Saturday, February 8, 2014

Blood's Thicker Than the Mud, It's a Family Affair

I've talked a lot about my mom's corn meal masa or mush.  She made it so flavorful. Her cooking gift, if I had to try to pinpoint it would be her 'near perfect seasoning'.  She instinctually knew just how much heat to add, how much salt, how much garlic, etc in order for the dish to never taste like it's ingredients but a collective great taste combination.  My sister R has this gift whether she'll admit it or not.  Me,   But in regards to masa, in the past I achieved (almost) equally deep flavors by adding a bit of butter, parmesan cheese and cayenne pepper.  This time I omitted all butter and cheese and added minced garlic and a packet of no sodium chicken flavor and after stirring for a half and hour, about a 1/3 cup of fresh hot sauce.  This was inexplicably creamy and so bursting with tons of zest that it was almost shocking. 
This was one of those meals that I created on the spot after work.  I had chicken breast meat, red pepper, onion and a chunk of cabbage.  I cubed the chicken, seasoned it with fresh lemon, zest and lemon pepper, garlic and a little cayenne.  After quickly cooking the meat, I grated the cabbage and wok quick cooked that with sweet onion and diced red pepper.  Then combined and cooked through.
Honestly, I was expecting that kind of supper that you make when you're super hungry, in a big hurry and none of the ingredients really make sense together and the finished dish tastes that way. Do you know what I'm speaking about?   But this could have been served to me at a fancy Mexican Restaurant and I would be raving about it.  Completely accidental but the heartiness and warm goodness of the masa along with the zesty fresh lemon pepper chicken was a delight!  And the best thing was it reminded me of something my mom would have made at home pre-restaurant era, on a week night in that kitchen on Schele Ave when my dad still worked for Hagerman Construction. 

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