Mole Poblano

Jorge and I made Mole Poblano this week. Our guests all enjoyed the dish and asked me to blog the recipe. So here you have our version of this classic entree from the central Mexican state of Puebla…

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MOLE POBLANO

(for 8 persons)

Place the following ingredients in a large pot and completely cover with water (about 3 quarts). Put on the lid and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and stew everything for 1/2 hour.

  • 2 chickens, cut into quarters, skin removed
  • ½ med. white onion, chopped coarsely
  • 4 whole cloves of garlic, skinned
  • 1 T. salt
  • 10 whole black pepper corns
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano

While the chicken is stewing, cook and char on a stove top griddle:

  • 1 lg. white onion
  • 1 lg. red pepper
  • 2 lg. Roma tomatoes

Cut the vegetables (charred skins and all) into large chunks and put them in the blender. Add:

  • 2 oz. of dark chocolate (La Abuelita)
  • 1/2  tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 T. chicken consommé powder (Maggi)
  • the contents of 2 jars (235g. each) of (DoñaMaria) mole paste.

When the chicken is cooked, remove the pieces and set them on a platter to cool for ½ hour – then remove the meat from the bones in as large pieces as possible. Set the chicken pieces to one side. Discard the bones.

Strain the broth, discard the onion and other bits, and then take out enough broth to cover the ingredients in the blender. Process until smooth. If your blender’s glass is not a large one, do one half of the ingredients at a time.  Transfer the mixture to a clay cooking pot or other large pot.

Reserve 4 cups of the broth so you can use it when making the rice, and add all the rest to the blended mixture in the cooking pot. Stir well and put the pot on medium heat. The mixture will be “soupy”, so you need to let it reduce by about a third, or until it has the texture of a creamy sauce.

Add the chicken pieces to the mole sauce and simmer for 20 minutes.

Measure out:

  • 2 cups of rice

And prepare it as you please, but instead of using water, use the:

  • 4 cups of reserved chicken broth

To the steaming rice, add:

  • 2 envelopes of condimento español

(this is basically turmeric and is available at you corner store or in the market)

Optional ingredients::

  • ¼ cup of toasted sesame seeds
  • light cream
  • red onion
  • cilantro leaves

To plate:

Mold ½ cup of rice on one side of the plate. Spoon the Mole beside it. To garnish the mole, I sometimes run a line of cream over the top and sprinkle it with the toasted sesame seeds. Sometimes I place thinly sliced red onion on top or I use cilantro leaves.

I serve guacamole, fried plantains and hot corn tortillas with this meal. I pair it with a robust red wine.

Los Alebrijes – a new restaurant in Merida

 

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Jorge and I will not be taking a trip with the IWC this year. Many people have told me they will miss the opportunity to see a new part of Mexico AND they will miss spending time with our popular guide, Sergio Solis. The knowledge he shares and the extra care he takes always makes our trips interesting and fun.

Sergio has worked as a tourist guide for many years, and now he is partner in a new business. With a cousin and a long-time friend, he has opened a restaurant specializing in – but not limited to – authentic Oaxacan cuisine.

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The restaurant is called, LOS ALEBRIJES. There’s always lots going on – groups of friends get together to play board games and cards, drink a beer or two and enjoy a great food. There is music and an area that works well as a dance floor. In another part of the restaurant, sofas and armchairs are set up like a lounge, and of course there are lots of tables and chairs, as well as booths where you can enjoy a fabulous meal.

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A refreshing breeze crosses through the restaurant, but there is also AC for the hot days. The chairs are comfortable and the staff is just like the owner – friendly and generous.

The restaurant is decorated with murals of alebrijes (swooping and soaring fantastic animals) , handcrafts, and posters of iconic movie and music stars from the 1940s and 1950s.

