100% Bradley Cooking
Ribs Coated with a Beer Reduction
Blue Corn Tortillas made from Dried Corn Kernels
Sauces made from Dried Peppers and Fresh Hatch Chiles
The Secret to Frijoles Refritos
Bradley Rendered Lard
Divorced by Frijoles Refritos Negro, a blue corn tostada and a yellow corn tostada covering beans and cheese then covered with Carne con Chile Rojo and the other covered in Carne con Chile Verde with various trimmings.
Divide a blue corn tortilla tostada and a yellow corn tortilla tostada in half. Garnish with purple and green lettuce. Place queso fresco on the yellow tortilla and sharp cheddar
on the blue corn. Cover in hot beans
Cover with the matching half of the tostada and place a generous scoop of beans
in the middle.
Fully Dressed Ultimate Tostadas Divorciados
Cover top tostada with Carne
con Chile Rojo (Red Chile and Pork sauce) or Carne
con Chile Verde (Green Chile and Pork Sauce). Place a red and a green Hatch chile in the middle. Sprinkle one side with Queso Fresco and one side with extra sharp cheddar
. Garnish with fresh sliced avocados and garden ripe tomatoes. Mix pureed tomatillos with the green chile sauce and roasted pureed tomatoes with the red chile sauce for two salsas. Add fresh garden jalapenos to the verde side and vine ripened sweet serranos to the rojo side.
Most respectable (and Not so respectable) Taqurias in Texas have a common breakfast item on the menu; Huevos Divorciados. While the recipe may vary somewhat, it consists of two sunny side up eggs on a large plate. The eggs are separated by a line of black beans and then one egg is covered by a red salsa as is common in Heuvos Rancheros; the other is under a layer of salsa verde (green salsa). Divorced eggs is the ultimate dish for the man who cannot make up his mind. Come to think, it kind of reminds you of why a man ends up divorced in the first place.
This dish came to mind when I first read the Iron Chef ingredients. While I have never heard of Tostadas Divorciados and I think this is an original dish, this is my take on how Divorced Tostadas should be.
A tostada is not just a Tex-Mex dish. It has its humble beginning in Mexico, where stale tortillas were fried in lard on a cast iron comal. The crisp tortilla was commonly covered in refried beans and then topped with other tidbits left over from previous meals. It was quick and easy for madresita and at the same time an enjoyable make your own meal that was filling and got rid of any leftovers in a society where nothing went to waste.
My Tostada Divorciados vision is of the ultimate tostada divided in half, separated by frijoles
refritos negro (refried black beans
) and also used as base layer. Subsequent layers of each half would include ingredients of opposing tastes and colors. A yellow corn tortilla would be opposed by a blue corn tortilla, tomatoes would be matched by avocados, white salty queso fresco would be countered by extra sharp cheddar
, green jalapenos would be opposite a sweet vine ripened serrano, purple leaf lettuce would be matched by green lettuce.
The star of the show would be Bradley smoked country style cut pork ribs
covered in Mexican spices and mopped with a beer reduction. The ribs are pulled in the middle of the fat and collagen melting process, cut into bite sized chunks, then reintroduced into the Bradley smoker covered in either a green chile sauce made with Hatch chiles or a rich red sauce made form New Mexico dried chiles, Chile de Arbol and Anchos. This will finish the melting and tenderization process, allowing the juices to blend with the sauces.
One of my self imposed goals in Iron Chef Bradley contests is to attempt to cook everything in the Bradley to increase my knowledge of its capabilities. While it was not the best use of time and opening and closing the Bradley door often greatly prolonged the cooking process, everything was indeed cooked in the Bradley.
So take off the cowboy hat, put on your sombrero, grab a drink and join me in the journey. I present for the first time anywhere – Tostadas Divorciados cooked 100 % in the Bradley. Recipes, methods and photos follow.
Competition ingredients are Country Style Pork Ribs
, Black Beans
(above), and Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
in photo below.
Competition and Supplemental ingredients. Extra Sharp Cheddar
, Fresh Mexican Cheese, Fresh cilantro, Pasilla chile, Ancho Chile, Garden grown jalapeños and red serranos, dried yellow dent corn, dried blue dent corn, Mexican oregano, whole cumin, garlic, roasted hatch chiles, tomatoes, avacados and garden blend lettuce.
