Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Dinner: "I wish I was at Rubio's" Tacos

I am a predictable woman. The most spontaneous thing I have done in life was move to Mexico, and I spent 2 years planning that. I was crazy enough as a teenager, so now I like life to be something I can easily control. I like traditions and mundane activities. I like that I rent a movie every Tuesday night while I drink wine and try to pretend it’s Friday and that I wear the same shirt to work every Friday. I like that I put an orange in the toe of the Christmas stockings every year because that’s what my mom did and that I make my husband cinnamon rolls every year on his birthday because he hates cake... What can I say? I’m a sucker for tradition.

Of all of our silly Cruz/Bonderer traditions, my favorite is Sunday Dinner. I cook quite a bit. It’s the one part of the “housewife” label that I can wear proudly. I don’t mop the floors, I sulk as I put away the laundry, I burn clothes when I try to iron them, and I don’t even know where we keep the Fabuloso, but damned if I don’t make sure my husband eats a homemade meal almost every night. I know I lucked out with a man who is willing to do all those other household chores. I try to suck it up and pull my weight, but I must admit that he easily does 3 quarters of the housework. I do make all of our meals and keep the kitchen clean… but the rest? Not so much.

Anyway, back to the food. I love to cook. I know my blogs here have been few and far between (due to lack of inspiration) and because I’ve always wanted to start a food blog, I figured I’d combine the two. After all, a big part of being a “real housewife” is feeding your family, right? I will be blogging each week about our Sunday Dinner. I hope everyone enjoys it, and based on responses to my Facebook posts about Sunday dinners, you just might. Now I should warn you, I am no Leslie Limon. I cannot say I know what I am doing, because even after several years of cooking for my husband, I still feel as though every meal is an experiment. I just cook things I like to eat and make crap up as I go along. Fortunately, my mom is always just a phone call away if I need to know how long to cook a certain cut of meat, or what a certain herb is used for.

I aim to try out new things for Sunday dinner, because I have more time on my hands than I do during the week, but I like to stay true to my Midwestern roots with classic stand-by entrees, like fried chicken or pork chops or barbeque ribs. Speaking of my beloved BBQ, I also have the added struggle of being married to a Mexican man who doesn’t like “sweets, salsa marinara, or barbeque sauce” among many other things. You probably won’t find spaghetti or barbeque chicken on my Sunday dinner menu. My husband's hatred of barbeque sauce is what really boils my Kansas City blood, but he likes what he likes. I wouldn’t eat lengua or pulpo if you paid me, so I can’t gripe about his preferences either.

I promise I will be honest about how things turn out. It isn’t always pretty. I can only remember one thing that my mother cooked that we all hated. It was what I refer to as the "Turkey Rice Incident of 1997". We all gave her a hard time, and joked with her for years after the fact, but it wasn’t that bad. I have many more “incidents” that are practically catastrophic because they usually involve undercooked meat. There was a particular incident in 2005 where I made fried chicken and when my husband bit into it, blood squirted out. Oops. With that being said, please do not make any of the recipes I may post until you read my "afterthoughts" section where I will post what I thought about the recipe and what I would change for next time. I can say I have been doing better in the last couple of years and have even been able to get a bit more adventurous with my menus without putting anyone in the hospital. Score!

Tonight, I am seriously wishing I could teleport us back to Arizona, so we could go to Rubio’s. The Mexican food here in Juarez is not anything like what I was used to in Arizona. I think Arizona has more influences from the Baja than they have here in Chihuahua, or even Texas for that matter. The Mexican food is good in Juarez and El Paso, but I have yet to be blown away, with the exception of The Corona Special from Julio’s Cafe Corona in El Paso.

So here I am, wishing I could have a delicious 2 taco plate from Rubio’s, more than I wish to be 5’10” like Cindy Crawford. It’s not happening folks. All I could do was dig through my taste bud’s memories and see if I could recreate a recipe that would slightly resemble the OH.MY.GODness of Rubio’s chicken tacos and beans. The menu’s brief description of the tacos that my husband and I always ordered is “Grilled chicken, fresh guacamole, jack and cheddar cheese, lettuce and salsa. Served on your choice of a soft corn or thick flour tortilla.” My love of Rubio’s was formed long before we ever moved to Mexico, and before I ever learned to appreciate the delicacy that is the corn tortilla. I used to be an harina fan, all the way. So tonight, I stuck with our old traditions and used flour tortillas as I attempted to recreate the euphoria that is a Rubio’s taco.

“I wish I was at Rubio’s” Tacos Recipe:

Chicken Marinade (recipe to follow)
2 chicken breasts
Guacamole (avocado smashed with lime juice, garlic & salt to taste)
Lettuce (I prefer Romaine but can’t find it in Mexico so I had to use Iceberg)
Tomatoes
Jack/Cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top of each taco
Chipotle White Sauce (recipe to follow)
Small flour tortillas, about 5-6” in diameter
Tortilla chips
Beans to dip your chips in (recipe to follow)

Marinate chicken over night. Before you throw them on the grill, pound out the breasts until they are about ½” thick. Pound it with whatever works. Your fist or maybe a hammer? I used a rolling pin because I have yet to add a cool meat mallet to my kitchen utensil collection. I will confess that I have (even recently) used the hammer from my husband’s toolbox and, 2 Sundays ago, I used a 2 lb. dumbbell. Whatever works. I like to pound out chicken breasts before grilling because then more of the chicken gets those yummy, crystallized/charred bits, and it cooks faster, which is always a plus. Grill the chicken a tu gusto. Let the grilled chicken rest for about 5-10 minutes before you give it a rough chop. Heat the tortillas on a comal or in a skillet on the stove or over the grill that you used to cook the chicken. Spread the tortillas with a bit of guac and then add your grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato and cheese. You can add salsa at this point (as my husband does) but I like to eat these tacos with just a bit of the Chipotle White Sauce.

