Friday, January 18, 2013

How Social Media Improves Mexican Food

I met my friend Shelora several years ago through the food forum eGullet.  Since she and her husband live in my wife's home town we were able to meet up several times, and since we met because of a common love of food and cooking, most of those meetings were spent making and eating delicious meals.  This visit was no different.

Shelora it should be said is a fantastic cook, but she is most spectacular when it comes to Mexican food.  Just check out her blog Cooking With a Broad for proof. When I invited them for dinner she suggested we spend the evening drinking prosecco and making  chile rellenos.  Chile rellenos are simply stuffed chiles that are then battered and fried.  They are an absolute favourite of mine, and I had never made them.  I couldn't ask for a better instructor.

The wonderful thing about Mexican cooking is that little of it happens quickly.  It's a slow process to develop flavours, reconstitute dried chiles ... and in my books taking time while cooking is a good thing.  Shelora sent me a shopping list and some preliminary instructions while she was still in Mexico: 2 pounds pork shoulder, 2 onions, 2 pounds Roma tomatoes, garlic, tequila.

The morning of the 31st I cubed the pork shoulder and simmered it for about 4 hours in water (enough to cover the pork by about 1") along with the onion (roughly chopped) and a couple dried chipotle chiles.  The objective was to simmer the pork into submission so it was so tender you it could easily shred by hand.  I drained of the liquid and kept it to be used later, and shred the pork.

The tomatoes were diced (Shelora has some mad knife skills) and all but half a pound of them were thrown into a large sauté pan with a chopped onion, 2 cloves of chopped garlic and a dash of salt & pepper.  The remaining tomatoes were put into a blender along with about a cup of the simmering liquid, 1/2 a stick of cinnamon, 2 whole allspice and 2 whole cloves.  This puré was added to the sauté pan along with the shredded pork.  The result called a picadillo and was what we would stuff into the peppers.

The dried chiles were were using had been imported by Shelora from Oaxaca.  I'll let her describe them in the comments because there are far too many types of chiles available for me to even to pretend to know what I'm talking about.  The chiles were reconstituted in some orange juice, tequila and hot water, and the carefully slit open and the seeds removed (I have some mad knife skills of my own).  We pat the chiles dry and carefully stuffed them with the picadillo.  A careful roll in some seasoned flour and they were ready for frying.

We prepared to deep fry the chiles by heating 1" of vegetable oil in a cast iron fry pan.  Shelora separated 6 eggs and whipped the whites to stiff peaks.  The yolks were whipped and then folded into the whites to make the batter.  To coat the chiles in the batter Shelora put a dollop of the batter in the cooking oil, laid a stuffed chile on top of the floating "island, and then covered the chile with another dollop of batter.  She had literally just learned a this technique at a class in Mexico ... and it worked to perfection.

Here is the first course to our evening's meal.  We started with prosecco, chile rellenos, and some amazing mescal, and finished with raclette (inspired by another internet friend) and a couple bottles of riesling.  Conversation flowed, more bottles of wines were opened and friendships were rekindled.  The rellenos were amazing.  The company was even better.

1 comment:

  1. Arne, what an amazing surprise! I was so busy cooking, I didn't notice you taking photos and notes! You are a wonderful student! Thanks for this lovely post. A great way to end the week.
    About the chiles: if you're using fresh, the should be roasted, peeled and seeded before stuffing. The dried chiles I brought were the smoked mije or chile pasilla de Oaxaca, purchased a mere few days before I arrived on your doorstep. 
    Thanks for a great way to spend New Year's eve. 


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