Father´s Day Asado

Almost a month ago my dad had a stroke, it was the day after my birthday, as soon as we found out my sisters and I didn´t hesitate to run to our hometown, to be there with him and our mum. So, together, as a family, we made it, my dad has almost fully recovered and he is very keen to take the most out of this second chance life has given him. So, last weekend we came over again to celebrate father´s day with him. Indeed, it was a very meaningful celebration.

For this weekend, one of my sisters decided that we should feast as we always do on special occasions, throwing a massive asado (or “carne asada”, as we know it here in Mexico).

Ribs, picanha, and more meat... plain and simple

Ribs, picanha, and more meat… plain and simple

We used a charcoal grill, medium high heat, only using half of the cooking surface. This turned out to be a great idea as we usually just spread the heat all along the grill, in order to use all the cooking surface. However by doing this we were able to cook perfectly the pieces of meat and the rest of the veggies without burning them. Start by putting some jalapenos and tomatoes on the grill until they burn, later we place them on a mortar and make a salsa out of it. Wrapped in tin foil we placed some potatoes and onions really close to the fire, we want all the heat on them as they take longer to cook.

Let those jalapenos burn,  and destroy in that mortar, add some caramelized onions to the salsa and a splash of lime juice.

Let those jalapenos burn, and destroy in that mortar, add some caramelized onions to the salsa and a splash of lime juice.

Finally, for the “piece de resistance“, this time we had beef ribs, some fillets, and a 1.5 kg piece of picaña (which comes from the top back part of the cow). For the picaña (or picanha), the meat had to be scored first, it has a thick layer of fat, and you want the scoring not to get all the way to the meat but to be slightly deep, as you will be rubbing the whole piece with pepper and salt. Asado 3 My strategy is simple, put it on the fire, and let it cook on the surface, when you reckon it has a nice colour on the outside put the meat away from direct fire and close to grill´s lid, we are going for a medium level of doneness,  lots of juices and a beautiful pink in its core. The whole asado takes around 1.5 hours to 2 hours to cook, including the meat, ribs, vegetables, salsa and sides. Asado 4Indirect grilling turned out to be a fascinating technique, as it allows the meat to cook evenly, but without burning it, giving you more control during the process. Certainly the result was outstanding and it was the best way to celebrate not only Father’s day but also the successful recovery of my dad, he is getting there and we couldn’t be happier.

Beautiful indeed...

Beautiful indeed…

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Pork Rib Roast – The Musical

This one isn’t an easy recipe, turns out that for great dishes and outstanding flavours sometimes we have to be patient and take our time.

So, get your oven tray ready, turn on the heat, sharpen your knives and let’s get kraken with this.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 kilograms of Loin rack Joint
  • Half a litre of white wine
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 10 white small potatoes
  • A good bunch of fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

Let’s find the meat. Go to your favourite butcher, I know I have mine, and ask him for a good piece of Loin rack Joint (use the previous image for life changing purposes), tell the lad to leave the fat on, (always leave the fat on), take it to your kitchen counter, ready? Now let the magic begin.

First remove the membrane that comes on top of the ribs, this will make the meat really tender while cooking it. Ready? Sweet, now score the meat on the other side, you want the salt and the pepper to really get into that layer of fat.

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Now place the white potatoes, in halves, the thyme, pepper, salt and the garlic cloves on the cooking tray. This will look like a potatoe bed where you will place the ribs on, fat up.

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Pour 300 ml of the wine on the tray, cover the meat with tin foil, and put that baby inside the preheated oven, now leave it there for 1.5 hours at 180 degrees Celsius.

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1.5 hours are gone, take the tray out of the oven, remove the tin foil and put the pork back in. The meat is now cooked but we want that fat to turn into a beautiful golden crust. Leave it there for 35 more minutes, after that, place the piece of meat on a wooden board and let it rest for good 5 minutes, you want those juices to get evenly distributed. In the meantime, take that tray and pour the rest of the wine, deglaze that bastard, use a whisker to scratch those flavours out the tray.

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Get a good knife, and cut the pork into slices according to each rib, now plate, pour that gravy on and it is done. Enjoy it with a chilled white wine or a really good Pilsner.

