Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican cuisine | SierraSun.com

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican cuisine

Chef Heather Hunsaker
Special to the Sun
Photo courtesy FoodontheTable.com

Cinco de Mayo is fast approaching and allows many to celebrate the history of Mexico, honor Mexican culture and of course indulge in Mexican cuisine! Mexico has a rich and flavorful food history, which uses native ingredients mixed with worldwide culinary inspiration to form the popular dishes we all know and love.

Authentic Mexican cooking starts with traditional ingredients that are found in various regions of Mexico. Below is helpful information about these popular ingredients that give Mexican cuisine its unique flavor.

Tomatillos, a member of the gooseberry family, are small, round green fruits enclosed in a papery husk. They have a tart flavor and are often roasted and pureed into Mexican sauces or salsas, referred to as verde.

Hominy is dried maize kernels that have been soaked in lye to soften the tough outer hulls. Hominy is often ground to make grits or masa flour or added whole to stews and casseroles.

Cilantro is a green herb that comes from the leaves and stems of the coriander plant. It has a strong flavor that compliments spicy dishes. Cilantro is most common in Mexican cuisine, but can also be found in Asian and Indian cooking.

Chayotes are native to Mexico and are a member of the squash family. They are mild in flavor and look like a wrinkled, pale green pear. Chayotes can be boiled or baked or eaten raw in salads. Zucchini or another summer squash makes for a great substitute.

Chile is a generic word referring to a large variety of capsicum peppers. There are more than 100 varieties of chiles, including the most popular varieties such as the spicy jalapeno, fiery habanero and large poblano. As a general rule, the smaller the chile the more concentrated the heat; which is from the capsaicin found in the chileand#8217;s veins and seeds. Chiles are available fresh, dried and pickled, and are found in many Mexican dishes.

Posole is a traditional Mexican dish made of pork, hominy, cilantro and chili peppers. It is most commonly served as a thick stew but is also wonderful served on top of a bed of rice. The posole recipe below is extremely easy, since it is made in the crock-pot, making it the perfect Cinco de Mayo meal!

Slow-Cooker Posole

Prep time: 10 minutes

Wait time: 7 hours

Serves: 6-8-

1 (2.0 pound roasts) boneless pork loin roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 (14.5 ounce can) enchilada sauce

2 (15.5 ounce can) white or yellow hominy, drained

1 medium onion, diced

1 (4.0 ounce can) chopped green chiles

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 (teaspoon) cayenne pepper, or to taste

2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Place the meat in a 6-quart slow cooker. Pour the enchilada sauce over the meat. Top with the hominy, onion, chilies, garlic, cayenne pepper, and oregano.-

Cover, and cook on high for 6 to 7 hours. Stir in the cilantro. Cook on low for 30 minutes more.

and#8212; Chef Heather Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was 9-years-old in her motherand#8217;s kitchen. She is an avid crockpotter and knows how to get food on the table in a pinch. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site http://www.foodonthetable.com

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