D's favourite meal at the moment is nachos made with beef machaca. He was so excited about it that he asked if he could have some of his workmates around for dinner, since he'd talked about it so much that they wanted to try it too. The night grew from there.
As we invited a few more people to come, I decided that we needed to expand the menu a little bit. Nachos are great, but since it was turning into a little dinner party I thought a little variety was in order. I browsed through countless Mexican websites and online cookbooks, looking for recipes that preferably could be prepared in advance and didn't require any obscure or hard to find ingredients.
In the end, the menu consisted of adaptations of beef machaca, pico de gallo salsa, Mexican rice, Mexican restaurant salad and grilled corn with chilli lime butter. Throw in some Mexican beer and good conversation, it made for an awesome night. We live on the other side of town from most of our friends, so we don't have people at our place very often. This dinner party of ten people was the most people we've ever had in our house at one time. We've decided that it went so well that we'll have to make it a regularly occuring event, except now that I'm back at work we haven't worked out how regularly it will happen.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of things once people started arriving and the food got laid out, so there are no pictures of the corn or the finished salad or the beef machaca and salsa. There are photos of the things I made in advance though!
Everything was wonderful and completely worthy of being made again. Maybe not all at once though.
See this post for the recipes for the beef machaca and pico de gallo salsa. We made an awful lot of the beef machaca, it filled my 5L slow cooker!
adapted from Pot Scrubber's recipe on Recipezaar
This rice is fantastic. It has the most amazing flavour and it's really moreish. It's great by itself or mixed with some beef machaca and sour cream, plus it can be made in advance or even frozen and then reheated to be as good as new. I've made this twice, using tinned tomatoes the first time and then some leftover jarred salsa the second time. I think the jarred salsa worked a little better because it added some more heat that I don't get from using chilli sauce in place of actual chillis, plus you get the added flavours from the capsicum pieces. I've posted my recipe using the salsa below, but see the link above for the original recipe using fresh or canned tomatoes.
1 jar bought salsa - medium heat
1 cup tomato passata (or as needed)
1 medium white onion
a dash or three of sriracha chilli sauce
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
4 minced garlic cloves
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup fresh coriander, minced
Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Process salsa and onion in processor or blender until pureed and thoroughly smooth. Transfer mixture to measuring cup and add passata to make two cups.
Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear- about 1 1/2 minutes.Shake rice vigorously to remove excess water.This step removes the starch from the rice so it will not stick. (the recipe says that you must do this or your rice will not be dry and fluffy, but I forgot the second time I made this and still had dry and fluffy rice. This may just be luck, so rinse your rice just in case)
Heat oil in heavy bottomed ovensafe 12 inch straight sided sautee pan or Dutch oven with tight fitting lid over medium high heat about 2 minutes. Drop a few rice grains in and if they sizzle then it is ready. Add rice and fry stirring until rice is light golden and translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and sriracha sauce and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.
Stir in broth, pureed mixture and salt. Increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.
Cover pan and transfer pan to oven to bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes.Stir well after 15 minutes.
Stir in coriander and pass lime wedges separately.
Mexican Restaurant Salad Dressing
adapted from cookiedog's recipe on Recipezaar
I only made the coriander sour cream dressing from this recipe and served it with some cos lettuce and cucumber as I just wanted a nice gentle side salad to give some more freshness to the nachos. I was going to add some avocado and feta, but my avocado turned out to be far too underripe so I decided not to add either. The dressing was a winner though, beautifully flavoured and full bodied. I'm going to make it again to use in pitas and wraps for lunch. I love the colour too, what an amazing green!
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup stemmed coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (about 1/2 bunch)
a dash or two of sriracha chilli sauce
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Put the lime juice, olive oil, mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and Parmesan in the container of a blender or food processor; process until smooth.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Grilled Corn with Chilli Lime Butter
adapted from Chef Kate's recipe on Recipezaar
I played around with this recipe a little bit before the party. I have no idea if anything I added was authentic Mexican, but I have my spices that I love and I added them with abandon. When I tested this recipe, I was a little less careless and the only changes I made was to use canned corn and no lime zest, so I can say the recipe is great, but I did love what came out of my playing around. See the link above for the recipe as written.
1 400g can corn kernels
3 tablespoons butter
dash of canola oil
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
dash or two of sriracha chilli sauce
Heat a medium frying pan to a medium high heat. Add butter and canola and melt.
Add chilli powder, cumin and paprika and stir until fragrant.
Add the corn and stir until well heated and coated in the spicy butter.