Tag Archives: Mexican

How to Forget the Hostile Climate You Live In (Sans Alcohol): Sweet Potato Enchilada Skillet

Sweet Potato & Enchilada Skillet
People. I pray you are not in Chicago. It is barricade-yourself-in-your-home-and-drink-red-wine-to-stay-warm kind of cold here. The reality of the Midwestern winter was put into brutal perspective for me after this weekend, which I spent in sunny, happy, these-people-must-be-on-meds-they-smile-so-much Austin, TX. This is a land where the weather hung out in the indisputably blissful 70s throughout the entirety of my visit. Then, I boarded a plane. Then, a mere two hours later, I landed in Chicago aka Iceland. As soon as the plane doors were opened to release us into Iceland, the savage air pushed its way in and we could all see our breath. WHILE WE WERE STILL ON THE PLANE. This has never happened to me.

It was 7 degrees. That’s over a 60 degree drop! Are you getting the picture? Are you understanding my need for drug-like foods so hot, steamy and yummy they just might make you forget about the next few months of pain that lie ahead? Ok, good. This brings me to my latest concoction, which I have made not one, but three times in the past month. It’s crave-inducing, a snap to make and uber healthy. It will make you forget the snow piling up outside your door. Especially if you pair it with margaritas, as we did during its latest showing at a dear friend’s dinner party.
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Veggie-Heavy Black Bean Chili with Dark Ale

Chicago’s fleeting spring weather took a turn for the worse earlier this week, and I found myself craving a pot of warming chili after a particularly violent battle with the wind on my way home. Hence, I go from Spring Soba Noodles to this hearty meal. The generous amounts of vegetables do make for a somewhat lighter chili. Make sure to really go for it with the garnishes of cilantro, lime juice, and queso fresco – they truly make the dish. I also served this with my favorite cornbread – 101 Cookbook’s Firecracker Cornbread.

Veggie-Heavy Black Bean Chili with Dark Ale
Serves 4

The Beans
1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight (or two 14 oz cans)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
few pinches of dried Mexican oregano (if using dried black beans)

The Chili
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into a 1/4″ dice
7 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 large red bell pepper, diced
12 oz dark ale
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
juice of half a lime

The Garnishes
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
crumbled queso fresco
lime wedges

1.) If using dried beans – Drain from soaking liquid, place in a large saucepan, and cover with an ample amount of cold water. Add a few pinches of Mexican oregano, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until beans are tender, but still quite firm to the bite, as you will finish cooking them alongside the rest of the ingredients; about 30-50 minutes, depending on how old your beans are. Season with the salt after the first 30 minutes. When beans are nearly cooked through, drain, and set aside.

2.) Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic, chiles, cumin, and a few pinches of salt, and saute for 5 minutes more. Add bell pepper and saute for 5 more minutes; until your ingredients have taken on a delicious golden hue and your kitchen is aromatic.

3.) Stir in beans, ale, tomatoes, and corn. Bring chili to a boil, and reduce heat to low and simmer gently for about 45 minutes; until thickened slightly. It is important that you are, indeed, simmering the beans (a few bubbles gently rising to the surface), and not boiling them, as this will cause your beans to split open. When finished cooking, taste for salt and season with more, if necessary. If the beans taste flat, don’t fret – they just need more salt. Stir in the lime juice.

4.) To serve, garnish with generous amounts of cilantro, queso fresco, and pass additional lime wedges around the table.

Smoky Ancho Chile Pork & Hominy Stew

A smoky, intoxicating stew of pork, hominy, bell pepper, chile, and loads of garlic and onions. Restorative in its hearty goodness.

Cowboy’s contribution to this dinner was throwing one of his records into the background of the photo. Pretty cool, huh? He was proud.

Smoky Ancho Chile Pork and Hominy Stew

2 tablespoons mild-flavored olive oil
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons dried New Mexican Oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
3 cups yellow onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
14 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
28 oz can hominy
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1.) Mix all spices in a ziploc bag. Add pork, twist top, and shake to coat.

2.) Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add pork and saute 4-7 minutes; until lightly browned. Remove from pan with tongs and set aside.

