Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Nothing says Spring like eating with your hands. After the eight month freeze, people in Canada start acting a little funny: Oh, it's four degrees above freezing, you say? Hold on, let me get my shorts and sandals. Ten degrees with and overcast on a Tuesday? Let's hit the patio and get a bucket of Coronas at lunch. I'll admit it, I'm guilty of a little of the crazy. We woke up yesterday morning and Mina looked outside at the gray skies, birds chirping on the barren branches draped with torn plastic bags, preening their feathers of the spitting rain, the damp gray sidewalk littered with a crust of dirt and cigarette butts in the wake of melted snow banks, and commuters heading to work in their rain coats, umbrellas in hand, and she said, "It's beautiful outside." And I thought, "Yeah, it is, isn't it."
So, in that spirit. Why not kick off Spring (there are, literally, snow flakes outside the window, today, on April 5th) with fajitas?
Chipotle Ground Beef Fajitas with Guacamole
1lb lean ground beef (chuck works, but you could use ground sirloin if you're feelin classy)
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
2 onions, halved and sliced
1 to 5 dried chipotle peppers, ground (pick your poison: the more pepper the higher the flame)
3 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 C sour cream, for topping
1/2 C cheddar, grated for topping
3 diced jalapenos, for topping
1 diced tomato, for topping
6 to 10 corn fajitas, lightly toasted (use an open gas burner and tongs if you have them)
For the guacamole
2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted and crosshatched in their skins
1/2 a bunch of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, stems and all
3 green onions, finely sliced horizontally
2 limes, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chili powder (or mexicali spice mix)
Start by making your guac. Gently turn the cut avocado out of its skin with a tablespoon directly into a bowl and fold in (just as if you were taking care to preserve whipped egg whites, because you don't want your diced avocado to turn into mush) cilantro, lime juice, green onions, and salt to taste. Then top with the chili powder. My favourite is to use a micro grater to dust the top of the guac with a dried nacho chili - and yes, those are a real variety of pepper.
Put half the oil in a small cast iron (or non-stick) pan and turn the heat to high. In a second medium-sized pan, add the remaining oil and half of your onion and cook for three to four minutes, until onions are soft, then add ground beef and stir through.
By now, your small cast iron pan should be smoking hot. Toss in the red and green pepper and remaining onion. Shake the pan hard once or twice, then listen to the sizzle. Toss every half-minute for five minutes, while keeping an eye on the beef mixture. When your peppers have blackened at the edge, remove from heat (if they stick at all, flick or spray some water into the pan and shake loose). Continue to stir your beef until the moisture has cooked off, then salt, pepper and add the chipotle. Cook for another minute, then remove from heat. The rest is simple: spread all your separate ingredients on a platter and start the free-for-all. Also, if you've got some, serve this dish with hot sauce and cold beer.