Aug 15, 2010, 3:11 AM
Post #7 of 9
Let's take a Mexican classic dish as an example. Frijoles Charrros.
Re: [chinagringo] Cooking Authentic Recipes
Can't Post | Private Reply
Since I wasn't there when it was invented, (if it were"invented". I think it just evolved through a series of improvisations.) I don't know exactly what a traditional recipe would have in it. Beans, bacon, perhaps chorizo; onions, garlic, tomatoes and chiles.
I was looking for an Internet version, and I found an excellent one here on Mexconnect. http://www.mexconnect.com/...ans-frijoles-charros
Note that it says the beans can be started in a pressure cooker, but should be finished in a clay casserole or slow cooking pot.
I appreciate my pressure cooker for its efficiency and durability, but I lack a proper capacious clay bean pot, so I cooked the beans start to finish in the pressure cooker. Not with pressure on all the time, mind you, but after the initial cooking, opened it up and cooked the beans slowly with the additional seasonings.
Another small change was that since I had no fresh chiles serranos on hand, I put a few dried chiles de árbol in with the second onions, garlic and bacon. Come to think of it also, the dried epazote didn't make it in until the pressure had been released. When I tasted it for seasoning, it wasn't quite picante enough, so I diced up some chiles japapeños en escabeche and added them. I thought a touch of umami would be an unobtrusive boost, so I squirted in some Maggi Jugo. ¡Umm...Mami!
So, I certainly deviated from the recipe in several ways, which, as far as I know, was a "traditional" one. The results were absolutely delicious, and we had to restrain ourselves from eating more than a small bowl each. I froze the rest in anticipation of our next party. How much better it might have been if I'd done it in the traditional manner? Perhaps our heads might have exploded with gustatory pleasure? It was already better than wonderful.
So, while I respect the concept of "tradition" and those who pursue it, I'm a modern cook with modern tools at hand and I use them. I also tend to shun prepared, processed packaged ingredients, but I'm not totally strict on that. I almost never will use canned condensed soups in my cooking.
But I have considered using carnitas in Chao Siu Bao, and jícama in place of water chestnuts, and Pimentón de La Vera wherever I think it might enhance a dish. I will say I love quality canned tomato products, as the fresh tomatoes sold here tend to be insipid. I also appreciate the convenience of being able to make a fresh tasting pasta sauce in a reatively short time. Before I retired I was a reluctant fan of Barilla Pasta Sauces and their cousins. Now, with lots more free time I never use them.
Would an ama de la casa tradicional have had a gas stove, a pressure cooker, a freezer and a bottle of Maggi Jugo on hand? Good canned tomatoes?
About a week ago I was discussing the best way do the corn for pozole with our quite traditional landlady. She said to go to the supermarket, buy a big can of precooked maíz pozolero and use it in the pozole. I was shocked. I was thinking maybe of using the refrigerated prepared stuff in bags, but canned? Never. Our landlady is modern enough to not want to spend the long, tedious hours processing dried corn into pozole. I will acknowledge that the traditional pozole is several degrees better.
As it evolved, my menu concept changed and we didn't want pozole.
Instead I made another corn based recipe from Karen Hursh Graber on Mexconnect's Mexican Cuisine section, Pan de Elote del Istmo. http://tinyurl.com/2f3pkdc
I made a number of small changes to suit my purpose as it was to be the base for a dessert. If you want to see those details, read here:
Does Atole de Grano taste different if cooked in a cazo de cobre rather then an olla de barro? Could be. But a cazo is what our friend María had, and she made a satisfactory Atole de Grano with our participation last Tuesday. Everyone present seemed to enjoy it, anyway. http://tinyurl.com/28njx6w
To conclude this rather long post, I recommend reading a document by food historian Rachel Laudan that I found yesterday. It's from nine years ago, but I thought it was thought provoking and relevant for today. "A Plea For Culinary Modernism".
This link goes to her blog, from which you may continue if you wish.