I am sitting looking at the calendar in disbelief that almost a month has transpired since this event and I had not one stretch of time until now to sit and reminisce! I've decided to dub this past month 'Mayhem 2011' for all of its madness and splendor!
I also need to apologize to all of the amazing folks that joined for the Cinco De Mayo event and contributed such amazing recipes, commentary and assistance for the long wait to actually get your hands on the recipes shared from everyone! Thanks for the patience and understanding while I went to half a dozen concerts, travelled cross-country and opened my home to some amazingly creative Coloradians.
The Spirit of the Celebration
Cinco De Mayo is a celebration of Mexican Heritage, Freedom and Democracy after the American Civil War. The vibrant culture as well as delicious cuisine paired with the mysterious spirit Tequila make for a super fun adopted celebration here in the States.
I wanted to do an authentic and simple main course, and I decided to go with Pork and slow roasted one at that. As my creative juices and salivary glands started to flow, I recalled a personal favorite from one of Mexico's finest and most fantastic descendants ... El Guapo Robert Rodriguez. You may recognize films such as Sin City, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Planet Terror, Machete, or even Spy Kids. Robert is also a very talented musician, he has scored numerous films and assisted in production of a plethora of Quentin Tarantino Films (another favorite of mine). His band Chingon, named using the Mexican slang term for 'badass' or 'awesome' i.e. "That's soooo Chingon!!" (I'm totally going to start using that), has an album I recommend checking out. Mexican Spaghetti Western is not only as badass as it is romance and rock n' roll, it is also the perfect soundtrack for any great Cinco De Mayo celebration.
Chingon - Malagueña Salerosa
So what was I talking about again? Oh that's right, slow roasted pork, known as Puerco Pibil or Conchinita Pibil, is a traditional Mexican dish worth the slow roasted wait. Featured in the film Once Upon A Time in Mexico, this dish is the obsession of Johnny Depp's character who finds the perfect version and then brutally murders the chef to "Restore balance in this country." My pal Robert uses his Grandmother's traditional recipe and gives us a demonstration in the Bonus Features of the DVD. Once I found this, I had my main course, oh and I figured out I wanted to cook the Pork too. (tee hee)
Puerco Pibil Recipe - Demonstrated by Robert Rodriguez
Here is the recipe in written form also. I know, it looks a little involved, but honestly once you get the Annato and Clove ground finely the rest is super simple and its about a 15 minute prep and the timing works out perfectly so there is no need to second guess. What was the most fun was I made the Pork before the party and as it was coming out of the oven to go in the crock to stay warm for serving, I let Robert do all the talking. I'm sure the ladies found him much more entertaining than me.
Next I needed a Vegetarian option, and a good one. I didn't have to search very far for this recipe, though some of the ingredients were definitely out of reach so I had to improvise. My absolutely favorite Mexican restaurant El Rey at 20th & Chestnut has these amazing zucchini-blossom and corn quesadillas. I have probably dragged each of my girlfriends to this spot at some point and all agree, much tastier than chicken quesadillas. Its also always great to have a veggie option next to a 5lb slab of pork butt. It also calls for a good serving of Roasted Poblanos in the recipe, which just happens to be my most favorite pepper of them all!
A Lesson in Tequila while sampling Tequila (disclaimer: some of the information given may or may not have been slurred, especially towards the end of the lecture.)
Tequila is Tequila is Tequila, probably the most erroneous thought process regarding spirits. Tequila is actually more like a wine in the fact that there are more ages, regions and hacks involved than your typical alcohol. I like Tequila because it is especially unique in that it is only truly Tequila if it is made with 100% Agave and distilled in the Mexican state of Jalisco, namely in the area surrounding the city of Tequila which is just outside of the city Guadalajara. Mexico holds the exclusive legal right to the word "Tequila" and will gladly extend legal action towards outside countries attempting to manufacture its native product.
|We all age to perfecion ... eventually|
Zucchini Blossom & Corn Quesadillas
1 large Poblano or Anaheim chile pepper
Corn oil (I used Canola)
1 cup cleaned and chopped Zucchini Blossoms
½ cup diced Zucchini
½ cup fresh or frozen white Corn (I used organic yellow)
½ cup Chicken Stock (I used Veggie Stock)
4 large Flour Tortillas used for burritos (I used Rodriguez's grandmothers recipe but no Lard!)
