Mahi Mahi Ceviche Tacos

There’s nothing like a day on the beach in Mexico, cold beer, warm sunshine, and fresh seafood. Mexico is a country with over 5,000 miles of coast line, and there is almost no location in the country that is over a day’s drive from the beach. There is no more perfect expression of sunshine and seafood than ceviche. One bite, and you will be transported miles away to a beach with sand between your toes.

 

Chef is turning out some great mahi mahi Ceviche this week in celebration of winter’s departure. Taking this great, sashimi quality mahi mahi, chef has treated it in a Peruvian style “aguachile” or chili water. The acidity of the lime juice “cooks” the fish while imparting the amazing clean crisp flavors of Serrano chili’s fresh chopped onion, and cilantro. Once the mahi has marinated, it is spooned into our taco shell, however chef has packed a new twist this week. Instead of lacing it with aged cheddar cheese, he has made a smooth, rich, and creamy blend of tomatillos and avocados. This blend is sandwiched between a flour and corn tortilla, completing the classic ECB taco presentation. This tacos would not be complete without the addition of the fresh bright flavors of tomato, a fresh squeeze of lime, and some chopped cilantro tossed together to make a simple tomato salsa.

Tongue To Tail Tacos

                It’s that time of the week again, Taco Tuesday that is, and the ECB kitchen is alive with the aromas of roasted chiles, toasted seeds and nuts, and a perfume of slow roasting banana and avocado leaves. That’s right, the kitchen is buzzing with the smells and preparation of this weeks Chef Inspired Tacos. Chef has combined one of the seven classic Oaxacan moles with our very own grass fed bison. Chef is bringing his passion for nose to tail cooking, or the use of all the animal, with the amazing depth of flavors typical of the Oaxacan culinary cannon that is mole.

 

                There are thousands of recipes for traditional Oaxacan moles due to the fact that each family has their own traditional ingredients used while making said moles. Despite the endless variations of moles, they can be typically be divided into seven traditional groups of mole. The most typical mole prepared in the United States is the traditional Mole Poblano, the deep, dark, rich blend of chiles, chocolate, and toasted seeds cooked down into a velvety, smooth, rich texture. The chichilo mole that chef has chosen for this week is one that focuses on the depth of flavor one achieves while slowly braising meat while combined with roasted chiles, seeds, and nuts. This classic mole is one that takes traditional ingredients, not including the chocolate, while adding the subtle anise and floral flavors of avocado and banana leaves. This flavor combination is achieved by wrapping the bison and mole with the leaves of avocados and banana trees while slowly roasting for hours. This preparation infuses the meat with a depth of flavor as well as tenderizes the meat in a way that cannot be replicated in another fashion.

 

                When choosing a cut of meat that will stand up to, and benefit from, the low and slow heat of braising, one must focus on a muscle of locomotion. When focusing on a muscle of locomotion, one must look to those cuts that are not necessarily the most prized or appreciated. Muscles of support are the cuts of meat that are traditional known for tenderness and prized cuts for steaks, such as fillet or loin. On the contrary, any muscle that is used on a regular basis, such as the shoulder or rump to aid the animal in its every day movement. These muscles typically require lower temperature and longer cooking time to help break down and tenderize the meat. Two such muscles of locomotion are completely underappreciated and rarely utilized, the tail and tongue. As many other mammals, a bison spends its day in the pastures, eating and brushing flies and mosquitos away with its tail. Both of these activities, especially with it being such a prevalent portion of their life, provides a well-developed amount of flavorful meat. With the right attention and cooking technique, chef believes a tongue or tail not only matches up with a traditional stew, but the rich texture and flavor is better than a traditional rump or shoulder stew. If the diners of Michiana would give tongue a chance, chef believes the days of rump and shoulder stews would come to an end, as tongue and tail is truly the superior choice of protein. Stews are very similar in principal to a braise, low amounts of heat for long periods of time with added moisture to ensure the meat would not be dry after such a long cooking time.

 

                Tongue and tail are traditional ingredients available at street stall taqueria’s all over Mexico, but chef has taken the tongue and tail taco to a whole new level with the addition of a bison demi-glace based chichilo mole as the braising liquid. This taco is completed with the addition of pickled red onion, pickled serrano chiles, and cilantro. 

