Category Archives: Tex Mex

Chicken Tacos

I’ve heard rumors that the U.S. is currently experiencing some kind of heatwave. (And, by “rumors,” I mean that I’ve heard more about the sweltering  temperatures on the east coast these past few days than I have about the debt crisis. And Amy Winehouse. Combined.)

Well, here in Germany, we have to make our own heatwave, ’cause the weather certainly isn’t doing much work for us. The past week has been rainy, cloudy, intermittently sunny, then rainy again. Oh, and around 65 degrees. Not that I really mind that last bit. This summer could be my only opportunity to wear tights between May and August. I’m seizing it.

Thus, Germany’s temperamental approach to sunshine necessitates that we eat the heat rather than beat the heat.

Works for me.

Chicken Tacos:
Serves 6
2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
1 large white onion, peeled and quartered
5 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt & pepper, to taste

1) Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and add water to just cover the chicken. Turn heat to high, bring to a boil, and skim any foam that comes to the surface.
2) Partially cover the pan and adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Cook until meat is very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from liquid and let cool.
3) Shred meat with fingers. Pile onto a tortilla and top with your favorite taco fixings. I opted for tomato and mango salsa, cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Black Bean Burgers

Why, yes, I’m still on an all-I-wanna-eat-is-vegetables (and legumes) kick.

I’m also on an all-I-wanna-do-is-have-some-fun kick (see: Crow, Sheryl). Like, suddenly, in my last two weeks of being between childhood and adulthood, being in a kind of maturity limbo where I’m accountable for my actions, but not entirely for my bank account, I’m ready to cram four years of college experiences into half a month.

It’s fun. Exhilarating, exciting, terrifying, promising, all wrapped up into one moment in my life.

And that’s where I’m at.

Black Bean Burgers:
Serves 10
2 cans (30 oz) black beans, drained
1 red pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil

1) Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Break up the black beans with a potato masher or your hands. (You could also use a food processor, a la green lentil burgers.) Cover bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2) Heat a pan over medium-low heat with several tablespoons of vegetable oil. Take a small fistful of black bean mixture and shape into patties. Place on pan.
3) Cook for three to five minutes on both sides. (Flip the patty when the edges begin to brown.) Sometimes I add a slice of cheese right after the flip. Or, after I put the patty on a bun, I spoon some sour cream on top.

Beef & Black Bean Tacos

It was one of those weeks where I rejoiced over my omnivore status. My brain has desperately needed the amino acids to cope with my workload. Also, Whole Foods was selling local ground beef for, like, $4 a pound. Are you kidding me?! Even my burnt-out brain, failing to achieve its normal level of synapses, knows a good grocery decision when it processes one. Plus, I’ve actually been to the farm where the cows/food are raised. (I find that connection very reassuring.)

Unfortunately, this week promises to be equally demanding. At least I have these leftovers to provide me with glorious neurotransmitters. I’ma need ’em.

Beef & Black Bean Tacos:
Ground beef (about a pound)
Canola oil
1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 can black beans
1 jalapeño
a few sprigs of cilantro
1 lime
a few generous shakes of cayenne pepper and oregano
1 small can of tomato paste
flour or corn tortillas
cheese (cheddar, Colby Jack, or a four-cheese blend)

1) Add a bit of Canola oil to a pan on medium heat. Add the beef and stir regularly to brown.
2) Meanwhile, add some Canola oil to another pan on medium heat. Add diced onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook until soft.
3) Drain the beef of any excess water. Stir in cayenne pepper and oregano. Add to onion mixture.
4) Add black beans, cilantro, and tomato paste. Combine well and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes.
5) Heat a frying pan on low-medium heat. Place tortilla on pan, add cheese and let melt briefly. Top with beef filling. Fold over and weigh down with a heavy pan, pot, or heat-safe dish. Cook for two minutes per side.

So, perhaps these are taco-dillas. In any case, they pair well with salsa and some sour cream since they’re stable enough to take cold dips.

What’s your favorite Tex-Mex meal? I love spicy food and am trying to increase my repertoire.