Monday, 12 August 2013

Once Upon a Time in South America

Tortilla "Pibil" con Manzo Trittato, Mais & Avocado
Beef "Pibil" Tortillas with Corn & Avocado

Ah yes, one of my favorite dishes, "puerco pibil" which was made famous in the movie "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" and the only recipe I have ever followed in my life! It was the cool delivery from Robert Rodriguez, the producer himself, who actually did a 5-minute cookery slot at the end of the movie on dvd, to explain the dish, that won me over. And of course the flavor after I DID finally make it for myself! The flavor being that of the deep orange-red colored "Annato" seeds, or the paste that they are pounded into- earthy, rich and distinctive- above all DIFFERENT! I like that! Especially with the hot chili pepper, tequila and lime... what's not to like?!!

The thing is... annato is just not one of those spices that gets used so often... which is a real shame! So this evening I decided I need to use some, even if I was going to make something very different and much faster than the 3-4 hr pork dish. I decided to make a tortilla wrap, using ground beef flavored with the "pibil" spice, avocado, sweet corn and Peruvian "huacatay" leaves... a meal that went down, down and even further down South than Mexico... all the way to the mountains of Peru! 

I used a pre-made annato paste to prepare the meat... I know Robert Rodriguez would not approve, but frankly, I have tried grinding my own and I have tried the paste and the flavor is no better if you do it yourself. Plus... life is too short. Sorry Robert- you're a cool dude- but this is my recipe here ;-)

It only took a quarter pound of ground beef to make this, which I fried with no added fat in a non-stick pan. After 2-3 minutes, I added a tablespoon of annato paste and 1 thinly sliced shallot. Once the annato had disolved, I added a little crushed garlic and the juice of half a lime. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and kept stir-frying the beef until it was done... 7-8 minutes later. 

Next, I sautéed the corn in just a tiny pat of butter, at a hight temperature, with a little salt, pepper until it was golden brown and delicious- which only took 5-6 minutes! Then half of the avocado in slices, a Spring onion also, in fine slices- and the only other fresh ingredient that needed my attention- the herbs!

Normally, cilantro would be the herb of choice here, but this evening, as I had plenty of it, I decided to use the Peruvian herb Huacatay, with it's wonderful lemon flavor. So I plucked a little handful each of Huacatay and parsley instead and chopped them up finely, ready to sprinkle onto my wrap which I was now ready to put together!

I layered the ingredients up so- first the meat, then the avocado, then the corn and the spring onion and then last but not least, the herbs- nom, nom, nom! To make them even more delicious, I added a squeeze of lime juice and a squirt of Sriracha chili sauce... oh my! Talk about bursting with flavor!

Rolled up and then toasted on top of a grill-pan, these delicious wraps were wonderful snacks and a fun evening meal to say the least! In any case, they were something that you really need to try for yourselves- because I know think you're going to like 'em! What do YOU think?

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