Archive | October, 2013

Grand Theft Chicken & Dumplings

30 Oct

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If necessity if the mother of invention, why have none of you mofos patented the covert green chile carrier? The demand is out there, as are the 3-D printers.  Mr. Sichler of Sichler Farms, the Heisenberg of ALBQ Green, would make an amazing supplier. Why? I once asked Mr. S about his favorite green chile platter. Expecting to hear about an Inca-old stew recipe for posole, my jaw must have notice-ably dropped at the uttering of the words “Olive Garden“. Mr. Sichler stopped, looked at me like I hadn’t brushed my teeth since birth, and continued on:”I always take in a small baggie of fresh green to put on a bowl of their potato and garlic soup.”

Genius, right? Except for the baggie part and that’s where you, dear inventor, comes in.

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Anyway, thanks to Mr. Sichler, green chile  juice has leaked down my leg waiting on cheese steaks, pizza slices and of course, bagels. While I’ve yet to set foot in an Olive Garden in this lifetime, last night I packed about a 1/4 cup of fresh green in one of those Ziploc disposable plastic containers we all keep far too long and run through our dishwashers and end up somehow with far more lids than containers into a Mariano’s. This local gourmetro grocer boasts a chicken and dumpling soup one would steal for. And last night I did just that, er both.

Dear Mariano’s – I did pay for the medium bowl of C&D, covertly dumped then stirred in some green and experienced Chi-Mex style nirvana.  Thank you – Me

Dear Mariano’s Customer – I work second shift and Mariano’s is one of the few decent grub outlets open after 6 in the area. Because I’d planned out yesterday’s meal days in advance and when you think about it across thousands of miles and for several years, going so far as to carry around a parcel of green that from a distance could very well have looked like medical MJ and landed me in the slammer, please understand how upon discovering the shiny C&D cauldron scraped dry (for the second night in a row) my jaw dropped like someone had just welcomed me to the “Olive Garden” until I noticed a medium, lidded container of C&D, with accompanying oyster crackers, sitting there as if maybe you’d either, as I hope a.) forgotten it  b.) walked off for a beverage, figuring nobody would ‘steal’ what obviously belonged to another patron or c.) decided to eat at the Olive Garden instead. It didn’t even take coming up with option c for me to simply take what the gods had obviously left out for me. Or, should you be a evolutionaryist, that I, obviously higher up the food chain if only because of the bulge in my pocket that is/was green because I was happy to see your soup there waiting for me and swooped down upon your dinner like a kestrel.

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Sincerely,

Me

PS – Here’s what would have been your mediocre supper looked like after my divine intervention.

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If any industrial designers read this, please start a kickstarter campaign to develop some kind of covert green chile carrier and delivery device. I’ll happily kick in, especially if you can make it look like a gun. One never knows when one might have to take extreme measures to get one’s soup or scare the silence into anyone witnessing one leaving an Olive Garden.

Get us outta here, Uncle Lou (RIP):

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Diff is the Riff

23 Oct

In the beginning…

IFLAG was founded on the principle that amongst the feeding millions there must be at least a couple of gringos like me whose culinary Corazon knows no love greater than that of the cuisine of Mexico – the Original Mexico, stretching el Norte to Oregon.

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Well, this hombre’s metaphorical heart, just as some prophetic poet waxed, has been ripped out by and sent on a journey around the world for good with last year’s arrival of the little buckaroo. Anywhere he goes so go I. The boy’s owns me like so many ex-Guvs’ Cook County Rolexes. And because this is I am more or less his father, I anyways owe to him a minimum of several thousand “HFS”s daily…and no, dearest CPS, I do not refer her to “Hos Fo Sho”. He hasn’t actually found the front door out. Mostly adventures happen here in Chicago, pops at the wheel to a soundtrack plucked on ukulele strings.

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Don’t hate the game, hate the playa (as in Ice-T, not the beach – sorry Tyga.)

