La Torre Taqueria

On this installment of “John Eats at a Place, Takes Pictures of it and Writes About it On the Interwebs”, I’m going to teach you a lesson.  There is no charge for this lesson.  All I ask is you continue to read my stuff and share it on your favorite social network.  Ready? OK, let’s go.

Say you’re driving down the road looking for a Mexican restaurant and you’re going to pick it only by the way they present themselves.  This would be a weird way to find something to eat.  Let’s change that.  Imagine you’re a Yelp reviewer and you’re looking for someplace that you can critique and really act like you know what you’re talking about based on years of culinary experience and education.  Since your mission in life is to write about restaurants and guide the owners to culinary greatness, you need to find a place that really really needs your help.  Say you drive by a Mexican joint that looks like this:

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The appropriate action is to continue driving.  The more appropriate action is to speed up so you pass it faster.  The most appropriate action is to give this restaurant the middle finger for confusing people about Mexican food, speed up and drive right by.  The only reason places like this should exist is to give you an example when talking about how much better a good Mexican restaurant is.   Side note, I can never be too mad at Tios Mexican Cafe because they have served bullshit food to the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor for years and also provided me with a ton of material to write about.  Its newest contribution to absolutely destroying Mexican food is “Chili Queso Fries”.

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Ladies and gentleman, that is an absolute disgrace.  The fact that someone actually prepared that and though it would be a good idea to trade it for money terrifies me.  BUT ANYWAYS, there is a point to all of this madness.  This isn’t just another post where John rants about how shitty Tios Mexican Cafe is.  There actually is a lesson here.  Imagine you’re driving down that same street.  You’ve slowed down and you’re looking for a more appropriate place to eat than Tios Mexican Cafe.  You come across the following sign:

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This all but guarantees you a quality Mexican dining experience. Ignore the fact that it’s surrounded by a liquor store and an adult novelties shop.  Between those two businesses resides an authentic family owned restaurant that is simply trying to provide you a quality meal for an affordable price.  It’s been a long road to get here (if you actually are reading this), but I give you.. La Torre Taqueria.

When you walk in you are greeted by a man and a woman who I can only assume are the owners.  They are incredibly friendly and make a point to welcome every customer that walks in the door.  You are faced with a large chalkboard menu above a counter that takes carry out orders and five or six tables for eating in.  There is one small cooking area that is in plain view so you can watch the owners grill your food, heat up the tortillas and prepare everything right in front of you.  Not only is this a fun experience, but you can see the simple processes that make Mexican food so great.

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You are given two sauces after you order.  I’m not saying these are life changing but I want to completely change my life after eating them.  I would drink this stuff.  They are incredible.  After my meal, I could taste the green sauce during my entire 45 minute drive home.  I literally started looking up verde hot sauce recipes while I was in the restaurant with the dream of recreating it.

Their tacos are also borderline life changing.  The Pastor is pretty standard – marinated pork with a little fruityness that cuts the spice.  The Carnitas are on another level — not quite as crispy as I’m used to but the flavor is crazy.  The cilantro and onion were so fresh and flavorful that they hung out right with the pork flavor and made the taco complete. When you add the hot sauce, you’re looking at one of the better start to finish taco experiences I have had.

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The summary of this lesson is always judge a book by its cover when it comes to Mexican food. If you see a Mexican “cafe” or anything named something that white people associate with Mexican culture – sombreros, mariachis, ect – stay away.  If you see a no bullshit sign out front with the word “taqueria” in the name, get in there.

The most important thing — La Torre Taqueria is delicious.  Go there.  it’s on 1525 Washtenaw Ave in Ypsilanti.

