The World Cup is coming! The World Cup is coming!
I'm saving our 2010 World Cup stories for this June. You'll have to wait a bit to hear all about South Africa: the food, the people, the friends we made, the safari. Stay tuned.
But to tide you over, here's a great picture from that amazing two week experience: three England Lions and myself at a Cape Town fan park.
While we can't head down to Rio for the 2014 edition of the World Cup, we will be watching from home. Wednesday night was USA vs. Mexico, and they were playing an international friendly match in Arizona.
I will tell you that Mexico was one of my favorite countries at the World Cup in 2010. When we first landed in Johannesburg, there was a huge group of them having a real party in the airport. There were drums, sombreros, ponchos, cheers and songs. Every time we saw a group of fans from Mexico, it was the same fiesta. I loved those fans.
For this match, Mr. McCormick came out to the living room at 7:50pm with his USA soccer jersey on and pure happiness on his face. He loves soccer, and over the past 10 and a half years, I have come to like it a lot.
I'd like to say that I stayed up for the entire match. I did not. I fell asleep like an old lady on the couch before halftime and then put myself to bed. But I did get to see two awesome goals by the USA!
Chicken Fajitas with Creamy Black Bean Spread
It only seemed fitting to prep some fancy chicken fajitas in celebration of the game. I adapted the below from this recipe on The Kitchn.
Serves 2 to 3
For the chicken
1 clove garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from the jar or can the peppers came in)
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
For the black bean spread
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 scallions, white and green parts chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced*
1 1/4 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Large palmful of fresh cilantro (about 3 tablespoons)
Juice of 1/2 lime
*We did a whole jalapeno because we love the heat
For the fajitas
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 small green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 small red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 small onion, sliced thin
Salt and pepper
Cilantro, for serving
Lime, for serving
First, marinate the chicken. Combine the garlic, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper in a bowl and stir to combine. Put the chicken breasts in a shallow dish, pour the marinade over, and allow to sit for about an hour at room temperature.
Flip them once or twice to make sure all surfaces of the chicken are well-coated with the marinade.
While the chicken is marinating, prepare the black bean spread and cook the peppers and onions. For the spread, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the scallions, garlic, and jalapeño, and cook until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the beans and all remaining ingredients. Process until smooth. Taste and add more salt or lime juice as needed. Set aside until needed.
(We left it a bit more chunky on purpose, but you could keep processing to make it truly creamy.)
To cook the peppers and onions, heat 3 teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet (the same used for the black bean spread is fine). Add the peppers and onions along with salt and pepper.
Cook until the peppers and onions are as soft as you'd like and a bit charred on the edges, 8 to 10 minutes total. Remove from heat and set aside.
Once the chicken has marinated, heat a grill pan over high heat and brush with vegetable oil. Turn on a kitchen fan or open a window in case the chicken gets smoky as it cooks. Lay the chicken breasts in the pan and pour the marinade over top. Cook the chicken for about 5-8 minutes on each side until cooked through. Thinner chicken breasts will cook more quickly than thick ones. Let the cooked chicken breasts rest on a cutting board tented in foil for 5 minutes. Slice into thick strips.
To assemble the fajitas, spoon some black bean spread onto a tortilla and top with chicken, peppers, onions, a squeeze of lime, and a sprinkle of cilantro leaves. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to a week.
This recipe had a much better outcome than the game. A draw?! Come on USA, you have to play well in both halves.
Ok, now that I've got that off my chest ... these were so good.
The biggest surprise was the black bean spread. It has a nice heat element and takes basic fajitas up to a more gourmet level. I was having a hard time not eating it by the spoonful before the rest of the fajitas were ready. It would be so good as a topping or dip in any Mexican flavor inspired dish.
The adobo marinade was also wonderful. Smokey and spicy. I wish we'd marinated another couple of chicken breasts just to have on hand for later in the week.
These twists on an old classic took these fajitas up a notch. We really enjoyed how everything came together.
Here's to a great soccer season ahead!