Wednesday, December 12, 2012

1st Annual Mayan Fin del Mundo Fiesta! The Recipes Part III


The classic Mayan face profile displayed in this fantastic shot taken by old pals Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock, of They lived down in Q. Roo for years and are amazing photographers, above and below the surface!:
Below find the last recipe installment of the 1st Annual Mayan Fin del Mundo Fiesta, The Recipes Part III, which involves the side dishes, the condiments and salsas, and the dessert (with some notes on ingredients). The world ends (or begins) infrequently, so you might as well make the best of it my homies!


Lentejas Estilo Yucateca -- Yucatan-Style Lentils
Serves 8
Make this dish using black beans instead of lentils, make it a little bit soupier and omit the potatoes and chayote, and it becomes bul keken, which is the traditional Monday meal for Mayans (like red beans and rice in Cajun country). 

¼ pound bacon, diced
½ pound pork shoulder, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large chayote, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 canned whole tomatoes, minced
1 pound brown lentils, picked through for pebbles, rinsed
Chicken broth to cover lentils by about 2½-inches
3 güero chiles, chopped (2 jalapeños may be substituted, ribs and seeds removed for less heat)
Salt to taste
Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Place the bacon in a pot over medium heat; cook until crisp and fat has rendered. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat. Add the pork to the pot, brown on all sides, and remove.
Add the carrots, chayote, potatoes, onion, garlic, and tomato. Sauté the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
Add the lentils, return the pork cubes to the pot and cover with broth by about 2½ -inches. Simmer, covered, until the meat and lentils are tender, adding more broth as needed; it should have a thick consistency.
Return the bacon to the pot and add the chile. Simmer an additional 10 minutes and taste for salt. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Arroz Verde -- Green Rice                                                      
Serves 8
Green rice gets its name from the herbs (cilantro, parsley, epazote), seasonings (scallions), and chiles (roasted poblano rajas) used to flavor and color the dish. A roasted green habanero can be substituted for one of the poblanos if a much spicier version is desired.
3 Tbl lard, or 1 Tbl butter + 2 Tbl vegetable oil
2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed and thoroughly drained
4 scallions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large chiles poblanos, roasted, peeled and seeded, chopped
4 cups chicken stock, heated
¾ cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped and firmly packed
¾ cup cilantro (substitute 2 Tbl epazote for a portion of the cilantro, if available), coarsely chopped and firmly packed
1 Tbl lime zest

Heat the lard (or the oil and butter) in a heavy skillet; add the rice and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the rice turns opaque. Add the scallions, garlic, and poblanos and continue cooking another 5 minutes, or until the onions and garlic are translucent.

Liquefy 1 cup of the stock with the parsley and cilantro using a blender or processor. Add to the rice mixture and cook over high heat until liquid is mostly absorbed and you see small air pockets bubbling on the surface. Add the lime zest and the remaining 3 cups of stock to the rice. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook about 10 minutes, or until water is mostly absorbed and you see little air pockets bubbling on the surface. Cover the skillet with a lid wrapped in a clean, damp towel. Simmer 5 minutes more and remove from heat. Check rice after 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork before service.


Cebollas Encurtidas Estilo Yucateca  -- Yucatan Style Pickled Onions
Yield about 1 quart
These go on many Yucatecan dishes as a condiment, especially the cochinita pibil.

2 large purple onions, peeled, sliced thinly
10 cloves garlic, bruised
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice berries, cracked
½ tablespoon dried Mexican oregano leaves
2 sprigs thyme
1 cup apple cider or pineapple vinegar
½ cup sour orange juice (or ¼ cup orange juice + 2 Tbl lime juice + 2 Tbl grapefruit juice)
Salt to taste

Immerse the onion slices in boiling salted water for a few seconds to blanch, and immediately rinse in cold water to chill. Drain well, and place the onions in a nonreactive bowl or glass jar. Add all remaining ingredients, cover and refrigerate overnight. Shake gently periodically to evenly distribute seasonings.

Xnipec – “Dog's Nose” Fresh Salsa                                       
Yield about 1 cup
Xni-Pec (pronounced shnee’-pek); in Mayan, xni translates to “dog” and pec to “nose”, because when you eat this salsa your nose is wet and runny like a dog’s nose. The much more widely available güero chile substitutes for the yellow and relatively mild xcatik  (AKA caribe, carricillo, caloro, trompita) chiles of Yucatán. A milder substitute would be the hot banana pepper or yellow Hungarian wax pepper.