3.) Add a splash more of oil to the pot, add onion, and saute for 15 minutes; until soft and beginning to turn golden.

4.) Add garlic and pepper and saute for 7 more minutes.

5.) Add hominy to pan and stir to coat. Then add tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.


Having not an inkling of an idea as to what posole was prior to Heidi’s post on the subject over at 101 Cookbooks, I was instantly intrigued by the look of these beguiling little flowering kernels of corn.  Posole is whole corn kernels that have been soaked in lime juice.  The acid from the lime loosens the skin of the kernel, which is then scrubbed off, and then the corn is dried, which is how you buy it in stores.  For those of you that are as obsessed with the comforting ancient Mexican goodness of masa harina, corn tortillas, and tamales as I am, you’ll want to try this.  A bowl of hearty, uncomplicated, nutritious ingredients for dinner.

Though I was unable to find a single bag of posole at my usual stops (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s… duh), I ordered a few bags (oh, alright, and some other goodies) from The Native Seed, a great little operation running out of Tuscon, AZ that stocks heirloom beans, chile powders, salsas, grains, and numerous other Southwestern delights.

Though Cowboy was somewhat put off by the idea of posole for dinner (“What’s in it again?  Just corn?  No other vegetables?  No MEAT?”) he quieted down and let me do my thing in the kitch for a few hours.  He was pleasantly surprised, and ended up digging the dinner.  We’re both obsessed with posole now!

Red Posole


1 lb. dried hominy (soaked overnight)
1 cup diced onion
5 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 heaping teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
3 large dried red New Mexican chile peppers, halved, stems & most of the seeds removed (I left a few in for a more mellow taste)
3 teaspoons sea salt
lime juice, to taste
crumbled queso fresco or, alternately, parmesan, for garnish

Red Sauce

1 tablespoons mild-flavored olive oil
2 tablespoons onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/1 teaspoon dried New Mexican oregano
1 tablespoons unbleached white flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup ground red New Mexican Chile chile
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
juice from a quarter of one lime

Corn Tortilla Strips

3 or 4 corn tortillas
a little mild flavored olive oil, for frying

1.) Drain the posole after its overnight soaking, place it in a large pot along with the onion, garlic, oregano, and peppers, and cover with 3 ½ quarts water.

2.) Bring to a boil, and simmer until the posole is tender, but still retains a substantial, pleasantly chewy texture, and many of the kernels have literally flowered, and other burst into popcorn-esque shapes.  Depending on the age of your posole, this can take anywhere from 1-2 hours.

3.) Season with a couple teaspoons of salt about halfway through the cooking process. Season again once the posole is fully cooked.

4.) While the posole is cooking, make the red sauce.  In a medium bow, whisk the ground chile into 1 ¼ cups water.

5.) Heat olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over a medium flame.  When hot, add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes, until they have begun to brown.

6.) Add the onion, garlic, and oregano, and sauté a few minutes more.

7.)Add the flour and cumin, and stir continuously for another minute or so.

8.) Whisk the chile water into the saucepan, and then continue stirring with a wooden spoon until it thickens a little.

9.) Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minute.

10.)               Stir in lime juice, and season with a bit more salt if you’d like.

11.)                Make friend corn tortilla strips for garnish while posole is still cooking.  Brush 3 or 4 corn tortillas with a bit of olive oil.  Cut thin strips across 5 or 6 corn tortillas, halving the longer strips.  Fry strips in a nonstick pan over a medium flame until stiffened and yummy.

12.)               When the posole has finally burst into beautiful little balls of popcorn and flowers, stir ½ cup of the smoky yummy red sauce into the posole.  You may want to add a little more red sauce before serving.  I added maybe only a tablespoon more, if that.

13.)               Garnish with tortilla strips and cheese*.

*Cheese is an ESSENTIAL garnish for this, in my opinion.  It’s sorely needed to balance the dry smoky heat of the chiles – queso fresco, or even parmesan if you’re feeling lazy, beautifully bind the elements of this dish to create something truly special.

This recipe way adapted from Deborah Madisons’s cooking bible Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone.