Mexico Connect
Forums  > Specific Focus > Mexican Kitchen


esperanza

Sep 11, 2003, 9:04 AM

Post #1 of 10 (2679 views)

Shortcut

¡VIVA MEXICO!~Independence Day and Its Special Food

Can't Post | Private Reply
Well gang, it's nearly Independence Day here in México. Those of you who live here have probably noticed the proliferation of ambulatory flag vendors which began toward the end of August. There's everything available, from a baby-size flag on a stick to a giant one to fly proudly from your rooftop. Buy a little red plush chile wearing a huge sombrero, or a Virgen de Guadalupe on a banner with flags flying from the sides, either trinket attached to a suction cup to dangle like dice from your windshield. The important thing is to show the colors, especially this time of year.

When IS Mexican Independence Day? A lot of foreigners (especially those from the USA) seem to think that it's May 5~Cinco de Mayo. The peculiarly well-known Cinco de Mayo is not Independence Day: Cinco de Mayo is the commemoration of the Battle of Puebla, when Mexican forces defeated the French in 1862, more than 50 years after the start of independence here in Mexico.

The actual Mexican Independence Day celebration starts in every town square on the late night of September 15 with a costumed reenactment of the Grito, Miguel Hidalgo's cry for independence from the native Spanish (los gachopines) that happened near midnight on September 15, 1810 in the town of Dolores, Guanajuato (now known as Dolores Hidalgo). Hidalgo's grito: "Mexicanos, ¡Viva México!" Therefore, Independence Day here in México begins with a huge celebration and speeches on the night of the 15th and continues on the day of the 16th with parades and other kinds of celebrations, including bailes folklóricos and concerts.

If you're lucky, you'll be invited to a traditional Noche Mexicana, a celebration not unlike an American or Canadian New Year's Eve party. There'll be music, dancing, possibly a show, and a late-night dinner which might feature one of the foods most associated with this season of the year: Chiles En Nogada (Stuffed Chiles Pobalano in Walnut Sauce). The recipe is complicated, but well worth the effort. If you don't make them yourself, look for them on the menu of a restaurant. I ate them on Sunday at Los Itacates (on the east side of Ave Chapultepec near Ave México in Guadalajara) and they were delicious.

Here's one version of Chiles En Nogada, courtesy of Cocina de la Familia: More Than 200 Authentic Recipes from Mexican-American Home Kitchens by Marilyn Tausend with Miguel Ravago. Copyright © Fireside, Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, NY.






This festive dish, resplendent with the colors of the Mexican flag, is traditionally served on September 15 or 16 in honor of Mexico's Independence Day, though it is popular anytime in the late summer and fall when the walnuts are fresh and the pomegranates abundant. During August and September in the highlands of Mexico, particularly in Mexico City and Puebla on the streets bordering the markets, village women can be seen sitting on blankets painstakingly peeling off the brown skin from each individual walnut. It is important to use the freshest walnuts possible, as they produce such a creamy, rich sauce that it is worth the effort demanded to peel them.

For the Meat
  • 2 pounds beef brisket or other stew meat or 1 pound beef and 1 pound pork butt
  • 1 small white onion, quartered
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • about 1 Tablespoon sea salt


For the Picadillo
  • 4 Tablespoons safflower or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped white onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (cassia)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 heaping Tablespoons raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped candied pineapple
  • 1 fresh pear, peeled and chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 large, ripe tomatoes roasted, peeled and chopped, or 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with juice
  • kosher salt to taste


For the Chiles
  • 6 fresh poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, and seeded, leaving the stem intact


For the Walnut Sauce
  • 1 cup fresh walnuts
  • 6 ounces cream cheese (not fat free) at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups Mexican crema or 1-1/4 cups sour cream thinned with milk
  • about 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (cassia) (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)


For the Garnish
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds


Cut the meat into large chunks, removing any excess fat. Place the meat into a large Dutch oven with the onion, garlic, and salt. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim off any foam that collects on the surface. Lower the heat and allow the water to simmer about 45 minutes, until the meat is just tender. Take the pot off the stove and let the meat cool in the broth. Remove the pieces of meat and finely shred them. (If making stuffed chiles with a tomato sauce rather than the walnut sauce, save the broth.)

