Well, ladies and gentlemen, here I am with my fourth Rick Bayless recipe from his book, Mexican Everyday. I suppose one of the advantages of an “everyday” cookbook is that you can truly cook from it everyday without it being a “thing.” That’s why I was more than happy to take on this double-recipe: Swiss chard tacos with caramelized onions and feta as well as a chipotle salsa ditty on the side.
Results after the jump!
Before we can make tacos, I must whip together a quick salsa. The recipe calls for three whole, peeled cloves of garlic, and about four medium-sized tomatillos, sliced in half.
The garlic and tomatillos head into a dry non-stick pan, cut side down. 3-4 minutes on each side, until the tomatillos are soft and browned. Shouldn’t be too difficult, right?
After about four minutes, this is where we’re at. In retrospect, I clearly should have cut the tomatillos horizontally, not vertically as a horizontal bisection would have been low and wide, thus easier to cook through. Plus, the uncut side is probably more stable than these round, roly poly things.
Thanks to my poor cutting decisions, it takes about twice as long to soften up these tomatillos.
I remove the garlic and one piece of tomatillo early because they are ready. The rest, however, are taking FOREVVS.
It’s actually only been about ten minutes. Not too bad. The tomatillos are mostly tender at this point. I then realized that hey, the salsa would survive with SLIGHTLY UNDERCHARRED TOMATILLOS. Time to get this salsa show on the road.
Everything goes into the Magic Bullet along with two chipotle peppers.
Oh, and a quarter of a cup of water.
Meanwhile, my charring left indelible marks on my pan. It was a bitch to clean. Next time, I’m using aluminum foil (or at least my cast iron skillet).
Anyway, a quick whizz in the Magic Bullet, and voila! Chipotle salsa! Spicy, smoky, and tangy: yummbers!
Conveniently, I had an old jar to store the salsa in. But not just any old jar…
A salsa jar! CIRCLE OF CONDIMENT LIFE.
My new cutting board. On sale for $3 at Apt2b.com. Very excited to use it for the first time.
A red onion proves to be this cutting board’s first… victim? I don’t know. What matters is this: the bamboo board is lovely. I just wish it were larger. Memo to self: look at dimensions next time.
Anyhoo, I slice the onion up into quarter inch rings. Tears ensue.
Minced garlic. I could have used the garlic press, but again, I wanted to feel the rush of bamboo under my knife. And what a rush it was.
The garlic goes into a ramekin along with some red pepper flakes.
This is when things get REAL exciting. I place my cast-iron skillet on the stove and heat a tablespoon and a half of olive oil up. Within seconds, the pan seems to be smoking uncontrollably. What the?
Apparently, the cork trivet on which the pan had been previously sitting had hitched a ride to the stove. Good thing I shut the stove off before the thing burst into flames.
Oops. You’ve served me well, dear trivet. Godspeed.
Annnnnnyyyyway, back to heating up that oil.
Once the olive oil is hot, I drop in the onion slices.
A few minutes later, the onion is well on the way to being golden brown but also still crunchy.
And here we are.
On deck: half a cup of chicken stock (homemade, Ina Garten-style).
The garlic and red pepper flakes enter the skillet next. I stir them around for a few seconds until…
And at last, the Swiss chard and some salt. The recipe calls for 12 oz; so I put in the majority of a 14 oz bag o’ chard. Spoiler alert: feel free to use the whole damn bag.
The heat goes down to low, a cover goes on top, and we wait five minutes.
Meanwhile, it’s time to prep some cheese. The recipe calls for queso fresco, but I have feta cheese, which is also an acceptable choice for Bayless. I’d like to add that this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill feta. It’s extra-briney BULGARIAN feta — a favorite of my friend Sly.
Crumbling up the cheese. I actually didn’t need the second slab. It returned to the brine from whence it came.
Okay, the chard is softened. Now we simply turn the heat up to medium-high and evaporate the liquid — about five minutes or so.
Stirring like a mo-fo.
This looks about right. To summarize, I’ve spent about five minutes prepping the onion and garlic, five minutes sautéing the onion, five minutes steaming the chard, and now five minutes reducing the liquid. (I made the salsa the night before). Not a bad time investment!
I pop some tortillas in the microwave for 45 seconds. I then proceed to burn my fingertips upon extraction.
Hey, there’s that salsa again. I know it’s salsa because it’s in a SALSA JAR (pats himself on the back).
Okay, let’s make some tacos!
First goes the chard mix, which has now become a dark, murky color.
Next, a sprinkle of feta and a drizzle of the salsa.
Whoa, these are like REAL tacos.
I mean. Do you really need to know? These tacos are aw-sum. It’s easy to forget how flavorful something as simple as chard braised in stock, garlic, and caramelized onions can be, but wow, lots of flavor and a great natural sweetness. However, it’s the creamy tang of the cheese and the smokey bite of the salsa that really takes these tacos to the next level. I prepared three for this post, but I most certainly went back for two more.
Carnivores can delight in knowing that Bayless recommends tossing in some grilled chicken or beef. I would do it in a heartbeat. But these tacos are just fine on their own too. We’re on a roll here!
Check out the recipe here.