Mexican Crispy Chicken Pizza

I love Taco Bell.  I’m not afraid to admit it.  Yes, I criticize and judge non-authentic Mexican food all the time.  Here’s the thing, Taco Bell makes no attempt at being classed as anything close to authentic Mexican.  It’s in a class all by itself.  One of my favorite things about Taco Bell is the ever changing menu.  It’s actually genius because they tend to just come up with new items and use the exact same ingredients.  I follow this very closely. Because if that, I will require myself to keep you all updated on test items and new menu items coming up.  If you don’t like Taco Bell, click a different category on the site.  There’s something for everyone here.  Except vegans.  You should probably go somewhere else.

Taco Bell is currently using their fried chicken patty as a Mexican Crispy Chicken Pizza in the Columbus Ohio Market.  The “pizza” is a tortilla spread with nacho cheese and then topped with a crispy chicken, Mexican pizza sauce, 3-cheese blend and pico de gallo. Basically its a Mexican pizza with the chicken replacing ground beef and nacho cheese replacing the beans.  They’re currently charging $3.49 to $3.99 for this depending on which location you visit.

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My verdict on this item — don’t really care.  The Mexican pizza has always been the item that old people order at Taco Bell (I recently started ordering it myself) so I can see the need for an update.  At this price point, this wouldn’t be something that I would rush to my nearest Taco Bell to order. They also have an opportunity to capitalize on the hysteria the fried chicken taco caused so I can see this making it to the main menu as a temporary item one day.

Countdown to Lobster Rolls

For normal people, Summer means warm weather, pools, sunshine, going outside and other activities.  For me, Summer means food.  This shouldn’t be surprising because every season means food for me.  I was having a nostalgic moment that sent me back to Summers in the past and luckily when you search for ‘Food’ in Google Photos it will automatically filter every food picture you’ve ever taken.

More specifically, I am looking forward to lobster rolls at Mudgie’s Deli in Detroit.   Every Summer for one week only, Mudgie’s gets Maine lobsters overnighted in every day for lobster rolls.  This week has begun to gain quite the following.  Years ago you could walk right in and order one but now you need to line up early and hope they don’t run out. Last year they went through 700-pounds of lobster, averaging 75-80 pounds per day.  On the final day of the week, there is a lobster themed brunch that I will be in attendance for this year.  If you have never had a good lobster roll, I’m going to have to require that you spend a day downtown this Summer waiting for one of these.  You don’t be disappointed.

My personal recommendation is the “High Roller Deal” which gives you two rolls and a bottle of Rosé.

Be sure to pick up a charcuterie board while you’re there.  Actually, just get everything. Mudgie’s is the best.

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Jerk Chicken Curry

I’ve had an itch to cook a couple of things lately.  First two things on list have been jerk chicken and curry.  I decided to get a little crazy today and not only combine the two but add the smoker into the equation.   I figured smoking the chicken and then finishing it in a dutch oven (HAHAHA) filled with curry and potatoes would be pretty hard to screw up. Turns out, I was right.

Now I have never cooked jerk chicken or curry before.  I know very little about the process of cooking either so if you’re here looking for some advanced recipe, this is not the place.  If you’re like “Oh shit, I was always curious how to make that jerk stuff and curry sounds pretty good too”, this is your post.  I figured for my first time making both, I would take a few short cuts with seasonings and use the store bought kind.  I did use Pluto’s Caribbean Bliss Seasoning, which is hard to come by in these parts but worth ordering if you’re going to be a complete jerk.  I also used Food Saver’s Quick Marinator to cheat on marinating the chicken.  This little guy will give you the same taste of marinating overnight in about an hour.  Highly recommend if you’re already using the Food Saver.  If not, get off your ass and check it out.

I used drums and thighs for this but if you’re a white meat kind of person you can use chicken breasts or a whole chicken.  I like the darker meat with the bone in because I can get it a little more tender than the breast.  Also when you’re simmering chicken in the dutch oven (HAHAHA) there’s just something about meat falling off of a bone.

