I have had quite a few book reviews for you guys lately. And, happily for me, all the books have been winners. I am especially excited to have made contact with the folks at Hippocrene, because they publish wonderful international cookbooks–and you guys know those are my favorite kind. Well, those and cookies.
This one, Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor, is particularly timely with Cinco de Mayo in a few days. Muy Bueno is a treasure trove of the kinds of Mexican recipes that generations of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have been making on both sides of the border. Simple, in many cases, but intensely flavorful. The 3 generations in question refer to a grandmother, daughter and 2 granddaughters, but the cookbook is by a mother and her 2 daughters (Evangelina Soza, Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, Veronica Gonzalez-Smith), who wrote the cookbook to honor their (grand)mother, Jesusita Mendias-Soza, and preserve their family’s recipes. They also have a blog, Muy Bueno Cookbook, which I suggest you check out. If you are familiar with Mexican food, their food is specifically mostly northern Mexican in origin; among the recipes I have bookmarked are Red Pork and Hominy Stew; Chicken Tinga; Green Chile with Beef and Potatoes; and the Mango Upside-Down Cake with a Cajeta-Rum Glaze.
The book does a good job of showing how traditional Mexican cooking builds on top of various staples–for example, the Red Chile Sauce, which is called for in quite a few recipes throughout the book. The recipes are deceivingly simple in this regard, because any time you see that sauce added, you can expect the recipe to be much fuller and bolder than the few ingredients listed implies. Here is where I have to confess that my midwestern taste buds kicked in–we added one can of fire roasted tomatoes. I just need some tomatoes in my chili!
The only other changes I made were to use cubed Monterey Jack cheese and sour cream as my garnishes, and for the pot beans I used Rancho Gordo’s Lila beans. I also added some lard and garlic to my pot beans, which is how I prefer them.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 12 ounces Mexican chorizo, casings removed
- 2½ cups Frijoles de la Olla with liquid (page 215)
- 1½ cups Red Chile Sauce (page 25)
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- Salt to taste
- Shredded Colby cheese (optional)
- Spray a large heavy skillet with nonstick cooking spray and set on moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the ground beef and brown for about 10 minutes. Drain off any excess grease.
- Add the chorizo by crumbling it into the cooked ground beef. Cover the skillet and cook the chorizo thoroughly for another 5 to 10 minutes. Using a potato masher, combine the beef and chorizo together.
- Transfer to a large pot and add the frijoles and liquid and cook for 5 minutes. Add the red chile sauce, water, and oregano and cook until it starts to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Add more liquid from beans if mixture is too thick.
- Add salt to taste. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with a handful of cheese.
- to 10 Servings
Photo courtesy of Hippocrene Books; this photo only was not taken by me.
- 2 cups dried pinto beans
- 1⁄4 onion, sliced (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Spread the beans over your counter so you can look for any pebbles or beans that are broken, discolored, or shriveled and remove them.
- Place beans in a colander. Rinse thoroughly with cool water for about 3 minutes. This step is not necessary, but your beans will be lighter in color and “mas bonitos” as my Mom says.
- Soak the beans in cold water in a covered bowl for 4 to 6 hours before cooking. (I never soak them and they still come out bonitos. I think they come out bonitos when the beans are fresh, so I prefer to be a rebel and skip this step.)
- Drain the beans and pour into a large pot. Add enough water to come 3 inches over the beans. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 3 to 4 hours, adding more hot water as the beans absorb liquid. (Every pot is different so check your beans after 2 hours. Most take 3 to 4 hours but I have a pot I love to cook my beans in because it only takes 2 hours.) Add salt and onions, if using, about 1 hour before cooking is complete.
- Refrigerate beans in any liquid left when cooled. Beans can be refrigerated for up to
- days. The beans can also be frozen in small bowls for later use.
- 8 ounces California or New Mexico red chile pods
- 6 cups water
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Remove stems, seeds, and veins from the chile pods. Place in a colander and rinse well with cool water.
- Add the chiles to a large pot and add enough water so they are just covered. Bring water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the chiles over with tongs to make sure the chiles soften evenly. Drain cooked pods and allow time to cool down before blending. Discard water.
- Fill blender with 3 cups of water, half of the cooled chile pods, 3 tablespoons flour, 2 cloves garlic, and half of the salt. Blend until smooth. Strain sauce through a fine sieve to remove skins and seeds; discard skins and seeds. Repeat blending and straining process with remaining water, pods, flour, garlic, and salt. If necessary, season with more salt.
- This sauce can be made in advance and kept in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Red chile sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to six months.
- Makes 6 to 7 cups
I was provided with a free copy of Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor from the publishers for the purposes of reviewing. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions are my own.
Affiliate links were used in this post, but only to link to items I was already discussing and linking to anyway.