Warm the oil in a large, heavy skillet and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until they turn a pale gold. Stir in the shredded meat and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon, pepper, and cloves, then, stir in the raisins, the 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts. Add the chopped pear, apple, and potato, and mix well. Add the tomatoes and salt to taste, and continue cooking over medium-high heat until most of the moisture has evaporated. Stir often so that the mixture doesn't stick. Let cool, cover, and set aside. The picadillo may be made 1 day in advance.

Make a slit down the side of each chile, just long enough to remove the seeds and veins. Keep the stem end intact. Drain the chiles on absorbent paper until completely dry. Cover and set aside. The chiles may be prepared 1 day in advance.

At least 3 hours in advance, place the 1 cup walnuts in a small pan of boiling water. Remove from the heat and let them sit for 5 minutes. Drain the nuts and, when cool, rub off as much of the dark skin as possible. Chop into small pieces. Place the nuts, cream cheese, crema, and salt in a blender and purée thoroughly. Stir in the optional sugar, cinnamon, and sherry, if using, until thoroughly combined. Chill for several hours.

Preheat the oven to 250ºF. When ready to serve, reheat the meat filling and stuff the chiles until plump and just barely closed. Put the filled chiles, covered, to warm in the oven. After they are thoroughly heated, place the chiles on a serving platter or on individual plates, cover with the chilled walnut sauce, and sprinkle with the cilantro (or parsley) and pomegranate seeds.

This dish may also be served at room temperature, or it may be served chilled.






Enjoy your Chiles En Nogada, and ¡VIVA MEXICO! ¡QUE VIVA!

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









(This post was edited by esperanza on Sep 11, 2003, 1:20 PM)



viajera

Sep 11, 2003, 12:02 PM

Post #2 of 10 (2661 views)

Shortcut

Re: [esperanza] ¡VIVA MEXICO!~Independence Day and Its Special Food

Can't Post | Private Reply
Esperanza:

We're all coming to your house for diez y seis! For Southern California cooks making this recipe, I just saw freshly cleaned pomegranate seeds for sale in the produce section at Albertsons. About 2 cups per container. Will save a little bit a time and mess.


Kip


Sep 12, 2003, 6:42 AM

Post #3 of 10 (2638 views)

Shortcut

Re: [esperanza] ¡VIVA MEXICO!~Independence Day and Its Special Food

Can't Post | Private Reply
That sounds incredible! Do you have a cook or do it all yourself? I'm thrilled to discover that walnuts are so available.

Kip
kip


esperanza

Sep 12, 2003, 6:56 AM

Post #4 of 10 (2637 views)

Shortcut

Re: [Kip] ¡VIVA MEXICO!~Independence Day and Its Special Food

Can't Post | Private Reply
No cook at my house except me...this is not as difficult as it looks, it's just several steps. The part that's the most picky is the roasting and peeling of the chiles and the walnuts, but it's worth the trouble!

I often make a slightly different style picadillo to serve over rice as a main dish. It's delicious!

The nuts that are most readily available here are pecans (shelled or in the shell), which we see all year long. At the tianguis (street market) here in town, there are a couple of vendors who sell trays and trays of candies and nuts, including pecans, cashews, almonds, pine nuts, and peanuts. They also sell pecans, peanuts and almonds garapiñados (caramelized on the spot, in huge copper kettles over an open flame). Yum, but watch out...they're addictive. What DID happen to that quarter kilo I bought on Wednesday?

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









(This post was edited by esperanza on Sep 12, 2003, 7:25 AM)


Kip


Sep 12, 2003, 7:16 AM

Post #5 of 10 (2634 views)

Shortcut

Re: [esperanza] ¡VIVA MEXICO!~Independence Day and Its Special Food

Can't Post | Private Reply
I think they drifted north and then south and then settled somewhere close "behind" me. Nice to know that everything that I like to cook with is easy to come by. Atkin's diet approves of nuts! Any excuse of course. I'm sure that there must be a way to rationalize the carmelization. Sounds yummy.

I forgot that when you finally get there time slows down and you finally have time to cook the "fun stuff".