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From there the meat went into the smoker.  My idea here was to obviously build a smokey flavor but also to build bark on the outside that the curry would soak in to.  I used mesquite chips and these sat for an hour at 225 degrees.  If you’re not about the smoke life, you can add the chicken directly into the curry to cook until done.  If you’re actually following this recipe, you’re looking at about 3lbs of chicken.  And yes, I know my smoker is dirty.

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If you’re on the fence on whether or not to buy a smoker, let me be the one to throw you directly off of the fence directly into buying one.  It’s almost Summer.  Just do it.  It’s one of the better culinary purchases I have made in the past few years.  I’m currently using a really basic Char-Broil Electric Vertical Smoker that will run you about $150.  If you’re hesitant because you’re not sure how to tell when your meat is one, get your hands on a wireless thermometer.  The ThermoPro thermometer lets you put a probe into your meat and communicates with another unit wirelessly within 300 ft.  It’s cheating, but it takes the guessing out of it.

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From there, the chicken should have a nice bark on the outside for the curry to soak in to. You can leave it in the smoker for longer than I did — some recommend the chicken get to 175 degrees — but my chicken is going to cook longer in a pot of simmering curry. You could even just eat this chicken without throwing it into a dutch oven (HAHAHA) filled with curry.  Trust me, just some chicken and seasoning in a smoker is good enough to eat but I’m not about being basic like that.

For your curry you basically just need a bunch of vegetables, curry powder or paste, stock, peppers and coconut milk.  Any combination or those ingredients is probably going to give you something pretty delicious.  I’m not about following exact recipes because I think it’s more fun to figure things out as you go.  I’ll give you mine, but do yourself a favor and use it as a road map.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped up
  • An entire head of garlic.  As should be the case in every recipe.
  • However much ginger you like, I use 2 tsp
  • 1 habanero pepper, chopped up
  • 7 tablespoons of curry powder
  • 2 potatoes chopped up
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • However much hot sauce you like

To make the curry, pour some oil in a large pot or a dutch oven (HAHAHAHAHA) and get it hot.  Add the onions, garlic, ginger and habanero and let them simmer for five minutes or so until the onions are translucent.  From there, add the curry powder and let it cook into the onion mixture for a bit until your house smells funny.  After the flavor has built up between all these ingredients add your potatoes to the party.   Stir it all together and let it all soak into the potatoes.  Once you start to see the bottom of your pot get a little brown it’s time to deglaze the pan and create the real flavor.  Throw in your chicken stock and stir it up. SHAKE UP YOUR COCONUT WATER and add it to the pot.  Add Worcestershire, vinegar and hot sauce and OMG you just made curry.

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Now you could add literally any meat to this and let it simmer and you’re looking at something that’s going to be delicious.  You could add raccoon meat but you would probably get a tapeworm.  You could even use a vegetable stock and more vegetables and have a fine vegetarian dish but I can’t encourage that type of behavior.  The key here is you have to let it reduce to build a marriage of everything in that pot.  If you serve it too early it’s going to taste different depending on what part of the pot you’re using.  Let it hang out for 30-45 mins while it builds flavor.

I added the chicken and let it cook on low for an hour while the curry reduced and soaked into the chicken.  Careful not to stir to often so you don’t break up the chicken, potatoes or disrupt the flavor building process.

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The best part of this is if you leave the leftovers overnight the curry continues to hang out with the chicken and improves in flavor.  This is a great example of throwing a bunch of ingredients, cooking contraptions and techniques together and getting something really great.  So again, please do not follow my recipe exactly how I wrote it. Make changes, add things, take things out — That’s the fun of cooking.  Hope you enjoy whatever you come up with.

Ten Pounds of Pork

WrestleMania was this past Sunday so the only appropriate thing to do was smoke ten pounds of pork.  I pulled the trigger on a smoker a few months ago and it has become one of my better culinary purchases. I now drive past BBQ restaurants and chuckle to myself that I can make the same quality meat, if not better, at home.  The best part is if you find a good butcher and spend a little bit of time on prep, the wood and smoker do the rest of the work for you and produce better results than your average smokehouse.  If you’re looking into getting into the smoking game, I highly recommend starting with an electric box smoker.  All you do it add wood chips and monitor the temperature.

