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From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa has been awarded the honor of "WINNER" in the "Cookbooks: International" category of the 2014 International Book Awards!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Creamed Corn

corn in browned butter
I know that many of you think that the only Mexican vegetables are beans and chiles, but corn is a common side dish. This country relies heavily on corn, both sweet corn and nixtamal (corn for tortillas). It is no surprise then, to know that there are hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of recipes for corn. Wait a minute... why don't they serve corn to you in Mexican restaurants outside Mexico? Because YOU, the customer, don't expect to have anything other than beans and chiles!  (Give them a 'suggestion' so their menu is not so limited.)  True, authentic Mexican cuisine is more diverse than any other cultural cuisine, except perhaps Italian. Did you know that Italians don't eat pasta at every meal?

So, to broaden your horizons, food wise of course, here is an authentic corn recipe I learned from a family in a poor section of town. My husband and I always look for clean little, out of the way restaurants to try new food. This recipe is from one of those little eateries. Thank you Señora Josefina for sharing this recipe with me!

By the way, if you thought creamed corn always came from a can – blck blck – your horizons will definitely be broadened!!

Creamed Corn

Makes 8-12 servings (small eaters vs big eaters)

85 grams (6 Tbls or 3 oz) unsalted butter
900 grams (2 lbs) corn kernels – frozen
250 ml (1 cup) media crema (table cream or heavy cream can be added – do not use half and half)
salt to taste

Heat a large frying pan on medium for 5 minutes before adding the butter. When it is hot, add the butter and it will immediately begin to brown - this is what you want. When the butter is melted and sufficiently browned (not burned), add all the corn. You do not need to thaw the corn. Stir occasionally until the corn is thawed and covered with the browned butter. Add only enough salt to give it a little more flavor, NOT to taste the salt. (I use only about ½ teaspoon – but use your own tastebuds).

Add the media crema and stir. Do not allow to boil, just heat thoroughly and serve.

This can be refrigerated, reheated and served tomorrow or the next day. Personally, I have never had it last that long in the fridge. I find Pete eats it for breakfast.....

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Huitlacoche - Corn fungus

Huitlacoche – how in the heck do you say that?  
weet/lah/KOH/cheh   And, what in the heck does it mean?  Corn fungus – eewwww – sort of like mushrooms that grow on corn.  It, in fact, tastes like mushrooms grown on corn.  Admittedly, I saw it on menus way before I was gutsy enough to try it.  Dang was it good!  Those Aztecs sure knew good food. 

Huitlacoche is sometimes called the 'Mexican truffle' and are considered by all (including me) a delicacy.  They look pretty disgusting if you dwell on how they look, so just don't stare at them.  You know what truffles are, right?  Truffles are sometimes called 'a diamond in the kitchen'.  It is a fungus!  OK, so we got that out of the way. 

About once or twice a year they are available to us in the grocery stores.  They are not expensive.  Today I bought a package for 29 pesos (about $2.25 US) for 350 grams.   I was so excited!!  So I need more of a life, what exactly are you saying?

Today's topic is probably more for the people living in Mexico than my readers NOB (north of the border).  If you are NOB and have an opportunity to try these, whether at a restaurant or in the grocery store, don't pass them by.  They are amazing and believe me, you will be hooked.  

I love to use them as I would regular mushrooms.  I always give a quick rinse to the fungus – you know me....  Chop them up and mix in with scrambled eggs, in a cream sauce for chicken, to stuff inside a chicken breast, make some mushroom soup by substituting these for the regular mushrooms in the recipe in my book.  They do not last more than a day or 2 in the fridge, but if you sauté some, they will keep in the fridge for several days.  Just use them in one of these ways and your imagination will run wild!!  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Chamorro - Pork Shanks to most people

Pork shank?  What the heck is that??  Shank is a leg,
or a portion of leg.  Much the same as a ham is also from the leg.  The shank is just uncured.  You may have to ask your meat man to order you some, or if you live in the country, as your local butchering company.  Many country butchers also sell retail meats, farm grown of course. 

I was having my friend, Carole, over for dinner last night.  Her husband is away for a few weeks on business and none of us wants to cook for just one.  She is a real meat and potatoes woman but had never had chamorro before.  The list of what she does not like to eat far exceeds the list of what she does like to eat, so I only asked her if she liked pork.  She didn't need to know the whole story. 

Friday is a busy day for me, so I opted for the untraditional method of cooking the shanks.  I dug out my trusty slow cooker.  Normally you need to cook the shanks for about an hour and a half to 2 hours in the oven, but I just didn't have the time to babysit them while they luxuriated in there. 

I rinsed them and packed them into my slow cooker. 
They fit pretty snug as you can see.  I mixed all the other ingredients and poured the mixture over the top and covered it with the lid.  No extra water added.  Carole doesn't like spicy food so I didn't use any chiles, but that is always an option for you.  Hopefully you made some of the chile puree I told you about a couple days ago.  The best to use in this recipe would be ancho, guajillo, pasilla or chipotle.   Just add one or two to the sauce and that's it, no other adjustments necessary. 

As a side dish, you can make some mashed potatoes or cook some rice by cooking in a few scoops of the broth from the cooker.  Yummy!!!

I am happy to report, Carole is now a fan of chamorro!  Don't think she will make them herself, but she won't be afraid to order them in a restaurant anymore. 

Pork Shank (Chamorro de Cerdo)

3 servings

3 pork shanks
½ small box achiote paste (look on the Mexican food aisle)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ white onion, chopped
1½ cups orange juice
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

Rinse each shank – no need to pat dry. Place the shanks as best you can to fit in the slow cooker.  Tight is OK because they shrink as the cook. 

Mix all the other ingredients and pour over the shanks.  Cover the pot and cook on high for about 7-8 hours.  Turn to low and keep warm until you are ready to eat.  Serve with an ample serving of either corn or flour tortillas. 

Note that each shank with the bones – of course you need the bones – weighs about 2 pounds each or 900 grams.  You always serve 1 shank per person even though there is a lot of meat on the bones.  Save some sauce from the slow cooker to give everyone a 'to go' plate and include some sauce with their leftover pork.  

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