Simple Beef Fajitas
How often do you build the menu for a meal around the choice of beverage? Perhaps if you're a wine or beer connoisseur you'll create a menu to complement some special drinks, but in general home cooks choose the entreé first then choose side dishes and beverages to complement it. One of our favorite drinks to have with dinner (and Diane was home this weekend to share this meal) is sangria, an easy-to-drink, fresh tasting, wine punch made with wine, sugar, and fruit juice. For some reason I wanted sangria for Sunday dinner. I even went to the supermarket a few days early and purchased a bottle of one of our favorite brands to have on hand. We usually drink sangria with Mexican food but I wanted to do something different than prepare our usual (though very good) tacos. Sitting on my night stand was the September-October 2012 issue of Cook's Illustrated. The cover listed the contents including a new recipe for chicken fajitas. This provided the inspiration I needed. I went to The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook and found four recipes that I used to create this meal. This included making Sangria, but, not to worry, the store-bought stuff didn't go to waste.
Vella Merlot. It comes in a 5-liter box which holds the equivalent of 6⅔ bottles and you can usually get it for less than $15. (We normally also have a box Vella Chardonnay on hand as our everyday white wine.) Wine deteriorates quickly when it comes into contact with oxygen but this is not a problem with a box wine where the wine resides in a plastic bag. As you remove the wine the bag collapses, no air is introduced to replace the liquid, and thus the wine is in an oxygen-free environment. The wine keeps well for as long as it takes you to finish off the box. The recipe also calls for the orange liqueur, Triple Sec, and I substituted a different liqueur, Orange Curacao, because we had it on hand. The end result was a very good sangria that was notably better than any of the store-bought brands that we drink. It was much fresher tasting and more fruity though there was also a slight bitter note from the pith of the oranges and lemons. It is not as convenient as a bottle of store-bought sangria, but the extra effort is worth it for a special meal.
Sangria from America's Test Kitchen
Refried Beans from America's Test Kitchen
Chunky Guacamole from America's Test Kitchen
Simple Beef Fajitas from America's Test Kitchen
Like steak, pork chops are difficult to reheat without overcooking them, but even more so, I think. The nice, juicy chop that I started with ended up tough and dry. Not good. I warmed it up in the microwave, gently, but it still came out overcooked. Perhaps a gentle warming in a low oven would work better?