Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cinco de Mayo

Can't believe that I forgot to include rice and beans in my notes for Monday's show! They're only two important staples in Mexican cuisine. I might add here, that they have been mainstays in my own diet during much leaner times. So, before I get to the fun stuff like salsas, guacamole or the tasty recipes Chris, my sister back in Michigan, shared with us on the show, I'm going to off recipes for these humble items that are probably responsible for sustaining more lives than we may realize.
I know that black beans have become quite the hip thing to have in the past couple of decades and I am a great lover of Cuban-style Black beans but I'm going to leave those for another time and stick with that old standby, the pinto bean.
Although you may be strongly tempted to the point of physical pain, do not soak these overnight as you would with other legumes. These cook up in a few hours (demanding little attention from you) and only get better, like soups and stews, after they have spent a few nights in the fridge.


2 cups dry pinto beans
Enough water to cover
2 tablespoons lard (or oil)
Salt to taste

Pick through beans to remove any stones or clumps of dirt. Wash well and drain. Place in pot with lard and enough water to cover. Bring to boil and cook on low simmer adding more water as needed. Simmer for 2 hours or until they become tender. Salt to taste and continue to simmer for about 20-30 minutes longer.

The following recipe for rice is what they call a Sopa Seca in Mexico. It translates to "dry soup" and is only one of many ways to prepare that second important staple in the Mexican kitchen. Like every culture and family, everyone has their own take on a recipe and this is just one and a pretty easy one at that.


3 tablespoons of oil
1 cup long-grain rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken broth

In a medium sauce pot, heat oil and add rice, stirring until it exudes a nutty aroma and turns golden.
Add onion and garlic and stir until softened. Add tomato and cook briefly, stirring everything together afterwards so all the ingredients are well combined.
Add chicken broth, stir to combine, bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and cook on low until rice has absorbed all the liquid about 30 minutes. Fluff with fork and keep covered until ready to serve.

Whenever I hear anyone complain about Hispanic immigration, I want to run into their kitchens and remove all the chips and salsas and ban all forms of guacamole from their Super Bowl parties. Sorry to use this space to shoot off my political mouth but let's face it, we despised the group that brought us corned beef and cabbage every Spring; we had little use for those Southern Europeans with their strange ways and noodles with tomato sauce. It kind of tickles me now that one of the fastest growing dips is hummus, an age old popular middle east food.
I shall now step down off my soapbox and offer two recipes for each these Mexican favorites, salsa and guacamole.

Salsa Cruda

This is a mild salsa that everyone will enjoy. If you would like to spice it up, you may add a finely diced jalapeno. (Remove seeds if you want it somewhat spicy or if you are a hard core chili head leave them in but warn your guests!)

2 mild, long green chilies, chopped or a 4-oz can of mild chilies diced.
2 large tomatoes, chopped.
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients and add salt to taste.

Salsa Frita

Unlike the preceding recipe, this one has some bang to it. If you want to tame the heat, use a 4-oz can of mild diced chilies instead of the jalapenos.

1/2 cup minced while onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oil
2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and chopped
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

In a skillet, heat oil and saute onion and garlic until soft. Add chilies and tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt to taste and cilantro.

I have not tried baked chips but I will offer the recipe if anyone would like to try them. The site I found them on included quite a number of positive reviews. Of course, I will also off the traditional recipe for fried tortillas or Totopos, as they are called in Mexico.

Baked Tortilla Chips

12 corn tortillas

Preheat the oven to 350f.
With a large sharp knife, cut stack of tortillas in half. Put one half on top of the other so you have a large stack of half moon shaped tortillas.
Cut stack in thirds.
With a mister (or a can of good quality cooking oil spray) lightly mist each wedge and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place on a baking tray and bake for 7-8 minutes (or longer if needed) checking frequently.

Fried Tortilla Chips

Treat the same number of tortillas the same as for the above recipes through the point of cutting them in thirds.
Pour enough oil into a skillet to come up 1/2 inch. Heat to 350f or until hot but not smoking.
Working in batches, place tortilla wedges in skillet and fry until golden brown on one side and turn cooking until done. With a slotted spoon or pair of tongs, remove and lightly shake off any excess oil and place on plate or bowl lined with paper towels. Lightly salt immediately.

OK, all this talk about food has me hungry and I'm about to make my dinner of Stacked Enchiladas with New Mexico Green Chili Enchilada Sauce. I'll be back to give you the rest of the recipes before Cinco de Mayo (Pacific Standard Time).


  1. Thanks for the tip about a shorter soaking time for pintos!
    Lip smacking recipes!

  2. I made a pot today. I just set it on the back burner on the lowest setting and then went out to work in the garden. I don't think I even had to stir or add water more than once or twice. Turned out perfectly..