Enjoy,

Kip

By the way, I'm leaving "The Good Dr.'s" book at home!
kip


Carron

Sep 12, 2003, 4:59 PM

Post #6 of 10 (2619 views)

Shortcut

Re: [esperanza] ¡VIVA MEXICO!~Independence Day and Its Special Food

Can't Post | Private Reply
Afraid we won't do anything nearly so complicated, but easy and still traditional. My 18-yr old daughter and her friends will all pitch in some pesos (as will I) and go shopping. We provide the large yard and plastic chairs, they handle all the cooking. They love to BBQ on my brazier--a large tire rim! (When we first started visiting Mexico 30 years ago, they were in use in streets from Matamoros to Acuña.) They will prepare carne asada, fat red sausages stuffed with melting cheese and wrapped with bacon, and whole roasted onions on the grill. My daughter will be in charge of making her delicious guacamole recipe, which we call confetti guacamole. Cervezas, corn tortillas, and salsa casera round out our meal. And lots of loud music, of course!

This is always the celebratory meal at our house, mainly because I get a break from everyday cooking chores and the young people don't know how to cook a lot of different things. My daughter used to cook up a similar meal every evening in a neighborhood cenaduria in Chiapas, so it can also be depended upon to always taste like it's supposed to!


N2Futur

Sep 16, 2003, 12:33 PM

Post #7 of 10 (2596 views)

Shortcut

Re: [esperanza] ¡VIVA MEXICO!~Independence Day and Its Special Food

Can't Post | Private Reply
well, I stopped at one of our mexican grocery stores here and picked up the poblanos and some jamaica blossoms and the rest of what is needed from our regular gringo grocery store and will attempt to create this delicious sounding feast this afternoon - I will report back tomorrow. My mouth was watering when I read this recipe the very first day you posted, have been coming back to it everyday and finally decided I just gotta try it.

iVIVA MEXICO!

Elke
___________________________
"When choosing between two evils, I always like to pick the one I never tried before." - Mae West


N2Futur

Sep 17, 2003, 8:28 AM

Post #8 of 10 (2588 views)

Shortcut

Re: [esperanza] ¡VIVA MEXICO!~Independence Day and Its Special Food

Can't Post | Private Reply
took about 4 1/2 hours total time to prepare this meal, but it was well worth it (I doubled the recipe so my husband could take some to work to have others (including a mexican national) try it today... I also made Pico de gallo. And our first experience at roasting and peeling peppers. I don't like just plain, boiled meat, so I browned the beef and the onions, and then cooked it in a pressure cooker for 45 minutes. It was very easy to shred. I have enough of the picadillo left to fill another batch of poblanos - so I will buy more tonite....

We finally got to eat around 9 pm last night - it was incredible - thanks for the recipe Esperanza! This is definitely a meal I will prepare again.

Elke
___________________________
"When choosing between two evils, I always like to pick the one I never tried before." - Mae West

(This post was edited by N2Futur on Sep 17, 2003, 11:23 AM)


esperanza

Sep 17, 2003, 9:27 AM

Post #9 of 10 (2579 views)

Shortcut

Re: [N2Futur] ¡VIVA MEXICO!~Independence Day and Its Special Food

Can't Post | Private Reply
I am impressed beyond words that YOU DID IT! Congratulations and I'm so glad you and your husband...and his workmates...enjoyed these chiles. I'm making picadillo tomorrow and can hardly wait.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









N2Futur

Sep 18, 2003, 11:03 AM

Post #10 of 10 (2561 views)

Shortcut

Re: [esperanza] ¡VIVA MEXICO!~Independence Day and Its Special Food

Can't Post | Private Reply
well - this dish was a winner with my husband's whole department and his boss (the mexican national I mentioned in my last post) wo is from Chiuahua said it was EXCELLENT! My neighbor (she always volunteers to be a guinea pig for any new recipe I try out) called me and said it was soooooo good, she licked the plate..... I had another stuffed pepper for lunch again today. I froze the rest of the picadillo, and my husband suggested to try them with tortillas maybe. This is definitely a keeper. I e-mailed this recipe to many friends, though most of them replied back: "4 hours - no way are we spending that much time in the kitchen". I didn't mind, especially when the resulting meal turned out that great. I forgot to mention, I also made Aqua de Jamaica for the first time, wonderful taste. We have a tea in Germany that's made from rosehips and jamaica blossoms, so the taste was somewhat familiar to me.

Elke
___________________________
"When choosing between two evils, I always like to pick the one I never tried before." - Mae West

(This post was edited by N2Futur on Sep 18, 2003, 11:04 AM)
 
 
Search for (advanced search) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.4