Tuesday, December 11, 2012

1st Annual Mayan Fin del Mundo Dinner: The Recipes, Pt. I

Chac: The Mayan God of Agriculture and Rain

The 1st Annual Rancho Winslow Mayan Fin del Mundo Fiesta!Send the world out (or welcome in the new improved world) with Mayan style on Friday, December 21st, 2012! Here's a menu and recipes for the fiesta, presented on my blog in three parts. There is an accompanyiong article that will run in the Austin Chronicle on Thursday the 20th. Part I is the menu,  spirits, appetizer, and the soup. 

Noche Buena or Indio
or Tecate
La Paloma or “The Dove”

Sikil P'aak -- dip of roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and charred tomatoes, tomatillos, chiles, garlic, and onion, with sour orange juice and chicken stock; to be eaten with tostados (totopos)

Sopa de Lima con Pavo y Chilmole -- Yucatecan lime soup with turkey and “burnt” chile paste:with carrot, onion, celery, garlic, turkey stock and meat, lime juice, cilantro, and avocado (recado negro/chilmole chile paste: charred arbol and ancho chiles, achiote paste, clove, allspice, pepper, oregano, cumin, lots of roasted garlic,vinegar)

Ensalada Zek -- Mandarin orange and jicama salad with cucumber, sour orange juice, olive oil, garlic, pequin or arbol chile powder

Zic de Carne – salpicón of shredded braised flank steak with scallion, garlic, chiles, green olives, radish, cilantro, and avocado, dressed with sour orange juice

Cochinita Pibil -- pork shoulder marinated in achiote paste, sour orange juice, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, güero and habanero chiles; wrapped in banana leaves and slowly baked until falling-apart; eaten with tortillas

Lentejas Yucatecas -- brown lentils, bacon, pork, onion, garlic, carrot, chayote squash, potato, tomato, epazote, chicken stock

Arroz Verde -- rice sautéed with onion and garlic, cooked with roasted poblanos, lots of cilantro, parsley, lime zest, and chicken stock

Cebollas Encurtados -- Yucatecan pickled red onions with sour orange juice, charred garlic, güero chiles, allspice, clove, oregano, pepper

Xnipec (aka “Dog's Nose” Salsa) -- fresh salsa of tomato, red onion, garlic, güero and habanero chile, sour orange juice, splash of vinegar, salt

K'uut Bi Ik -- pounded dried chile salsa of arbol and ancho chiles, charred onion and garlic, water, chicken stock, salt, pinch of sugar

Caballero Pobre – “Frenched” bread pudding with canela (Mexican cinnamon) syrup and pecans, drizzled with Mexican brandy butter sauce

Mexican brandy (Azteca de Oro or Don Pedro Reserva Especial) and strong coffee or café mocha

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Recipes Mayan Dinner


Noche Buena – 5.9% ABV. First introduced in 1924, this is Mexico’s only seasonal winter beer, done in a lightly sweet bock style, using Styrian hops. Noche Buena is the Mexican name for poinsettia, which is featured on the label. La nochebuena is Christmas Eve in Mexico, and the last night of La Posada: Dec 16 – Dec 24, with the nine days representing the nine months of pregnancy, and Mary and Joseph wandering around looking for lodging. The perfect beer to celebrate a world ending in December!

Indio --  4.5 % ABV. Done in the Marzen/Oktoberfest style, this is a recent import from the folks at Moctezuma, and one of the beloved beers across Mexico. Brewed since 1893, it’s a dark malty
beer with a light caramel aroma (and it makes a fine michelada).

Bohemia – 5.3% ABV. A Czech pilsner style brew made by the Moctezuma guys. One of the better Mexican beers, with subdued hops, a light sweet graininess, and a clean, dry finish; since 1905.
Tecate – 4.5% ABV. Brewed in the American Adjunct Lager style, Tecate is light, comes in a can (environmentally friendly), and tastes fine with some lime squeezed into it.

