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Chile


November 14, 2012

I hadn’t heard about Thanksgiving until I moved to Texas. Yet, I took my first shot at cooking the meal that cold fall of 1997 in the vast yellow plains of Dallas. Inspired by the glossy food magazines, cookbooks and TV shows, and wanting to immerse myself in the American experience, I baked, cooked and stirred while feeling homesick for my family’s home-cooking. It took years of living in the US for me to grasp the depth and warmth of the holiday and the menu, many failed turkeys and side dishes along the way.

It turns out, fifteen years later, the Thanksgiving feast has become such a relevant part of our lives that if we ever moved back to Mexico, I’d have to bring it back with us.

The connection wasn’t instantaneous. Slowly, some elements began to resonate within me. Take the bird: Turkey is an indigenous ingredient in Mexican cookery and a center piece for Christmas and the New Year. Both are holidays which also happen near the end of the year, during the coldest season, and have to do with gathering family and friends around a plentiful table. And being thankful. And hopeful.

Continue reading Sweet Potato Rounds with a Punch


Travel with Pati to the state of Puebla to see why it isn’t just the site of the legendary Cinco de Mayo battle — it’s also home to some of Mexico’s most luscious, delectable culinary treats.


ANCHO CHILE AND ORANGE JUICE TEQUILA CHASER
Sangrita
Makes 10-12 small servings

INGREDIENTS
1 ounce or 2 ancho chiles
3 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste

TO PREPARE
Heat a comal or dry skillet over low-medium heat until hot.

Remove the stems, seeds and veins from the ancho chiles. Toast over the hot comal or dry skillet, over medium heat, for about 15 seconds per side, until chiles have softened and then begin to toast, have changed their color and released their aroma. Be careful not to burn them.

Place the chiles in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, until they rehydrate and look plump; let cool.

Place chiles and 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid in a blender along with the orange juice, lime juice, white onion and salt. Purée until smooth.

Serve as a drink alongside tequila in caballitos or straight, poured over ice cubes. Sangrita can be refrigerated for up to a week.


CRAZY CORN
Elotes callejeros
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
6 fresh ears of corn, husked and rinsed
Unsalted butter, to taste
Mayonnaise, to taste
1 cup crumbled queso cotija or queso fresco, or to taste
1 lime, or to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Dried ground chile like piquí­n or a mix like Tají­n

TO PREPARE
To cook the corn, you can grill it or boil it. To grill, brush the ears of corn with a bit of oil. Place them over a grill or grill pan, set over medium heat, and let the corn cook and char slightly, turning every 3 minutes until all the corn is done, anywhere from 9 to 12 minutes total. Remove from the heat. You can also cook the corn it in boiling water until soft and cooked, less than ten minutes.

Once cooked, stick the corn on corn holders or a wooden stick. Choose your toppings! Traditionally in Mexico, we: spread butter, then a layer of mayonnaise, coat thoroughly with crumbled cheese, sprinkle with salt and ground chile and finally, drizzle with freshly-squeezed lime juice.


MEATBALLS IN CHIPOTLE SAUCE
Albóndigas al chipotle
Serves 8 to 10

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons white onion, chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, or to taste
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, optional
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chicken broth
2 to 3 fresh cilantro sprigs, or to taste

TO PREPARE
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat with the eggs, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly with your hands or a spatula.

Place tomatoes in a saucepan and cover with water; simmer over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked through and mushy.

In a blender, add the cooked tomatoes along with 1/4 cup of their cooking liquid, 2 garlic cloves, white onion, the sauce from the chipotle chiles in adobo and, if desired, one whole seeded chipotle chile. Purée until smooth.

Pour the oil into a large soup pot and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, pour in the puréed tomato mix. It will sizzle and jump, that is ok! Let it simmer, with the lid ajar, anywhere from 6 to 8 minutes, or until it has changed its color to a deeper red, thickened in consistency and lost its raw flavor. Add the chicken broth and salt to taste and reduce heat to medium low.

Place a small mixing bowl with water to the side of the soup pot with the simmering tomato broth. Wet your hands and start to make the meatballs, one by one. They should be anywhere from 1 to 2″. Gently place the meatballs in the simmering tomato broth.

Once you have shaped all the meatballs, add the cilantro sprigs to the pot, then simmer over medium-low heat for 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve hot with a side of avocado slices avocado, some warm corn tortillas and, if desired, frijoles de olla or white rice and plantains.


DRESSED-UP CHICKEN MILANESA
Milanesa de pollo bien vestida
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely crumbled queso fresco, cotija, ricotta salata, or romano
1 tablespoon dried ground chile piquí­n or a mix like Tají­n, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
Vegetable oil for frying

TO PREPARE
To flatten the chicken breasts, in between two layers of parchment or plastic paper, flatten the chicken breasts with a meat pallet or a skillet.

On a plate, beat 2 eggs together with the milk. On another plate, combine the breadcrumbs with the cheese, ground chile and salt.