While nobody’s gonna hashtag me the Hendrix or Heifetz or Khorshid of the uke in this lifetime, my remedial musical skills somehow doubled down as this week’s muse.

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Diga me: most pre-sampling popular songs can be realized on only three to four chords, quite often THE SAME THREE OR FOUR CHORDS. Across the decades I’ve listened to hundreds of thousands of songs and never really picked up on the profundity of this fact. What’s the diff? “The Riff”.

 

Uno, dos, one, two tres, quatro….

It should have been as obvious as the salsa on my sleeves, shoes, and son: Most Awesome Mexican-American dishes are made using THE SAME THREE TO FOUR (give or take a minor Aeolian augmented second note) ingredients. The Diff = The Riff.

 

Por lo tanto

Let us then riff on chicken, cheese, chile, beans, tomatoes, guac and tortillas (never to revisit this small beer metaphor again ever). These note’s I’ve riffed on pretty much every day since I heard the first three chords to “I Fought The Law” which is also “White Riot” and/or “Highway To Hell” which is also “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and/or “Bad Moon Rising” which is also “Blitzkrieg Bop” all of which sound amazing on the uke, as played by others.

 

The Main Ingredient

 

The Main Ingredients

pollo

The Power Chord: Greco-Roma Grilled Chicken Breasts

Marinade overnight in:

Trader Joe’s Olive Oil

Salt/Pepper/Mexican Oregano/Rosemary/Garlic Powder to taste

Pre-heat grill to 500-600. Grill five minutes a side, covered.

Major Chords

Tomato and/or salsa

Shredded cheddar  and/or smoked cheddar (from Tenuta’s in Kenosha)

Pinto beans (refried and caned or dry/boiled/salt & peppered)

Avocado and/or Guacamole

Roasted NM Green Chile and/or Roasted Jalapeno

Tortillas and/or Fritos

Minor Chords:

Roasted corn

Lime

Cilantro

The Hits

Thin Crust Smoked Cheddar Chicago-Style Mexican Pizza

Chic-Mex Thin Crust Pizza

Roasted Jalapeno/Chicken/Pinto/Cheese/Scallion/Heirloom tomato/upside-down Frito pie

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Tacos Del Halsted con pollo y maize

Chi-mex taco

The Notorious B.I.G.

You Will Know Us By The Trail of Blue-haired Cross-dressers

17 Oct

You may know him as the tortilla/diaper model, having been featured on IFLAG last June. No need to name names. Protect him from the NSA and future stalkers and/or bullies. Besides, he only really answers to dog barks, wolf howls and food. I mention the little critter here because our canine conversations inspired me to set the alarm clock early enough to hammer out a catch-up post. I have approximately 90 minutes to complete a post chock full of sabrosa feedings (and feelings) before said boy starts howling for his Chi-Mexless mix breakfast. Such is the schedule of a new/old papa grande.

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If you’re still with me, great, though I figured maybe the mention of dogs and wolves on a mostly food blog might send even the most adventurous eater running to the ASPCA. Other major turn-offs: diapers and hummus.

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There is a method to all this meandering.

It occurred to me yesterday how vital reconnecting to this blog, and the English language as communicated by grown-ups, albeit at a 3rd Grade reading level. Too much son can turn the brain into Gerbers.

Running late to work and confounded by Ventra, Chicago CTA’s latest public transportation pass upgrade/get-rich-quick-scheme/fiasco I hoped on a DIVVY – CTA gem  – to pedal Wicked Witch of the West fast to work. (Note to DIVVY designers: a 4th or 5th gear please? And maybe slow down on distribution. Rode past three full docks last week. Hey CTA! Two words: supply & demand.)

