How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Salsa Two-Fer

Perhaps it was because we are soon to be taking our first trip to Puerto Rico, which we have hoped to do for many years. More likely, it is simply because I was craving one of my favorites from our recipe shelf -- Puerto Rican Chicken Fajita. I have no idea how common this actually is in Puerto Rico, but we love it in our house -- chicken breasts hammered thin and charred hot with chopped walnuts (or pine nuts), along with unripe banana slices is wrapped in a big flour tortilla with onion-orange salsa, and sour cream. This recipe allows The Well-Filled Tortilla to earn its title, as well as a prominent spot on our recipe shelves.
One of the major Testaments in our kitchen
I'll digress for a moment to share one recent finding in the "cooking for two" department. When serving flour tortillas, I have had a habit of rolling them up in wax paper and briefly softening them in the microwave. I recently discovered that if I am using our indispensible cast-iron skillet, I can just toss the tortillas into the pan -- as if they were a soft lid -- a half minute before the meal is ready to serve. If I'm serving two tortillas, I put them both in, and then flip them together after a half-minute. This puts the damp sides out, so I invert them for serving. Just try it -- it is easier than it sounds.

For the "Puerto Rican" fajitas, I was careful with proportions, which meant I wasted no chicken, but I had a significant amount of salsa (onion/orange/jalapeno) left over.

Librarian to the rescue! When it came time to use the rest of the salsa, Pam put her information-literacy skills to effective use, searching for the salsa in the cookbook's index to see if the publisher linked it to any other recipes. Oddly, the index item for this salsa does not include the dish from which we first learned of it. The index does list two options: a squid-olive concoction or a fajita with turkey and bacon. Pam has a famously strong aversion to olives and we are both indifferent (at best) to squid. Plus we had chicken left over from the previous effort, which could do for turkey in a pinch. That only left the question of bacon. Let's see.... Yes, bacon!

This recipe required cutting the bacon into small pieces and cooking it slowly, essentially making high-end baco-bits. I prepared these and set them aside. I then cut the chicken breasts into about four "cutlets" each and marinated them in a mixture of diced jalapeno (left over from salsa preparation), tequila, and lime juice. I then seared these on high heat in a bit of olive oil, and we wrapped them in tortillas (warmed as above) with the salsa and sour cream.

The verdict: so delicious it is not even fair to other tacos. We will definitely be making this "leftover" dish again!

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