CREAMY POBLANO SOUP
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups white onion, chopped
5 to 6 poblano peppers, roasted, sweated, peeled, seeded and diced
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or thawed
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
Queso Fresco, crumbled, optional
Place a large soup pot over medium heat; add oil and butter. Once the butter melts and begins to sizzle, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has completely softened, and the edges have begun to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the poblano chiles, stir and let them cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Make some room in the middle of the pot, and add the corn, sprinkle the salt and pepper and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Pour in the chicken broth, let it come to a simmer and cook for 5 more minutes, so that the flavors have had the chance to really blend.
Reduce the heat to low, wait for about a minute, and gently pour in the milk. Heat the soup through, for about 6 to 8 minutes, and serve. If you make it ahead of time, and want to reheat it, do so over low-medium heat.
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.
TAMPICO-STYLE STEAK COMBO
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
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 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.
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.
A tasty look at the way French cuisine has historically influenced modern Mexican cooking, and simple techniques any American cook can manage with impressive results.
SNAPPER IN A POBLANO CHILE SAUCE
Pescado con salsa de chile poblano
6-6 oz mild-flavored fish filets, like red snapper, sea bass, grouper, tilapia or mahi-mahi
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime (2-3 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 cup Mexican cream, or Latin style, crème fraiche or heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 poblano chiles
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
1 cup shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Muenster, Mozzarella)
Rinse the fish filets under a thin stream of cold water, drain and pat dry. Place in a container, drizzle with the lime juice, garlic, salt and black pepper. Let it marinate anywhere from 15 minutes up to two hours in the refrigerator.
Slice the poblanos in half, removing the stem, seeds and veins. Roughly chop and place in the blender along with the milk, purée until smooth.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux. It should be nice and foamy. Cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chile purée, Mexican cream and nutmeg and cook on low heat until it thickens, about 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the bottom of baking dish and place the marinated fish there, without extra marinade. Cover generously with the poblano sauce. If using cheese, sprinkle it on top.
Bake just until the fish is cooked and flakes with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filets.
Growing up in Mexico City, I didn’t know a single person who celebrated Cinco de Mayo, except for the people who lived in the state of Puebla. We didn’t even get the day off! Sure we studied it in school–the unprecedented victory of a small Mexican militia against the large French army in 1862–but it was a short-lived victory, as the French won right back.
Fast forward 150 years to 2012: the French and Spanish are gone; Mexicans proudly celebrate Independence Day every September 16; yet, for reasons few of us can explain, Cinco de Mayo has become the greatest, most joyous, colorful celebration–for Mexicans living abroad. As strange as the nostalgia is, the longer I live abroad, the stronger the impact Cinco de Mayo has within my soul. These words fluff up like soft conchas right out of the oven, getting fluffier, sweeter and more comforting as the years go by.
Continue reading Creamy Poblano Soup
A Mexican brunch is the perfect way to ease into the weekend. What kinds of recipes are truly Mexican but truly inspired, too? This episode will look at what a late breakfast/early lunch in Mexico might look like, and what recipes you can prepare in your own home.
RABO DE MESTIZA: POACHED EGGS IN A TOMATO AND POBLANO RAJAS SAUCE
Huevos Rabo de Mestiza: con Salsa de Jitomate y Rajas de Poblano
Serves 6 to 8
The sauce can be made ahead of time and the dish cooked right before you want to eat it.
2 lbs Roma tomatoes
1 garlic clove
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp corn or safflower oil
1/2 cup white onion, slivered or thinly sliced
3/4 lb poblano chiles, or about 3, charred, sweated, skinned, stemmed, seeded, cut into about 2″ slices (may soak in hot water with 2 tbsp brown sugar or piloncillo to tame heat)
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp kosher or sea salt, more or less to taste
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled, my substitute for farmers or a mild feta
Corn tortillas or toast, optional
Place the tomatoes along with the garlic and bay leaves in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, simmer until thoroughly cooked, about 10 minutes. Place tomatoes, garlic and bay leaves in the blender and puree until smooth.
In a large, heavy bottomed pan set over medium heat, pour in the oil. Once hot, cook the onion, stirring now and then, until soft and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the poblano rajas and let them cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce, sprinkle the marjoram, salt and pepper, and let it season and thicken for about 10 to 12 minutes. You can make this sauce ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
When ready to make the eggs, reheat the sauce, then lower the heat to medium-low and add the eggs one by one. It is easier if you crack the eggs into a small bowl or cup and slide them into the sauce. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top of each egg and cover the pan with its lid. Let the eggs poach until cooked. I like the yolks, still runny, which takes like 4 to 5 minutes.
Serve on plates and sprinkle crumbled cheese on top. Have warm corn tortillas or toast on the side.
WHITE RICE AND POBLANO RAJAS CASSEROLE
Cazuela de Arroz con Rajas de Chile Poblano
4 cups cooked white rice
2 tbsp butter and a bit more to butter the baking dish
1 cup white onion, slivered
3 poblano chiles, about 3/4 lb, charred, skinned, stemmed, seeded, and sliced. Click here for more information on how to prepare them
1 1/2 cup Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup corn kernels, fresh, thawed from frozen or canned and drained
1 tsp kosher salt or to taste
1/2 cup Mexican style cream, or Latin, Salvadorean, creme fraiche or heavy cream
1/2 cup queso fresco, can substitute with farmers, basket or ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup Monterey jack, light cheddar or mozzarella, shredded
Place the butter in a saute pan set over medium heat. Once it melts, add the slivered onion and allow it to sweat for about 12 minutes, until translucent and soft. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the chile poblano rajas or strips, corn, salt and black pepper and cook for about 3 more minutes. Add the cream and queso fresco and continue cooking, stirring from time to time, until the sauce thickens a bit and seasons, for 2 to 3 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 8 x 11 or 9 x 9 baking dish. Layer the white rice in the baking dish and press it down gently with a spatula. Pour the poblano mixture on top. For the last layer, sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.
Bake the casserole in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese has completely melted. Serve hot.
The last time I was at the Mexico City Chapultepec Fair was 20 years ago, with my high school friends. Going back last weekend with my own growing monsters, confirmed that it is not an ordinary Fair experience, ever, regardless of one’s age.
Yes, you find the balloons, with a mix of Mexican and American characters, right at the main entrance.
Continue reading Quesadillas at the Mexico City Fair