Serve a small dish of beans to dip your tortillas chips in. We like to dip each chip in the beans, and then in the Chipotle White Sauce. Heaven.

Chicken Marinade Recipe:

½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp fresh cracked pepper

Mix all together in a Ziploc bag and add chicken to marinate as long as possible but no more than over night.

Chipotle White Sauce Recipe:

¼ cup Miracle Whip
¾ cup sour cream
2 chipotle chilis (in adobo sauce) + 1 tsp of adobo sauce
Juice of half a lime (use the other half for 2 tequila shots)
1 tbsp cilantro, finely diced
1 tsp Garlic salt
½ tsp onion powder

Add all ingredients to the blender and puree.

I have no clue what the Chipotle White Sauce from Rubio’s has in it, other than chipotle peppers (duh) and a bunch of chemicals (according to their website.) This recipe is my best guess. My husband and I had a lengthy debate as to whether or not I should use Mayonnaise or Ranch in this recipe and in the end, we compromised with Miracle Whip. For the record, I wanted to use ranch.

Bean Recipe:

1 lb dried pinto beans
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tbps bacon drippings
Salt to taste

After sorting and rinsing, cook pinto beans in the crock pot for about 10 hours on low. I do not presoak the beans or add anything to the crock with the beans. I’m sure some people will think that’s nuts, but I add my seasonings after the fact. After the beans are cooked drain all of the liquid. Put beans in the blender and mix to desired consistency. Some people like their refried beans thicker (my husband) and some like them very thin (me.) I usually set aside about half a cup of the beans and add them after the rest is blended. The whole beans added to the pureed beans provide a texture that we can both be happy with. Put the bacon drippings in a pot large enough to hold the amount of beans you have and heat on a medium low heat. Once the drippings are melted, add your minced garlic and sauté until slightly golden. At this point add your blended beans to the pot. Mix thoroughly and salt to taste.

This is way more beans than you will need for dipping your chips in, but I make these a pound at a time and freeze the leftovers in sandwich bags with ½-1 cup of beans in each bag for future meals.

The results of my “invento” (as my husband calls my made-up recipes):



AFTERTHOUGHTS

The biggest changes that I would need to make with this meal would be to the Chipotle White Sauce. In the future I will nix the Miracle Whip all together and use a whole cup of sour cream. I would only use 1 chipotle chili in adobo because using 2 turned the white sauce orange and didn't lend enough to the overall flavor for it to be worth changing the color. . Kind of ruins the title, don't ya think? I would also cut the salt in half and leave the lime juice for my tequila. It didn't do much for me in the sauce.

The chicken was delicious although next time I don't think I will pound out the breasts. The texture was a little off compared to Rubio's and I think that was attributed to my pounding them out.

I know it's hard to achieve that same restaurant taste at home, but I had to try. My husband scarfed down 4 tacos and said, "No era como Rubio's, pero sacaste un 10." And he's right. All in all, this was a really good, restaurant quality meal, but it was not Rubio's. I think making those changes to the chicken and sauce will make a big difference next time I make this.

For dessert we had pecan bars, which I am excited to say that my husband declared he loved more than cinnamon rolls or Edward’s Hershey Pies which are the only 2 desserts he thinks he likes in the world. I suppose I should take back my previous mention of cinnamon rolls on my husband’s birthday because it looks like he’ll be getting candles in a pecan pie from here on out. Although I like to cook, I cannot stand baking, so the pecan bars were made from a Krusteaz box mix. I did try to make a pecan pie years ago but it was such a disaster (as are most of my baking attempts) that it ended up in the trash. I think I still have the corn syrup in my pantry from that pathetic attempt. Yes, I even moved my pantry stash from the United States to Mexico. :psycho: Does corn syrup expire?

8 comments:

  1. Love this post!!! :) Can't wait to see what goodies you'll be cooking up for Sunday Dinner! :)

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  2. This post just made my mouth gush saliva. I'm incredibly depressed right now because we only have access to about 1/3 of these ingredients, but I might spend the next several months trying to approximate something like this. Wow. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. I love this idea! I am always looking for new recipes. I'll be waiting for nexts weeks entry.

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  4. I love how you give alternative ways to do typical things people do in their kitchens.... like pound out the chicken breast with a hammer, weight, fist, whatever you can find! That made me laugh because I do not have a kitchen mallet either and apparently was not "bright" enough to think of an alternative.
    The sauce sounds incredible! I'm going to try that with your afterthought recommendations.

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  5. I'm enjoying reading your blog!

    Just wondering if you can't get the Romaine lettuce in El Paso and bring it back...

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    1. I would do that, but luckily in the 3 years since I wrote this I found romaine lettuce! It's called lechuga orejona :)

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  6. I used to work at rubios, I have found the best white sauce combo to be 2/3 c. sour cream or greek yogurt to 1/3 c. best foods mayonnaise about 1/2 t.(could be more I usually just eyeball it and see how it tastes) chipotle chile powder
    salt to taste also sometimes I add a dash of oregano. Using the chipotle chile powder seems to make the difference.

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    1. Oh and some milk to thin it a bit probably about 1 tablespoon

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