Celebrate the cuisine of Cinco de Mayo | SierraSun.com

Celebrate the cuisine of Cinco de Mayo

Katie Weinner
special to the action

Cinco de Mayo. Mexican Independence Day? Not even close!

The Mexican Independence Day is actually September 16. Cinco de Mayo celebrates a victory by the Mexicans over the French during the battle of Puebla in 1862 ” the Mexican army defeated the reputedly sophisticated French army which was twice their size during this paramount battle on May 5. Surprisingly enough, this victory gains more attention because of the great odds in which the battle was won.

Now, that we’re up to speed with Cinco de Mayo you’re ready to celebrate this historic holiday with some recipes.

Cinco de Mayo is a fantastic cuisine opportunity commemorating the Mexican culture. If you’re celebrating in Mexico, chances of eating mole are pretty likely. No, not a mole who burrows holes in the yard, but a concoction, salsa or sauce made with chilies.

Did you know that Mole Poblano ” a chocolate-chile sauce poured over turkey or chicken ” was invented in Puebla? Preparing mole (pronounced mo LAY) requires authentic ingredients and some serious time. Considering the challenge of cooking mole, what better day than Cinco de Mayo is there to tackle this festive dish?!

Ingredients:

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1/4 pound sesame seeds

Olive oil, for cooking

1/4 pound almonds

1/4 pound peanuts

3 bananas or plantains

1 pound raisins

1/4 pound tomatoes

1 pound fire-roasted poblano chiles, rehydrated in water

1/4 teaspoon aniseeds

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 ounce unsweetened Mexican chocolate

2 pre-cooked turkey legs or rotisserie chicken

How to:

In a medium saute pan, toast sesame seeds and place in food processor. In same saute pan add oil and fry almonds. Remove almonds, place in food processor, and fry peanuts. Remove peanuts, place in food processor, and fry plantains. Remove plantains, place in food processor, and fry raisins. Remove raisins and place in food processor. Remove all but one tablespoon oil and fry tomatoes.

In a food processor grind together sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, plantains, raisins, tomatoes, poblanos, aniseeds, and cinnamon; this is the mole. Thin with leftover chile water. In large saucepan, heat oil. Add mole and cook in oil to bring out flavors. Add chocolate. When melted, add pre-cooked turkey legs and simmer until the turkey is heated through. Serve with rice and/or tortillas.

Another Cinco de Mayo staple is the spicy stew, Chile Verde. Simple to prepare with fresh ingredients including: tomatillos, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, garlic and steamy cheesy tortillas. This dish can’t get any better. Try this indispensable recipe, it’s a sure-fire to satisfy.

Ingredients:

1 lb. pork chops

1 tablespoon oil

2 garlic cloves

3/4 cup chopped onion

8-10 tomatillos

1 green bell pepper

1-2 jalapeno pepper (how hot do you like it?)

4 cups chicken stock or water with bouillon cubes

How to:

Boil stock and add peeled tomatillos, cleaned bell pepper and jalapeno. Cook for 10-15 mins or until tomatillos are soft. Strain liquid, but reserve 1 cup. Add tomatillos and pepper with 1 cup of liquid to a blender and puree. In a large pan heat oil and sweat minced garlic and chopped onion till translucent. Add pork chops and cook thoroughly. Remove pork chops and cut into cubes. Return meat to the pan with and add your chile verde puree. Cook till liquid is warm and serve with cheese-melted tortillas.

A tribute to Cinco de Mayo wouldn’t be complete without honoring one of the staples of Mexican cuisine ” chocolate. Mexican chocolate is as simple as cocoa beans, sugar and cinnamon. Here are two tempting, yet simple and sweet Mexican desserts.

Cocoa Dusted Almonds

Cocoa dusted almonds are a sinful snack on the lighter side, or you can indulge in creamy, calorific chocolate flan. Viva Mexico!

Ingredients:

1 egg white

1 teaspoon cold water

4 cups whole almonds

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoon cocoa powder, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting

How to:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Lightly beat egg white, add water and beat until frothy, but not stiff. Add the nuts and stir until well coated. Mix the remaining ingredients and sprinkle over the nuts. Toss to coat and spread evenly on cookie sheet. Bake 1 hour and stir occasionally. Remove from oven cool slightly and toss with remaining cocoa powder.

Chocolate Flan

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

How to:

In a non-stick flan mold you add the sugar (evenly spread) and leave it to cook on the stove until it reaches a dark color. When you see this reaction, remove the mold from the stove and make sure that it is evenly spread so that you can leave it to cool off. Heat oven to 350 F. Meanwhile, mix in a blender the 3 eggs, the sweetened condensed milk, the regular milk, cocoa powder and the teaspoon of vanilla (extra). After it is well mixed, place it in the flan mold where the caramel has cooled.

To cook, fill baking pan with 1/2 inch of warm water, add flan mold and cover with a tent of aluminum foil. Bake until custard is just set, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and remove flan mold from baking pan. Serve when cooled, or cover flan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to unmold. To unmold, run a knife carefully around the edge. Invert onto a plate.