Posted at 10:03 am by NativeNM, on August 20, 2021
I’ve only smoked meats a few times and while the outcome has always excelled my expectations, the method of using charcoal was difficult. Using charcoal to smoke is tiresome and difficult to regulate the temperature that you need to maintain over so many hours. After many month’s of debate with myself, I decided to get a pellet smoker. I did a lot of research and weighed the pros and cons before deciding on a Z-Grill. I’ve used it 3 times now and the meat has come out excellent, the cleanup has been fairly easy and has made the overall experience of smoking meats much more enjoyable. Recently my sister Kat gave me a bag of Gourmet Pistachio flavored pellets made here in New Mexico. I couldn’t wait to give it a try and thought smoked carnitas sounded so good using a pork butt roast with a red chile rub. I couldn’t have been more happy with the results. After 11 hours in the smoker, it reached the desired internal temperature of 203 degrees. I left it wrapped and set in a cooler to steam and rest for 2 additional hours. The moment I unwrapped the aluminum foil, the aroma of smoked pork permeated the kitchen. It smelled so good and we couldn’t wait to pick off a little piece to try. It was moist and tender and pulled apart so easily. The bark with all the spices is my favorite part. We set aside enough to make tacos and vacuum sealed the rest in half pound packages for the freezer. You can make so many meals with smoked carnitas. Try making tacos, taquitos, wraps, nachos, quesadillas, or a burrito bowl with rice and beans. Maybe I can convince anyone who is considering smoking meats that a pellet smoker is the way to go. It’s like a whole new level of cooking. I find it a fun experience from the first couple of hours when the aroma starts to infuse the air until the moment you take that first bite.
I haven’t had a cobb salad in ages They are traditionally made with a bed of romaine lettuce topped with sliced chicken breast, bacon bits, tomatoes, onions, avocado, hard boiled eggs and crumbled bleu cheese. I changed it up a bit to fit our tastes and substituted sliced green onions for the red onion and crumbled goat cheese for the bleu cheese. Joe suggested he would like deviled eggs instead of plain hard boiled eggs so that’s our twist on this classic salad. It tasted so good and with a simple vinaigrette drizzled over top. I prepped the eggs and bacon earlier in the day when it was cooler so as to avoid the afternoon heat. This salad was more than enough for the two of us plus leftovers for lunch the next day. Whether the idea of deviled eggs with a cobb salad sounds intriguing to your taste buds or not, cobb salad is a classic for a reason. You can take this tried and true recipe and change it up to make it your own.
As I was making the Blueberry Lavender Jam, I couldn’t think of anything better than to pair them with crepes. It’s been awhile since I’ve made crepes and thought to myself “what better time than now”. These crepes are so versatile and can be filled with sweet jam, cream cheese, or sprinkled with sugar. But as good as sweet crepes are, they are equally delicious with savory fillings. Crepes are so easy to make, the batter is quickly made in a blender and then swirled in a non-stick skillet with melted butter. Crepes are light but hold their shape and appear as if they are lace doilies on a plate. The crisp edges are my favorite part especially when they are freshly made. I’m including a recipe for Chicken Enchilada Crepes for a savory filling that you might enjoy. The filling includes chicken, cheese and a green chile bechamel sauce. It’s topped with the remaining cheese and bechamel sauce and then heated until it’s bubbling hot. It was a delicious savory meal that Joe and I enjoyed immensely. Crepes are so versatile for sweet or savory fillings, or even to enjoy with a sprinkle of sugar.
For the past few month’s I’ve been partnering with NM Dept. of Agriculture on a campaign to promote local New Mexico products. I try to come up with creative recipes using these products in ways that may seem “outside the box”. This week I tried a soup mix from Cibolo Junction and a dressing mix from Jillipepper. With the weather turning warmer soup isn’t ideal so I used the mix to make Braised Chicken and Rice. The ingredients list is light on the details but it includes different types of chiles, cilantro and lime with rice. It sounds Southwest but Joe and I both agreed that it had a lot of Cajun flavors going on. A possibility might be because I used less liquid and the flavors were enhanced. It was quite tasty and Joe (who loves Cajun dishes) really enjoyed it. This was paired with a simple salad on the side with Jillipepper’s Dress It mix. This dressing mix was one of the best things I’ve tried yet. I used it as a marinade for chicken, a dressing for pasta salad and had a little bit left over for our salads here. The one thing I’ve found is that using good local products helps our economy and can make our meals a bit easier to prepare. Of course I will always enjoy the meals made from scratch but it’s been fun trying out new things and tasting all the local products. Some products come from our local restaurants while others are entrepreneurships that have started out of one’s garden or kitchen. I’ve found some real gems that I would buy over and over again. Even if you don’t live in NM, maybe this will inspire you to try local products from your state that give you new and innovative ideas to incorporate them into your meals.
