Now that Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, friends are asking me what we will be eating to celebrate…and what I am craving most are Enchiladas Verdes. The perfect yummy family food that stays messy on the casserole.
Even though most native Mexicans know that Cinco de Mayo isn’t a big celebration in Mexico (as a matter of fact, it is mostly celebrated in Puebla), we embrace it outside of Mexico with all our hearts without really knowing why. I guess it is a great excuse to celebrate what we love and miss about Mexico- like the tomatillo. A native Mexican ingredient that is the corner stone of so many dishes.
Continue reading Enchiladas Verdes: in a Tomatillo Sauce
Meet the tomatillo–this small, plump, green fruit was a favorite of the Aztecs and stars in any number of Mexican dishes today. Its tart flavor is worlds apart from the taste of tomatoes, but is just as juicy and unforgettable. This episode will show you where to find tomatillos, how to cook with them, and tips and tricks for creating amazing dishes.
SALSA VERDE WITH AVOCADO AND CHEESE
Salsa Verde con Aguacate y Queso Fresco
Makes about 2 cups
1 lb tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
1 garlic clove
1 or 2 chiles serranos (can adjust for desired spiciness level)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 tbsp white onion, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/2 lb queso fresco diced, or can use farmer’s cheese or mild feta instead
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted and sliced or cut into chunks
Warm corn tortillas or tortilla chips
Place tomatillos in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the tomatillos are soft and mushy, but not coming apart, about 10 minutes.
Place the tomatillos, garlic, chiles serranos (add one by one to taste for spiciness desired and adjust the heat as you go), cilantro, onion and salt in the blender. Blend until smooth. You may also mash it all up in a molcajete.
Serve in a bowl or molcajete, along with the queso fresco and avocado slices. Offer warm corn tortillas or tortilla chips on the side.
This salsa may be used to spoon on top of thousands of things; including tacos, quesadillas, eggs in the morning, or grilled meats.
There are countless versions of Pico de Gallo salsas. Their trademark is having ingredients that are fresh rather than cooked, and diced and chopped rather than pureed. This is the most common and well-known version.
It is also incredibly colorful!
Continue reading Pico de Gallo Salsa
GUAJILLO CHILE SALSA
Salsa de Chile Guajillo
Makes about 2 cups
3 guajillo chiles, about 1 oz, stemmed and seeded
1 lb roma tomatoes, or about 4 or 5 tomatoes
1 garlic clove, peeled
¼ cup white onion, roughly chopped
¼ tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1 tbsp safflower or corn oil
Toast guajillo chiles for about 20 seconds per side over an already hot pan or comal set over medium low heat. Be careful not to burn them or they will taste bitter.
Place toasted chiles, tomatoes and garlic in a pan covered with hot water and simmer for about 10 minutes until the guajillos are softened and tomatoes are cooked through. Place the chiles, tomatoes and garlic in the blender with about ½ cup of the cooking liquid, the onion, oregano, cumin and salt and puree until smooth. Strain the sauce.
Heat oil in a sauce pan set over medium high heat. Once hot, pour in the sauce, careful because it will jump a bit, and simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and seasons. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Once cooled down, the sauce may be refrigerated for a couple weeks.
This is by far, the best brisket I’ve ever had.
The meat chunks gain a nutty brown crust as they cook, yet as you take a bite they fall apart in your mouth. And the sauce, thick, a bit tart, a bit spicy and wholeheartedly rich, enhances the flavor of the meat. It is a dish with a flavor hard to forget: it has loads of personality.
It’s become the trump card I pull out for guests that love unusual and authentic flavors from Mexico. The best part of it is, the hardest part about making it, is waiting for the brisket to cook on its own.
I first tried a version of it in Santa Fé de la Laguna, Michoacán. A popular dish in that region, it goes by the name of Carne Enchilada. A young and knowledgeable Purépecha cook, Berenice Flores, showed me how to make it at her home. When my whole family sat down to eat it, we kept asking her for more corn tortillas to wipe the sauce clean off the plates.
Continue reading Brisket in Pasilla Chile and Tomatillo Sauce
The showcase of last week’s class was one of Mexico’s most famous and delicious moles, the Poblano, which originated in the kitchen of the Convent of Santa Rosa, in Puebla. After seeing how much guests enjoyed it, I can’t wait to share it with you.
I know, the word Mole sounds exciting to eat yet intimidating to prepare. As the root of the word describes, from the náhuatl mulli, Mole is a thick sauce or paste made by grinding ingredients together in a molcajete or communal mill. A food processor works as well. This sauce can be thinned out with broth or water when ready to use.
The Poblano with its long ingredients list and its laborious process, is not the best way to introduce Moles. There are some simple Moles with no more than 4 or 5 ingredients that are easier to prepare and just as tasty.
But here I am! I adore the Poblano and I know you will too…
Continue reading Mole Poblano: Yes You Can!
This salsa does hurt.
But just a little.
Yet it goes oh-so-well with the Pollo Pibil, which together with red pickled onions makes for a delicious Yucatecan meal. A bowl of this Habanero salsa is standard on just about every table in Yucatán. Around there, people drizzle some spoonfuls, or drops, on just about everything.
I recently found this salsa is heavenly combined with Louisiana style Bar-b-que and some baked beans (!). While it can make people very unhappy if not given a warning of how spicy it is, for the Yucatan class we had in December, the 20 batches made were gone before the middle of the meal. We did give our guests a warning… While my cooking team kept saying I was making too much, we made some bets, and much to my surprise, I won. I have learned now, that the American and international palate is much more open, than say a decade ago, for spicy foods.
Continue reading Do You Dare? Habanero Salsa!
As promised, and right before the year ends, here is a recipe for pickled red onions or cebollas encurtidas or en escabeche, so you can try them with Pollo Pibil. Please do! You will see why it’s no wonder pickled red onion has been Pibil’s faithful and enlightened companion for centuries: they both taste great separately, but blissful when paired together.
Pickled red onions are also a permanent fixture at every single table in Yucatan. As they are mildly spicy, deliciously tangy and surprisingly crunchy they go well with so many things. These past couple weeks I learned first hand why they are such a fabulous pickle to have handy.
Since one of its main ingredients, the bitter orange, is hard to come by around here, I had 16 takes with different bitter orange substitutes. There are well-known versions for substitutes, but I am not crazy about any of them. 16 pickled red onion batches later: I found one I love! It is equal parts grapefruit, orange, lime juice and white distilled vinegar. Without the vinegar it’s not acid enough and the pickle loses its color and crunch, it faints quickly.
Continue reading Pickled Red Onions a la Yucateca