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.