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The food is delicious. The Oaxacan specialties and the Yucatecan signature dishes served at LOS ALEBRIJES  are just two examples of the rich culinary traditions of Mexico. But those who feel like eating more familiar fare will find fries, nachos, guacamole and the like. The prices are reasonable and the portions are generous

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Open for lunch and dinner, LOS ALEBRIJES  is located on the corner of Calles 64 and 43 – just a short walk from El Centro. If you have a car, you’ll find plenty of parking on the street.

So get a group together or stroll over on your own – you won’t be disappointed – See you there soon!

Spaghetti for the Holidays

 

Getting into the Holiday spirit

Getting into the Holiday spirit

Do you get a lot of extra company in December? At our house, friends and family who are in town for the holidays often drop by unexpectedly, and I have to quickly put a meal together.

So this week I’ll be making a big pot of spaghetti sauce, and freezing it in 2 L. containers. I’ll also freeze 4 long baguettes (for garlic bread), and make sure we have salad greens, peperoncino, parmesano, a few extra bottles of Shiraz, and Christmas baking to serve for dessert.

Holiday  Spaghetti Sauce

 Ingredients

½ kilo ground pork

½ kilo ground beef

2 Italian sausages (cut into 1 inch pieces)

100 grams of bacon (cut into 1 inch pieces)

5 whole garlic cloves (or to your taste)

1 large white onion (chopped)

1 large green pepper (chopped)

2 stalks of celery (chopped)

5 Roma tomatoes (chopped)

20 button mushrooms (cut in halves)

1 T. each of dried: oregano, basil, rosemary, powdered consommé (Maggi)

1 tsp. each of: crushed black pepper corns, sugar, (fennel optional)

Olive oil

2 liters tomato sauce (2 large cans)

1 cup red wine

To make the sauce

Sauté the garlic in olive oil. Just as it begins to turn golden-colored (be careful not to let it burn), remove the cloves from the oil and set to one side – later you can crush them into butter to make garlic bread.

Add the meats and brown for ten minutes, breaking up any really large chunks.

Add the chopped onion, green pepper, and celery. Continue cooking for 5 min. or until the vegetables turn translucent.

Pour off any excess fat

 Add the spices

Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce

Add the mushrooms

Add the wine

Simmer uncovered for 1 hour

*** The recipe makes 6 – 8 liters of sauce (depending on how much liquid evaporates while cooking)

International String Quartet of Yucatan’s New Season

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In Yucatan, the seasons are not marked dramatically, but we do have two of them. Our hot, humid “summer” runs from March until October. And to escape almost daily 100 F+ temperature, many members of Merida’s international community head north. They return in October when our “winter” starts. Although it rarely gets cold in Merida, from now until March, we will enjoy not-quite-so-hot days and cooler nights.

Many of the social activities that full time residents do without over the summer are also beginning again.  Among these, I particularly enjoy the International String Quartet of Yucatan concerts. This is their sixth season, and it promises to be more exciting than ever.

The ISQ musicians are all members of the State of Yucatan’s Symphony Orchestra. Here is the concert schedule: They will all start at 8 PM, sharp.

Thursday 20th of October
Wednesday 23rd of November
Friday 23rd of December
Thursday 5th of January
Thursday 2nd of February
Thursday 16th of March
Thursday 20th of April
Thursday 25th of May
Thursday 22nd of June

On the ISQ website you can see the programs for each concert and purchase your tickets – 210 pesos per person, per concert – about $10.00 USD.

This year the ISQ has a new performance home. The Hacienda Santa Cruz. The oldest buildings of this huge estate date from 1640. On Wednesday, I accompanied Christopher Collins, the first violin of Yucatan’s Symphony Orchestra to the hacienda for a photo shoot with my son, photographer, Carlos Rosado.

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Hacienda Santa Cruz is just off Exit 2 of the Periferico – it took us 20 minutes to drive there from El Centro.  The way is clearly marked and easy to find. Additionally, on the ISQ website, you’ll find full directions.

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Under new ownership, many improvements have been made at the hacienda, including air conditioning in the Grand Sala, where the ISQ will perform. The restaurant’s executive chef is Margarita Carrillo, who specializes in gourmet Yucatecan cuisine with a twist.