To drive home the simplicity of smoking ribs, here is an eight step instructional process, with step eight being the most important.

  1. Buy some ribs.
  2. Cut the membrane off the bottom
  3. Rub with mustard aka rub glue
  4. Rub with rub
  5. Put in smoker for two hours at 225
  6. Wrap in foil.  Two more hours at 225
  7. Brush on sauce.  One more hour at 225
  8. Eat.  Yum.

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How good were these ribs?  So good I didn’t take a picture of the finished product.  I was too busy eating.  Sorry!

Lastly, this is the first installment in a series of posts on me and my smoker.  This is my fourth smoke and I’m thinking about graduating to smoking with wood only.  Wherever I go, you will see it here.

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

A new fried chicken joint opened up right down the street from me which makes me upset because obesity is now within walking distance.  Westland has always been a good place for me, suprisingly, because the restaurant scene is absolutely terrible.  If you’re looking for a chain restaurant, look no further.  Westland has all of them.  Normally I have to travel to Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Detroit or Ypsilanti to get a good meal.  Now I can stroll down the block and pick up battered chicken cooked in hot oil. Thanks a lot Gus.

Apparently Gus’s was started about 60 years ago by a guy named Napoleon who made such good fried chicken that the people of Mason, Tennessee built him a restaurant.  Their son, Gus, inherited the recipe and re-branded the business into “Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken”.  Kind of messed up that he took full credit for the recipe, if you ask me.  He then began expanding, with a business plan that I’m guessing had to do with finding locations with the fattest populations and adding a restaurant there.  Locations include Little Rock, Detroit, Atlanta, Memphis and Kansas City. Why Gus decided Westland was a prime location for his chicken is beyond me.  I couldn’t find any statistics for obesity levels in Westland but I’m sure the numbers are staggering.

The first thing you will notice about Gus’s is there no sign out front.  Apparently when they open new locations the public swarms the restaurant like fat zombies and overwhelms the restauraunt while they’re trying to find their groove. There is also a note saying they are in the middle of a soft open, but the waitress said that’s only there to slow people down.  The restauraunt is fully open and has a full menu. You are now free to complain about their service.

For the first complaint I would like to bring in Toi Whitfield from Facebook, who clearly researched Gus’s before she visited.  Take it away, Toi!

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I have to stop here and say a few words about Toi’s review.  First of all, the full name of the resturaunt is “Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken”.  If you and your kids don’t like spicy food, why were you at a hot and spicy fried chicken restauraunt?  Second, what kind of greens were you looking for? Greens are only delicious because they’re cooked in the same pot as a large chunk of pork. Without that large chunk of pork, you basically have boiled kale.  Was that what you were looking for?  Lastly, baked beans without pork should be outlawed in all fifty states. Lentil soup was invented for people who want to eat beans without the addition of meat.  Stick to that.  Anyways, moving on..

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Gus serves 40oz High Lifes.  They’re $8, but still. They serve 40s.  In a brown paper bag.  Where else can you drink a 40 with some fried chicken in a restauraunt setting?  It’s magical.  I know I could probably could have just said this and not included that picture, but look how beautiful and artistic it is.  Look at the guy in the blue shirt going to town on his chicken.  Look at the Filipino Pounder in the right side of the frame.  I couldn’t not include that.

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The food itself is damn good.  Not the best fried chicken I’ve had, but definitely well cooked and well seasoned.  The spice level isn’t very high and I wouldn’t mind the option to go a little spicier in honor of Toi, but there is hot sauce on the table if you need it. I’m not going into detail on the menu because you can find that on their website, but you’re looking at the three piece dark plate up top and the dark plate above these words.  I think I was actually more impressed with the sides than I was the chicken. Over the last few years, I have developed an obsession for collared greens and these are up on there on my list.  The mac and cheese isn’t award winning but it has some flavor other than butter and cream, but the baked beans are the real start of this. The beans come with every plate, and I almost subbed them for a different side.  At the last minute, I decided to keep them on my meal and thank goodess I did.  They are smoky, hearty, delicious — pretty much add any descriptive word that makes baked beans — and these have it.  Do not sub the beans.  They are fantastic.

