Saturday, May 5, 2007

Like Migas, Just Better

One of my favorite breakfast menu items in Houston is migas, which is peppers and onions scrambled in some eggs with pieces of corn tortilla thrown in the mix. They usually have tomatoes in them too. This isn't Houston though, so I have to make 'em myself, which isn't so bad because these are better anyway. I made these for a little family brunch one time, and I think certain members are still feuding about who got the last bite.

Warning: most of what you are about to see doesn't quite qualify as anti-inflammatory menu items. This morning I felt like I needed a break from my non-miga eatin' ways. I've lost about 15 pounds since we've been in Florida, and you know, every once in a while, you've got to eat some pork fat. Just ask Emeril. Today was one of those days.

You may be asking yourself why this particular recipe is better than the original. If not, I'll tell you anyway: texture.

The old school way of making migas is good, but the tortillas are cooked with the eggs and they get soft. I like crispy. Mine also has bacon to add to the whole crispy side of the equation. Start by frying some Alabama style. What's that? You don't know about Alabama style bacon frying? Allow me to enlighten you. Do it reeeealy slow. It'll turn out much more even and crispy and delicious:
Ain't that pretty?

Next, remove the bacon and fry some tortilla strips in the bacon "renderings." Make no apologies for doing this.
Once the strips are crispy take them out and toss a pinch o' kosher salt on them. Now dice up an onion and a jalapeƱo or two. Throw it in the grease. Stir it all around a bit and let it cook until the onions start to barely brown and get soft. While that's going on lightly beat a couple of eggs. When the onions and peppers are just right, make a well out of them in the middle of the pan like so:
And pour the eggs in the middle. This way if your range top isn't perfectly level, which seems to be the case in most of the free world, your eggs will stay in the cookin' zone. It also gives the eggs a chance to cook before becoming one with the other stuff in the pan. Tomatoes could go in just before the eggs, by the way, but I'm still waiting on some to grow out back.
By the way, if you notice, I'm scrambling eggs in a cast iron skillet. I've heard it mentioned on the Food Network a few times that cast iron is good for just about everything but scambling eggs. This particular skillet however, is a Griswold. They don't make them anymore, Cara's grandmother (mom's side) gave me, er, us this one. It was made in the 50s I would guess, and it's seasoned to perfection. Eggs don't stick to this bad boy. Check it out:
No egg residue here. Thanks, Meemaw. Once you've got what you see above, add it to the pile of crispy bacon and crispy crispies you've got waiting to be made complete. It looks like this:

I don't know how to say bon appetite in Spanish, but that's what I mean.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Medium Rare International

I was reading my old friend (not that we're all that old or anything. Really.) Christy's blog a few days ago and she suggested that people put counters on their sites. This gives one the ability to see what countries your visitors are in, how many visitors a day you get as well as a ton of other nifty features that can either fuel or destroy the fantasy that anyone actually reads this stuff.

Now keep in mind here that I thought that only a handful of people knew about this thing, and out of that handful there would only be, well, less than a handful that cared. Don't hear me saying that the people who read do care, I wouldn't want to be that presumptuous. But like I said, part of the statistics being kept are the countries from where these posts are being read. Or at least accidentally clicked on for two seconds. MRP is international baby! Check it out:
United States

Germany Germany

Italy Italy

Spain Spain

Romania Romania

Argentina Argentina

United Kingdom United Kingdom

So the question of the day is this: what's the dealio, yo? Where are you? How did you get here?
I suppose that's three questions, but I am curious. So if you're in a country other than Texas, say hello. Everyone else- meet my new friends.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


I don't speak much Spanish, but I think "carnitas" means "taco that can make Jack Bauer/Chuck Norris cry." And not because of the heat, although they do have a kick. The best thing about them, at least until I graduate, is the fact that making them is so cheap. After the money kicks in the best thing about them is the fact that they're so darn good. So how do you make 'em? Let us begin.

First, you need a big ol' hunk of fatty pork. I used a "pork shoulder picnic roast." Whatever that is. In Houston, if you happen to be in that neighborhood, the stores sell, "pork for carnitas," which makes it easy. But a big hunk o' pork is a big hunk o' pork. If it's fatty, you're in the right place.

Once the pork is procured, dice it into one inch cubes, like so:
Then salt and pepper 'em. I like using "salt" and "pepper" as verbs. It just feels right. Now for the esoteric ingredient of the day. You ever see those dusty lookin' dried peppers at the store and wondered what it is that people do with them? I'll tell you. They simmer them in salted water until they get soft. This takes 20-30 minutes. I use a combination of chili de arbol and New Mexico Red Chilis. They look like this:
The skinny ones are the chili de arbol. They're a little on the hot side.

Once you can easily pierce them with a fork, it's time for the blender. Don't burn yourself, and please don't rub your eye anytime during the handling of these things. I only show the next picture because I think our blender looks cool.
I pour some of the pepper water (a little more than pictured) in the blender to get the right consistency for the sauce it's about to become. That consistency would be about that of heavy cream. Mmmm, cream. Add salt- kosher salt is my go to rock for cooking.

Next, take the cubes o' pork and sear them until the outside is brown and the house has a smell that could convert the most fervent vegetarian. I show the next picture because the pot I cooked these things in is also very cool. And I know that people like pictures a lot more than my writing.
Once you get everything browned up, and that is an important step (it's known as the maillard effect, for all you fans of Alton Brown) take the pork out and throw in a finely diced onion. Cook it until it gets nice and soft and porky. Now it's time to add the pork back in and the braising liquid from the blender. By the way, that braising liquid makes a really good hot sauce. I add a little raw garlic, and a thimble full of champagne vinegar to it for that particular incarnation. Let the whole thing simmer for as long as you can stand it. I try for four to six hours, but I usually can't wait that long. It keeps getting better as the days go by until it's all gone. That's usually not too long around these parts. Grab yourself a tortilla, some sour cream if you're into that, and that's about it. It comes with it's own sauce. I threw a little cilantro on top since it's growing right out back and all.