Friday, August 23, 2013

The benefits of cheating

Yesterday, I was in the grocery store, looking at the packets of spices for making various things. some of these, I consider cheating; the "Mexican Rice" packets, for example. That, I can do myself; fry the rice to start with, add cumin, dump in chicken stock and sieved tomato, and then just let it cook. No need to pay far more money for a packet mix that won't taste as good.

Tacos, though, I cheat on. I buy the spice mixes for those, just to make it less fiddly with flour and suchlike. That was why I was looking at the packets. But as I looked, and saw the "Mexican Rice" packets, I remembered that it was a long time since I'd made anything using rice. Then I had an idea; instead of the somewhat boring dinner I had planned, I would instead make some chicken, in a nice mildly spiced sauce, and serve it with rice. I already had everything needed for that.

So I started cooking somewhat aimlessly; this was going to be distinctly experimental. Fry off the roughly cubed chicken and some back bacon, with garlic and onion; add "Enchilada Sauce" spice packet, which is mostly flour with some cumin and paprika; add sieved tomatoes and a decent amount of water. Then I started reducing it; about halfway through, I realised it wasn't going to be sticky enough for my tastes, so I made up a little ooblick to thicken it (cornstarch and water) and added that in, then kept it on the heat, boiling down. It ended up being fairly similar to my "bolognese" sauce, but it definitely tasted Mexican; I'd have been very happy with it as a main course at a Mexican restaurant. The sauce was thick, sticky, and delicious, the chicken was meltingly tender, and it went perfectly with the rice.

And all because I sometimes cheat, and sometimes don't. Cheating on tacos led me to the rack; refusing to cheat on rice caused an idea to sprout, that turned into a very good meal to add to the repertoire.

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