I ordered pie at the end of my meal but forgot to take a picture because my brain was probably upset that I was abusing my heart .  The chess pie is really good.  I don’t know what it is, how it’s made or where it came from but it’s really good.  Get it.

Overall, Gus’s is really good and worth making a trip for.  Grab a 40 and order a three piece plate.  Get pie at the end.  Then don’t plan on doing anything for the next few hours.

Gus’s is at 35505 Ford Rd in Westland.

Dos Hermanos Market

As you approach Dos Hermanos Market for the first time your thought process is probably something like “I don’t know where the entrance to this place is and it doesn’t look like I should be here”.  Yes, Dos Hermanos Market is a bit tricky to enter because the door is actually in the back of the building next to a few parking spaces. Yes, you have to walk through a Mexican grocery store, through a butcher shop that features pig legs and other pork delicacies.  Once you get through the grocery and the butcher, there is a small opening to a room with a few tables.  Wait, I need to stop.  I’m trying to paint a visual for you so you truly understand the experience but I’m just not that good of a writer.

Thankfully, I have Michael H., who is an ELITE Yelp reviewer with 93 reviews, to assist me with this.

When we came here, we saw lots of work trucks in the lot; so, this place had that going for it. And he said that, if you were looking for an ethnic cuisine which was authentic, you look for a place which has lots of customers from that ethnicity eating there. When we went in, we saw that the Mexican American customers outnumbered the non-Latino customers. So, this place had the the vote of the local Mexican American population as a good place to eat it seemed.

Thanks for the assist, Michael H.  Keep up the good work.

You might be curious that both Mexican restaurants I have written about double as grocery stores.  You might also be curious that both places do not feature large sombreros, chimichangas, some mention of a Cantina or Mexican Cafe, waiters wearing Mariachi costumes or giant margaritas.  That’s because the best Mexican restaurants typically feature at least two shelves with various Mexican grocery items and don’t have time to hang up items that most white people associate with Mexican culture.  What they DO have are menus thar feature the classics – tacos, tortas, menudo and mole.  If you go into a Mexican joint and the majority of those items aren’t listed on the menu, flip the table over and run out.  The other indicator that you’re in a Mexican joint catering to white people is you have to pay for chips and salsa.  Not cool, gringo joints.

Anyways, Dos Herman is is legit as they come. The taco menu features the classics – carnitas, Al Pastor, chorizo and barbacoa – but also offers beef head and beef tongue.  If you’ve never had tongue(Lengua) on a taco before, give it a shot.  They actually have a pretty large menu for a joint this small, with a full breakfast and dinner menu.  Taco Tuesdays are special here, with $1 Al Pastor tacos.  I don’t even know how that’s possible.

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So for real, take a journey and search for the door.  Navigate through the grocery store, pass the pig legs on the butcher shop and get yourself a simple, cheap, delicious meal.  If you want to go all out, order the Lengua tacos and thank me for recommending it.

Dos Hermanos is at 34707 Ford Rd in Westland.

Seoul Street

In my post on Ma Lou’s chicken, one of the things I said was that it was some of the best chicken you can get locally – Right up there with Seoul Street.  I got a lot of questions asking me what this Seoul Street place was.  I thought I would follow that up with a little explanation on what the other fried chicken king in the area is.

