Cooking show gets Southwest taste
Jane Butel, internationally recognized authority on the cuisine of the American Southwest, visits Jayni and prepares recipes from the newly revised and updated second edition of her cookbook, “Chili Madness: A Passionate Cookbook.”
On the menu: Oaxaca Bites, Pecos River Bowl of Red, Blue Corn Parfait Bread and Cream Margarita Pie.
1/3 cup bacon drippings, lard, or vegetable oil
2 cloves Mexican or large garlic, minced
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans
Chicken broth (optional)
18 white corn tortillas (6 inches each)
1 cup crumbled queso blanco or feta cheese
2 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
1/2 cup crème fraîche, or 1/2 cup sour cream thinned with a bit of milk
1 small bunch cilantro
Chopped pickled jalapeño chiles and/or 1 cup salsa of your choice, for garnish (optional)
Warm 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings in a heavy skillet over medium heat until it melts, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and sauté until it is lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the beans, reserving most of the liquid, and cook, mashing most of the beans until the mixture is about as thick as pudding, 5 to 10 minutes. (If the beans get too dry and hard, add the reserved bean liquid; if this is not enough liquid, add chicken stock or water to soften to pudding consistency.) Remove the beans from the heat and cover them to keep warm.
Prepare the tortilla chips: Cut each tortilla almost into quarters, leaving the quarters attached in the center of the tortilla. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
Heat the remaining bacon drippings in a small skillet over medium heat until it is very hot and almost smoking, about 2 minutes. Working with one tortilla at a time, place a tortilla in the skillet and fry it until crisp (it will sound hollow when tapped with tongs and the rapid bubbling of the fat will have subsided), about 20 seconds. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, carefully remove the tortilla and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, placing them in a single layer on the baking sheet to drain. When the tortillas are cool to the touch, carefully break them into quarters.
To assemble, place the tortilla chips on a serving platter. Dollop them with the refried beans, then sprinkle them with the cheese and green onion. Drizzle the crème fraîche over all, and lay the cilantro sprigs on top. Scatter the chopped jalapeños over the top, if desired, and/or serve with the salsa alongside, if you wish.
Variation: Reduced-Fat Oaxaca Bites
Instead of frying the tortillas in step 2, you can bake them: Preheat the oven 425ºF. Cut the tortillas into quarters, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet, and top them with a smaller baking sheet (this keeps them flat while they bake). Bake them for 5 minutes. Then remove the smaller baking sheet and continue baking until crisp, 5 to 8 minutes more. Assemble as directed.
Crispy Cilantro Coleslaw
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cider or white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
4 cups shredded cabbage
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons minced jalapeño chile
1/4 cup chopped onion
Place the oil, vinegar, and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Combine the cabbage, cilantro, jalapeño, and onion in a bowl. Drizzle the warm salad dressing over the mixture and toss well.
For the best flavor, prepare this 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. If you’re short on time, allow it to sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature, and then serve. Serves 4.