Category Archives: Tex-Mex

Mexican Venison Chorizo and Potato Tacos

Even though we still occasionally eat cheese, with the help of those lactase pills, I don’t use it as much anymore, looking for ways to eat the kinds of things we like without it. I had some venison chorizo in the freezer from the day I made that frittata, and these tacos seemed like a good follow-up use for it.

I’m going to cooked the diced potatoes in a cast iron skillet without boiling them first. Kind of like how I cook raw fried potatoes, only those are sliced. I want both the chorizo and the potatoes to have some crispiness, although I will mash a little of the potatoes into the meat to get those chorizo spices into the potatoes, too. I still have some roasted poblano peppers in the freezer from last summer’s garden, so a few of those will go in as well. In place of crema to cool it down, I’m using some ready-made guacamole and mild salsa.

I’m still thinking whether to use white corn tortillas (my preference) or flour tortillas; I have both, so I guess it will be a mealtime decision, or it will be a to each his own meal.

Tonight, we both had white corn tortillas; tomorrow, whole wheat flour tortillas (because, of course, I made too much).

Mexican Venison Chorizo and Potato Tacos

  • Servings: more than two people can eat!
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
  • 1 lb venison-pork chorizo (recipe) or any Mexican chorizo
  • 2 roasted poblano peppers, diced
  • 1 lb potatoes, diced (I used red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled)
  • 1 medium to large yellow or white onion, chopped
  • oil and butter, as needed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • taco-sized tortillas, corn or flour
  • toppings: avocado or guacamole, salsa, crema, lettuce or fresh cilantro
Preparation
  1. In a large cast iron skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat, depending on the fat content of your chorizo. Mine is very lean. When the pan and oil are hot, brown the chorizo, breaking it up with a fork or wooden spoon. Stir in chopped poblanos and let cook until the meat is browned well and any moisture is evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove chorizo to a platter.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and add another two tablespoons of oil and two tablespoons of butter until the butter is melted. Add diced potatoes and onions to the pan, spreading out to a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and let cook for 15 minutes. Remove lid and turn potatoes over to brown other side. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes or until potatoes are done and lightly browned.
  3. Return chorizo to pan and stir in, scraping up any browned bits of potato and meat, mashing some of the potato with the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Serve in tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Carne Asada with Skirt Steak, Pt. 2

Finishing up the Carne Asada I started this morning with the previous post’s salsa marinade, I moved to the grill just before dinner. My almost-1 lb of skirt steak made four small pieces, which I grilled over very hot direct heat on a charcoal grill, 2 minutes per side.

I had been worried about getting a nice char, but it was pretty easy, maybe because of the good salsa marinade, or maybe just because I carefully followed the suggestions in the Serious Eats recipe—and gave a wink and a nod to the summer rain gods to hold off a little. We were impressed with our first skirt steak and ate it all up in tortillas with more of the salsa, lettuce, and guacamole. I just hope our grocery will have skirt steak more often.

Wow! Crispy, juicy, spicy. Thanks to Serious Eats for this recipe.

Carne Asada with Skirt Steak, Pt. 1

Yes, I finally found skirt steak at the grocery, so I’m trying out the Serious Eats recipe, mostly because the marinade/salsa looks so tasty. Luckily there are just two of us and the little under-1 lb package will do. Even at that small size, it was $18, though, so I don’t want to make any mistakes.

I made few changes to the salsa:

  • I only used dried ancho chiles, 5 of them, instead of the two kinds in the original
  • I added two roasted jalapenos from our garden
  • I did not use canned chipotle peppers
  • I did not have, nor want fish sauce, so I added a 3rd tablespoon of soy sauce
  • Neither did I have the coriander seed, so I just skipped that
  • And mostly, I didn’t do all the juicing of fresh fruit nor the toasting and grinding of seeds—I didn’t even chop my own cilantro!

