Sean and Mittie | Recreating Traditional Mexican Recipes from Like Water for Chocolate 1

Recreating Traditional Mexican Recipes from Like Water for Chocolate

Considering the upcoming class Nate and I will be teaching on cooking the recipes from Laura Esquival’s book Like Water for Chocolate at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference, we thought it might be astute to actually cook them, you know, like a test run …before we cook it for 60 people.

Oxtail soup
Turkey Mole
Beans, Rice, Tortillas,
Cream Fritters

First there were the ingredients to contend with. Since it’s close to the holidays, Turkey wouldn’t be too problematic, but Oxtail? I asked a few Mexican friends and the question was received with little more than a raised eyebrow. We went to my usual butcher, La Lonja on Mesones, who often finds unusual meats for me. Without hesitation, he said he could get it for me in 24 hours. Turkey leg and thighs were already on hand to make a hearty stock for the Mole.

Then it was off to the San Juan de Dios market where I was surprised to find that my usual vegetable stand had many ingredients I thought would require a trip somewhere else, including: 4 different types of chile (ancho, pasilla, chipotle and mulatto), sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, as well as our beans and rice.

At our friend’s house we set up all our ingredients, ready to use the industrial stove. We started the stock, which ultimately cooked for about 4 hours. We also made stock with the Oxtail, which was purple. That’s right, purple. We later learned we should have trimmed more of the fat off before making the stock – now we know, but the wine was flowing and the fat trim was the least of our concerns.

Sean Reagan Photography

We had like 15 ingredients that had to be ground. Mortar and Pestle? Since it’s 2013, we went with a food processer. It still took forever. But between unsweetened Mexican baking chocolate, multiple chiles and nuts, and several veggies the base for the mole looked amazing. And, as you can imagine, the turkey fell immediately off the bone after slow cooking for so many hours. The kitchen smelled amazing.

With as happy as we were about the Turkey Mole, concerns arose over the zombie like appendage we were working with for the soup. I felt like I was on Chopped, trying to incorporate an ice cream cone into an otherwise gourmet arrangement. Anyway, the tail had to be dealt with. So we tried to remove the small amount of meat from it, but it was quite tough, making removal difficult. Ultimately we decided if we didn’t want to eat the meat, then others probably didn’t either and so we didn’t include it.

Sean Reagan Photography Sean Reagan Photography

One friend described our soup as buttery. That was a nice way of putting it. While the flavor was good, the combination of veggies in the soup gave it a nice flavor, the texture was just too fatty. Amid the wine drinking, we also forgot the chile morita, which would have given another dimension to the soup.

We made cream fritters, which were a delicious disaster. By the time we got to dessert, we didn’t have the patience for the custard to cool properly before deep frying it so it would keep its shape. It’s ultimately going to be too complicated to make for 60 people anyway. Onto the Rosca del Reyes! I’ll let you know how it goes.

  • Carolina
    Posted at 16:17h, 19 November Reply

    Como agua para chocolate, nice MIttie

    • Mittie Roger
      Posted at 15:51h, 03 December Reply

      Thanks Carolina!

  • Rebecca Woodland
    Posted at 05:29h, 07 March Reply

    Hi Mittie, here’s how to deal with the fat issue. Don’t try to remove much fat from the oxtail. Just boil the oxtail in water to make the stock. The fat will melt off and rise to the top. Refrigerate the whole pot overnight (or just leave it outside on a cold San Miguel night). The fat that rose to the top will be solid and easily removable. Just peel or scoop it off. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe. How do I, a vegetarian, know these things? I live in Hawaii, where oxtail soup is popular and traditional for certain holidays, so I’ve seen it made and the end result is not fatty at all. The other flavors shine through. Try it!

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