by Rick WA6NHC
(Cameron Park, CA)
Total cooking & prep time: 20 minutes hamburger or pre-cooked meats; 25 minutes chicken or steak
Requirements: Meat: If chicken; one boneless, skinless breast, cubed
Per serving If steak; 6-8 oz, cubed.
If hot dogs, linguica or precooked sausage, slice into bite sized pieces
Hamburger portion is 1/3 to 1/2 lb per person
One can of black beans
4 heaping tablespoons (or more) Taco seasoning mix
One small can of sliced or wedge cut black olives
One (half) jar of peppercini peppers, deli sliced, drained
Two cups, 4 blend Mexican style cheeses
Options: Cilantro, fresh, chopped
(see text) Chopped white or yellow onions
Pickled chili peppers
NOTE: Two serving portions may actually serve three people. I was raised in a firehouse and we ate VERY well with healthy (large) portions. Your mileage depends on your appetite (and the side dishes) because this is very filling. No worries, it tastes good the next day too if there is some leftover.
Using a 5 quart pot (leaving room to stir when it’s all together),
Over a medium heat;
Brown the meat of choice (chicken, burger, steak bits, hot dogs and I’ve used Redondo’s linguica, only available in Hawaii) and;
Add 3-4 heaping tablespoons of taco seasoning (2-3 times what you normally add for tacos; it gets diluted).
Cooking time varies slightly according to the meat selection, but in 12-15 minutes, when the meat is browned (almost cooked);
If meatless is desired; start here:
Add one can of BLACK beans WITH the juice in the can. (If meatless and you’re starting here, add the taco seasoning now.)
Add half a jar of deli sliced and drained peppercini peppers (available in mild to wow) OR a small (4 oz) can of sliced pickled (drained) chilis (Mexican section of the store) for a little more kick.
Add one small can of sliced or wedge cut black olives.
Bring slowly to a near boil (steaming, bubbles on the pot edges) while stirring often (beans are precooked, meat is now done); about 4-5 minutes.
Add 2 handfuls (cups) or more grated 4 cheese “Mexican” cheese to thicken. Stir in well to melt the cheeses. Keep stirring. (If not thick enough, add more cheese.)
BE CAREFUL OF THE HEAT, DO not SCORCH. STIR until the cheese is melted fully, then turn OFF the stove (remove it from the burner if electric).
Serve in a bowl. Top with a dollop of sour cream and/or cilantro garnish if desired (eases the heat of the spices too). You may also serve tortilla chips and dips on the side.
DO NOT let the pot sit and cool, the cheese turns into glue, then concrete. Serve; transfer the remains, if any, into a storage container then put the pot to SOAK before eating or suffer the wrath of the dishwasher.
For RVing or camping, I put the remains (if any) into a zippered plastic bags in single serving portions (ok, Ziplock) because it takes up less space in the frig/freezer (burp the air out, seal and lay it/them flat). However the bags do not tolerate the microwave well so transfer into a proper cooking container before reheating. When I cook at home, I do the same but transfer the frozen leftovers into the RV for quick meals.
Other serving options include placing it over or with a Spanish rice dish; in a large heated flour tortilla (with rice, salsa, guacamole and/or sour cream) to make a burrito or over tortilla chips for nachos (see below).*
If you wish to add a veggie, like corn or stewed tomatoes or onions (pineapple is interesting), you’ll need to add even more taco seasoning because the water content dilutes the spices. Play with the spice or ingredients and amounts and make it your own; there are no rules for this recipe.
If you’re trying to reduce your fat intake and don’t want cheese, try adding corn meal or polenta as the thickening agent (I haven’t done this). It will absorb the liquid but may require more liquid and slightly longer cooking time.
It’s relatively healthy, mostly proteins with some starches (beans, veggies) and fairly low in fat. Diabetics should read the cans for details and adjust accordingly.
For true bachelor style (ok, lazy) cooking, eat from the pot so there is less to wash (one knife, one spoon, one pot).
Basic simple food warms you up on a cold evening; best served with friends and a cold beverage of choice.
*If you leave out the blended cheese during cooking and use only a little liquid (drain half) from the beans (to keep from scorching them), place the cooked results over a layer of tortilla chips, then add grated cheese on top and your favorite salsa-queso (liquid cheese), nuke for 60 seconds to melt the cheeses, top with salsa, guacamole and sour cream and it’s Nacho Night.