Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cumin

When you start out in the morning, it becomes much easier later in the day.

Usually I just buy whatever large chunk of meat is going for the least amount per pound. Beef or pork, boney or boneless, doesn't matter. Three or so pounds is enough for a good batch of about ten burritos or chimichangas.

Sear all sides in a dutch-oven-style pot with a lid. After it's seared I like to add a couple diced jalapenos and some broth or a small can, maybe four ounces, of cheap spicy Mexican tomato-chili sauce.

Put the lid on and stick it in a low-heat, maybe 275-300-degree oven for a good long while. Until it easily pulls apart with a fork. Three to six hours. While it cooks it releases juices and I thicken these by adding a chopped or finely-torn flour tortilla. Same size as the big ones I use for making the burritos.

When it's cooked I shred it up and add Mexican oregano, cumin, maybe some onion and garlic if not added during the slow-cooking, cilantro, a touch more of black pepper and good salt, and re-add the pot stuff, which is the tortilla all soaked up with the drippings.

Usually I let this all cool off a bit, then I warm up the tortillas a few at a time in the microwave oven for maybe twenty seconds, then I wrap them up. These last a couple days in the fridge; long enough for those days when I'm working back-to-back 12-hour shifts and I have no time for cooking or anything else around the house.

Mexican oregano is funkier than the Italian variety. But the ground cumin is the key. Not too much. But it's the essential flavor, the one that makes this Mexican and not just a great big meat egg roll.

If you deep-fry these you get chimichangas, naturally. The same filling in a little corn tortilla makes a kind of taco, but it's better if you make a rolled taco and then deep-fry that, making a crunchy flauta side-dish item. I like these with a salad that features greens, fresh little tomatos and sliced avocado.

Cumin is the key. A tortilla is just a crepe or an eggroll without a decent amount of cumin. And hot chilies, of course.

I have rather mistakenly referred to this stuff as "Mexican," when a better word for it would simply be "American," since this style of cooking preceded both the establishmant of the Spanish "Mexican" state and any-and-all "American" cooking styles, which generally were imported from Europe.

Barbecue is probably also a native cooking style.

2 comments:

Nurse2B said...

Yep, cumin, the key to my veggie chilli. Yumm.

may said...

can you mail some so i can actually taste it :)