Additional supplemental ingredients. Pickling Lime to prepare dried corn for nixtamal, homemade chicken stock,
sweet yellow onions.
One of the best cooking beers ever. Used as a beer reduction to coat the ribs and also in the frijoles.
Tortillas de Masa de Maíz (Corn Tortillas from dried ground corn kernels)
If you do not want to be hooked, never try this in the first place. Nearly all packaged corn tortillas in the states are made with Masa de "Masa Harina": Corn Dough from Packaged Masa Harina Mix. This makes an acceptable tortilla that we are used to. In Mexico, even in small villages, a local vendor specializes in making Nixtamal. This is dent corn (not sweet corn) that has been limed overnignt to remove the outer hull and as a by product releases the niacin in the corn for use in the human body. Early morning through noon, Mexican women can be seen walking down the street precariously balancing on their heads a container covered with a cloth. They are on their way to or from the Nixtamal vendor. Their cargo is fresh ground masa. It is a daily ritual because of the short shelf life of masa but is well worth the trouble.
Here is an interesting article for those who want to know more.
How Mexico’s iconic flatbread went industrial and lost its flavor http://www.grist.org/article/masa
The tortillas made in this dish are Masa de Maíz: Corn Dough from dent corn that has gone through the nixtamalization process, then ground into masa.Nixtamal: Corn that has been heated and soaked in lime to remove skin
1 pound dried corn kernels, approximately 2 cups
6 cups water
1/2-ounce slaked lime or pickling lime (commonly called cal), approximately 2 tablespoons
Rinse the corn under cool water; drain and set aside.
Place the water and the lime into a 3 1/2 to 4-quart, non-reactive stockpot (seen on bottom shelf of Bradley), set over medium-low heat, and stir to combine. Add the corn and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Make sure that it takes at least 30 to 45 minutes to come to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat, cover, and allow to sit at room temperature overnight. Do not refrigerate.
After an overnight soak the corn skins will be dissolved and easily removed.
Drain finished the corn in a large colander and rinse under lukewarm water for 5 to 6 minutes while rubbing the corn kernels between your fingers in order to remove the outer coating. Place the corn into a large bowl, cover with lukewarm water, and allow to soak for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, rinse, and repeat. Use the nixtamal immediately to make masa dough for tortillas.
Dry corn well. Pulse in a food processor or use a corn grinder. Add a pinch of sea salt during the process to taste. Some articles proport that masa cannot be ground fine enough in a food processor to produce tortillas. It is true that you must have a powerful processor and the corn must not have excess water on the exterior to process well. However, if these two conditions are met, my experience is that a food processor will produce a grind similar to double grinding in a hand crank corn grinder which is the traditional home method.
Ground blue corn. This needs to be a little finer. When
finely ground add water a teaspoon full at a time to produce
a dry dough.
Ground yellow corn dough
Blue corn dough ball ready to be pressed After testing several materials, the tried and true Mexican method of using the thin plastic grocery bags as liners is indeed the best choice (cheap also). If the masa is too wet it will never separate cleanly from the liner.
Pressed dough ball
Initial cooking of the blue corn tortilla on the heat shield in the Bradley. Comal Temperature is 400 degrees. Do not worry about a rustic look. These are handmade tortillas, not machine perfect. The taste is unbelievably better.
Turning the tortilla into a tostada by frying in lard. The Bradley will fry by placing the comal on the heat deflector to achieve high heat. Fry until crisp.
Frijoles - Beans
Soak the beans overnight, drain, rinse and sort well, looking for foreign material.
Add all bean ingredients. Place the beans underneath the
pork to capture drippings. Simmer until soft.
1 Lb dried pinto beans or black beans
eight slices bacon cut in four pieces per slice
4 Cloves fresh minced Garlic (preferably sautéed or caramelized add 6)
½ Tbs chili powder
½ Tbs Ground Ancho, New Mexico Ground Chili, Pasilla or double chili powder
pinch of Epozote or Epozote tea (optional)
½ minced sweet yellow onion caramelized
1/4 bottle of dark beer
1 Tbs molasses (add sugar to taste near finishing)
Fresh cracked pepper (1 to 2 teaspoon) and sea salt to taste
28 oz Chicken Stock or Broth to just cover (preferably homemade or low sodium Swansons) (finish with Beer)
Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans)
The secret to fantastic refried beans is homemade lard. If the term lard scares you, use bacon grease (still scared), use butter (sigh, still scared), use canola oil or olive oil.