Believe me, some burps will be warranted when the world is crashing down around you.  


La Paloma – The Dove:
La Paloma may be the favorite tequila cocktail in Mexico; it’s definitely the most refreshing one. Think of it as a fizzy tequila Salty Dog, made across the border with silver (blanco) tequila, a squeeze of lime juice, a pinch of salt, and Jarritos Soda Toronja or Fresca Toronja. If you followed that recipe in the States, the best grapefruit sodas to use are, in order, Kiss, Fresca (the Mexican version made with cane sugar if you can find it), and Squirt. If you haven’t tried Alteño tequilas, you’re missing out on some serious 100% agave taste for minimal cost ($11). To jump up the price and quality ladder, try the blancos from El Jimador ($18), Espalón ($20), Herradura ($41), or Don Julio Blanco ($46). I slipped on my mixology pants to come up with this artisanal version of La Paloma. It’s the perfect cocktail to enjoy the apocalypse (or the rebirth of civilization)!

1 small grapefruit wedge

Coarse sea or Kosher salt
2 oz blanco tequila (Alteño or other)
2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz agave simple syrup infused with grapefruit peel (or ¼ oz more, to taste)
Dash of grapefruit bitters (Bitterman’s, Scrappy’s, Fee Bros., or Regan’s Orange Bitters #6)
2 oz chilled seltzer, Topo Chico preferred, in the smallest bottle possible
1 lime wedge, for garnish
1 grapefruit twist, for garnish

Moisten the outer rim of a Collins or a double highball glass with a grapefruit wedge and coat lightly with salt. Fill the glass ¾ full with ice. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add the tequila, grapefruit and lime juices, simple syrup and bitters; shake well. Strain into the glass, stir in the seltzer, and garnish with a lime wheel and a grapefruit twist.
Grapefruit Simple Syrup:
1 cup agave syrup (or sugar)
1 cup water
1Tbl grated organic grapefruit rind
Combine all ingredients in a small pan and bring slowly to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain into a container and store refrigerated; it will keep for about a month. 


Sikil P'aak (P’aak I Tsikil) – Pumpkin Seed and Roasted Tomato Dip with Chiles

P'aak is Mayan for “tomato” and sikil means “squash seed” (close enough to pumpkin seeds, right?) and it dates back to pre-conquest times. While it is delicious any time of the year, this dip was traditionally served in the autumn, when pumpkin seeds were used to celebrate the harvest.

4 cups hulled green pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted in a dry skillet
1 green chile habanero, charred
3 Roma tomatoes, charred on a comal or heavy skillet
2 tomatillos, peeled and washed, charred on a comal or heavy skillet
6 large cloves garlic, top sliced off horizontally, charred on a comal or heavy skillet, cloves squeezed-out
¼ cup sour orange juice
¾ cup chicken broth
¾ cup white onion, minced
3 Tbl cilantro, finely chopped
¼ tsp canela
1 tsp salt
Place pumpkin seeds in a food processor and grind into a fine powder; reserve in a mixing bowl.  Place chile, whole tomatoes with skin, tomatillos, garlic cloves, juice, and broth in the same processor, pulsing until coarsely blended. Add the mixture by portions into the seeds, stirring to incorporate. Stir in onions, cilantro, canela, and salt to taste, mixing well. Serve with tostados (totopos). Tortillerias Rio Grande # 1 and # 2 have superb totopos.


Sopa de Lima con Pavo y Chilmole -- Lime Soup with Turkey and “Burnt” Chile Paste
Serves 8
This specialty soup of the Yucatan uses a variety of lime called Citrus limetta, which grows in abundance in the region. In Mexico the Yucatecan lime is called limón, which translates to “lemon”, but it more closely resembles the tart Key lime of Florida and the Caribbean basin. The Persian or standard lime can also be used in making this soup. Chicken can be substituted for turkey, but turkey was a traditional food of the ancient Mayans, and is still eaten on the peninsula today.

