Cebollas en Escabeche al Estilo Karencita

Cebollas en escabeche
Cebollas en escabeche

The barbacoa taco post, continued……


The marinade and the onion....
The marinade and the onion….


From raw to righteous
From raw to righteous

So, I wish I had the patience for the real deal. And the forethought to plan ahead several weeks. But, I don’t. So, although I started with this recipe, I cheated.

For the onions
1 medium red onion, sliced in 1/4″ slices left whole.
1 c. boiling water
For the marinade
1/2 c. red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano leaves
1/4 c. water
2 bay leaves
4 black peppercorns
2 cloves, whole
Stack the onions in a heat-resistant glass jar (like a wide-mouth Mason or Weck jar)
Cover with the boiling water and let cool to tepid. (This parcooks the onions.)
Put the marinade ingredients in a pyrex measuring cup, and microwave for two minutes.
Drain the soaking water from the jar, but leave the onions in.
Cover the onions with the marinade, making sure the pepper corns and cloves go in. Slide the bay leaves around the outside of the onions because it’s pretty.
If you have leftover vinegar, just toss it.
If you need more liquid, heat up some more vinegar/water to boiling (1:1 ratio) and top off the container.
Let cool on the counter, then refrigerator for up to a month.
You can eat these as soon as the next day, and they get tastier the longer they sit. Assuming you can get them to last, that is.

Adapted from Mexican Authentic Recipes

Barbacoa Tacos

Tender shredded beef, seasoned to mouth-watering goodness, topped with tangy, crisp onion.
Tender shredded beef, seasoned to mouth-watering goodness, topped with tangy, crisp onion.

If you are not from the southwestern US or Mexico, I need you to sit down. There’s something important you need to know. Diana Kennedy or Rick Bayless may have already told you but just in case, here it is:

Enchilada sauce is not made from tomatoes. Truly. It’s red color comes from red chile.  

In fact, every time enchilada sauce is made with tomatoes, a kitten dies.

Chiles (two kinds!), garlic, onion, laurel
Chiles (two kinds!), garlic, onion, laurel


Enchilada (hey – look at the word in the middle of that – chile!) means chile-fied, enrobed in chile, etc. Now, don’t be embarrassed. I remember when my sister-in-law, the one who’s now the chef, explained this to me when I was so excited about a new “decoration” for my front door. It was a beautiful chile ristra and she remembered the last one she got and how her Nana E took them all because the chile was so good.  And I was all like, what? You don’t *eat* that.  And she was all like, what? Why the hell do you think people dry them and hang them up? Well, duh. Color me educated. Think about it – bunches of herbs, garlic braids, chile ristras. They are all for the pantry, in the pre-supermarket way.

So by now we all know my Sunday dinner plan to make a big roast of some kind. That whole “cook once, eat thrice” thing. This week it was a 7-pound chuck roast from Costco.  I knew I wanted to have it potroast style, and then thought some shredded beef soft tacos might be this week’s carb indulgence for Himself.  So I started googling barbacoa recipes and found the most awesome YouTube channel for a lady called Abuela Oti.  She has a chili-based sauce for hers, which led to the little opening spiel. Mmmm…..barbacoa tacos…..

Small corn tortillas, ready to grill and fill.
Small corn tortillas, ready to grill and fill.

That made me think of the plethora of fabulous taco stands we have here, and the wonderful condiments to go with them: radishes, pickled carrots and jalapeños (zanahorias en escabeche), and pickled onions (cebollas en escabeche), grilled spring onions (cebollitas asadas al carbon), grilled jalapeños…..oh my. And wouldn’t that rich, rich beef pair beautifully with some cold, crisp, zingy pickled onion?…my mouth waters just thinking about it.

Cebollas en escabeche
Cebollas en escabeche

So, is this a post about the pickled onions, or the meat? Honestly, it has to be both. But we’ll start with the meat.

For the sauce
2 large or 3 medium dried chile california or chile guajillo (those are the smooth, oxblood-colored ones. Get medium or mild unless you’re muy macho.)
1 dried chile pasilla (that’s the crinkly, raisin-looking one)
1 cup boiling hot water
2 cloves garlic
½ small white onion
½ teaspon Mexican oregano leaves
2 bay (laurel) leaves
For the meat
1 # shredded beef (leftover potroast)
S&P to taste
Pop the top on the chilis, discard that and the seeds. Put the chilis in a shallow bowl, cover them with the hot water and let them sit for half an hour until they soften. Put them, their soaking liquid and everything for the sauce but the laurel in the blender and blend until smooth.
Pour the puree through a strainer into a 10” saute pan, heat to medium and cook for about ten minutes. Add the shredded beef, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about fifteen more minutes, or until most of the liquid of the sauce is evaporated. Taste for seasoning at this point, and add S&P to taste.
Remove the laurel leaves, and serve with hot corn tortillas. And those pickled onions, of course. But that is for another post.
You can serve this with rice, too, like Abuela does in her video.

Cheesy Herb Garlic Zucchini Sticks

It’s one of those uninspired weeks – where I start thinking on Wednesday, “What am I going to blog about this week?!?”  I want to go nuts with the cakes and cookies, but it’s just kind of mean to make the whole house smell like that when Bill can’t eat any…..So, I went with what was in the fridge: zucchini.  

Cheese Herb Garlic Zucchini Sticks
Cheese Herb Garlic Zucchini Sticks



And, I just love zucchini with lemon and thyme, but I only had the dried herb.  I knew I wanted to roast the squash, but that was really incompatible with those hard little sticks – what to do, what to do…. so I pounded it with some salt and garlic in the mortar and pestle. Problem solved!




Bill says they’re good. And, although the garlic smell is really out there while they’re cooking, the end product is just lightly garlicky.  Heads up, though! You might think you’re in Gilroy while they’re baking. 

mmm......crunchy cheesy bits....
mmm……crunchy cheesy bits….

And, who am I kidding? This might have been the best part of the whole thing – cheesy paper for grown-ups! 

Let’s make some – and tell me how yours turn out!
For the toss
1 clove garlic
½ tsp. dried thyme
Dash kosher salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp lemon zest
For the rest
2 zucchini, cut to look like wedge fries
¼ freshly grated pecorino romano or parmeggiano reggiano
Preheat oven to convection 400* (or plain old 375*)
Smash the garlic clove in the M&P.*
Add in the salt and thyme and pound till the thyme is no longer hard little sticks.
Add in the olive oil and lemon zest, and pound it a few more times to mix it all together.
Transfer the paste to a bowl, toss zuke sticks in it and then spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle w/ the cheese.
Bake 20 minutes, then turn to broil for a few to get things crunchy and brown.
*You could totally skip the M&P if you have fresh thyme. Just mince the garlic, then smoosh it with the salt and thyme with the side of your knife right on the cutting board.