It is conceivable that by now you have figured out that I am mightily fond of Mexican, Tex-Mex, Mexican American and Mexican influenced foods and flavors. Having grown up in rich farm country where the migrant workers not only settled eventually but brought a veritable second-town of family and friends to join them over time, I was blessed to be fed by a number of eateries in our area run by the fantastic chefs all trained by one little lady in their hometown. By rights, she should have a whole county in Western Washington named after her at the very least, though I might suggest a shrine as more appropriate, because thanks to her a whole lot of us have faithfully eaten exceedingly well on both roots food from her teachings and wonderful inventions and innovations based on them.
Having moved to Texas might even be considered a logical next culinary or at least dietary step in my lifelong love of La Cocina Mexicana.
In any event, I will keep today’s post simple but say that once again I was influenced by that saintly lady’s culinary offspring when I entered the kitchen to begin dinner prep. I had intended to make something with the big gulf shrimp I had tucked into the freezer, but until it was really dinnertime I wasn’t sure but that I’d repeat the recent quick, hot-weather meal of the previous week, where I simply poached the cleaned shrimp and served them as part of a sort of deconstructed Louis or Cobb salad cousin.
Which would’ve been fine.
But, you know, I opened the refrigerator and saw a carton of leftover broth-cooked rice and suddenly I got all faint and dreamy-eyed and (cue theremin music and wavy-screen fantasizing-fade here) thought with longing of one of Our Lady of Mexico‘s disciples’ lovely Arroz con Camarones–that beloved combination of rice and shrimp favored by all of the Latin coastal cultures–this one a favorite version I miss from back in Tacoma.
So this day’s shrimp were coarsely chopped and kept on hand with a finely-slivered slice of leftover ham (to add some bacon-y goodness, and to help clear out the fridge) while I sautéed about a scant cup each of julienned carrots, sliced celery and chunky-cut mushrooms in some flavorful bacon fat just until crisp-tender with a little black pepper and some cumin, added the freshly squeezed juice of one big orange and about a cup of slightly drained crushed tomatoes (I used Muir Glen‘s fire-roasted tomatoes, since I like the flavor spike they add) and cooked the vegetables and sauce until slightly thickened, adding the prepared shrimp and ham just long enough to lightly cook the shrimp through. Served over the warmed rice, and with a dollop of whole yogurt to stand in for the absent crema, it was almost as good as I remembered.
I did have to add the hovering Abuelita in imagination to complete the effect.
Boy, do I miss real Mexican food!
I would be bereft without it. Today we let one of our little local joints do the cooking, and I got wonderful ‘Quesadillas Ranchito’ that were far more like massive shrimp tacos: jammed full of big chunks of Gulf shrimp; chopped tomato, carrot, celery; melted Monterey Jack-style cheese; baby spinach leaves, cilantro, guacamole and sour cream. I had to ditch the tortillas just to get my mouth around forkfuls of the yummy fillings. Sigh!
Ok, now you’re just bein’ mean… 😉
I love the look of your dish, Kathryn. If it tastes half that good, I’m in heaven. Theres so much more to fine Mexican food than just tacos. In my last neighborhood was a family-owned Mexican restaurant. Over the years, I got to know the family very well and I went from ordering from the menu to having them just “fix me something.” What a treat! Unfortunately, the building’s owner tried to take advantage of their success and raised the rent some exorbitant amount. They left and the space remained vacant well over a year. Even now, the new restaurant doesn’t come close to having the clientele that “Angel’s” had. And I’ve yet to find a Mexican restaurant where I feel comfortable enough to say “fix me something.”
Yes, I mourn those sorts of losses too! Richard and I were looking at news from a favorite town out west and discovered that a landmark restaurant in that area (probably been there 50 years) just closed and a favorite Thai place in the next town over closed recently too. WAAAAAH! Guess we have to enjoy ‘our’ places doubly, knowing they can disappear any old time. Meanwhile, I can at least assure you that the dish above is incredibly easy to make, especially if one has skills like yours in the kitchen.
Pingback: What the rice has with the interest rate? «