Mostly about food, this blog is just a place for me to throw things that are of interest to me. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by an look around. This represents just some of the stops on the various pathways that this amateur home cook finds himself.

You may find that these foods tend toward protein and away from carbohydrates - this is due to diabetic issues, so I try to only sparingly use carbs, and good ones at that. Of course, sometimes I forget....

Feel free to drop me a line with any suggestions or just to let me know what you think. Thanks!

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I want to thank you for the time that you spend here, and hope that you can find useful things here.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lord Love a Disco


Cooking in a used tractor disc? It's not some weird farm cook's joke. It is actually called 'discada' (Spanish for cooking in an agricultural disk or 'disco') and originated in Mexico many decades ago. While technically any meal so prepared is discada, there is a traditional dish that actually bears the name - although the dish has many variations depending on locale and what family is doing the cooking. I found and will present later what is an archetypical recipe for it, served wrapped in warm, fresh tortillas and topped off with crisp cilantro and a splash of lime.

The disco was originally made from plow disks as they wore out and were replaced. After being unbolted from the tillier, the hole(s) in the disc must be welded shut. Sometimes a rim is welded along the top edge and often legs of varying length are attached to the bottom. Mine has no legs, but has a couple of horseshoes welded on for handles. They stay cool enough to be handled as they are pretty far from the fire. The size of discos seem to vary, with a contour that is more curved than a skillet and more shallow than a wok. My disco was made for me by the South Texas welding wizard Bobby Bridges. Some (mine included) actually has a depressed center section that can be used for oil frying. I use a turkey fryer burner to heat the disco, as it takes a decent flame and a camp stove won't cut it. They can be used over a campfire, though, and charcoal or wood fires are the traditional method.

An important feature is that the steel is usually 1/4" thick, so unlike a wok doesn't require the huge flame that a wok does. Being that heavy allows the center to remain piping hot, with a gradual decrease in temperature as food is placed nearer to the rim. This allows food away from the center to stay warm while not getting overcooked or burned. On my disco there is a ring of welding beads placed a couple of inches from the rim. This is one of Bobby's innovations. While you are oil frying, this little addition allows you to pull cooked items, like fish fillets, up on them to drain without worrying about them sliding back into the center.

Here's the bottom of my disco, showing the welded up mounting hole and the horseshoe handles:

Here's the business side, showing a well-seasoned interior and the beads welded around the edge for retaining larger items:

The disco in action as a fryer, showing a camping friend from St. Louis using it to prepare that town's signature dish - Fried Ravioli:

They are also great for frying fish, hush puppies, or anything in a similar manner. Another treat is using them for doing fajitas - the ability to control heat by moving food around works well between the meat and veggies, and you can heat the tortillas up around the outside. This tool is only limited by your imagination.


Anonymous said...

Really enjoying your blog.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your site. What did you use to season the disco?

Anonymous said...

What did you use to season your disco? Will lard work?

Mark said...

I seasoned it much like you would a cast iron pan. I cleaned the surface down to pure clean steel, and then coated it with fat - I used Crisco but I imagine most would work as well. It was too large to go in the oven, so I used a large gas grill to heat it up. The back side is coated with high heat BBQ paint.