I had the pleasure of interviewing author Arthur Allen about his new book Ripe: The Search for the Perfect Tomato in this week’s Splendid Table. Listen in to hear about how the tomato came to be a worldwide obsession.
Listen to my segment right here…
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.
By adding a few key Mexican ingredients to what you’d normally find in an all-American pantry and fridge, you get these to-die-for, lip-smacking dishes.
ENCHILADAS IN RED TOMATO SAUCE
Enchiladas en Salsa Roja
For the sauce:
1 poundripe tomatoes
1 garlic clove, skin on
1 1/4″-thick slicewhite onion (about 1 ounce)
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
For the enchiladas:
Oil for frying the tortillas, optional
12 corn tortillas
1/2 cup Mexican cream
1/2 cup queso fresco or cotija, crumbled
1/3 cup white onion,chopped
Ripe avocado, halved, scooped and sliced
Place the tomatoes, garlic, onions, and chile on a medium baking dish, roasting pan or ovenproof skillet. Place them under a hot broiler and char the ingredients for about 9 to 10 minutes, turning them halfway through as the pieces brown thoroughly. The tomatoes’ skin should be charred, wrinkled, and the juices begin to run. The chile and onions should be softened and nicely charred; the papery husk of the garlic should be burned and the clove softened inside.
Remove the skin from the garlic clove and discard. Place the garlic in the blender along with the tomatoes, onion, and chile (start with half chile first, adding the other half or more if you feel you want more heat later), and the salt. Purée until smooth, set aside.
In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, add enough oil to reach 1/2-inch deep; let it heat for about 3 minutes. Gently glide each tortilla through the oil, one by one, for about 15 seconds on each side, so that they soften and become resilient. You should be able to fold them without breaking them. Transfer the tortillas to a paper towel-covered plate. Alternately, you can lightly toast them on an already hot comal or skillet set over medium heat, for about 20 seconds per side.
Glide the tortillas through the salsa. Fold and then cover, generously, with more of the red sauce. Sprinkle with the crumbled cheese, the cream, and the chopped onion.
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.
PICADILLO EMPANADAS OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
Empanadas de Picadillo de la Inmaculada Concepcion
Makes about 15 medium empanadas
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese or fresh nata, about 185 g, at room temperature
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups picadillo (recipe below), or preferred filling
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sesame seeds
To make the dough, beat the cream cheese with the butter in a mixer at medium speed, until it is creamy. Gently add the flour and salt and continue mixing for a minute more. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate from 15 minutes up to 24 hours.
After refrigerating, sprinkle flour over the countertop and roll out half the dough until its about 1/4 inch thick. For medium sized empanadas, cut out rounds of 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Continue until all of the dough is used.
Grease a baking sheet with butter. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the picadillo filling into the center of each round. Brush the edges of the round with the beaten egg. Fold a side of the circle over the filling across the other side. Press with your fingers as you close. Without breaking the dough, press with a fork over the edges to seal and make a design.
Place the empanadas on the baking sheet. When you fill the baking sheet, lightly brush their tops with the lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake the empanadas anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops have a golden tan and dough is cooked through. Serve hot.
PICADILLO FOR EMPANADAS
Makes about 4 cups
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 lb pork shoulder or butt, or combination of pork, beef and veal, ground
3/4 tsp kosher, coarse or sea salt
1 lb ripe tomatoes, pureed, or about 2 cups tomato puree
2 cups chicken broth or water
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup Manzilla olives, chopped
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan set over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for a couple of minutes, until it becomes translucent and soft. Incorporate chopped garlic and saute for about a minute until it becomes fragrant. Incorporate the meat and the salt and let it cook for about 8 minutes, until cooked and lightly browned.
Pour in tomato puree and let it season, stirring often, for 5 to 6 minutes, until it has deepened its color, thickened in consistency and lost the raw flavor. Pour in the chicken broth or water, cumin, cloves and cinnamon. Stir well and let it cook 15 minutes more.
Add the raisins, almond and olives, mix well and taste for seasoning. Cook for 5 more minutes. If needed, add more salt. The filling should be nice and moist.
Just remember, once it cools, it will dry a little more as it will
absorb the juices. Turn off the heat. You can make the filling up to two days ahead of time, let it cool, cover and refrigerate.
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.
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.
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