I didn’t get all Wizard of Ozy and cackle and screeh “I’ll get you my pretty,” yet spending most non-work waking hours immersed in the vernacular of a toddler finally overtook me at a traffic signal. A young Taylor Swift fan pulled up next to me in her forest green Saturn, this blissfully mild autumn morning, windows rolled down, stereo crancked. Riding shotgun her fellow blissed out traveler, her rescue mutt, hung his head out the window for a good pant. Overcome by this still life, I began to bark and say “doooogie googie doogie poochie poochie pooh”. Taylor Swift yanked her pooch in by the collar, rolled up the windows and nearly knocked me off the DIVVY making a hard right away getaway from this barking loon.

If only this weren’t the second public baby-babble/holwing outburst this week.

Background: In a desperately hilarious sad sack SAHD tome I read prior to the tortilla model’s arrival the author slyly creates a mix CD of his favorite animal songs to play for his kids that also serves to provide the reader a hip-ness check list.

Cut To: Taking a note from this book (hyuck) and upping the ante, I created both a iApe and iDog tunes folders. Obviously Snoop is number one with a bullet (hycuk 2.0) with George Clinton riding shotgun. The lesser known – to my middle/indeterminate aged ears -is a ‘Big Bad Wolf” (NC-17 video closes out this post), which is, as they say on the BBC, “a real banger”.  Even though dance tracks are really songs and don’t really have choruses, this chorus of this song is incredibly danceable and sing-a-ble “The big bad wolf, hoowwoooooohhh”. The UK sausage comparison becomes obvious.

If you are still with me it’s obvious where this new paragraph is heading. So yes, with the tortilla model faced out, strapped into the Bjorn for all the world to fawn over and adore, we strolled merrily along north up Halsted street. Lost in the bliss known only to a 1 y.o . tortilla model and his pop aroused on such outings, I unconsciously broke out singing “Big Bad Wolf”, replete with howls and beats…at top volume causing a 6’3’ blue-haired cross-dresser to scurry, no, sprint through traffic towards safety.

Or the tortilla model might put it:

Q: Why did the blue haired cross-dresser cross the road?

A: The Big Bad Wolf.

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All of this of course, an exhaustingly prolix explanation and/or excuse for the dearth of posts – it’s not like I’m not eating – while a lot of comida rico continues to go in my mouth all that’s come out – until now – is HOOOWWWWLLLLLll….anyway, onto the the vittles:

Colorado Cantaloupe w/ Lime and New Mexico Chile Powder

Rocky Ford Cantalope with lime and NM Red Chile powder

Inhaled this astounding combination daily in DF, 2000 – along with a considerable amount of smog. No better way to have melon. Same holds true for a Southern (as in Dixie) version: Honeydew w/ lemon and black pepper.

Taost and Hot Honey Monkey Toast

toast

Taost

Layers: butter, cream cheese, raspberry preserves, green chile

Hot Honey Monkey Toast

Layers: butter, peanut butter, banana slices, hot honey

Pollo Asado del Magico Realisticimo

This one talks in stereo to your lengua – not unlike those parrots in Love In The Time of Cholera.

Seriously, if you can whip up a better marinade shoot me an email with directions: to you casa, for dinner, pronto….

Before:

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After:IMG_3589

Marinade boneless chicken breasts overnight in the following mix; adjust to your preferences:

¼ cup Trader Joe’s Virgin Olive Oil

tsp salt

tsp black pepper

pinch Mexican oregano

tbls red chile powder

tsp red chile powder (from same spice section as oregano: “ethnic foods”)

few shakes of garlic powder and Goya Adoba

juice of 1/3-1/2 lime

Splash of tequllla

The Next Day:

Heat grill to 500 degrees min

Let pollo reach room temperature

Grill covered 5 minutes a side

Remove from grill and cover with aluminum foil for 5 minutes

Serve chopped/sliced/whole/on a stick/in a tortilla/etc

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Exhibit A: Torta

Torta

Layers: smushed black beans, tomatoes, PAMR, roasted jalapeno, avacado

Pan: La Boulangerie

OwwwwhooooooooOooOooooOooo….