19 Nov 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.
Beans, Rice, Tortillas,
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
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.