Monday, September 10, 2012
Me, I like to use cast iron when I cook. Somehow that Iron is bound to end up in my food, enriching it just by virtue of having been cooked in an iron pan. For the same reason I don't heat things up in plastic. Those carcinogens are bound to end up in my food, and I have enough going against me as it is. Glass Is Life. (I mean, I wouldn't put cast iron in a microwave.)
It all begins with a little yellow box. Fideo. Mexican vermicelli. The price of the little yellow box was 4/$1.00 when I was in school. The price the other day when I bought a box was 4/$1.00. And, it's been a few years since I was in school; I'm just saying.
So, I lied about it beginning with the little yellow box. Indeed, it is all about said box, but for me it begins with onion, garlic and green chilies. I give the onion a rough cut, white or yellow onion. A few cloves of garlic chopped. I like garlic. Heat a cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat and when it's ready add oil. I generally use corn oil, but feel free to use vegetable or olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and the can of green chilies. Sauté for about 5 minutes then add the garlic. (I like to give the onions and chilies a head start.)
Heat another skillet, add a bit of oil and brown a pound of ground beef, after seasoning it with salt and pepper. Once the ground beef is browned (it doesn't have to be completely cooked at this point; we're going to cook it further later) remove it from the pan, being as conscientious about removing the juices as you please. If you've removed everything then you'll need to add a tad more oil to the skillet and brown the fideo until it's toasted.
Back at our Dutch oven, add a can of tomatoes to the veggies. I break these up with my spatula – the metal kind used for flipping pancakes. When I was in school my mother told me that I would need to learn how to cook with a spoon, and I believed her. I felt that when I grew up I would cook properly, using a spoon, and in the mean time I continued using the spatula. More or less the same way that I believed that when I grew up I would like girls, and while I waited for that transition I continued dreaming about the boys in my class and the male teachers. But, let's face it, my cast iron skillet and Dutch oven are flat on the bottom and the spatula is flat on the end. They match. I can scrape the bottom of the Dutch oven infinitely faster with my flat spatula than I could with a round spoon – the spoon makes very limited contact with the bottom. And about the girl/boy thing... I have since given up on that transition. It was lies, all lies.
So, the tomatoes are cut up; add the fideo, ground beef and a can of beef broth. (Or, if you're really a Susie-Homemaker and you have beef stock in the freezer use that, just have it thawed out when you begin.) I usually add about a half a can more of water to the can, swill it around, pour some into the chili can, swill it around and then pour all of it into the tomato can, swill and pour it into the Dutch oven.
Bring all of this to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover and let cook for about 15 minutes. Or 10, I forget. When you've cooked it, remove the lid, give it a stir, scraping the bottom, unless you've burned it in which case you don't want the burned flavor infusing your food so don't scrape. When it is stirred/scraped, remove it from the heat and cover. Let stand.
Here's the thing. You can eat this after 5 minutes or, you can let it cool, put it in the fridge and eat it hours or a day later. The flavors blend and are enhanced by a little bit of waiting, much like marinara sauce. Leftover fideo tacos with flour tortillas is possibly the best food on earth.
And, that's how I make fideo. Not that you asked.
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