Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Barbacoa and Butchers

I've posted already about barbacoa, that time prepared in a slow cooker. I'm no longer in Mexico, though the slow cooker still is, somewhere, and I really missed my weekend barbacoa.

The problem wasn't the cooking vehicle though. Finding any cut of meat beyond the most standard in Ireland is actually a bit of a chore. A butcher these days seems to be a guy who slathers some horrible marinade on some chops and arranges them on a tray. I've tried to find flank steak, beef cheek, beef tongue and beef shin in all types of butchers and have got everything from a vacant stare, to an assurance "we don't keep that, the meat inspector makes us throw it out", to promises to order it an call me.. that never seem to be fulfilled.

After more driving around town than I would have though necessary I picked up two smallish beef cheeks, so was finally able to make some barbacoa.

(There was a whole palaver between the butcher and his helper. There-is-one-there-I'm-sure-no-there isn't-yes-there-is-I'm-sure, followed by a long trip to the cold room and the cheeks were put quickly into a bag whereupon I was then asked "you're going to cook it slow yeah?". Between that and the exploratory cut I found later in the meet I'd say the butcher wasn't very confident in his product... or just thought I was insane. Anyway, it cooked up fine and I'm still alive.)

I cooked it in the pressure cooker rather than the slow cooker. For the liquid I blended some onion and good half a head of garlic, a couple of cloves, salt and a couple of chiles de arbol with a couple of cups of water. I used this as the liquid in the pressure cooker. The meat cooked for just under two hours and turned out perfectly. Exactly the smooth, meaty, unctuous dish I remember and missed so much.

Operation arrachera on the other hand is still ongoing. Unfortunately.

The very definition of Mexican food is a multicultural cuisine

From The Splendid Table

'The very definition of Mexican food is a multicultural cuisine' 

A conversation between Pati Jinich and Gustavo Arellano (she of Pati's Mexican table and he of the book Taco USA and the very funny Ask a Mexican column) on the multicultural nature of Mexican cuisine.

It's something I hadn't originally been aware of. It's not until you are there and see the soy sauce, magi sauce and Worcester sauce everywhere as well as the pastries that you realise how much Mexican cuisine has adsorbed from elsewhere.