2 habanero chiles, finely chopped (seeded and de-ribbed if less heat is desired)
2 güero chiles, minced
2 tomatoes, cut into ¼ -inch dice
¼ cup red onion, minced finely
¼ cup scallion, minced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup cilantro , chopped fresh
3 tablespoons sour orange juice
¼ tsp white vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar

Combine the chiles, tomato, onion, scallion, garlic, cilantro, sour orange juice, and salt in a serving bowl. Toss to mix. Correct the seasoning, adding more sour orange juice as necessary. The salsa tastes best served within 3 hours of making.

K’uut bi Ik/Chile K’uut – Pounded Dried Chile Salsa                                 Yield about ¾ cup
K’uut in Mayan means “crushed or pounded” and ik is the Mayan word for chile. Traditionally it is made using the small dried chile de país, instead of the much spicier dried habanero. In Yucatán this sauce is pulverized using a mortar and pestle, but a blender is much easier and faster. El Yucatec makes a bottled version of this sauce if you’re feeling lazy, but homemade always tastes better.

20 chiles de árbol plus 5 to finish, stemmed and seeded
¼ cup water
¼ cup sour orange juice (2 Tbl orange juice + 1 Tbl lime juice + 1 Tbl grapefruit juice)
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste


Combine 20 chiles de arbol with water, juice, and salt in a blender. Liquefy on high for 2-3 minutes or until chiles are pulverized. Add remaining chiles to the blender and pulse to mince the chiles, allowing them to remain chunky in the finished sauce. Taste for salt. Taste for sugar but use sparingly, just to add richness and balance the flavor. Allow to rest 30 minutes at room temperature before service; will keep chilled for 2 weeks.  

Note: For a milder sauce, substitute chilaca or ancho chiles for the chiles de arbol (or for a portion of the chiles de arbol). For a hotter sauce do not remove the seeds and ribs of the chiles, or substitute a portion of dried habanero chiles. 


Cabellero Pobre -- “Frenched” Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Syrup and Pecans                   
Serves 8
This dish is found on many Yucatecan restaurant menus and is very popular all over the peninsula. The bread is dipped in the style of French bread, and then coated with meringue before it is fried. The bread gets layered with a rich cinnamon-pecan syrup before being baked., 

2 ½ cups milk
3 Tbl sugar
2 tsp Mexican vanilla
1 large baguette stale French bread, 3/4-inch slices
6 eggs, separated; whites beaten until stiff, yolks beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2  cup water
1/2  cup sugar
1/2  cone piloncillo, grated (substitute: 1/2  cup brown sugar)
3 whole cloves
½ tsp allspice berries
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
10 ea  3-inch sticks of canela (Mexican cinnamon)
½ cup whole pecans
¼ cup Mexican brandy (Azteca de Oro, Don Pedro Reserva Especial, etc.)

For the brandy-butter sauce (optional):
½ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
½ sugar
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons Mexican brandy (Aztec del Oro or Don Pedro Reserva Especial)


Combine milk, sugar, and vanilla. Dip each slice of bread completely into milk mixture and drain in a colander over a bowl. Beat the egg white to form stiff peaks and fold the beaten yolks carefully into the whites. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Dip each slice of bread into the meringue to coat the exterior and fry in the oil, cooking both sides until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Reserve.
Combine water, sugar, piloncillo, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and canela in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar and piloncillo is dissolved. Cook slowly until the syrup coats a spoon. Strain through a sieve into another small pan, discarding the cloves and allspice berries. Place canela sticks on parchment or wax paper to cool. Add pecans and brandy to the syrup and cook another 5 minutes (syrup will thicken again). Stir diced butter into syrup and reserve.

Preheat the oven to 350° and lightly butter a 5½ quart baking dish. Line the bottom of the dish with the fried slices of bread. Pour on a large spoonful of the pecan syrup, and add another layer of bread slices. Top with the remaining pecan syrup, evenly arranging the pecans on the top. Bake uncovered 35 minutes, or until you see the syrup boiling and caramelizing. Garnish with the canela sticks.


