I was exchanging emails with iamnotachef yesterday, as we sometimes do, discussing bourbon and absinthe and the state of New Jersey dining -- you know, things that two people who are complete strangers would talk about over email -- when it occurred to me that instead of telling him what I'm making for dinner, I should probably blog about it. He concurred, but said that I should only blog about it if it's very good, or very bad. I tend to agree, but the other reason I sometimes blog about the things I cook is so that I can remember what I did. I'm horrible at keeping notes for repeat performances, so this blog sometimes doubles as a dumping ground for those semi-successful meals that were thrown together. Trust me, this blog thing and those dinner posts aren't about trying to impress people. Of this you are assured.
The discussion started with a mention of the opening of Rosa Mexicano in Hackensack's Riverside Square mall. What I said to the fella was this:
We loved the original on 1st ave, years ago. The other outposts aren't to my liking, and I can just imagine the nightmarish clientèle that will be filling the bar at the mall. But I'm looking forward to trying it. Instead of dealing with opening Friday insanity, we're going to grill some, or maybe (gasp) cubes of filet mignon and shrimp on a skewer, and serve it with red and green salsa and hot chiles, a la Rosa Mexicano.
Shouldn't I be blogging this instead of telling you about it?
Margaritas, of course, will be on the menu as well.
And here we are,
18 36 hours later.
The dish I was subconsciously copping was Rosa Mexicano's Albambre a la Mexicana, which is beef tenderloin and chorizo on a skewer, grilled, and served with red and green sauce over rice. Instead of chorizo I went with the shrimp, from Peter's fish market in Midland Park, of course.
Having never made any sort of red chile sauce, I did a quick google search and came up with what seemed to be the right method: steep dried chile in hot water, remove seeds, put in blender with garlic, Mexican oregano, salt, and some steeping liquid, and blend. Viola. It was right on, and just what I was looking for.
The green chile sauce consisted of roasted poblano, sweaty onions, cilantro, and tomatillo that were steeped a bit in hot water, s/p, a squirt of fresh lime juice, all in the blender. Tomatillo is really fantastic stuff. The citrusy flavor is shocking coming from something that you assume will taste like an unripe tomato. I've been seeing them at Stop and Shop, here in north Jersey.
We did opt for the beef tenderloin, which is a cut of meat I never eat ( unless it's been dry-aged and happens to be attached to a bone with a strip on the other side of it). To make up for its lack of flavor and all-around lameness, I aggressively seasoned it with s/p, ancho chili powder, and some freshly ground cumin. On the skewers and on the infrared grill it went. Shrimp was brined and then seasoned with s/p and went on the grill separately; I have no allusions that shrimp and chunks of filet mignon will cook in the same time.
I could have served the chile sauces over rice, but I couldn't be bothered. I just dressed the plate with each, re-skewered the shrimp and beef onto common skewers, and served. Not too shabby.
I might try marinating some chicken thighs in the leftover red stuff tonight. Sort of a quick-and-dirty chicken adovada.
Regarding the margaritas, well that's probably for another post altogether, as suggested by iamnotachef as well during our email exchange. Suffice it to say, there was nothing in those margaritas other than silver tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, salt, and ice. In fact, I don't even know if I need another post for that.