For those of you who have been following me, you know how much I love to put together complete menus – especially for the “holidays”. May is a month filled with special days – beginning with Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May); then Mother’s Day and finally Memorial Day – the official kick off of the summer cooking season.
For a while now, I have faithfully served up my Fiesta Cinco de Mayo menu or a variation. It’s colorful, delicious and always a hit with my guys. Even my picky brother, when he lived with us, gave his stamp of approval. Sometimes gathers are small. That doesn’t mean we should skimp on flavor or presentation, even if it’s just your immediate family gathered ’round the table. This three course fiesta is perfect.
For the appetizers, I’ve got both a warm and cold appetizer. For the main attraction, there’s Beef Fajitas and Pork Tacos with complimentary sides of Salsa Rice and Refried Beans. The perfect conclusion to such a beautiful meal had to be equally spicy. And packed with chocolate goodness. I’ve got just the thing in a Spicy Brownie. So I say let the margaritas flow!
Plato Principal (Main Dishes)
Chorizo and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Mini Peppers
24 baby sweet red, orange, and yellow peppers (about 1 pound)
8 ounces Good Mexican chorizo sausage (check out your local Mexican Markets)
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
Cilantro, fresh chopped for garnish (optional)
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside until ready to use.
Cut about 1/4 inch from top of peppers to form a “boat.” Seed peppers, if desired, and finely chop pepper tops.
Combine chopped peppers and chorizo in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until chorizo is browned. Drain well, if necessary. Add cheeses, stirring until well blended.
Spoon or pipe sausage mixture into pepper boats. Place on prepared baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes or until cheese melts and peppers are tender.
Garnish, if desired.
Dressed-up Salsa & Chips
1 (24-oz.) jar chunky medium salsa
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
Tortilla Chips for serving
Pulse all ingredients for the salsa in a food processor or blender 3 to 4 times or until mixture is thoroughly combined.
Place salsa in a large margarita or martini glass. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired. Place glass on a round serving plate or dinner plate, surround with tortilla chips and serve.
Beef Fajitas with Grilled Vegetables
2 lbs skirt steak or flap meat
Juice of 2 limes
1 Teaspoon salt
6 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 large Spanish Onions, halved vertically, then cut into slivers
1 Teaspoon taco seasoning
½ Teaspoon Ground Chipotle Seasoning
¼ Cup Vegetable oil plus additional oil for frying
18 Warm Tortillas
Grated Cheese, Sour Cream, Guacamole, Chopped Tomatoes and Roasted Jalapeño Peppers.
Cut meat into strips 4 to 6 inches long by 2 inches wide. Combine lime juice, garlic, salt, taco seasoning, chipotle seasoning and a generous amount of fresh ground pepper in a shallow bowl; whisk in oil. Add meat strips, roll and turn to get maximum amount of marinade absorbed into meat. Marinate at room temperature 30 minutes or refrigerate 2 hours.
Grill meat about 3 inches from hot coals until charred on each side. beef should be rare in the center, chicken should be cooked through. Cut into strips about 1 inch wide. Place meat on a serving platter, cover with foil and keep warm in oven until ready to serve.
Cut bell peppers and onion into strips. Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a large cast iron skillet, add onions and peppers. Stir-fry until crisp-tender. Remove meat from oven, spoon vegetables around meat and place in the center of the table. Pass a napkin-lined basket with hot tortillas and bowls of Grated Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream, Guacamole sauce, chopped Tomatoes and Roasted Jalapeño Peppers.
Shredded Pork Tacos
1 2 1/2 – 3 pound boneless pork tenderloin (frozen okay)
1 cup chicken broth
1 small can green enchilada sauce
1 small can green hatch chili
Taco Seasoning, to taste
10 soft flour tortillas, taco size, warmed
Ingredients – Assorted Taco Toppings:
Jalapeno Peppers, sliced
Trim fat from pork. If necessary, cut pork to fit in a 3.5 or 4-quart slow cooker. Place pork in cooker. Add broth. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Remove meat from cooker; reserving broth. Using two forks, shred meat, discarding any fat.
In a large skillet, combine shredded pork, enchilada sauce and green chills. Season to taste with taco seasoning mix. Add reserved broth from the crock pot to moisten meat. Cover and cook over medium-low about 10 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, warm flour tortillas on a flat griddle until soft and pliable. Heat griddle to medium, spray tortilla lightly with cooking spray and warm. Set aside until ready to fill.
Shred lettuce, chop tomatoes and avocados. Arrange on a platter to serve alongside tacos.
To assemble tacos, place pork mixture in center of warm tortillas or in taco shells. Top as desired with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and/or avocado. If desired, serve with sour cream.
A nice alternative to the Pork Tacos would be a big crock of my super delicious Pork Chili Verde. No need for corn taco tortillas, just make more of the flour tortillas to serve on the side.
Chorizo Refried Beans
½ lb Pork Chorizo, bulk or casing removed
2 Cans Refried Beans
1 Jalapeno, chopped for garnish if desired
½ Cup Mexican Cheese for garnish, if desired
In a large cast iron skillet, cook up the Chorizo meat, crumbling into small pieces as it browns. Drain meat, leaving about 1 tablespoon of drippings in the skillet.
Empty beans into the skillet, blending well with the pan drippings. Return the chorizo to the skillet, stir well with a spoon.
Once hot, transfer to a serving bowl. If desired, garnish with some Jalapeno and Mexican Cheese.
Mexican Salsa Rice
1-1/2 cups Hot water
1 cup Chunky-Style Salsa (Hot or Medium)
1 Tablespoon Chicken bouillon granulated
3 Tablespoons Chopped Jalapeno Peppers (From a jar of Nacho Peppers)
2 cups uncooked Minute Rice
Note: Be sure to use a thick, chunky-style salsa. Look in the deli case for the best selection. The chunkier the better.
Chop Jalapeno Peppers, set aside until ready to use.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water, salsa, jalapeno peppers and bouillon to a boil.
Stir in rice; remove from the heat.
Cover and let stand 6-8 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Transfer rice to a large bowl and serve.
Mexican Spice Brownies
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
3 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons ground Mexican cinnamon (canela)
1/2 teaspoon ground Pequin Chile pepper or Cayenne Pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-inch by 15-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving about 3 inches of paper overhanging 2 sides to use as handles. Set aside.
Place the butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and cook on Medium until the butter is about half melted, about 1 minute. Mash the butter with sugar until well combined, and stir in eggs one at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next. Mix in vanilla extract.
Sift the cocoa, flour, cinnamon, pequin pepper, salt, and baking powder into a bowl. Sprinkle in any salt caught in the sifter. Mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture, stirring to blend well, and pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan, and use parchment paper handles to remove the brownies for slicing.