In case you couldn’t figure it out by the name Seoul Street serves Korean style fried chicken, which has apparently been a big thing in Korea since the 1960s.  The difference betweeen Korean fried and American fried is a thick, seasoned crust which is created by double frying the chicken and a larger variety of flavors.  It also uses much smaller pieces of chicken, usually leaving out the breast. To make it really simple, Korean fried chicken is incredibly crispy, flavorful and has less of a chance of giving you the meat sweats after eating it.

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First of all, if you’re going to visit Seoul Street you should probably call ahead with your order, order a few things to eat before you get your chicken or just be prepared to wait.  As clearly stated on the website, fried chicken will typically take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour depending on business, as every batch is made fresh after you order. Apparently the Le Cordon Bleu educated food professionals on Yelp didn’t bother to do their research because the majority of reviews that aren’t five stars complain about the wait time.

Seoul Street has two flavors of chicken – sweet and spicy or soy garlic. The sauce sticks to the crispy skin and doesn’t leave your hands covered after handling each chicken appendage.  The craziest thing is that there is a small gap of air between that crispy skin and the meat which is like no fried chicken I’ve had.  Whatever crazy fried chicken science they’re doing, it’s working. They serve drums, thighs, wings and boneless strips. My personal recommendation is get two personal combos with wings and thighs and get both sauces.  If that sounds like a ridiculous amount of food, it’s because it is but you’ll feel suprisingly springy even after consuming enough food for two people.

If you really want to get crazy, order the Kimchi fries and add bulgogi.  I could offer you a long descriptive paragraph about all of the ingredients and the preparation but how about I just post a picture of them and we move on.  Sound good?  Here you go..

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So if you’re wondering if I have a favorite between Seoul Street and Ma Lou’s, the answer is easy.  No, I don’t.  They are two different styles and flavors of fried chicken and they are both fantastic in their own ways. Both places have my enormous respect for turning something as simple as throwing some chicken into hot oil and then brushing delicious sauce on it.  I also have to give major credit to both places for basically saying “You’re going to have to wait a while because I’m going to actually make your chicken fresh for you rather than pick it from under a heat lamp and throw it in a bucket.  If that’s going to be a problem, go to KFC.”

I would like to end this by telling you to go to Seoul Street.  Then go to Ma Lou’s. Back to back for a fried chicken bang bang.  If you need someone to go on this journey with, I’m down.

Seoul Street is at 1771 Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor.  It’s behind the building and a little difficult to find.  Use GPS on your phone, duh.

Life of Pablo Chili

One of my favorite things to cook, especially during the winter time, is chili.  You have a few base ingredients but you can get away with throwing a bunch of shit together and having it consistently taste good if you sort of what you’re doing. My chili is different each time I make it, so I thought I would post my current recipe and then take a Life of Pablo style approach.  If you’re not a Kanye fan and have no idea what that means, I will be changing this post after it is completed as I come up with better ideas and modify the recipe.  It’s a genius thing.

I don’t like to just post a recipe and say HERE YOU GO!  This is more of a roadmap on how to complete the base chili recipe that I use but ways to make it better or more to your style. I believe most recipes should not be followed 100% because it’s more fun and you learn more about flavors and seasonings by experimenting.. so by all means, take my recipe and do what you want.

The base to any good chili is going to be meat and some sort of tomato.  I know, I know, white bean chicken chili is delicious but I would classify that as a variation of tortilla soup and not a chili.  I always use ground chuck, as it becomes the most tender out of all the meats I’ve used and if you’re just throwing together a pot of chili at home there’s not much sense in going big on the meat.  You can use sirloin or a cut with a lower fat percentage but I think you’ll just be spending more money with weaker results.  I do use ground beef but feel free to use cubes or whatever consistency you like.  I would still stick to chuck, even if you are going the chunky route.

I use canned tomatoes.  I know there’s a lot of people out there who use the fresh kind but I’m just trying to make chili here.  There are other fresh ingredients in here so I’m not feeling too bad about using some canned vegetables.  Feel free to crush and chop your tomatoes, I’ll be over here using the canned kind.

