Friday, August 6, 2010

Cocinar en la cocina mexicana

While in Mexico, I was lucky enough to have a new friend ask la dama at the B&B where she is staying if she would be willing to teach me to cook.  What a fantastic opportunity: to see a local B&B, to kick it with a Mexican family and speak Spanish for a few hours, to learn how to cook some favorites, and to eat said favorites.
Sra. Garcia and I agreed upon $400 pesos ($32US), and I headed over after class.  We made arroz verde, salsa verde (roasted tomatillo salsa), salsa de aguacate, milanesas de cerdo, and a salad of pepino y yerba buena (cucumbers and mint).   When I mentioned how our entire meal was green; la dama added some jitomates to the ensalada.
Se una comida muy sabroso.  Se sirven con tortillas de maize, por supuesto.

I realize my recipes don't use exact amounts and well, you can just get over it, or check out the links that I include with each recipe for similar recipes that I found on the interwebs.  And no, these aren't my photos; click on them to whisk yourself off to the triple dub from whence they came.
Something I am finding out as I cook here; Mexicans LOVE their liquedoras.  Love love love.  How they ever managed with solamente molcajetes I will never know.  So if you want to get cooking Mexican style, you might want to invest in a decent liquedora.  Every dish I have made here has used one.

our rice was nowhere near this green - I think this image is arroz con espinacas
Arroz Verde
rice - enough to serve 10 people, 4 cups maybe?
chicken stock or water
pasilla pepper
crema (sour cream) or leche (milk)

Put your rice in a bowl of hot water and let sit for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, you can heat up your pot and add some oil.
Drain the rice in a colander and add to the hot oil in the pot.  Stir fry until the rice is no longer opaque, but has started to become translucent.  You only need to stir occasionally to ensure the rice isn't burning onto the bottom of the pan.  You do NOT want to let the rice become golden for arroz blanco, or arroz verde though, so keep an eye on it.  (for arroz blanco, you just omit the pepper from the puree, and then you can add peas and/or carrots toward the end of cooking for color)
While the rice is cooking, pull the seeds out of your chile and chuck it in una liquedora (a blender or food processor) with about 1/4 c onion, 1 clove of garlic, and about 1 cup of water.  Puree until smooth.
Once the rice is ready, pour in the veggie puree and stir.  Now you need to add enough liquid to cook.  Follow the 1 cup of rice = 2 cups of liquid idea, and add as much water as you think you need (you can add more as it cooks if it needs it, so don't go overboard).  La dama used powdered chicken bouillon, but you could also use chicken broth or stock instead of water and bouillon. 
Taste for seasoning.  Adjust as necessary.
Add crema or leche; maybe 1/4 cup.
Stir again, cover, and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes until rice is done.  Stir occasionally so the green bits don't just sit on top, and to check liquid levels.  We did end up adding more water part way through.
Fluff up and serve with more crema on top.

Arroz verde can also be made with broccoli, spinach, or asparagus.  You can add peas or carrots as you wish.   We didn't.
milanesas cerdo relleno imagen
Milanesas de Cerdo
thin cut pork cutlets - you may have to pound yours out if you cannot find them superthin
lots of pepper
2 eggs

Scramble the eggs.
Pour the breadcrumbs onto a plate and season generously with pepper, and less generously with salt.  Stir to combine.
Heat a skillet over medium high and add oil.
Dip the pork into the eggs, then into the breadcrumb mixture and then place into the hot oil and cook on both sides until done (about 3 minutes per side).  
Basically like this, but with less stuff.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, aka Salsa Verde
a bunch of tomatillos - maybe 1 to 1 1/2 lbs; papery skins removed (it's easier to do this under water - the tomatillos, not you)
serrano chiles - the quantity depends on you, and the chiles; sometimes the chiles are hotter than others and sometimes people like things spicier than others.  I will recommend starting with two, and you can always add another one later if you like it mas picante.  I think we actually used something similar to these costeno amarillos chiles; but I can't be positive.  If you can find those amarillos, you can use 4-5 since they are not as spicy.  We just cut off the stems and used them seeds and all.
salt - to taste
garlic - 1 clove
cilantro - 2 tbsp
water - about 1 cup
optional: white onion - 1/4 c

Char the tomatillos and peppers a la plancha, or in the oven; turning frequently so all sides get some color.  As the tomates and chiles are finished, remove them from the heat and stick in a bowl of cold water.  Once they're cool to the touch, you can pull off the darkest spots of skin, (as well as the thicker skin off the chiles) so your salsa stays nice and bright green.
Put them in your blender or food processor with the garlic clove, cilantro, water and salt; and the onion if you're using it.  Whir away.  Taste for heat level and salt; now is the time to add another pepper or more salt if necessary.  Done.
Or try this.

Salsa de Aguacate
1 avocado
8-10 tomates (tomatillos)
cilantro - 2 tbsp chopped
salt to taste
water - about 1 cup
serrano chiles - same deal as above; start with 2 and taste; you can always add another one later.  Cut off stems, but use seeds and all.
again, onion is optional, as is garlic - we used neither

Cut the tomatillos in quarters if they're large, half if they're small, and chuck into your blender/food processor with the cilantro, salt, avocado and water.  Puree away.  Done.
Or, try this.  Or this if you're a visual learner.

When I made this at home, I roasted all of the veggies on the grill, and yes, I used about half of a white onion, and a couple of cloves of garlic.  I also used an anaheim chile along with the serranos.  So yeah, it was basically a mix of the two salsas and it was FAB.

1 comment:

Quinn said...

That sounds like an amazing experience! You totally got your 400 pesos worth!