Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Taco Night! Featuring Adobo Chicken In Banana Leaves a la Robert Rodriguez!

Whether or not I have said this before, hear me out: It is sooooo much easier and sooooo much more enjoyable to plan meals from a swimming pool while drinking a mojito than it is to do so from one's sweltering apartment in NYC.

Even a swimming pool that's in Phoenix, under a blinding, 108 degree sun. Fabulous.

Every time I go to Phoenix, I drink margaritas and eat lots of cheap Mexican food, I see the family and then am ready to come home to NYC. This trip turned out a little different, because we treated ourselves to The Sanctuary on Camelback, this slammin' resort at the base of the Camelback Mountains. Truly, the most beautiful pool I have ever been in. Anywhere. And, had our suite had a private plunge pool and outdoor shower, then it would have even beaten Esencia in Mexico as my all-time favorite resort.

But even lacking those small details, it was still pretty fabulous, and has probably now ruined every other trip I take home when I won't be able to afford such luxury.

We also went back and ate some more BBQ at Stacy's Smokehouse.

Uh... yeah.

I adore Stacy, and this trip he referred us to Lo Lo's in South Phoenix for fried chicken. I don't exactly know why you can now get good soul food in Phoenix, when you couldn't when I was growing up, but who am I to argue? I'm thrilled to have it now. My recollection of Phoenix involved a lot more Mexican food, so that's what I cooked before the trip home...

Here's The invite:

Hello there, hungry kiddies!
Well, hurricane aside, last night's middle of the week dinner was mighty fun. Some would even say a damn good time. Something about getting together on a weeknight is just.... civilized.
So as I think ahead to the August schedule and see all of this ink all over the calendar, it occurs to me that this week is kind of the last time we can do one of these until the end of August, when we return from our travels. Karl and I are going to the annual Crab Feast in a church basement in Baltimore on the 9th, and then we will go on to Phoenix (yes, in AUGUST) for about a week, and then Karl will go on to Montreal for another week. (I will be home for that part, holding down the fort, and hopefully liberating figs and peaches from my neighbors' trees.)
Something about the heat yesterday made me start thinking about ceviche (yes, while I was making leg of lamb-- strange how the mind works), and how great it is in the middle of the summer. And how I used to make it all of the time and now I never do. So with Ceviche and the backyard (Good Lord Willing) as the jumping off point, here is the menu I am working with now:

Ceviche Freshly Fried Tortilla Chips
Romaine Salad with Peter's Caesar (created in Tijuana) dressing!

Purslane and Zucchini with Garlic and Lemon

Make Your Own Tostadas and Tacos!
Homemade Adobo Shredded Chicken
Refried Beans
Cojita Cheese, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Green Onions, Radishes and Lime
Salsa and Tomatillo Sauce
SOUR CREAM!!! (that is for me. I am hopeless)
Borracho Beans with BACON
Mexican Rice!
Watermelon and Cantaloupe with Lime

Preparing myself psychically for the Phoenix heat on my trip home made me start thinking about ceviche, and how I haven't made it in about four years. Maybe longer...

I ran right out to the fish store. Snapper, Shrimp, Cod, Scallops. Cut them into pieces and soaked the pieces in freshly squeezed lime juice along with garlic, jalapeño peppers, salt, and a little olive oil for four hours.

I also had been thinking about Borracho Beans and found an amazing recipe on Epicurious.com.

Preparing the dish was an all-day affair, with cumin, garlic, poblano chilis, vinegar and chili flake.

Unbelievably smoky and delicious.

And how can one consider making borracho beans without Make Your Own Tacos? M.Y.O.T. is one of those SND sure-fires that brings people out of the woodwork. We filled all twenty seats in twelve minutes flat, and since the overwhelming demand for tacos far exceeded our capacity for just the one night, we decided to do a second dinner, back to back. It was going to be a M.Y.O.T. weekend!

I mean, all I had to do was survive until Sunday, when we would drive to feast on crabs in a Baltimore church basement. Surely I could do two taco nights, right?

"Wendy, we need more tortillas out here!..."

I decided that the meat for the tacos would be chicken in homemade adobo; Something about the combination of vinegar, guajillo peppers, garlic, cinnamon and cloves makes me crazy- in a good way. I LOVE it.

And I had recently made Robert Rodriguez' Puerco Pibil recipe from his fabulous YouTube cooking video, which made me think that using his technique of cooking the meat slow and low wrapped in banana leaves was ALSO a good idea.


Let's just say that neither Karl nor Robert know it yet, but I intend to be Mrs. Rodriguez within the year. And we will travel all over the world teaching people to make these two dishes... Sorry, where was I? Oh, right... Banana leaves!

I am going to nominate myself for Miss Banana/Astoria.

Frying your own tortilla chips is both the best and most dangerous thing you can do. So easy, it's scary. You have to remind yourself that frying (and munching) alone is the new drinking alone. But ohhhhhhhh they taste soooooo gooooood...

We dunked 'em in delicious guacamole, thanks to Brona's Avocado Generosity. She and K.T. busted out great guacamole the first night, and Anna whipped up her own version the next! Both versions ROCKED.


There was romaine salad in an anchovy cream dressing, made in our old blender, a week before the bottom of the jar cracked and leaked pina colada all over the counter, and Karl had to throw it on the floor... I mean, throw it away.

Do people ever look more beautiful than when they are sitting around a table in the yard, eating and drinking together? I think not.

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