Chop up literally whatever you want to throw into the chili.  Like I said before, it’s extremely difficult to mess up chili.  Use whatever peppers, vegetables and spices you want.  Hell, throw in potatoes if you really want to.  Currently I’m using onion, garlic, jalapeno pepper, poblano pepper, habanero pepper and celery.  I only season with salt, pepper, good chili powder, bay leaf and some cumin.

I would like to throw this out there — don’t use dollar store chili powder. You can go a little cheap on the beef but spend a couple of extra dollars or if you’re really feeling crazy, make your own chili powder.  Pretty much any grocery store carries dried chilis which only need to make a trip to your blender for a minute or two to become chili powder.  That value brand chili powder will absolutely destroy your chili.

Finally, I use corn flour in my chili to give it a little bit of that corn aftertaste.  I had previously used actual corn kernels in here but found that the masa adds a more subtle taste and thickens the chili to your liking after the cooking process.

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Recipe time:

  • 2lbs of ground chuck
  • Half an onion
  • One head of garlic.  Yes, use the whole thing, unless you don’t like garlic.  If you don’t like garlic, please close this site and never return.
  • One jalapeno pepper
  • One poblano pepper
  • One habanero (remove seeds for less spice)
  • One stick of celery
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chili powder to taste – Usually 3 tablespoons
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of rotel diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of masa harina (corn flour)
  • Cup and a half of beef stock
  • 2 15oz cans of beans – Whichever you like

Step One: Brown your beef and make sure to remove some of the fat but not ALL of the fat. Fat is flavor but you dont want a ton of it in here.  It will make the chili bland.

Step Two: Remove the beef and add in your garlic, jalapeno, poblano, habanero and celery to the remaining beef fat in the same pan. Add a little bit of oil if needed.  Sweat all of these ingredients for a few minutes but do not brown.

Step Three: Add your beef to the veggie mixture and allow them all to become friends for a few minutes.  Then add your tomatoes and beef stock.  If you like a really beefy flavor you can use more beef stock but it will need more time to reduce.  Add your chili powder, bay leaf and cumin as well.

Step Four: Let it simmer on medium for two hours.  At the two hour point, your ground chuck should become one with the other ingredients and all of the flavors should be melded together.  It is at this point that you want to stir your masa harina in with about a half cup of beef stock in a separate cup until it becomes a paste.  Then add that into your chili and stir together

Step Five: Add your beans and cook for ten minutes.

THAT’S IT!  You now have delicious chili that hopefully you modified a bit from my recipe and personalized it to your liking.

Taqueria Alameda

This isn’t so much of a post, but rather a small collection of words I’m trying to fill up space with when really all I want to do is get you to go to my favorite Mexican spot in the Westland area — Taqueria Alameda.

It’s what every Mexican joint should be, a small authentic family owned taqueria next to a laundry mat that serves the simple staples of Mexican cuisine: tacos, burritos quesadillas and tamales. Nothing flashy, just some damn good food at a damn good price.  I can have four tacos and a cup of horchata for ten bucks.  Perfect.

I will say that some of the “expert, professional food reviewers” on Yelp are tearing into this place saying that the flavor is inadequate and the service is poor.  I’m here to say stop using Yelp as a source for your food choices. The food is great and you’re going to have to wait a few minutes for your food because one person is cooking all of the food that goes out and that person is the guy that owns the place. If you walk into a Mexican joint that doubles as a grocery store and sits next to a laundry mat, please don’t expect five star service.

I feel like the point of this post was to tell you how good this place is, but I’m getting off topic and ranting about my hatred for Yelp so I’ll finish this here with a statement and a picture.

This place serves tacos, the kind topped with onion and cilantro, wrapped in a corn tortilla.  You can get them gringo style, but why would you do that?  Go here.  It’s authentic and how often do you get to eat tacos in the middle of a little grocery store?   Try the al pastor and carnitas.

This place is at 906 S Wayne in Westland. Check it out.

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