Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ancient Family Secret

All families have secrets.  Some are about nutty Aunt Gerty, some about crazy Uncle Fred, some are about the wild exploits of certain peculiar family members, and some, thankfully, are about food.  Let's go with the food, shall we?  My so-called "ancient family secret" is an extremely simple pantry go-to recipe when you have that mid-week or late-week slump and you just have to put something together based on the staples you have in your pantry.  You May need to go to the store to get some of the fresh ingredients, but most families have many of the fresh items in their refrigerator as staples.  There are also various items you can substitute, rather than what I have shown in my starting line up.  You can make this your own, of course, adding or deleting what you wish. That's what it's all about!

Here's the starting line up: 

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 - 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I like three, and it is my own addition to the mix)1
1  four ounce can of chopped green chiles(divided into three, if you're feeding two)
*You could always roast your own Anaheim Green Chilis over an open flame or oven roast them
1 can vegetarian low sodium refried beans (You can also use refried black beans)
1 teaspoon crushed dried Mexican oregano
1/4 - 1 teaspoon chili powder (your favorite)
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin or ground cumin seeds 
6 ounces chopped lettuce or spring mix
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
 *If I am not using fresh cilantro, I add a 1/4 teaspoon crushed, dried cilantro)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Oaxaca or Queso Fresco or Anejo, grated  (I used Oaxaca this time, my favorite)
1 large bag of Frito Lay chips
3 tablespoons EVOO or Vegetable/Canola oil
Salt and Pepper


 What you will need in your kitchen:
 1 cheese grater
1 large plate (for the cheese)
1 large skillet
1 large wooden spoon
1 - 2 cutting boards
1 sharp culinary knife
Can opener

What to do:
Utilizing your cutting board and knife, smash and peel and finely chop the garlic, chop the onion, tomato and lettuce.   Grate the cheeses over a large plate using the grater.  (Note:  when using Oaxaca, if it does not come in a ball, you may need to use your knife to thinly slice the cheese strings Oaxaca often comes in).  

Meanwhile, have the oil heating up in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute' until it softens, adding a little salt to draw out the onions' moisture.   When the onions become slightly translucent, add the garlic and the beef.  Add salt and pepper, and the other spices, and break up the beef as it browns.  

Open the cans of refried beans and green chiles for easy use.  

When the beef and veggies have almost thoroughly cooked, add the refried beans and one-third of the green chiles.  Over medium heat, fold the bean mixture into the beef completely.  Let simmer over low heat for ten minutes.  

To plate, add one - two cups of Fritos to each plate.  Sprinkle a small mixture of cheese over the chips.  I like this.  If you don't, then don't.  It's about what you want!  Plop a thick heaping spoonful of the hot beef/spices/beans mixture over the chips.  

 Next, you can do what you wish:  top with cheese, then lettuce and tomato and green chiles, or, swap and place the cheese above the lettuce and tomatoes.  Up to you!  Personally, I am not a fan of lettuce atop hot meals, so I leave the lettuce off altogether.  However, I will top with fresh chopped cilantro or scallions instead of lettuce.  I love to top with green chiles and tomatoes.  The contrasting flavors mix so well with the mix.  

Drizzle your favorite hot sauce or salsa over that.  My mom likes to top it with, wait for iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.......and ew.........ranch dressing.  But, to each their own, right?  Right.  I like spicy and tangy, so I will squeeze lime juice over the top, or, more so, I will drizzle Tapatio sauce over the top.  But again, whatever make You happy, gentle readers!

Hope you enjoy this easy, thirty minutes or less go-to recipe when you need something easy to put together for your family or friends.  Not fancy, not dramatic or beautiful, but loaded with flavor!


Thank you for your time and viewing, readers!  I appreciate it!