To make the optional brandy-butter sauce: In a small, heavy saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Stir in the butter and sugar. Temper by pouring some of this mixture into the egg yolks while whisking. Return mixture to the pan and simmer, whisking constantly, just until the mixture thickens; do not boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the Mexican brandy.
Serve with whipped cream flavored with a bit of powdered sugar, Mexican vanilla, and a few drops of brandy, or with a scoop of Bluebell Mexican Praline Ice Cream.

Note: Raisins can be added if desired; almonds or walnuts can be substituted for the pecans.
Mocha Café – Mocha Coffee
Mayans loved their cacao, and used the pods and beans as a form of money. To cap off the Mayan dinner, take a cup of strong coffee using beans grown in the mountains south of Xalapa, from the coffee farms around Coatepec, Xico, or Teocelo, and stir in 1 tablespoon of unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of sugar or piloncillo (or a little more, to taste). Top it with cream to taste, and perhaps a sprinkle of canela (Mexican cinnamon).


Sour Oranges:
Sour oranges were imported to the Yucatán by the Spanish in the 1500’s from southwestern Spain, and the native birds did a great job of spreading them around. To closely mimic the taste of sour orange juice, combine 2 parts fresh orange juice with 1 part Mexican or Key lime juice and 1 part fresh grapefruit juice.

Yucatecan Chiles:
Chile pepper = ik’ in Maya
Most culinary historians now believe that Yucatán was the home of the domesticated chile, and that they developed on the peninsula as early as 8,000 BC; habanero chiles originated there as well. The Spaniards mistakenly named the habanero chiles (“of Havana)” and the name stuck; ironic since Cuban food is not particularly spicy. The Maya cultivated as many as 30 varieties of chiles, and used them constantly in their cuisine. 

de Árbol: slender, slightly curved, pointed tip, clean taste, hot, used in table sauces; AKA: cuauhchilli, alfilerillo, pico de pájaro (“bird beak”), and cola de rata (“rat tail”); also used dried

Cascabel: AKA cora, catarino; called “jingle-bell” when dried from the seeds that rattle; plum-   sized, med-hot; tannic notes in fresh salsas; also used dried

Chile de Aqua: poblano-shaped but smaller, lime green ripening to red or orange, cut into strips and sautéed, Oaxacan origin; also used dried

Chile dulce: bell pepper, pimiento

Chile verde: AKA Serrano: pungent and sharp, medium hot; fresh or pickled

Cobán: an ancient Mayan chile from South Central Mexico; pequin-sized, very hot; used fresh and dried

Habanero: native to Yucatán; lantern shaped, ripens to white, yellow, orange, or red; extremely hot, distinctive fruity taste; Uxmal: a cultivated form of habanero

Jalapeño:  AKA cuaresmeño, gordo; medium hot, used fresh, pickled, roasted, and dried

Pequin: small “bird” peppers; very hot and citrusy, very small and pointed, native, used fresh in salsas; Tuxtla – a southern Mexico form of pequin; Amash – a very hot wild form of pequin that grows in Yucatán; Max – alternate name for pequin in Yucatán

Puya -- AKA guajillo, pulla, colmillo de elefante; smaller and slightly hotter than the guajillo; cooked in sauces; taste is especially fruity; also used dried

Xcatik – AKA: caribe, carricillo, cristal, cristalino, caloro, trompo, trompita, bola light yellow, substitute güero: yellow wax type, mild to slight heat, used fresh in salsas, 4-5” L x  3/4 “ W
Ancho: poblano when fresh (roasted and peeled); called mihuateco in Yucatán; cooked sauces when dried

de Árbol: slender, curved, pointed tip, clean taste, hot, used in table sauces
AKA: cuauhchilli, alfilerillo, pico de pájaro, and cola de rata

Chile de Aqua: poblano-shaped but smaller, lime green ripening to red or orange, cut into strips and sautéed, Oaxacan origin

Chile seco de yucatán, chile de pais: similar in appearance and slightly smaller than a de árbol chile, hotter, used in cooked sauces

Chilhuacle – bigger, meatier poblano, used dried, hot

Habanero: native to Yucatán; lantern shaped, ripens to white, yellow, orange, or red; extremely hot, distinctive fruity taste

Morita:  AKA chilaile; a slightly hotter chipotle with a purplish color

Pasilla: known as chilaca when fresh, long, ripens to mahogany or purplish dark green, roasted and used in table sauces

Pequin: “bird pepper”, native, very small and pointed, very hot and citrusy, used fresh in sauces and dried as a condiment

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