Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A great way to kill a day

Before I make a dish I usually spend quite a bit of time looking at recipes on the internet.
When I found skirt steak at our local Mexican supermarket my quest was for the perfect Ropa Vieja. I think I found it. This recipe is one I came up with after combining different elements from the recipes I found. It is an all day project. None of the cooking is difficult but there are a lot of steps to making this and it isn't something you can whip up when you get home at 5 o'clock. This meal took the better part of a day but it was really worth it and it makes enough for a small platoon.
My Ropa Vieja
3 lbs skirt steak
2 carrots cut in chunks
1 large onion cut in 8ths
3 celery stalks cut in chunks
1 TBS dried oregano
4 cups chicken broth (homemade is best – don’t want it to be too salty)

Make sure to buy real skirt steak, the dish is called Ropa Vieja (old clothes) because of the way the shredded meat looks like rags.
Brown the meat in a stew pot in a little bit of oil in batches about five minutes a side– you want to brown both sides.
(set the browned ones on a plate while you sear the rest) When the meat is done and out of the pan add the carrot, celery, onion and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.

Put the meat in and pour the chicken broth over it and simmer for several hours until the meat is falling apart.

When the meat is done let it cool then take it out of the broth and strain the vegetables out and reserve the broth. Shred the meat.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables:

1 green pepper
3 red peppers (they don’t have to be huge)
1 large yellow or white onion
2 large cloves of garlic, minced or two teaspoons of the stuff from the jar
four or five small ripe tomatoes cut into eights (you can used canned if fresh aren't available)
1 tsp ground cumin
½ cup of sherry
1 TBS cornstarch dissolved in water
Tabasco sauce to taste
Cut the peppers in half then cut each half into ½ inch strips. Cut the onion in chunks about the same size.
In the pot you cooked the meat, sauté the onion and pepper in a little oil until the onion starts to go translucent. Add the sherry, tomatoes, garlic, and. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a slurry with a little water and 1 Tbs of cornstarch. Add to the broth you strained from cooking the meat and reduce it either in the microwave or in a pan until it is slightly thickened and you have about 2 ½ to 3 cups of broth. I just let the broth cool and skimmed the fat from the top and added the slurry to that. I like more sauce but reduce to 2 1/2 cups if you prefer less.
Add this to the peppers and onions and tomatoes and then all the shredded meat – shake some pepper sauce and stir then taste it to see if it needs salt or pepper and simmer for an additional ½ hour.

Serve over white or yellow rice, with or without seasoned black beans.
Every recipe I saw called ½ cup of sliced green olives but I didn’t add them because William hates them but I added some to mine and it was really excellent.

At the same Mexican Market I found a package of achiote seed so I decided to make achiote oil and my own yellow rice.
Achiote Oil:

1 cup corn oil
2 ounces achiote (annatto) seeds.
Heat the oil and annatto seeds in a small skillet over medium heat just until the seeds give off a lively, steady sizzle. Don't overheat the mixture or the seeds will turn black and the oil will turn a nasty green. Once they're sizzling, remove the pan from the heat and let stand until the sizzling stops. Strain and reserve in a jar with a tight-fitting lid at room temperature for up to 4 days or refrigerate.

Basic Yellow Rice (Arroz Amarillo Basico)

3 tablespoons annatto oil
2-1/2 cups rice
4 to 4-1/2 cups boiling water or chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt

Heat the oil in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the rice and stir to combine. Stir in the boiling liquid and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the liquid evaporates. Cover and cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.
I wanted to make arepas to go with this but ran out of time because I had to get hay for the horses but this recipe looked good:
1 cup masa harina
1 cup warm water
Dash of salt
1 tsp cooking oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and gradually add the warm water and oil, mixing to form a stiff dough. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Knead the dough for a couple of minutes. Take a small amount of the dough and form into flat, round cakes approximately 3" to 4" in diameter and approximately 1/2" to 3/4" thick. shape and press around the edges to make it even and smooth.
Continue making these patties until the dough is used up.
Grease a heavy skillet or griddle and set over low heat. When the surface is hot, place the patties, one or two at a time, on the griddle to brown on both sides, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove from the griddle. Drain on paper towels. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.


wiredogs said...

The writing and photography are outstanding. You had me in the kitchen with you.(I'm also liking your cookware.)
What would you do for Valentine's Day?

Jill said...

Thank you so much.
I got a new camera for Christmas to replace my dearly departed Olympus and I am still figuring out the settings.
My cookware is a pretty bohemian assortment I have either inhereted or found where ever. I got my favorite big all purpose pot at the Mexican Supermarket - they come in all sizes from a quart or two to large enough to bathe in. They are aluminum and are probably giving us cancer but they conduct heat well on my smooth store top. My other favorite is a Le Creuset my friend Nancy gave me because she had two the same size(THANK YOU Nancy). I Also have a big dutch oven that's a Le Creuset knock-off we got at Marshall's for a thrid of the pice of the real thing. You can find some really nice stuff at Ross - like the $6 paella pan - but don't tell anybody. I found a set of really nice ceramic bowls at Big Lots for $10!
One of my favorite things is to stumble on a really good deal for something, like the paella pan, and then spend the day looking for recipes and ingredients to make something in it.
I'll have to consult with Willia over the Valentine's Day meal.
I'd be happy with calzones with ham and ricotta and marinara made with fresh plum tomates but he'll probably lobby for rib roast.
I'd pick a Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake made with expresso and Kahlua iced with chocolate cream cheese frosting - he'd just prefer another hunk of rib roast :)
But they have veal on sale at Winn Dixie so maybe Veal marsala...

Jill said...

OOPS! Forgot you can't edit your comments on here.
Have a tndency to post first, fix the typos later.

Emily said...

Holy crap, mama, this looks awesome. I think I'm going to make this the next time I have a day off (probably not until next Sunday).

The yellow rice actually looks really interesting. You know I don't like yellow rice, but I bet it tastes a million times better than the dehydrated packaged stuff at the grocery store.

I bet the house still smells like all those ingredients.

Jill said...

Thanks, kiddo...
I'll have to get you some achiote seeds so you can make the oil. Don't know if you'd be able to find them in Fort Lee but, maybe at Kings - definitely not the A&P.

Ryan Kelly said...

So did you deliberately spell it 'tndency', or was that a joke? This is something I must know.

Jill said...

Actually, it was an accident :)
I didn’t notice of course, until I went back and read it… hahaha
Freudian slip maybe.