Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cookin' With Gas

Gracias a Dios (Thank God) we have a gas stove! The people here will cook for 2000 people on open fires such as these - it is incredible. This is Manuel stirring spagetti for dinner - Kemmel has also had it with scrambled eggs for breakfast. Kind of wierd but do-able.

I am always trying to figure out recipes for different foods we eat here. For the most part, food appears to be pretty uncomplicated here, as most people just cook stove-top (or fire-top). It is interesting to me how good cooks in all cultures make their cooking look easy. But, as we are almost daily blessed , with home-cooked lunches, we get lots of opportunities to taste test. Let it suffice to say that not all chicken soup is created equal. The ladies in Paxot II make very good beef and chicken soup. The Mactzul V sisters are specialists in salsa made of chile coban and a salad made of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and lime. hmmm, rico! Gaspar's wife, Juana makes a mean stewed chicken, and the family of women in Choacaman are especially talented in stewed pork in a sauce called "ricado".
Yes. that is a green plastic bag in their pot. This is used to seal in the steam for tamalitos - steamed corn stuff. That day they were only cooking for around 100 people. Slow day.

Ricado is basically a thick sauce (like for enchiladas) made of many different ingredients that vary from region to region. The uses are endless: stewed meats, tamales, chuchitos, bean stews, etcl. The base (for red sause) always seems to include toasted pepitoria (pumpkin seeds, basically), sesame seeds, and chiles (mild or hot). Then comes stewed tomatoes, bell peppers, onion and garlic. Some even add cinnamon and other spices like thyme or bay leaf. Most women agree that the best flavor comes from grinding all ingredients on a stone. I did get a chance to practice this--it is a labor of love! So, the second best is throwing it all into a blender.

The stone grinder - Gracias a Dios we have a blender! This is Maria and she is the Choacaman cook / ricado queen! She had hand surgery last time we were there so we just had rice and beans, no ricado - pretty sad day.

Today I tested out my own version of ricado--spicy of course, and with beef and vegetables. It was actually quite good and now I just need to write down the recipe so I can tweak it. It was exciting to actually reproduce something that at least approximates the dishes here. Someday, I will get brave and serve it to someone besides Kemmel and myself!

Here is my recipe if you want to try it:

2 fists full of pumpkin seeds toasted on the stove
1 fist full of sesame seeds lightly toasted
6-7 chile coban toasted (3-4 large dried New Mexico chiles, toasted would be a good substitute)
(or 2 red bell peppers cooked )
1onion cooked
5 roma tomatoes cooked with skins
1 4oz can of tomato paste
5 cloves of garlic cooked
3 cups of broth

(All of the cooked veggies I just had in the crock pot with my meat several hours before. You can also just simmer in a pot for an hour or so ).

Salt to taste
Throw all in blender until smooth. Add to roasting meat/chicken, potatoes, carrots. Cook 30-60 minutes together, adding water as needed. Serve over rice.
Hasta pronto y buen provecho!

1 comment:

Anna said...

Daddy always said you would have made a good pioneer! :) Hey, there is a neat aricle about you guys in the Chronicle, I will keep a copy for you.