Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cinco de Mayo!

So the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Cinco de Mayo is of course (if you know me you already know what I am going to say): TEQUILA.  The second is: TACOS. Although it is sometimes thought to be Mexico's Independence Day it is not, that actually falls on September 16. A brief history of Cinco de Mayo is in very short, a celebration of Mexico's victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5,1862. It is celebrated mainly in the state of Puebla and the United States. I like this holiday not only for the tequila but for the feeling I get around this time.  It is kinda the marker for summer for me. Warm weather, sitting out on patios, festivals, the pool, vacation, I could go on and on.  Since it falls on a weekday this year I thought I would give you an easy taco recipe that you can start in the morning and enjoy with your tequila when you get home from work. I am also pairing a killer tequila with it. Mmmm tequila and tacos, perfect weeknight dinner.  I had originally asked The local Tequila Guru: Michael Cook of Bone Garden Cantina which tequila I should highlight and he said Siete Leguas Blanco because it's story tied to one of the historical figures, General Francisco Villa aka: Pancho Villa, who was a hero involved in the Revolution, but I could not find it at 3 different liquor stores.  So I opted for Kah Tequila Anjeo, a tequila I have had before and liked very much and one that comes in a sweet bottle (although more reminiscent of the Day of the Dead which is celebrated October 31-November 3). AND, is certified organic. It just became available recently and should be tasted.  I could give you some descriptions of the tequila, (aromas of coffee, chocolate & tobacco, blah, blah, blah) but I know that if you go visit Michael at Bone Garden he will school you on anything you could ever want to know about almost any tequila you have ever encountered. He is like a tequila sommelier…is there such a thing? In any case, I feel that you should only drink good tequila and it should be enjoyed neat, however if you are afraid, normally I would say "face your fears", but I have also included a "margarita" so to speak to soften the blow. But really, I would never suggest tequila that shouldn't be drunk without the training wheels.  Please enjoy, responsibly.

Cinco de Mayo Beef Tacos    Serves 6-8 
 3 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into chunks and trimmed of fat
1 medium red onion, grated
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1-3 canned chipotle peppers, chopped fine (1=mild, 3 =spicy)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
A few hearty pinches of Kosher salt
4 bay leaves
1, 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup broth, anything will work
2 tablespoons tomato paste
juice and zest of 1 orange

In a large crock pot combine all ingredients except orange zest and toss well to combine. Cook on low for 8-10 hours and high for 4-6.  Once the meat is finished add the orange zest.  Pull the meat from the liquid and shred with two forks.  Serve on doubled corn tortillas that you have warmed in a damp paper towels in the microwave.  Serve with sour cream, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro.

Avocado Slaw  Serves 6-8
8 outer leaves of cabbage, very thinly sliced then roughly chopped
10 radishes, halved and sliced
2 medium carrots, grated
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 avocado diced
1/4 cup canola oil
Juice and zest of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons juice
Juice of 1/2 an orange, about 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon toasted cumin
1/2 teaspoon toasted coriander
Squeeze of Agave nectar

In a large bowl combine everything for the slaw.  In a small glass jar combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette and shake to emulsify.  Dress the slaw with all but 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and allow to marinate for at least an hour.  This can be made a day ahead.  It actually gets better with age. Serve with Cinco de Mayo Beef Tacos.

"Margarita" (Tequila with training wheels)  Serves 1
 1-2 ounces good tequila, (we used Kah Tequila Anejo)
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 an orange
Squeeze of agave nectar
Lime round for garnish
Kosher salt for rim if desired
In a rocks glass combine all ingredients over ice and enjoy.

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