Sometimes people will ask, “where do you think of things you cook?” and most of the time the answer is easy. I don’t! I’d love to take credit or claim to be creative but in reality, food is food and cooking for the most part is cooking. But like most that have a passion, I find myself constantly immersed in things related to food. Reading, searching, eating, and even writing this blog are the main drivers that keep me so in to something so simple. And it helps that you guys come and read all about it!
So when I was on the train yesterday, paging through the most recent Saveur in the early morning, I knew I now had the rest of the day to come up with the details. Because a feature on Mexican food was triggering cravings for those bold flavors we all love. And even though “Mexican” food has taken on something of an Americanized spin in our daily lives, if you focus on the fresh ingredients and strong balance of acid and spice, who cares!
But there were so many great looking recipes to choose from; amazing looking enchiladas, delicious soups and stews, and even some amazing street food. So it was up to a second source of inspiration to really solidify the meal. Over at Macheesmo, I was reading a great post on “the slippery slope of homemade”. Essentially, the discussion was around the balance between knowing and enjoying how to make your own pastas, breads, jams, or whatever and going overboard and obsessing. The perfect example he gave is in making your own hamburgers. If you are grinding your own meat, baking your own buns, and creating your own ketchup and mustard, have you gone too far? My opinion is, it all depends on who you are and what you love. For some cooking is a necessity and even a burden. For other’s it’s a passion. We all need to find our happy medium.
Enter my chicken tacos! Rather than going the typical route of lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, and shredded cheese that make up the bulk of taco nights (I would imagine), I decided to go a bit more traditional; at least as for the flavors and the presentation. With shredded red cabbage, cotija cheese, and a tomato cucumber and cilantro chunky salsa, these absolutely hit the spot. So what about that homemade discussion?
It was on my way home, that I had a great idea. My meat grinder attachment had been lying idle for quite some time. And being that ground chicken or ground turkey bought in the store often tastes like nothing and more often than not has the consistency of mush, I decided I’d grind my own. The more I use my grinder the more I’m sold on the quality and economic argument to grinding your own meat. Purchasing a 3.5 lb Murray’s Chicken for $11.00 and breaking it down myself left me with bones to roast for a delicious stock and almost two full pounds of ground chicken. Using both the white and the dark meat seasoned with garlic, paprika, chili powder, and oregano created a ground chicken rich in flavor beyond belief. And the tortillas? Remember that happy medium? These were store bought!