Sacrilege

Many years ago I made the faux pas of serving ponche(traditional Mexican hot fruit punch) on a day other than Christmas or New Year’s Day. The deer barbacoa I made was delicious but sadly, was upstaged by this grievous social error.

So, I hesitate to share this tricked-out recipe of a traditional Nicaraguan dish, but, I promised recipes, it was super tasty, and Felipe’s favorite chili is habanero.

Carne in Salsa Habanero

1 pound carne, this means beef in Nicaragua.

You can buy frozen beef in most small neighborhood stores, but, it will be a random chuck of something called carne(tougher) or lomo(softer). Even as a butcher I’m usually guessing what cut I ended up with, I think this was rump.

1 small onion, one clove garlic, one habanero, one green pepper, all sliced thin

1 cup steamed, chopped dark greens

A goodly splash of Worcestershire

1 cup of sour cream

A couple Tbls butter

1 cup sliced sauteed mushrooms.

I have to use canned, fresh mushrooms aren’t available in my town. Even though they suck, I love mushrooms so much I have them every once in a while, especially if they’re slathered in sour cream.

Cut the carne into chunks or slices saute with some butter. Splash it with the Lea and Perrins. In Nicaragua, brand = name.  Pull it out when you’re happy with the temperature. Saute all the raw veggies in the meaty butter pan juice. I like to start with the onion and garlic, then add the chili, green pepper, so they’re a little crisper. Put the meat back, and add the chopped, cooked dark greens. You could saute them with the rest of the veggies, but I don’t like how much fluid they release. It waters down the sour cream, which you add last, stir and warm it all up. Yum!

It’s generally served with rice but would make a fine taco.

Here’s a more traditional take.

This sauce is also served on chicken breast, and I think most deliciously titlilies(chicken gizzards) stewed until very tender.

Probecho!

Do you have traditional dishes that are sacrosanct?

I’d love to hear your take on breaking with tradition.

Fast Slow Food

Just a little reminder (or an introduction) if you haven’t thought about the slow food movement lately.  I love that their philosophy begins with the fundamental right to pleasure and the responsibility inherent in enjoyment.

Just a little reminder (or an introduction) if you haven’t thought about the slow food movement lately. I love that their philosophy begins with the fundamental right to pleasure and the responsibility inherent in enjoyment.

Our philosophy

 

We believe that everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible. Our movement is founded upon this concept of eco-gastronomy – a recognition of the strong connections between plate and planet.

 

Slow Food is good, clean and fair food. We believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work.

 

We consider ourselves co-producers, not consumers, because by being informed about how our food is produced and actively supporting those who produce it, we become a part of and a partner in the production process.

I  used to be a serious foodie, but after years of meals that required days of preparation, dinners out made from difficult to pronounce ingredients, let alone state their country of origin, my tongue numbed. The finest meal ceased to please; I’d had too much of a good thing.

I cleansed my palate with simplicity.  A tortilla with lime and salt. A potato baked with an egg in it, the creamy yolk stirred into its steaming flesh.

This is one of my favorite simple, fast food recipes, and I think, the best way to eat chicharron.

Chicarron Tacos vsvevg.com

Chicharron Taco

Chicharron

Tortilla

Salsa(I like salsa fresca)

Avocado

Mush a slice of avocado in a warm tortilla, top with a few pieces of chicharron and salsa. This is the hard part–wait for about a minute, just enough for the chicharron to absorb the salsa a little, but not so long the tortilla gets cold. Munch, make another.

 

My chicharron came courtesy of my friend George Anna Clark’s farm, Rancho La Troje, a pastured pig ranch near Puente de Ixtla. Her practices exemplify the premises of  the slow food philosophy. All of the animals are pastured the entirety of their lives, the butchering is done on site, sparing the pigs undue stress. The land is cultivated to meet the thier needs with various grains, legumes and native species, using healthful farming practices. She’s my hero.

Help support free range animal farming, visit and like George Anna’s  face book page. If you are in the Cuernavaca area look for her  bimonthly adds on CuernAds for the date and location of her Wednesday visits to sell pastured pork, organic oranges and limes.

Visit the slow food chapter in your area for  help finding great resources like Rancho La Troje.

Eat slow! Probecho!

What’s your favorite fast/slow food?

