Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Some Links

Seing as I have mentioned both Diana Kennedy's and Rick Bayless' books a number of times, as these are what I am primarily using to guide me, here is a link to each:

The Art of Mexican Cooking - Diana Kennedy

Authentic Mexican - Rick Bayless

There was a recent episode of The Splended Table recorded in Mexico which included an interview with Ms. Kennedy, who sounds a formidable woman! Linky

There is a good article on Bayless here by, the always readable, Jay Rayner in The Observer.

There was a recent enough discussion of Mexican salsas in the NYT. There are a couple of recipes burried in the sidebars there as well.

Finally, as I have been meaning to tackle tamales for some time, I have been looking around the web at different ways of preparing them and I found this gem.

Isn't that sweet.

It's things like this on YouTube that make you realise how wrong Andrew Keen is about absolutely everything (one look at the photo on the front of that website will probably convince you of the same thing anyway - he looks like what would be produced if Simon Cowell and Richard Dawkins had a baby, he seems to be impressed with himself in a pretty big way).

Salsa de Chiles Chipotles - Salsa Ranchera

I am getting very very attached to the small little tins of Chipotle chiles you can get in the shops here. They hold roughly three chiles in adobe sauce, a perfect quantity for someone, like me, cooking for just themselves.

I have used chipotles before, although it was not always easy to source them in Ireland, to make BBQ sauce; being smoked they are ideal for this. Their smokyness also works well in a Salsa Ranchera, one that goes well with all kinds of meat and is also often also served with Mexican breakfasts.

There are a couple of variations here, Rick Bayless' recipe for Salsa de Chile Chipotles doesn't include onion and relies simply on the tomatillos, garlic, the chiles and seasoning. Other versions, are more elaborate including both onion and corriander. Diana Kennedy makes no mention of a Salsa De Chile Chipotle, however she does have a Salsa Ranchera, which oddly enough is made with serranos and has nothing to do with chipotles. You can take from all this disagreement what you like, all I will say is that Diana Kennedy is pretty exacting and dogmatic and if it came to placing a bet.....

I decided to split the difference between the Rick Bayliss version and the others. I certainy didn't feel corriander was a suitable addition for such a deep smokey salsa however neither did I want to exclude the onion.

The formula I settled on was to char 6 to 8 tomatillos on a saute pan while at the same time frying about half of a largeish onion in another smaller pan. When the tomatillos were charred on both sides and cooked through they were added to the slightly browned onions in the blender along with one of those small tins of choptles with the adobo (I removed the seeds). About a half a cup of water might be necessary to get the blades moving and get everything blended. All that is required then is as much salt as you think is necessary.

The salsa is hot and smokey, and works well with meat, it is also nice with eggs, I used it over an omlette and it was ideal. What it is lacking however is the bright flavours of a Salsa Mexicana which I am coming to appreciate more and more as the ideal counterpoint, in texture, temperature and flovour to a taco.

Salsa Borracha - Drunken Salsa

Two of the things that bug me slightly whenever I get a Salsa Mexicana, is that often the knife skills on display are quite crude and sometimes the salsa has been allowed to become quite dry while sitting around.

I have seen a couple of recipes for a salsa moistened with beer (sometimes even tequila, which I will probably try at some point in the future) and it seemed like an interesting thing to try. I was determind however to be as precise as possible in preparing everything, so as to arrive at pieces as small and as uniform as possible.

Quite a few recipes call for the tomatoes to be grilled first as they would be in a Salsa Cocida but what I was aiming for here was a regular Salsa Mexicana simply moistened with the beer.

I used a couple of plum tomatoes, skinned and seeded and finely chopped; less than half of an onion, again finely chopped; a couple of jalapenos; a clove of garlic and a scant handful of finely chopped corriander. I added salt, some oregano and a touch of crushed, toasted cumin. to that I added a fair quantity of Pacifico beer.

The salsa does well after some time for the flavours to meld.

I like it a lot. The beer gives the salsa a undertone of maltyness. It is very nice eaten cold on a tostada (which apparently is very unmexican - if the NYT is to be believed) but it also goes well with tacos. The time taken to seed the tomatoes and in chop everything as small and uniform as possible was well spent - as well as being more manageable the taste was subtler and the tiny pieces of tomato looked like little jewels.

I have fallen into a habit of preparing only a Salsa Cocida and a Salsa Verde and these are the two I generally have on hand in the fridge - I think that needs to change!