Pinche comida

Cati and I often lament the dearth of decent Mexican food in Albany.  El Mariachi II is fun to go to, but more for the charming bartenders and stiff drinks than the food.  We usually get a plate of nachos or something when we go but that’s all.  We tried the food at La Familia, and it was good, great even, but they have goofy hours (closed Fri and Sat nights) and the service is painfully slow.  I plan to get their food again, I just have to crave Mexican food at 3PM on a Monday when they are open.  Other places in town like El loco? meh.  Garcia’s? feh.  Pancho’s? eh.  I think all those years in TX spoiled us.  We used to go to dirt-cheap taquerias that had great food.  But hey, Albany was founded by the Dutch, and apparently their influence lingers on the local palate. 
So now, we cook Mexican at home.  It really doesn’t take all that much effort to whip up something delicious.  Here’s what we usually do:
 
The main ingredients:
1 lb chicken breast
1 packet of sliced Portobello mushrooms
1 onion
1 can Goya pinto beans in pink sauce
1 packet taco seasoning (optional)
 
Cut the chicken breast into strips, sprinkle with adobo or taco seasoning and pan fry (fajita style).  Sautee the onion and Portobello mushrooms adding salt to taste.  Dina (Eddie’s wife) showed me a great trick for the beans.  Open the can and pour off some of the sauce.  Mash half the beans with a potato masher or a hand held food processor (like this).  Add the unmashed beans to the mashed beans in a sauce pan and heat on the stove.  This gives the beans a nice consistency so they’ll stay on your taco and not make a runny mess. 
 
Pico de gallo:
1 lime
1 onion
2 tomatoes
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Salt to taste
Jalapeño
 
Chop the tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, and onion into a Tupperware container.  Add lime juice (mind the seeds) and salt to taste.  Close and shake the Tupperware to mix the ingredients well. 
 
Guacamole:
You can make your own with chopped onion, garlic, lemon, avocado, cilantro, and salt but we often by it in the produce section, premade.  It’s decent, and way easier.  Plus you’ve already sautéed chicken and mushrooms, chopped tomatoes and onion, mashed beans, and heated tortillas; isn’t that enough work?
It’s sold refrigerated in the produce or dairy section; I forget the brand.  Be careful, a lot of the ones called “dips” are pretty nasty; and they have dairy in them– what’s that about?


Additional essentials:
1 packet of soft wheat or corn tortillas (we prefer the whole-wheat kind).  Heat them on a skillet before serving so they are nice, warm, and pliable. 
A good hot sauce (or two).  We really like the McIlhenny Chipotle for its flavor, and the Habeñero for the kick.  You’ll also want some sour ceam and a packet of shredded cheese.
Que aproveche ese!
mmm que rico

Our kitchen sweeper:

Nacho waits for something to fall

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