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I’ll be back later to show how it all worked out on the grill—that’s the part I’m worried about, that cooking with the lid off won’t give me the char I want before the meat’s too done. In the meantime, here’s the sauce, with my variations:

Carne Asada Salsa

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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See the original recipe here: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/09/carne-asada-food-lab-recipe-kenji.html

Ingredients
  • 5 whole dried ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 roasted jalapeno peppers, peeled and seeded
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro paste—solves dealing with the disgusting smell of cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
Preparation
  1. Place dried ancho chilies on a plate and microwave until pliable, about 20-30 seconds. I didn’t know how this would work out, because I only ever reconstitute dried peppers to use in chili or to make enchilada sauce. I always strain the reconstituted, blended chiles, so I was concerned about the pepper skins, but they blended up nicely.
  2. Transfer to a blender with the rest of the ingredients, except the salt.
  3. Blend for 1-2 minutes until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender jar to get all the bits.
  4. Transfer the salsa to two bowls, one to eat later as a dressing, the other for the marinade.
  5. Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt to the marinade, dip meat portions in the sauce, then pour all into a sealable bag. Seal and refrigerate for about 3 hours.
  6. Add salt to taste to the remaining salsa and refrigerate.

 

Venison Chili on the Grill

Long ago, I posted my traditional method of making chili, whether with venison, beef, or a combination of the two. I use two pots on the stove, cooking beans using a quick soak method in one pot, and cooking the meat in another pot. Between the pots, I share the flavoring base of reconstituted ancho chiles, onions, garlic, and spices, and then I combine the pots into one for the last hour of cooking. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, and I just do it all from habit. Actually, I consider it a really easy dish to make. Of course, I usually made too much for the two of us, and I’m paring down the ingredients in lots of my old recipes, like this one.

Recently, I tried to adapt the recipe to my new slow cooker, first soaking the beans overnight, which I never do with the quick-soak method. It turned out okay, but it seemed too wet, too soupy, and beyond using more water than needed, I’m not sure why that happens in the slow cooker. I’ll probably fool with the recipe in the winter to see if I can make it work out right. Or I’ll just go back to the two pot method on the stove.

It’s almost too warm for chili, now, but I thought I’d try it out in my cast iron Dutch oven on the grill, since after all, it’s the traditional cowboy chuck wagon meal to cook over a fire. Now I can see why it’s such a beloved campfire dish.

This might be the best chili of all time, really thick and rich with a deep red color that I never get on the stove.

I have a Weber® Master Touch® grill which has a removable insert in the grate for using cooking pieces, like the chicken cooker or griddle, or like today, a cast iron Dutch oven. To make indirect heat around the center, I made a 2 x 2 charcoal snake, one that usually last 6-8 hours, not knowing how much time I would need. As it turned out, 3 hours was enough, and as you can see in the images, I only needed half the snake. I simply separated the two halves at the end, saving the unburned half for the next day’s grilling.

Venison Chili on the Grill

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: time consuming
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1/2 lb dried pinto beans

2 lbs venison, in both cubes and ground, or the same in beef/pork

1 large onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons salt

5 dried ancho peppers, reconstituted with 2 cups water, pureed, and strained (see below)

  1. Soak 1/2 lb dried pinto beans overnight in water to cover by 3 inches. Drain and rinse when ready to use.
  2. Brown 1 lb venison cubes and 1 lb ground venison in 2-4 tablespoons coconut oil, olive oil, or bacon fat in large cast iron dutch oven.
  3. In a skillet, saute onions and garlic in oil until translucent, then stir in spices, stirring until fragrant.
  4. Combine browned venison, strained beans, and onion mixture in dutch oven.
  5. Pour in ancho pepper puree and stir to combine. You may need to add more water to cover, because the beans still need to cook, but you don’t need to cover by more than 1/2 inch. I added about 1 cup more water, so that with the puree, I had a total of 3 cups liquid.
  6. Cover and cook with slow indirect heat, about 225°-250°, for about 3 hours.If you don’t have a grate like mine, you can set the dutch oven directly on the coal grate and build the snake around it, but not touching the sides or the pot.
  7. I imagine you could cook it in a slow oven, too, and I will be trying that out in the winter.

Once you get it on the grill, you have 3 hours to do nothing, or I guess you could make some cornbread.

Reconstituted Dried Ancho Chiles
  1. Rinse 5 dried chiles, removing stems and seeds
  2. Tear into pieces and place in small container or bowl
  3. Cover with 2 cups boiling water; cover container with plastic wrap
  4. Set aside for about 45 minutes
  5. Place reconstituted chiles in blender with part of the liquid, adding the rest a little at a time to make a purée about the consistency of thick tomato sauce
  6. Strain puree through a fine strainer to remove pieces of skin—just keep stirring the mixture in the strainer until only the skin pulp remains (maybe 10 minutes)