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Usually the one downside of planning a party at any hacienda is the worry about what  the weather will do – it can make or break the evening. The Hacienda Santa Cruz is currently building a new event complex that will be able to accommodate up to 1,500 guests. The new facility will have a state-of-the art retractable roof. So if the weather is fair, the party can be held al fresco. And yet, even if there is a torrential rain storm, no problem, no one will get soaked under the secure roof.

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The Hacienda Santa Cruz also features 23 luxury rooms.  A night or two at this hacienda is great way to celebrate a birthday or other special occasion.

Christopher Collins with me at Hacienda Santa Cruz
Christopher Collins with me at Hacienda Santa Cruz

The Operations Manager, Josué Fuentes told me that the hacienda will offer a specially priced dinner to those attending the ISQ concerts. They are also preparing another package that includes a night’s stay in the hacienda and another that will provide transportation from Merida to the hacienda and back. In a week or so, I will have the complete information – and I will let you have the details right away.

I feel so fortunate that I can attend these concerts. I think the ISQ regular concert goers will find the new venue spectacular – if you have not joined us before – get your ticket before they are sold out. You are in for a treat.

 

 

 

Chiles en Nogada

Every year I re-post this recipe.

There are four steps to Chiles en Nogada. The first three take quite a while

  • making the meat filling
  • preparing and stuffing the chilies,
  • making the walnut (or pecan) sauce.

The fourth  and final step – enjoying the signature dish – takes no time at all.

I know the preparation looks pretty daunting, but it is not that much so. It IS time consuming, but I enjoy cooking, so that’s fine with me… 

Let me know if you have any questions. 

CHILES EN NOGADA

 

The Picadillo (Meat filling)

The meat filling
The meat filling

Saute 1 kilo of ground pork with:

1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Add salt and pepper to taste

When the meat is cooked, use a small molcajete (mortar and pestle) or coffee grinder to pulverize

8 peppercorns
5 whole cloves
1/2 inch stick cinnamon

Add the ground spices to the meat mixture with:

2 heaping Tbsp blanched and slivered almonds
2 heaping Tbsp dried citrus fruit peel and salt to taste

Cut in tiny pieces:
1   1/2 pounds of tomatoes,
2 pears, cored, peeled and chopped
2 peaches, pitted, peeled and chopped

Add whole: 100 grams of raisins

Mix everything together

The Chilies

You MUST use Poblano peppers.
You MUST use Poblano peppers.

Put  8 chiles poblanos (and you MUST use this type of chili) straight into a fairly high flame or under a broiler and let the skin blister and burn. Turn the chilies from time to time so they do not get overcooked or burn right through.

Wrap the chilies in a plastic bag and leave them for about 20 minutes so the sweat and the skin will be easier to remove.

Remove the charred skin.

Make a slit in the side of each chili and carefully remove the seeds and veins. Be careful to leave the top of the chili (the part around the base of the stem) intact.

If you want a little less heat, rinse the chilies and pat them dry. If you want to keep their heat, do not rinse them, just wipe them off with a paper towel.

Stuff the chilies with the picadillo until they are well filled out. Set them aside on paper towels then put them in the fridge to chill (If you wish, they can be refrigerated until the next day)

The Nogada (walnut sauce)

Chiles en Nogada - ready to be enjoyed
Chiles en Nogada – ready to be enjoyed

The day before you plan on eating the chilies, soak 2 cups of walnuts overnight in cold milk. This will take out any bitter taste in the nuts

On serving day:

Drain, rinse and pulverize the nuts, then blend them with:
1 L. light cream (media crema in Mexico)
1 1/2 cups cream
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
Large pinch of cinnamon

When the sauce is smooth, refrigerate it until it is cold.

 To Serve

Set the chilies on a plate and drizzle them with the walnut sauce. Then, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley leaves and pomegranate seeds.

You can accompany this dish with guacamole, rice and tostadas.

Note: Although the recipe calls for walnuts, you can substitute pecans. The difference in flavor is there but barely.