2 tablespoons lard or butter
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 large cloves garlic, top sliced off horizontally, charred, cloves squeezed-out
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 serrano chiles, de-ribbed, seeded, minced
2 quarts rich turkey or chicken stock
½ tsp dried Mexican oregano
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ cup lime juice (or more, to taste)
2 to 3 tablespoons chilmole (recado negro), to taste      *see recipe below
3 to 4 cups cooked chopped or shredded turkey meat
2 limes, sliced thinly
1 ripe avocado, diced
4 corn tortillas, julienned, flash-fried in hot vegetable oil, to make “whiskers”
Cilantro leaves and sprigs for garnish

In a soup pot, heat the lard and add the onion, carrot, celery, roasted garlic, tomatoes and chiles and sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the reheated turkey stock, oregano, allspice, lime juice and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the chilmole and bring back to a simmer. Add the turkey meat and bring up to serving temperature. Adjust the seasonings, checking for tartness and spiciness, adding more lime juice and chilmole spice paste if desired. Do a final taste for salt. 
Serve immediately, garnished with a couple of thin lime slices floating on top, avocado, tortilla whiskers, and cilantro.

Recado Negro / Chilmole – “Burnt” Chile Paste                          
Yield: about 2 cups
The base of chilmole is the Nahuatal word molli, which means “sauce”, so chilmole is a sauce, paste, or mixture of chiles (chile mole). In Spanish the spice paste is called recado negro, which means “a black-colored spice mixture used in cooking”. For chilmole, dried chiles are charred black over a flame or on a comal and ground together with other spices to make a thick, spicy, pungent, paste with the texture of cold cookie dough. It can be rubbed on meats as a marinade or glaze (1 to 2 Tbl per pound), or used to season and thicken soups and stews. The heat level is based on the type and quantity of the chiles used; in the Yucatán, habanero chiles are used and the paste can be downright incendiary. The fumes from producing the paste commercially are so noxious that making it within the city limits of Mérida is illegal. Commercial brands of chilmole are available in Mexican markets, including El Yucatec, Productos Marín, Coralito, La Anita, etc. If you are going to Yucatán, be sure to pick up some chilmole paste in the market; if well-sealed, it will keep in the freezer for about a year. 
Note: I’ve checked at amazon, Fiesta, HEB Mexicana on N. Lamar, La Hacienda, and La Michoacana and none of them currently carry the commercial paste.

3 oz dried chile de árbol
1 oz dried chile ancho
2 heads garlic, top sliced off horizontally
1 large onion, quartered
2 corn tortillas
1 Tbl coarse sea salt
1 Tbl black peppercorns
1 Tbl achiote (annatto) seeds
2 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp whole cloves
1 Tbl dried Mexican oregano leaves, toasted
½ cup distilled white vinegar
2 Tbl orange juice concentrate

¼ cup vegetable oil

Using a heavy comal or skillet, or a flame, char the chiles until blackened but not burnt; soak in cold water. Remove the chiles and slit open, using water to rinse out the majority of the seeds.
Char the garlic on the comal until very dark, about 5 minutes; when cool enough to handle, squeeze out the flesh inside the cloves by squeezing from the bottom. Char the onion quarters on the comal until very dark, about 10 minutes. Char the tortilla until very dark, about 5 minutes; break into small pieces.

Combine the salt, peppercorns, achiote, allspice, cumin, cloves, and oregano in an electric coffee mill and grind into a fine powder.

In the work bowl of a food processor combine the charred chiles, garlic, onion, tortilla, spice mix, vinegar, orange juice concentrate, and oil and process until the mixture is thick and smooth, with the consistency of a cold cookie dough. It will be necessary to scrape down the sides periodically. Wrap the paste to seal well and it will keep frozen for a year, or refrigerated for several months.

Mick Vann © 

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