Mexican Banquet, artwork by Max Berry

Posted on
in Illustrated Recipes, Menus, Recipes

Mexican Banquet, by Max Berry (acrylic on paper)

Mexican Banquet, artwork by Max Berry

Posted on
in Illustrated Recipes, Menus, Recipes

This Mexican Banquet is colourful, vibrant and full of life.

Artwork by Max Berry.

If time permits, we recommended making your own seasoning and sauce, but if not, store-bought will suffice.

We nearly lost a lot of friends because of this sauce as Maxie decided we didn’t need to seed the chillies. If using the little birdseye variety, we would recommend seeding at least half of them.

Serve the tortillas with the shredded skirt steak, beans, chilli sauce, and your favourite salad fillings. Let people devise their own meals from what is on offer at the table and join them as they get up to their elbows in Mexican goodness.

Preparation time: 45 minutes + 1 hour rising time for tortillas
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Serves: 8

Mexican seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon sweet paprika
    1 teaspoon chilli powder or cayenne pepper
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamonCombine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. This seasoning is used for the shredded skirt steak and the Mexican beans.

Shredded skirt steak

    • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) skirt steak or blade steak
      2 garlic cloves, crushed
      2 tablespoons olive oil
      2 tablespoon Mexican seasoning (see above)

Place the skirt steak into a deep saucepan with the garlic and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender enough to pull apart with a fork. Keep an eye on the meat, adding more water if necessary so ensure it is immersed at all times. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the meat to cool in the cooking liquid.

Remove the meat from the pan and skim any impurities from the surface of the cooking liquid, then ladle 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat and boil for 15 minutes to reduce the liquid by half — you need about 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) to use to re-cook the beef.

Finely shred the beef using a fork. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the Mexican seasoning and cook for 1–2 minutes, or until aromatic. Add the beef to the pan and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring to coat in the spices. Add the reserved beef cooking liquid and cook for another 2–3 minutes, or until meat is tender and juicy. Transfer to serving dish and serve hot.

Mexican beans

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 onion, finely chopped
    2 tablespoons Mexican seasoning (see above)
    2 x 400 g (14 oz) tins kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    400 g (14 oz) tin whole tomatoes, roughly chopped

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Add the Mexican seasoning and cook for about 2 minutes, then add the beans and cook for a further 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring to avoid the beans catching on the base of the pan and burning — you may need to add a little water if the beans get too dry. Remove from the heat, transfer to a serving dish and serve hot.

Sweet chilli sauce

  • 7 garlic cloves
    250 g (9 oz) long red chillies, stems removed and half of them seeded
    3 cm (11/4 inch) piece ginger, peeled
    330 g (113/4 oz/11/2 cups) caster (superfine) sugar
    250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) cider vinegar

Put the garlic, chillies and ginger into a food processor and blend to a paste. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) water over and medium–high heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and boil for 5–8 minutes, or until the sauce begins to get syrupy, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning.

Stir in the chilli paste and vinegar, bring back to the boil, then reduce heat once more to medium and simmer for about 20–30 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Flour tortillas

(Makes about 30 x 15 cm (6 inch) tortillas)
500 g (1 lb 2 oz/31/3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons salt
125 g (41/2 oz) chilled butter, chopped
grapeseed oil, for frying

Tortilla fillings

  • iceberg lettuce, shredded
    tomatoes, finely diced
    avocado, peeled, stones removed and flesh finely diced
    onions, thinly sliced
    sour cream or plain yoghurt

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter using your fingers, until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add 200 ml (7 fl oz) warm water and bring the mixture together to form a dough, adding the remaining water if necessary. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 3 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a clean bowl, cover with a clean damp tea towel (dish towel) and set aside for at 1 hour at room temperature.

Divide the dough into 30 even-sized portions and roll each portion into a ball. Roll each ball into a thin circle with a 15 cm (6 inch) diameter – they should be paper-thin. Set the oven to its lowest temperature.

Heat a thin smear of oil in a frying pan over high heat. Fry the tortillas on each side until bubbles form and they brown in patches. Remove to a plate, cover with a damp tea towel to keep them soft and keep them warm in the oven while cooking the remainder.

Serve the warm tortillas with your choice of hot shredded skirt steak or Mexican bean with your favourite fillings and the sweet chilli sauce.

Wine recommendations for Mexican Banquet

Fuller, heavier wines to match the robustness of this dish are what you need. For this one, look to the classic, big, Barossa Valley (South Australia) wines here with a Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre blend. This has a good balance of fruit and earthy notes to match the Mexican spices.

A straight Shiraz, with it’s blackberry, plum and black pepper notes will also complement the skirt steak and spice and beans mix, and the softer tannins wont aggravate the heat from the spices.

Once again, if a big red isn’t really doing it for you, then you can’t beat an easy drinking Cervaza style lager, or even a crisp wheat beer to wash that spice and chilli down on a hot day.