Thursday, July 2, 2009

Playdate Special: Carne sin Chili

So, here I am in the middle of the kitchen. Red kidney beans are sleeping in the water, soaked. In the other bowl, tiny pearls of tapioca are already awake; all I need to do is to start cooking them.
My plan is to have a very hearty meal tomorrow, including my boys' favorite carne sin chili - a Brazilianized and sweeter version of the classic Mexican meal, to be served white rice, salsa salad and tapioca pudding.I have all the ingredients at home, but besides the plan, could not find yet the inspiration or time to go there and face the music.

So, after a busy day driving the kids everywhere while they were driving me mad, Daniel finally arrived and gave me the break so much needed for me to cook. I started with the tapioca, cooking it slowly in a concoction of milk, cinnamon, dried orange peel. Normally, this would be enough for it to achieve the delicious creamy look. But wait: The smell coming from the pan is not the usual one. It is something rather chemical, stale. Oh,well, I decide to break the usual tradition and taste the pudding before it was ready. GOSH! Disaster. The tapioca itself tastes bad, as bad as the vapors emanating from the pan. I try to boost the cinnamon... But again, it was doomed since the beginning. How frustrating. Felipe begs to eat tapioca... and instead, I divert his attention and invite him to help me with the beans: "No mom, I don't like to cook. My work is to play," he tells me, leaving the kitchen.

The end of the story: kids ate all their mini bowls decorated with a face of veggies. One even went for a second serving. Rewarded with ice cream and a bit of Brazilian music, they all seemed to be happy. I think we all had a good meal. And we all wanted to nap. Felipe fell asleep in the sofa right after everybody left. Diogo finally succumbed. And I, well, I was dragged by the Internet! My nap just happened later in the afternoon, Gracias a Dios! I would love to know what happened to the others! Or are they still asleep?

Carne sin Chili

This recipe is a fusion of the Brazilian barreado and Mexican chili con
carne. It is really simple to make, and has been developed by me as
many times I tried to rescue those sunny tastes of barreado from my
childhood and the acquired love for Mexican food when I was a freshman
at the journalism university. At that time, the first Mexican
restaurant opened in Rio, and we used to hang out there - food was
cheap. Margaritas abounded and we could sit for hours without being
perturbed by waiters or unsolicited checks...

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
1 stalk spring onion, finely cut
1/2 red bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, diced
1 1/2 pounds lean ground round or sirloin
1 1/2 pounds red kidney Beans soaked overnight in filtered water
1 can tomato sauce3 tablespoons ground cumin
Salt to taste (a bit more if original tomato sauce isn't already salty)
3 cans of fresh water
Fresh cilantro to garnish

In a pressure pan or big casserole, stir-fry onions and bell pepper in hot olive oil. When onions start to brown, throw in the cumin. After a
couple of minutes on a higher heat add the beef, frying it with the
other ingredients. When beef looks cooked, lower heat and add the
beans, stirring everything. Then add tomato sauce and water. Close the
pan and slow cook for 1 1/2 (pressure pan) or 3 hours (normal
casserole). Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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