surely find someone who liked it. anyway, i doubt the situation is better for indian food here. maybe i'm a pessimist, but if anyone has a good recommendation for napoli, please share!

5:43 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Lotus, Yay! Another Liz Phair fan. Have you heard her latest release? If so, what do you think of it? I'd like to know.

Tracie, I've wanted to go to Austin ever since the movie, Slackers. The Chinese restaurants upo here are usually not all that great either. But I have a good friend up here from Naples who loves Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese food. I'll ask her if she has any restaurant suggestions for you.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Susan!

Ahh, no, I haven't heard Liz Phair's latest release yet, but as soon as I do, I will let you know. I used to listen to her music a lot when I had membership to Yahoo Launch Plus...maybe I should renew it. I'm assuming you've heard it - is it very different from her usual work?

1:56 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Lotus, No I haven't heard it. I used to be really up on all thin gs musical and now I'm just not. I need an MP3 player to get me back into the swing of things.

1:19 PM  

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