We return to cooking on Wednesday, with last night's dinner. It was partially inspired by our trip to El Burrito Mercado http://www.elburritomercado.com/ on Monday night, where we went to celebrate Father's Day a little late.
Living in a big city as we do, our options for dining out are endless. And Monday night we decided to get out of our comfort zone and head into one of St. Paul's ethnic neighborhoods for some fun. District del Sol in West St. Paul was our destination.
The food was beyond amazing. My chicken fajitas arrived in a hot stone mortar, with homemade tortillas and mango salsa, accompanied by cilantro rice, guacamole, black beans, and pico de gallo. Unbelievably good, and so much food there was enough for lunch the next day.
Mike and Charlie both ordered the Mole. Our server raised her eyebrows when Charlie ordered it, as it is a fairly sophisticated dish that probably doesn't get ordered by many 12 year old boys. But we know Charlie is adventurous, and really loves food, so it was the perfect thing for him. She suggested he get a real Coke (in the bottle, from Mexico, where they still make it with sugar rather than corn syrup). Mike had a Mexican beer and I had a wonderful glass of Crianza.
El Burrito Mercado offers a huge experience. The majority of the space houses the market, where you will find everything from a bakery to a meat counter. Charlie was surprised to see an entrire pigs head for sale, along with packages of chicken feet. The produce was beautiful, I grabbed some mangoes that are a different variety from what you find in your regular supermarket, and I also stocked up on cornmeal, beans, and picked up some of their homemade tortillas. The array of spices and ingredients available was dizzying, and I can't wait to come up with a full menu some night, and do all of my shopping there. El Burrito Mercado is owned by the Silva Family, they have been doing this since 1974.
Along with the restaurant space we dined in, there is a deli area with tables if you want a quicker meal, and lots of takeout. In addition, there is a gift shop where the majority of the items have been brought in from Mexico, where the owners go shopping several times a year to find goodies from local artisans.
What a fun experience, I can't wait to go back. And unfortunately we were completely full (and unable to eat the complimentary desserts they gave us, kindly packaged up to go) or we might have sampled the roasted corn that was for sale out of a cart in the parking lot.
But back to recipes! I was in the mood for some grilled chicken last night, and decided to pull out the Guamanian Chicken recipe given to me by my friend Diane back when I lived in Grand Forks. Her husband was in the Air Force, and for a while they had been stationed in the Azores, where she had discovered this recipe. Not Mexican, I know, but one thing leads to another....
Not quite having my recipes organized yet, I couldn't put my hand on the card, and an internet search revealed a few recipes that sounded familiar. So I threw caution to the wind and tried to recreate it from memory. Here is what I used:
6 chicken breasts (for this recipe I use bone in, skin on)
2 c. soy sauce
1 c. vinegar (I used white)
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt.
Combine all of the marinade ingredients and pour over chicken - pierce the chicken meat with a fork in a few places so the marinade can sneak in. Keep in the fridge for several hours, even overnight. The longer the soak, the more intense the flavor. Grill and enjoy! I cook it with the skin on, to keep the chicken nice and moist, but pull it off before I eat it. Calories...you know....
And to go with the chicken, I chopped up the mangoes I had purchased, along with a cucumber, and half a red pepper, and tossed it all with some baby spimach. Then I whipped up a little dressing with mango nectar, a touch of white balsamic, and some salt and pepper to taste.
And the tres leches cake they gave us the night before was a perfect ending to our meal.