Pig Cheek Tacos

        This week’s Chef Inspired Taco is one that encompasses many of the aspects the Chef Inspired Taco faithful have come to know and expect. This week’s taco is one that draws on a playful balance of fire and ice, floral and earthy, extensive farming (sustainable) versus intensive farming (industrialized), nose to tail or utilization of the entire animal, and a fresh take on a classic preparation.


        This week, like many others, chef has chosen his protein with care for two very important facts. First being, chefs desire to maintain a sense of responsibility, thus the use of a less commonly used high quality protein. For such a task, chef knew he wanted to highlight the qualities and tenderness of a perfectly braised piece a “muscle of locomotion” like that of a shank or rump, rather than one of “support” such as fillet or rib-eye. Chef chose the highly underappreciated pork cheek for the distribution of muscle tissue, collagen, and fat marbling. All of these aspects combined with the knowledge of how to prepare such a cut makes for an eating experience that is greater than even a fillet, at least in chef’s opinion.


        The second choice for the use of pork cheeks came from chef’s constant search for the highest quality products he can source locally. With this in mind, there was only one option, combine chefs infinite love of the ever giving pig and who raises better pigs in the area other than Jake’s Country Meats in Cassopolis, Michigan.  Having spent hours on the farm with daughter in arm, it is truly a family affair at this local testament to high quality, antibiotic free, grass-fed & woods finished, free range pigs. Family owned and operated for more than 40 years, Nate and Lou Ann Robinson welcomed chef and his family to join their family while showing them the day to day operation of the farm. Needless to say, chef was so impressed, he has continued to support their efforts since that day. “Nate and Lou Ann are producing some of the finest, high quality pigs in the Michiana area, hands down!” chef continues to remind the staff. Not only is it extremely high quality, but the style of farming is one of extensive practices, rather than the intensive farming used in modern “factory production” type farming we are accustom to today. The extensive farming practice is one that is based out of years of knowledge, good husbandry, and ultimately on of sustainability.


        To truly utilize and accentuate the high quality and desirability of the pork cheeks, chef had but one glaring preparation, and that was to braise them. The only question that remained was, what classic braising technique would chef use to showcase a classic from the Mexican culinary cannon with the chosen protein? What better than a recipe from deep inside the Yucatan that balances the heat of fresh chiles with the floral sweetness of agave nectar. In addition to the chiles and agave nectar, this classic preparation calls for the braising of pork in banana leaves, which will add moisture and even more subtle floral notes that will permeate the meat as is slowly roasts in a bath of sweet agave and chiles.


        This Yucatan inspired preparation for the pork could only be complete with the classic addition of the Yucatan’s pickled red onions, and of course the crisp clean brightness of chopped cilantro. In the search for balance, there was only one element missing, the richness of avocado and a fresh house-made crema Mexicana. These two elements not only add amazing flavor, but also help enrich the taco with its texture and a smooth cooling sensation to balance some of those amazing Yucatan chiles.
        

        All elements considered in the making of this week’s Chef Inspired Taco tell us two things, the first being, chef strives for balance in every aspect of the food at Evil Czech. The second, no matter what, it must taste good. So enjoy this tasty taco and know you are taking part in the celebration of balance, in every sense and responsibility of the word.

Holé Molé Tacos

    Chef's find themselves inspired by many different things. Whether it be an ingredient, season, memory, or mantra. You name it, the inspirations are endless for a chef. One of those inspirations can be the idea of creating a dish that is designed to pay homage to another chef and their passions and innovations. This weeks Chef Inspired Taco draws inspiration from chef's desire to pay homage to a chef deserving of respect and recognition for his works in the gastronomic world. That chef being, Enrique Olvera, proprietor and chef of Pujol, in Mexico City.

 

    Enrique Olvera, can be quoted as saying the following, “In Mexico we grow up eating mole, it is central to Mexican cuisine. If you are celebrating something, you are eating mole.” Going further, Olvera states, “Mole is chaos! There are ingredients from almost everywhere in the world, and when you put them together, it makes sense. They become Mexican, for some magical reason. I think that summarizes Mexico.” Pujol was rated the 16th Best Restaurant in the World, by San Pellegrino in their annual publication of "World’s 50 Best Restaurants" in the year 2015.