Preheat a cast iron skillet to very hot. Add three or four table spoons of lard, throw in garlic and onions. Caramelize. (alternately add pre caramelized onions and garlic). Add precooked very soft beans. Add green chiles to desired level. Fry the beans in the oil until they start to break up. You can assist this with a fork. Add additional lard to keep the beans creamy and moist.
Did you ever wonder why you couldn't duplicate that special flavor from your favorite taquria? Making your own lard is the only way to go. The canned stuff you buy at the store is tasteless and unhealthy. Homemade lard has no transfats and is not hydrogenated. Lard is made from pork fat. I recommend calling the store a day ahead and ask them to save their pork scrapes. Not all grocery stores cut their own pork and they cannot help you but keep trying until you find one that cuts their own pork. Tell them that you want fat to render lard. It is not worth messing with if you have less than 10 pounds of fat.
15 lbs pork fat
The good news is that the Bradley provides the perfect environment in which to produce lard. Preheat the Bradley to 200 degrees. Cut the fat into one inch cubes. Spread the fat out in a large roaster pan or a stock pot with a lid. Place in oven for 2 or 3 hours. Stir periodically. Occasionally pour the fat through cheese cloth or a funnel and filter used for straining oil. Continue to cook until all of the fat has been rendered. Put the fat into clean jars and freeze until ready to use. You will end up with something that looks like pure white Vegetable shortening but with a flavor out of this world. Lard will keep for several months in the freezer. Use this treat in biscuits, tortillas, tamales, carnitas, refried beans, and other dishes for a whole new level of flavor.
Bonus: The crispy leftover cracklin' like pieces are addictive. If you have any left after grazing on them, they can be frozen and used as further flavoring in other dishes.
Adobo Chile Rojo - Red Chile Sauce Marinade
Place stemmed and seeded Anchos, Pasillas, and chile de Arbol in cast iron skillet covered with homemade chicken stock. Simmer for ten minutes.
Add caramelized garlic and onions. Blend well in a blender. Add more chicken stock as necessary to blend.
A food mill will separate fine skin and seeds from the paste.
Run mixture through a food mill to produce a creamy paste.
Add pureed tomatoes to taste. Mix well and pour over pork.
Adobo Chile Verde - Green Chile Marinating Sauce
Peel several roasted Hatch Chiles. The skin of a properly roasted chile will slip off easily.
A peel and a chile. The chile will be meaty and flavorful.
Add caramelized garlic and onions. Add an equal amount of tomatillas. Blend and pour over pork.
Season the ribs with sea salt, pepper, Mexican oregano, and whole cumin.
Smoke until the outside browns and firms up.
One Beer Reduced in the Bradley on the Heat Shield
Cover in a beer reduction for moisture,color and flavor. Place back in the Bradley for further cooking.
Pull the ribs at 170 internal temperature and cut into chunks. By pulling before the fat and collagen melt, this flavor will trickle into your sauce.
Cover 1/2 in red chile sauce and 1/2 in green chile sauce. Finish by simmering in the Bradley until fall apart tender. Add more heated sauce occasionally to keep moist.
What I Learned
It was an interesting and educational process. While I achieved my goal of 100% Bradley cooking, it was certainly not a prudent use of time. Opening and closing the Bradley door prolonged the cook dramatically. Continual addition of cold ingredients did the same. The photos do not show the platters full of onions, garlic and tomatoes that were necessary to brew up these concoctions. I did learn the upper limit temperatures achievable in the Bradley. I was able to get 415 degrees on a cast iron skillet placed directly on the heat deflector. Removing the water bowl drastically raises the heat factor. This was certainly enough to fry a tostada.
I was also able to learn better where the optimum levels were for different ingredients and the effects of moving items around. I did use the heat deflector level to bring the beans up to temperature as well as reducing the beer. I now have an additional cooking shelf that can come in handy. I would not regularly cook using all of these methods but I will use some of them.
All in all, it was worth the time to learn more about the Bradley. I will be a better smoker for my efforts.
Once again, the Bradley produced an outstanding meal.
A real Winner.
I hope you enjoyed the pachanga and the smoke.