6 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, crumbled
(I did not have access to Zucchini Blossoms so I added more chopped zucchini)
Grill the chile over very hot coals or in a flame on top of the stove until blackened, about 10 minutes. Place in a paper bag and let steam for 10 to 15 minutes. Peel off the charred skin using your fingers or a sharp paring knife. Remove the seeds and coarsely chop the chile. Set aside. This made the most amazingly perfect roasted Poblano!
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the blossoms, zucchini, corn, and peppers. Lower the heat to medium-high and saute several minutes until the vegetables are soft, then add the chicken stock. Cook several minutes more over medium-high heat until all the liquid is absorbed. Let cool to warm.
To assemble the quesadilla, spread ½ cup of filling on one half side of a tortilla, keeping the filling within ¼ inch from the edge. Sprinkle with some of the cheese. Fold the other half over to dose. Lightly brush the folded tortilla with a little oil. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Place quesadillas on a lightly oiled grill or grilling rack and cook, covered, over medium heat, about 45 seconds per side, just until the cheese has melted and the tortilla is lightly browned. To serve, cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Accompany with Guacamole and Pico de Gallo or your favorite spicy salsa.
This one is pretty simple and I really didn't measure much. I used my mini crock pot to melt together equal amounts of Monterey Jack, Chihuaha and Oaxacan cheeses and keep warm all night.
Simply spoon or fork some of the creamy cheesy goodness onto a flour or corn tortilla and perfecto!
Mel's Magífico Mango Salsa
Mel's Magífico Mango Salsa
3 Mangos Diced
1 Red Onion Finely diced
1-2 Red Bell Pepper Chopped seeds removed
1-2 Jalapeno Finely diced seeds removed
Cilantro chopped and added to taste
Juice of 1/2 - 1 Lime
The best part about this recipe .. simplicity! Just mix together and serve, can let sit in refrigerator also to let the juices marinate, like a fine wine this gets better with some aging :)
Killa Kati's Glorioso Guacamole
3 Slices Pineapple Diced
1 Red Onion Finely chopped
2 tbsp Pineapple or Orange juice
Finely chopped Cilantro to taste
Salt Pepper to taste
Finely diced Jalapeno (optional)
Again, simplistic and wonderful ... mix together and serve immediately with your favorite Nachos !
Loco Laura's Sabroso Salsa Fresca
Loco Laura's Sabroso Salsa Fresca
4 Cups chopped fresh Tomatoes
1/4 Cup finely chopped White Onion
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 Tbsp Olive Oil (could also use vegetable oil)
1 Tbsp Vinegar
1 Tsp ground Cumin
1 Tsp Salt
1 Garlic clove, minced
Approx. 2-3 tbsp. fresh chopped Cilantro (optional)
1/2 Lime (optional)
When preparing jalapeno pepper, be sure to discard all seeds and rinse pepper, as this is what makes it extra spicy. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice from one half into the bowl. Mix well. Let stand for about 1 hour. Serve at room temperature. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
A Special Thanks to :
Mandón Mel and her Magnifico Mango Salsa
Killa Kati and her Glorioso Guacamole en Pineapple
Loco Laura and her Sabroso Salsa Fresca
Sugar Skull Mariachi and his Manic Mango n Lime Margaritas
Muy Caliente Muchacho and his hosting skills
Clasico Colleen and the Perfect Nachos from 320 Market
Dulce Danielle and her Sweet Endings (who somehow evaded el camera)
Alegre Aurora and the Don Julio Resposado