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Hot Wings and Beer

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That’s, I reckon, the best title I’ve ever come up with for any of my posts in this blog. The reason for today’s topic is plain and simple, Hot Wings and Beer are awesome (it’s in the bible, look it up)

Beautiful

Beautiful

Here in Mexico City we tend to go for wings every other Wednesday, and when I say “we”, I mean my mates from my hometown who live here and sometimes we bring a special guest. This sort of tradition began with my friends up north in Monterrey, most of them from my hometown, Tampico, used to get together every Wednesday. The day was chosen not because we love Wednesdays, but because of the specials they have that day at this restaurant (Wings Army), you order 20 hot wings they bring you 30. This place, Wings Army, besides serving great wings, also has a wide variety of national and international beers, which is awesome. From the local brews, to artisan beer, all the way to Cuban or great German beer. The place has it all.

Literally, from everywhere, except, you know... North Korea

Literally, from everywhere, except, you know… North Korea

I must admit I don´t really know how they do it, how they cook these wings to perfection, I’ve tried at home and the result is not disappointing but just “not the same”. I’m not going to explain how to cook the perfect wings, or what to look in a hot wings joint. This is just a reminder that there are some things that other do better, and we should appreciate them and munch our way through.

What other dishes you’d love to cook at home but just don’t turn out as good as your favourite food joint cooks them?

Ps, Oh, by the way, do you know that this guy in Guadalajara registered the “Duff Beer” and branded the bottles to commercialize this brew.

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Punta Mita – Mexico

As it turned out, what I just needed were some days off, close to a Mexican beach, going for long walks, a beer as cold as my ex`s heart (or cold dead as William Shatner`s career), enjoying my home country’s cuisine, and celebrating the marriage of two great friends.

Pic taken while going for a morning walk

Pic taken while going for a morning walk

Punta Mita is an hour flight away from Mexico City (or, if you happen to be a bad holiday planners as me, a 12 hours bus drive). When you get to Puerto Vallarta, just walk a few blocks from the bus station to the bus stop, and take the “Punta Mita” local bus, it’s only a 45 minute trip (don’t you worry, it’s says “Punta Mita” on it, hard to miss).

I stayed at“El Coral” hotel, which is fine, around USD60 a single bedroom, or USD 110 for a double (sounds weird, but go for the double if you are more than 3 people). And the food, my friends, the food is efing amazing, the restaurant isn`t that flashy, the kitchen looks dodgy (but they are so friendly, they even let me cook with them), and most people get there because it’s right where the boats leave to the “Marietas”, but it is fantastic.

Not Islas Marietas, but some other islands close to Marietas

Not Islas Marietas, but some other islands close to Marietas

I’m from the Gulf of Mexico, so the ocean there is quite tame, with soft waves and refreshing breeze; but this is the Pacific, the water breaks against the reefs, the waves storm on the shore pulling the sand back into the ocean which such ferocity it is sort of intimidating even for experienced swimmers like me. The seafood is different, the shrimps, lobsters, fish and oysters are bigger, making any seafood platter you order here look voluptuous, massive and awesome (or, like John Key might even refer to these specimens as “tantalizing”, while stroking any wee Mexican girl’s pony tail). Unlike the seafood from my hometown, aye, seafood is bigger, but the flavours from the Gulf are sweeter and, honestly, more delicious.

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However, the food was outstanding, like the “Pescado Zarandeado”, or “Pulpo a la plancha”, or the fresher oysters I`ve ever tasted. Literally, I was just hanging out at the restaurant and this fisherman gets out of his boat carrying a bag full of oyster he just got out of the ocean. Without hesitation I told my waiter “I want a dozen of whatever he`s carrying in that bag”. 15 minutes later, he arrived with a platter of delicious oyster, fresh, sweet and massive.

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What about the wedding? It was beautiful. My mates looked like coastal royalty, and the venue was fabulous. They said yes to each other while the sun was setting in the background, and we couldn´t resist but to let a wee “awwww”.

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Anyway, just wanted to post some pics of this weekend off, mates, if you are really keen to visit a magical place, take some time off and get your arses to Punta Mita, you won’t regret it.

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