 

 

 

 

Tacos de Chili Relleno(sort of)

 

Taco de Chili Poblano vsvevg (1)This is the last in my series of vegetarian tacos . As usual I had to tweak the recipe. Generally chili poblano is charred and cut into strips, for tacos. Sometimes bathed in crema(Méxican sour cream)* for rajas in crema, or, a la Méxicana, with tomato and onion, with the poblano as the chili portion of this basic recipe. For the full blown rellenos taco, the chili is stuffed with cheese and batter fried, then wrapped in a tortilla. I am not afraid of fat, but a deep fat fried anything in a tortilla is a little heavy even for me. So because I love rellenos and portable food, I devised this slightly lighter version.
Tacos Rellenos de Queso Frito, con Salsa Ranchero
Charred, and peeled chili poblano, cut in half. Each chili will make two tacos.
Queso cincho , ar any cheese that fries well; kasseri , provolone are good choices.
Vegetable oil
Tortillas
Heat the oil, and fry the cheese until brown outside and creamy inside, warm the chili in the pan as you do this. Place the cheese in the chili and the chili in the tortilla. Eat immediately, fried cheese gets tough when it cools. Dip in salsa ranchera.
Salsa Ranchera
This recipe comes from, you guessed it, Diana Kennedy’s, The Essential Cuisines of Méxican! She mentions the debate about whether or not to broil the tomatoes; I’m with her, I prefer them broiled. This salsa is standard with Huevos Rancheros, Queso Flameado and Chilies Rellenos. It’s a good standard recipe to have in ones repertoire. It makes about a cup.
One pound roma tomatoes broiled until some of the skin is blackened
4 serrano chilies charred, I do this in a pan with oil, again to blacken the skin
1 clove garlic roughly chopped
2 Tbles vegetable oil
2 Tbles finely chopped white onion
½ tsp salt, or to taste
Blend the tomatoes, chilies and garlic until fairly smooth.
Heat the oil and fry the onion gently without browning, until translucent. Add the blended ingredients and salt and cook over a fairly brisk heat for about five minutes, stirring and scrapping the bottom of the pan until the sauce is reduced a little and well-seasoned.
Probecho!

Taco de Chili Poblano vsvevg (2)
These are the links to the rest of my vegetarian taco recipes; in the case you missed one 
Tacos de Haba(fava vean)
Tacos de Nopal(cactus paddle)
Tacos de Hongo(mushroom)
Tacos Dorado(ricota)
Tacos de Papa (potato)

*I mention crema in several of these posts. You can buy Méxican style crema, but it’s overpriced. The most authentic way is to make it by adding 1 Tbles sour cream to 1 cup of unpasteurized heavy cream and let it sit in out for a couple of days. It’s pretty warm here so it doesn’t take mine more than a day usually, but be sure your crema is in a warm place, say near a pilot light. Then, pull the heavy top portion back and pour off any whey that may be at the bottom, add some salt and refrigerate.
Or, you can use regular sour cream, which is perfectly delicious. I hope you enjoyed my veggie taco series. Our next foray into the authentic cuisine of Morelos features– Chicharron!

Street Food

Tacos Dorado

Tacos Dorado

I have this fantasy that someday I’ll throw a cocktail party. I did that sort of thing when I lived in Chicago, or my previous life, as I think of it. It will have a theme: Street Food. I will serve, my favorite Chat … and Choa Tom and these very tasty Tacos Dorado, as I first had them, in a plastic bag with a bit of shaved cabbage in the bottom, a good drizzle of hot as hell salsa verde and dollop of crema. The tacos get a little mush-crunchy wonderful as they sit in the spicy cream. You chomp off the bottom as they reach that perfect texture and then slurp the salad out of the bag as a palate cleanser. It’s a perfect mess.
Tacos dorado are often stuffed with mashed potatoes , chorizo, or spicy minced pork. But this recipe with requeson is the most unique, and they really don’t need a thing they’re so yummy. Requeson is Mexican ricotta. It’s much drier that Italian style ricotta, so you’ll have to drain the cheese, if you’re not using requeson, by hanging it in cheesecloth above a bowl in the refrigerator overnight. If your cheese is too wet the hot oil will splatter, which is messy and dangerous. Or you can make your own; for the most authentic flavor cook it over a wood fire, the smoke imparts a wonderful earthiness.

mise en place

mise en place

Tacos Dorado de Requeson
2 cups Requeson
1 roma tomato, seeded, finely chopped
1 chili serrano (seeded if you want it less picante)finely minced
Salt to taste
corn tortillas
Vegetable oil

Toothpicks

stuffing the taco

stuffing the taco

It is important to use very fresh tortillas or they break and mess up your oil. Most Latin groceries receive tortillas daily. You can tell they’re fresh when they feel floppy and they will often still be warm. I don’t recommend using day old tortillas.
Mix the cheese with the vegetables and salt. Press a rounded tablespoon of the cheese mixture solidly into the bottom third of the tortilla, roll up and secure with a toothpick(I use huizsache thorns). Place in enough hot oil that the taco is at least half submerged, turn when its light brown. You could also use a deep fryer. I use a wok and fry three at a time. The recipe makes about a dozen tacos.
Pair with a hand-shaken Tesoro Blanco margarita topped with Chichcapa mezcal … yea, I’m fantasizing again. 
Probecho y Salud!