By JAN MAIN
You may not be able to take a flight to Mexico for the March Break, however, one can certainly celebrate Mexican hospitality at the Canadian table.
Take a quick trip to Mexico with the evocative flavours of the country: Avocado, lime, cilantro (also called coriander) chilies of all sorts, smoked, hot, mild and always bursting with flavour, corn, a national staple and of course, a variety of tortilla.
A good place to find Latin ingredients is at Tienda Movil at 1237 Woodbine Ave.
The taste of this Mexican food, especially when accompanied by a beer, tequila or mescal, will put a smile on everyone’s face and transport you to the blue skies and sun of Mexico as we continue to deal with our unpredictable March weather.
Thank you to Fernando Rodriquez for sharing your excellent recipes!
This easy one pot chicken dish with its smoky and spicy flavours, makes the ultimate filling for tacos or tortilla.
Serve the chicken tinga with a salad of avocado and oranges in your favourite vinaigrette for a tasty accompaniment.
1 1/4 pounds (550 g)bone in, skin on chicken breasts
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil
2 (3/4 cup/6 oz) 2 medium tomatillos, peeled
2 (3/4 cup/6 oz) plum tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp (10 mL) Mexican oregano
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp (25 L) cider vinegar
2 cups (500 mL) chicken stock
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium high; saute chicken skin side down until well browned, 6-8 minutes. Turn chicken and cook on about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
To the same saucepan add tomatillos, tomatoes, and garlic. Cook stirring occasionally until blistered and brown in spots about 5 minutes.
Add onion and cook stirring until softened about 2 minutes.
Add oregano and bay leaves; cook until aromatic about 30 seconds.
Stir in vinegar and stock. Return chicken to saucepan; bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer about 20 to 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Transfer chicken to a bowl; set aside.
Continue cooking sauce at a hard simmer stirring until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Add chipotle chilies and adobo, remove and discard bay leave and blend the sauce in a blender (or immersion blender) until almost smooth.
When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and finely shred the meat. Return it to the sauce.
Bring sauce to the simmer and cook until it coats chicken. It should be moist but not soupy.
Serve the chicken with sauce as is or use as a filling for tortillas or enchiladas or as a topping for tacos and tostadas.
Makes 4-6 servings.
Pozole Rojo (Mexican pork and hominy stew)
This popular soup stew is ideal for the bleak days of Canada’s March as we wait for winter to finally come to an end.
Hearty and warming, it is a traditional rich soup made with pork and hominy (white or yellow corn kernels from which the kernel and germ have been removed either mechanically or chemically to produce this white corn found in specialty Latin American stores such as Tienda Movil).
4 oz (125g) dried gualjillo or ancho chilies or a combination
1 large (108 oz/ 6 lbs/ 12oz) can white hominy, drained and rinsed
3 lbs (24 oz) pork shoulder, preferably bone in cut into 1 – 1 1/2 inch cubes well marbled with fat
8 cloves garlic, 4 whole and 4 roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp(25 mL) Mexican oregano, found in basement of St. Lawrence Market or Tienda Movil
1 tsp cumin
Garnishes to serve with soup: Prepare these while the stew is simmering and then place in individual bowls.
1/2 small cabbage, thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro, washed, dried and chopped
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced 2 avocados, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
12-24 tostada shells
In a large saucepan bring 5 quarts (20 cups) water to the boil.
In mixing bowl, add chilis and cover with 3 cups (750 mL) water. Remove and discard the stems, seeds and large veins from the chili pods.
Heat a frying pan on medium high and stir fry chili pods a few minutes until they begin to soften. Do not let them burn.
While chilis are heating, bring a medium saucepan with 3 cups (750 mL) water to simmer. Remove from heat.
Once the chilies are softened, add the chilies to the saucepan of hot water and cover. Let chilies soak in hot water 15-20 minutes.
In large saucepan or Dutch oven, over medium high heat, brown pork on all sides by cooking in about 2 tbsp of olive oil. Do not crowd pork.
Once browned, add the 4 cloves garlic.
Add the browned pork to the big pot of boiling water, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pan.
Add rinsed hominy, bay leaves, cumin, oregano and salt. Bring to boil; reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes.
Prepare Red Sauce: While pork is simmering, prepare sauce.
In a blender, puree about 2 ½ cups soaking sauce of the chilis, 1 tsp salt and 4 cloves garlic.
Pour sauce through a sieve and discard solid bits. Add liquid to the simmering pork to produce a soupy- stew mixture.
Prepare the following garnishes and place into individual bowls:
Finely chop cabbage, chopped cilantro, chopped onions, peel and coarsely chop avocado, quarter limes, thinly slice radishes and a basket with 12-24 tostada shells.
To serve pozole, spoon out the soupy pork mixture (pozole) into individual soup bowls and then let each person take their desired garnishes.
Makes about 12 servings.