Monday, May 6, 2013

Seis de Mayo!

Yesterday was my first Cinco de Mayo outside of Arizona in roughly ten years!  So, you can imagine how homesick I was for good, old-fashioned Mexican food.  There are not too many places here in the middle west that serve the famous greasy, spicy fare that I'm used to.  So, instead of settling for an imperfectly satisfactory restaurant experience, Sean, our roommate Morgan and I made our own Cinco de Mayo fiesta at home.  From the bar night favorite Carne Asada Fries to a modern twist on queso to traditional Mexican corn on the cob, I have to say, our night was muy bueno.  

Carne Asada Fries

Carne Asada Fries were our go-to meal after a night of heavy drinking in PHX.  The perfect combination of crunchy fried potatoes, fresh veggies, guacamole and juicy, greasy steak topped off our nights in magnificent fashion.  Amazingly satisfying, these Carne Asada Fries are our homemade version of Phoenix's late night taqueria staple.    

Carne Asada Fries

1 lb. Skirt or flank steak
Carne Asada seasoning (garlic, onion powder, salt & pepper)
Olive oil
Frozen French fries
Shredded cheese of your choice
Tomato, diced
Onion, diced
Your favorite salsa
Avocado or guacamole
Sour Cream

Place the steak in a ziplock baggie.  Add a healthy tablespoon of carne asada seasoning and a drizzle of olive oil.  Smoosh (technical term) everything together so that the steak is completely covered by the seasoning.  Set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to marinate.  

Preheat your oven to 425-450, depending on the instructions on the frozen french fries package.  Place them on a baking sheet and cook according to the instructions.  Near the end of the cooking time, sprinkle the fries with cheese and allow it to melt all over the fries.  

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the steak.  Cook for 4 minutes on each side.  Remove the meat and let it rest for a full five minutes.  This will ensure you have a tender, juicy steak.  

When the fries have fully cooked and the cheese has melted on top, pull them out of the oven.  Place a pile on your plate and load them up with all of the toppings.  

Crispy Queso

There's a trendy little restaurant inside the Clarendon hotel, around the corner from my old apartment in Phoenix called Gallo Blanco.  Unassuming by day, but colorful and vibrant by night, this gem serves unique and inspired latin fare alongside authentic flamenco dancing and invigorating drumming interludes.  One of their best appetizers is a Chicharron de Queso, a crispy and chewy fried cheese.  Interesting, bizarre and a little bit fascinating, this crispy queso is a must-try.  Oh, and it's as easy as uno, dos, tres.

Crispy Queso

Grated Parmesan Cheese (this time I used a combo of Parmesan, Asiago & Romano)

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Sprinkle a single layer of cheese right onto the hot skillet.  Allow the cheese to melt.  Once the bottom turns golden brown, carefully flip it and cook the other side until golden brown, about a minute or two.  Drape the melted cheese over rolling pin or utensil of your choice.  Allow it to cool slightly and firm up and serve alongside chipotle aioli.  

Chipotle Aioli

1/2 C. Mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely diced'
Salt & Pepper

Combine all ingredients and season to taste.  


Now here's a dish that will make you say, "whaaaa?"  If you haven't already tried Elote, you must do so.  Immediately.  Basically, it's corn on the cob, drenched in a tangy sauce, sprinkled with Mexican cheese and paprika.  Sweet, dynamic and delectable, I guarantee this Mexican treat is going to be your new favorite side dish.  


Corn cobs, with husk on
Smoked Paprika Aioli, recipe follows
Queso fresco
Cilantro, for garnish

Peel the husk back on each corn cobb, but do not remove it.  It works as a great handle for corn on the cobb.  Bring a large pot of water to a hard boil.  Carefully place each corn cobb into the boiling water, leaving the husk handle out of the water.  Boil the corn cobs for about 10 minutes. Remove them and pat dry.  

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a couple tablespoons of butter and add the corn cobs.  Cook them for about 2 minutes, rotating as necessary to form a char on all sides.  Remove from the heat.  

To serve, drizzle each corn cob with smoked paprika aioli and sprinkle them with queso fresco and fresh cilantro.  

Smoked Paprika Aioli

1/2 C. Mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 t. Smoked Paprika
Salt & Pepper

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