Monday, August 20, 2012

Tasty Tourism-North America, Part II


If you live in any city or town of a decent size, you probably have at least one Mexican restaurant. When I talk with friends who are from Mexico or other parts of Latin America, I'm told that the dishes served in 'their' restaurants usually aren't very authentic. Apparently there's a certain amount of 'Americanization' that goes on to make various dishes suited to our 'un-trained' palates. I don't like overly-spicy foods so that's fine by me, but you might disagree. Here's a recipe for simmered pork, Mexican style. You should be able to find all of the ingredients at your neighborhood grocery store, although some communities have Mexican-run specialty shops.

Chile Verde-makes roughly 10 servings
3 lbs pork stew meat, cubed
9 cups chicken broth
1 yellow onion, large
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 fresh poblano chile peppers, seeded and chopped
2 fresh jalepeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 ½ tsp sea salt
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 ½ lbs fresh tomatillos, husks removed
½ bunch cilantro leaves, chopped coarsely
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Cook the pork in vegetable oil in a large stock pot over high heat. When it's golden brown, remove it from the pot, but leave about 2 tablespoons of oil. Now, cook the garlic and chopped onion until onions are tender. Add chicken stock, cumin, salt and pepper. Now, stir the pork back in and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, puree the cilantro and tomatillos in a blender. Once this is done, add the mixture to the pot along with the peppers. Cook for another 30-45 minutes. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and serve with beans and rice.

Most maps I've seen include Central America with North America, so I'll do the same. Here is a breakfast or dinner starch common in El Salvador and Guatemala.

Tamales de Elote-makes about 12
2 cups masa harina (traditional flour used for tortillas and tamales)
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup warm water
¼ cup lard
¼ cup butter, softened
2 tsp salt
2-3 ears corn on the cob
12-15 corn husks for wrapping

You will need-a large pot, a blender or food processor, and a steamer.
In a large pot, pour boiling water over the cornhusks and allow them to soak for 30-40 minutes. Set up the steamer for later use.
Meanwhile, combine the butter, lard and baking powder in a blender or food processor and whip until it has a light, meringue-like consistency. Then, scrape about 2 cups' worth of corn and milk off of the cobs, add to the blender and whip until it's mostly smooth. You do want it to be somewhat chunky, but not a lot.

In a separate bowl, combine the salt, water and masa harina and knead into a manageable ball. Now, add to the mixture in the blender a little at a time and beat until smooth.

Now, take the cornhusks out of the water and dry. For each husk, you are going to lay it out pointed-end-up and spoon about ¼ cup of dough into the center. Fold in the sides and the ends (in that order) to make a 'wrapper'. Steam them for 30-45 minutes and serve hot. If desired, pour a little cream or milk over it. Butter also sounds pretty good, but I'll let you decide that for yourself.

This 'edition' concludes in Part III.

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