 

    Olvera’s signature dish at Pujol, is a dish he has dubbed, “Mole Madre” in which he continuously adds to the previous days mole with his preparation of the mole he prepared that day. He has been building his Mole Madre for well over three years now. Yes, for those of you quick with math, that means since the original mole, Olvera has served over one thousand ninety-five variations of the original mole. He has stated that there is without a doubt over one hundred different ingredients in the mole he is serving today at Pujol. Olvera is revolutionizing the modern gastronomic landscape of the Mexican cuisine. This revolution is based in embracing the historical backbone of the cuisine and elevating it to new levels, as he has done with his Mole Madre, taking the pinnacle of Mexican cuisine, the traditional mole, and elevated it even further, making it more complicated than almost any other mother cuisines' sauces. For these reasons, along with the fact that mole, when executed correctly, is quite possibly, one of the most complex and greatest things one will ever put in their mouth, chef has been inspired to base this week’s Chef Inspired Taco on a traditional Mole Poblano.

 

    There are hundreds of variations of mole recipes, varying in spices, colors, and presentation. It seems as though for every person growing up in Mexico, there is a different version of mole that can be prepared. That being said, there is not one Mole more classic than the deep, dark, and luscious flavors of a Mole Poblano with its glistening smooth shine shimmering light back at the diner while encompassing that beautifully succulent piece of chicken that was slowly roasted oven an open fire. Pollo en Mole is quite possibly the most classic presentation and preparation of this amazingly complex sauce. For this reason, chef has decided not to “reinvent the wheel” so to speak, but rather, let the history and this classic preparation introduce and speak for itself to all of the ECB diners.

 

    Without waxing on too romantically about this sauce, chef wants to leave you with a simple list of elements that make up this week’s Chef Inspired Taco. Chef wants the ECB diner to enjoy the "chaos", by letting these elements and the dynamics of their interactions with one another speak for themselves. This week’s taco features achiote rubbed chicken cooked in a rotisserie over an open flame, classic mole poblano, chopped onion, cilantro, toasted sesame seeds, house made crema Mexicana.

 

¡Buen provecho!

Taco de Criadillas

   This week’s Chef Inspired Taco is one that was designed to push the mental limitations of the Michiana diner. Chef has put much thought and technique into making this week’s taco into something truly unique and tasty. The ingredient chef has chosen for this week’s one that can be traced back to the early Roman Empire and their belief that the consumption of this ingredient would provide medicinal qualities. It is an ingredient that can be found throughout the great culinary cultures of the world. The Spanish, French, Argentinian, Italian and Mexican culinary cultures all have multiple examples of delicious preparations of this ingredient. Here in the United States, there a many fellow Americans that have enjoyed the taste and preparation of, what has been nick named, Rocky Mountain Oysters. Yes, we are of course talking about, “calf fries”, “cowboy caviar”, “bull fries”, “swinging beef”, “Montana tendergroins”, no matter what descriptive term given, they’re all still talking about the same thing, testicles!

 

     Chef has chosen to push the Michiana diner’s mental boundaries and limitations once again, this time with his Taco de Criadillas. Instead of the ubiquitous fried testicle with hot sauce and cocktail sauce, chef decided to elevate this basic preparation into true culinary treat. Drawing inspiration from the use of hot sauce, chef found himself drawn to the habanero pepper. With its powerful punch, the habanero would truly provide enough heat, however it also would provide the amazing fruitiness it is known for before its signature heat sets in. The desire for heat and the use of habaneros drew chef’s attention to a salsa habanera, which in turn inspired him to a typical Yucatan preparation, Cochinita Pibil. Following the traditional preparation of rubbing the protein with achiote paste, a blend of chilis and spices, chef cleaned and marinated the testicles in the house made achiote paste. After marinating, the testicles were then sliced into thin strips, dusted with a seasoned flour, and then flash fried.

 

    Keeping with tradition, this taco is topped with the spicy heat and fruity flavor of a salsa habanera, pickled red onion, and the fresh crisp taste of cilantro. One ingredient that is not necessarily traditional, but chef believes traditional Mexican style Crema is what takes this tacos from great to exceptional.