Dip both sides of each flattened chicken breast in the egg mixture, then gently coat both sides with the breadcrumb mixture so that the entire piece is covered. Set the coated breasts aside on a chopping board or platter.

Heat enough oil, in a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat, for it to be ¼ inch deep. After about 3 to 4 minutes, when the oil is hot but not smoking, place as many chicken breasts as will fit in a single layer without crowding the pan. If the edges of the chicken breasts aren’t bubbling in the oil, raise the heat closer to medium-high.

Cook for about 3 minutes on one side until golden brown. Gently flip and repeat on the other side. When the second side has crisped, remove it from the pan and set it on a plate covered with a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining milanesas.


CHUNKY CHIPOTLE MASHED POTATOES
Puré de papa con chipotle
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
3 pounds red potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 scallions
1 chile from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoon chipotles in adobo sauce, optional
1/2 cup milk
Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

TO PREPARE
Rinse and quarter the potatoes. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes over medium- high heat, or until thoroughly cooked and soft. Drain.

In a large, heavy skillet set over medium heat, add the chunks of butter. Once it melts and begins to bubble, stir in the scallions and cook for a couple of minutes until they soften. Add the chopped chipotle chile and combine well. Add the cooked potatoes along with the milk.

Using a potato masher or a wooden spoon, mash the potatoes roughly as you mix them with the chipotle and scallion mixture. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve hot.


STREET-STYLE CUT-UP FRUITS & VEGETABLES
Frutas y verduras de carrito

INGREDIENTS
1 to 2 large mangoes
1/2 pineapple
1/4 watermelon
1 cucumber
4 large carrots
1 jicama
Dried ground chile such as piquí­n
3 limes, or more to taste

TO PREPARE
Peel and slice the fruits and vegetables, you may do this ahead of time and store covered in the refrigerator. Sprinkle salt and chile to taste. Squeeze fresh lime juice on top. Mix and enjoy.


TAMPICO-STYLE STEAK COMBO
Tampiqueña

INGREDIENTS
For the steak:
6 6 oz beef tenderloin slices, 2″ to 3″ thick
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
Vegetable oil

For the poblano strips or rajas:
6 poblano chiles
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup white onion, thinly-sliced
Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 thick slice white cheese, panela, asadero or blanco
1 ripe avocado, halved, scopped and sliced

TO PREPARE
To cut and prepare the meat:
On a large cutting board, hold one piece of beef upright and, with a sharp knife, make a vertical cut into the meat about 1/4″ deep.Continue slicing around the circumference of the piece, unrolling a thin layer of beef as you go, stopping to turn it when you need to, until you get a long strip 1/4″ thick and about 2″ wide. Continue with the rest of the pieces.

Season the meat on both sides with the lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper.

When the meat is ready, lightly coat a griddle or large 12″ skillet over medium-high heat; once it is very hot, cook the meat for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, depending on your desired done-ness level.

To prepare the poblano strips or rajas:
Place the poblano chiles on a tray under the broiler, directly on a grill or directly on an open flame. I prefer to broil them, it’s faster and easier. Whatever method you choose, turn them every 2 to 3 minutes for a total of 6 to 9 minutes. They’ll seem charred and blistered on the outside; the flesh must be cooked but not burnt — like roasting marshmallows over a fire.

Once charred and hot, place them in a plastic bag, close it tightly and let them sweat for 10 to 20 minutes. Then, and preferably under a thin stream of cold water, remove the charred skin, make a slit down one side of the pepper and remove the cluster of seeds and veins. Cut the stem off and make slices that are about a 1/2″ inch wide.

Heat the oil and butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the rajas (the poblano pepper strips) and cook for a few more minutes. Add the vinegar, cook another minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare the grilled cheese:
Heat a griddle, grill pan or nonstick or seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot. Place the cheese slice on the grill pan and cook until lightly browned. Cut the cheese into 6 slices.

To serve:
Prepare each plate with one piece of steak, some poblano pepper strips, two enchiladas and a slice of the grilled cheese. The meal is traditionally served with a side of tortillas, refried beans sprinkled with cheese, a slice of avocado and the salsa of your choice.


March 19, 2012
CHIPIQ001-thumb-510x342-2266
Don’t let their size fool you. These chiles pack a punch of flavor and more importantly, they have been spicing up Mexico’s taste buds for a long time in many ways.

Different varieties of Piquí­n grow in bushes that have small and pointy leaves. The chiles are adorably cute! They are tiny and grow to be only 1 to 2 centimeters long, round and a bit elongated. When fresh, they start green and as they mature their color turns to a deep red that moves towards brown as they dry, which is how they are mostly consumed.Piquí­n chiles have a deep flavor with hints of citrus and smoke. They are a bit spicy but incredibly pleasant.

Chile Piquin goes by different names such as tepí­n, chiltepí­n, chilito, Chiapas (yes, like the state located in south east Mexico), diente de tlacuache (opposum’s tooth), mosquito, pajarito (little bird), enano (dwarf), pulga (flea), amash, and chilpaya amongst others…

Continue reading Piquí­n Chile

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Piquí­n Chile

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