There’s a debate among New Mexicans whether red chile sauce tastes better made with chile powder or pods. I follow a facebook page for New Mexico recipes and learned that families love their red chile and will fiercely defend their method of making it. I’ve only made red chile with powder once before and it was gritty and I didn’t really like the texture. I’ve always preferred making a batch with pods by soaking them and then pureeing them in the blender. With pods you can strain them to remove all that pulp and peel. But after some time has gone by I’ve decided it was time to try powder again. I’m trying Tia Rita’s Home Style Enchilada Sauce that comes from Las Cruces in Southern NM. The ingredients listed are red chile, paprika, constarch, salt garlic, baking soda and oregano. That’s pretty close to the spices I would normally use so I gave it a try. The mix was quite easy and less messy. Just add water and simmer for 4 – 6 minutes. The texture was not quite as smooth as using pods but it wasn’t nearly as gritty as the powder I had used previously. We found it flavorful with just the right amount of heat for our palate. I made a plate of cheese enchiladas with beans and potatoes on the side and sopaipillas. The sopaipillas were made from the Desert Gardens Sopaipilla and Fry Bread Mix. I made fry bread for my Indian tacos and saved the rest of the dough for sopaipillas. The remaining dough made 6 sopaipillas which was perfect alongside our enchiladas. They tasted so good with a drizzle of honey. So the debate goes on whether red chile is better with powder or pods. I’d advise anyone to try both methods and decide for yourself!
I usually stay away from fried foods but when it comes to fry bread I will always make an exception. Lets face it, you just can’t make that crispy airy bread any other way. And one of the best ways to eat fry bread is to make Indian tacos aka Navajo tacos. This past year with Covid we’ve been ordering takeout instead of eating inside and I haven’t had an Indian taco from a restaurant in over a year. It tastes so much better when it’s fresh and comes out to the table warm and crisp. So I decided to make them at home and I have to say they tasted pretty darn good! The fry bread was a simple prep courtesy of Desert Gardens Fry Bread mix. Just add water, stir and let sit for 10 minutes. I used half the dough and placed the rest in the fridge to make sopaipillas the next day. For the toppings I browned ground beef and added beans and green chile. It tasted so good along with lettuce, cheese, tomato and onion. The one thing I would do is make smaller portions next time. These turned out huge and way more than we could eat but every bite was delicious!
Recently I spent a weekend roasting a chicken and pickling some radishes to make some of the tastiest Mojo tacos around. Have you seen the spatchcock chickens that everyone is grilling these days? I think they look amazing! Mojo chicken can be described as chicken that’s been marinated in orange and lime juice along with garlic and herbs. Making it spatchcock allowed the chicken to lay flat on the grill and cook evenly. The chicken turned out tender, juicy and full of flavor. A whole chicken for 2 people makes a lot of meals; there was enough chicken for tacos along with some wraps, a pot of soup and sandwiches. The tacos can have any number of toppings, I chose some picked radish mix along with cilantro, avocado and crumbled fresco cheese I splurged and picked up some street tortillas in corn and flour that are smaller but fun to eat. We enjoyed these little street tacos with salsa and chips and called it a meal. They tasted like we got them off a taco truck!
Posted at 9:11 am by NativeNM, on February 12, 2021
Southwest Chicken Salad also referred to as a Santa Fe Chicken Salad is a healthy alternative for dinner that is loaded with flavors. It’s a popular salad that can be made at home to taste just as good or even better than your favorite restaurant. Nearly always you will find a bed of greens topped with grilled chicken, corn and black beans along with avocado, tomatoes and cheese. These are things that most of us already have in our pantry or refrigerator. The toppings vary and you can always add or leave out ingredients that work for you. The salad dressing is a personal choice but there are many recipes for dressings that enhance the flavors of this salad. I chose a chipotle ranch dressing that paired well with all the toppings and gave it a spicy kick. If you have some or all of these ingredients handy, you too could put together a salad for dinner that is scrumptious and healthy which is ways a plus! Continue reading →
Posted at 9:51 am by NativeNM, on February 5, 2021
Salad is the side dish that we have most often, it goes with almost everything. I miss going out to restaurants and getting those great salads with the house made dressings. They are always so good and you just can’t replicate the same taste from a store bought dressing. So lately I’ve been making more homemade dressings in small batches so that can change it up without taking up too much space in the fridge. One of my favorite salads is the ever popular Caesar salad, however it’s taken some time experimenting with recipes that tastes like the dressing you might eat at a restaurant, or takeout as we do these days. I found a recipe from “Culinary Hill” that checks all the boxes, simple to make, tastes great and no anchovies! I tweaked it a little bit and now it’s my go to Caesar dressing. Once you have a good salad dressing, the rest is simple. Romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese and croutons complete the salad. So what has kept this salad so popular over the decades, it’s the dressing of course! Continue reading →
Posted at 2:10 pm by NativeNM, on January 20, 2021
One of my favorite ways to dress up a pork chop is to add chimichurri. Pork chops don’t have to be dry and bland. By adding a simple marinade and a flavorful topping, pork chops can be a most appealing meal. The chimichurri is the star of this recipe, made with the flavors of red chile and lime. This combination is second to none with fresh herbs, red chile pistachios and queso fresco cheese. Once the pork has marinated this meal can be prepared in 15 minutes. The chimichurri provided flavor, texture and spice which tasted so good with the grilled pork. To complete this meal serve alongside a baked potato and garden salad. Pork chops never tasted so good! Continue reading →