I was so excited when I found this used cook book by Diana Kennedy, “The Cuisines of Mexico.” Ms. Kennedy lived many years in Mexico with her husband who worked as a New York Times correspondent.
Through regional travel, tasting and in conversations with local cooks, Ms. Kennedy discovered the delicious varieties of Mexican cuisine. Just like Japanese food is not just sushi, American not just hot dogs and hamburgers, Mexican food is not just tacos, enchiladas and burritos. I couldn’t wait to begin!
No stranger to real Mexican food; my mother born in Brazos County, Texas cooked some weekly at home; pinto beans soaking overnight on the counter were a welcome sign of good things to come. She also took us to small, family run, neighborhood restaurants in California. Don’t think Tex-Mex, but authentic Mexican home meals.
Sonora, Mexico is an arid to semi-arid desert and shares a border with Arizona. After reading the recipe I thought this might explain the lack of tomatoes and paucity of aromatics and herbs. Not the greatest growing environment for vegetation. No chillies or powder could be a Sonoran preference and/or a sort of Tex-Mex influence from American Arizonians. Poverty? No, Sonora is known for their plenitude of beef cows and the recipe also includes pork ribs.
Well, I chose this recipe first because of the oxtails, hominy and pinto beans but I couldn’t stop myself from turning this bland stew into something my family would eat. I added 2 onions instead of 1/4 onion, 6 cloves of garlic instead of 2, cumin, oregano and habenero chillies( 1 is enough, I exaggerated with two).
Not Sonoran authentic but very, very good!
Sonoran Beef and Pork Stew
2 lbs oxtails
2 onions, roughly sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup pinto beans, soaked overnight
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp salt
2 quarts of water
1 1/2 lbs sliced spareribs, chopped into 4 pieces each with a cleaver
2 cans of hominy, yellow or white, drained
1 whole habanero chilli, slit open on one side
Place the oxtails, onion, garlic, beans, salt, oregano, cumin, peppercorns and water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
Add the ribs, hominy and chilli to the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
Serve with salsa and tortillas.