Joni Woolf: Creative cooking — good for body and soul
Published 10:48 am Saturday, May 18, 2019
(Note from Joni Woolf, our food writer: Recently, my daughter Carey brought me dinner, as she often does — and it was one of the tastier meals I’d had in a while. She brought enough that I ate only half, saving the remainder for another meal. Five days later, I pulled it from the refrigerator, removed the avocado and tomatoes, and warmed it in the microwave, adding the fruits after the dish was heated. It was just as good all these days later! I loved it, and asked her if she could recreate the recipe. And so, she did. Here she tells how to prepare a splendid Mexican dish that is sure to please.)
I never tire of Mexican food. I like to try “authentic” Mexican restaurants whenever we travel. The closest thing around here, Taqueria La Pasada on Tripp Street, was closed last time I checked. I sure do miss it. I got many of my ideas from that restaurant and one in Chattanooga — TacoNooga — where everything seems so much fresher and more flavorful that what you find in Americanized Mexican restaurants. I’ve written before about lessons my husband learned from working with men and women from Guatemala and Mexico, which include using corn tortillas whenever possible, using only fresh ingredients, and almost never using cheese over everything. Somewhere in the ATR archives is a ceviche recipe that I keep tweaking! We never tire of it. Below is a recipe I just made up one day, when I was out of tortillas. I simply combined all my favorite things and put it over rice, another favorite food!
2-3 tablespoon olive oil
2-4 chicken breasts
taco seasoning (optional)
2 poblano peppers, seeded and sliced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced
cheese (optional), grated
black beans cooked, then drained
2-3 ears of fresh corn, cooked, then cut off the cob
1-2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped
1-2 avocados, peeled and chopped or sliced
1-2 limes, quartered
Valentina hot sauce
2-4 cups cooked rice
Doing all the prep work ahead of time makes all recipes so much easier to follow. For this one, cut up chicken into bite-size pieces or strips, chop onions, mince garlic, and slice and remove seeds from peppers. I prefer soaking, then cooking dried black beans, but you can use a single can and just heat them up, then drain the juice off. Boil corn on the cob until tender, then cut the corn off the cob. Chop tomatoes and cilantro and cook rice. Wait until you’re ready to serve before peeling and cutting avocados, so that they don’t turn brown.
Brown chicken breasts in olive oil, adding onions and garlic, and peppers when they are about halfway done. I add just a tablespoon or so of taco seasoning — an entire pack is too much. When the chicken is done and the peppers are tender, top with a cheese of your choice, if you want. I don’t normally add cheese, but most people like a little melted on top (or you could sprinkle it on top just before serving). Cover and give the cheese time to melt. This is a good time to peel and cut the avocado.
Serve the meat dish atop rice; then top with black beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado. Add the juice of 1/4 of lime to each serving, and top with Valentina hot sauce (or whatever hot sauce you prefer). You can always add your favorite salsa or even sour cream.
Joni Woolf adds: Any cold beverage is good with this: lemonade, iced tea, very cold beer, or a cool white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc.
Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org