Monday, January 3, 2011

comfort food, cali style


i think that most americans would be horrified to learn that until i moved to vermont 4 months ago, 'shepherd's pie' or 'corned beef hash' were nothing more then culinary mysteries. and while the word 'meatloaf' has been mentioned in my presence, i certainly have no personal experience with it. in california, comfort food takes on a notably more mexican flavor. in fact, i bet that after trying my dad's tacos, the whole midwest would stop stocking whatever meatloaf is made of, and start filling the shelves with beautiful, spicy mexican chiles.

california comfort food a la r. horwitz (and l. brydolf):

1 white onion
2 jalapeno chiles
2 pasilla chiles (these look like green peppers, if unavailable, use green peppers)
kalamata olives
cooked potato
chicken (if desired)
cilantro
avocado
green salsa
corn tortillas
canola oil
feta

1. to begin, a key flavor comes from blackening the chiles over a gas range, or lacking that, broiling them in the oven. either way, wait until the skin is black and bubbled and then remove it with your fingers or a paper towel. mostly it's just important not to involve water because that removes the roasted flavor.
2. once blackened, remove seeds and dice the chiles and the onion and saute them in a pan with some canola oil. add some green salsa to the mixture, and when the onions have been cooked through, add pieces of potato, chopped olives, and chicken (my dad usually buys a rotisserie chicken and adds the already cooked meat).
3. the above makes up most of the taco innards. to complete the deliciousness, saute a corn tortilla in a bit of canola oil, add the chile mixture, top with cilantro, avocado, and if you like, feta cheese and more green salsa, and close the taco.
4. consume rapidly and make more!

the best thing about this recipe, is that if you've done some of the prep work beforehand, or had others do it for you (ex: rotisserie chicken), this meal takes about 20 minutes. plus if you make extra, you can keep eating it for days and days. and let me tell you, 3-day old hot tacos kick 3-day old shepherd's pie out of the water. or kitchen.

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