Focus on Mexico

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This week I completed my first school-wide Cultural Diversity Committee newsletter, and the focus this month was on Mexico. In that vein, I found 3 Mexican recipes to share with the faculty. Here they are:

Chilaquiles with Chicken and Cheese

Chilaquiles are tortillas cut into strips, fried, and cooked in either a red or a green sauce. Literally meaning “poor man’s food”, they were undoubtedly invented as a way of using up leftover tortillas. They have evolved into a very versatile dish, with some rather sophisticated variations. The following version uses a red sauce; however a green sauce is also very good.

Ingredients:

20 medium-size corn tortillas 1/2 cup or more vegetable oil

6 ancho chiles, seeded, deveined soaked in hot water until soft.

4 Roma tomatoes, roasted and peeled

2 large cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 medium white onion, peeled 1/2 – 1 cup chicken broth, or as needed

1 1/2 cups shredded Oaxaca, jack, gouda or Chihuahua cheese 1 chicken breast, poached and shredded

thinly sliced onion

1 cup Mexican crema, creme fraiche or sour cream

Preparation:

Cut the tortillas into strips or wedges. In a large saucepan, heat the oil, add the tortilla strips, and fry until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Place the softened chiles, tomatoes, garlic and onion in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the mixture into the same saucepan used to fry the tortillas, bring to a boil, lower heat, and cook for about 15 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Place the tortilla strips in the hot sauce, add the chicken broth and cook until most of the sauce has been absorbed.

Distribute the shredded cheese and chicken over the chilaquiles. Garnish with onion rings and serve with crema, creme fraiche or sour cream .

Serves 6-8.

Nopales in Chipotle Sauce

Nopales are cactus paddles. You can buy them at Mexican markets with the spines removed. Chipotle peppers in adobo can also be found in most groceries. If you do not like a lot of spices, then start out with one or even one half of a chipotle pepper. They are very spicy. Freeze the remainder of the peppers for another day!

The mild flavor of nopales makes them ideal for combining with more strongly-flavored ingredients, such as chipotles in adobo. This recipe, from San Luis Potosí, is a quick, easy and flavorful vegetarian dish.

Ingredients:

2 pounds nopal paddles, cleaned and diced

1 pound tomatillos, husked and roasted on a dry griddle or comal 1/2 medium white onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 canned or homemade chipotles in adobo sauce

1/2 large white onion, peeled and chopped.

1 tablespoon corn oil

salt to taste

Preparation:

Place the nopales in a large pot with salted water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Place the tomatillos, garlic and chipotles in a blender and puree.

In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion in the oil until the onion is transparent. Add the puree and the nopales, stir and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot with white rice, beans and plenty of warm tortillas for making tacos.

Serves 6.

Dulce de Leche (Crock Pot Recipe)

Food writer Victoria Abbot Riccardi described dulce de leche, a Latin American confection, in the Boston Globe: “Like toffee, butterscotch, and honey all rolled into one, this thick tawny ambrosia consists of whole milk, sugar, and vanilla slowly cooked into a sticky jam.”

Although you can eat the cooled mixture right out of the insert, I suggest you pour it over ice cream, fruit, or cake, or mix it into coffee.

This recipe is from Slow Cooker Cooking by Lora Brody.

Yield: about 2 cups

Cooking Time: about 10 hours on HIGH

Slow Cooker Size: 4 quart

Ingredients:

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

4 cups whole milk

1-2/3 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

Large pinch baking soda

Place the vanilla bean, 3 cups of milk, sugar, water, and baking soda into the insert of the slow cooker, and whisk them together. Cook on HIGH, for 9 hours, uncovered, then remove the vanilla bean and whisk the milk mixture gently. Use a dull-edged butter knife to carefully scrape down the crust of sugar that accumulates on the sides of the insert. Do not skim the foam off the top of the mixture.

Continue cooking for 1 more hour, stirring every 20 minutes, until it is a rich medium-caramel color and has thickened to the consistency of melted ice cream. In the meantime, warm the remaining 1 cup of milk in a small saucepan. Turn off the slow cooker, and stir in the warm milk. (This will prevent the dulce de leche from hardening while refrigerated.) Carefully remove the insert. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes, then spoon and scrape it into a small metal bowl. Cover and cool to room temperature. The mixture will thicken slightly as it cools. Refrigerate it in a tightly covered container for up to 3 months.

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