I made the salsa first since it can sit in the refrigerator for a few days. Dried pasilla chiles were to be used but I only found guajillos the day I was shopping, and I tend to use those two dried chiles interchangeably. The chiles were stemmed and seeded and then left to soak in a mixture of orange juice, beer, and garlic. After about an hour, the chiles and soaking liquid were transferred to a blender to puree. Trust me, use the blender here. My food processor was sitting right there as the chiles were ready to be pureed, so I tried it unsuccessfully. I ended up pouring everything into the blender and washing extra dishes. With this much liquid, the blender is a better choice, and it will produce a smoother puree. Next, I turned to the recipe for refritos. I had some black beans that I had already cooked in my freezer, so I started with those. My thawed beans were pureed in a food processor while finely chopped onion was sauteed in olive oil. Once the onion was translucent, the bean puree was added and simmered for 15 minutes. The refritos were cooled and refrigerated until the next day. For the tlacoyos, I mixed masa flour with a little salt and water and divided the dough into portions. Each ball of dough was flattened, a spoonful of refritos was placed on the dough, and the dough was rolled to enclose the beans. Then, the cakes were formed by pressing the dough into an oval. Mine weren’t very tidy. The dough cracked here and there, and the bean filling squished out in places. I decided not to worry about it. After all the cakes were formed, they were cooked for a few minutes on each side in a cast iron skillet with a little oil. The topping was a quick saute of onion and garlic to which sliced mushrooms, chopped Swish chard, roasted potato chunks, and peeled and chopped roasted poblanos were added. I served the tlacoyos with the “drunken” salsa and some crumbled cotija cheese.
There are several other things I can’t wait to try from this book like the green tomatillo salsa, the pickled peppers, the cemitas which are sesame seed buns for tortas, the aguachile with shrimp and lime juice, meringue-filled pastries, and rum raisin ice cream. The freshness and flavors and all the great colors in these dishes jump off the pages and make me hungry.
Recipes reprinted with publisher's permission from Hugo Ortega's Street Food of Mexico by Hugo Ortega, Bright Sky Press, 2012.
Masa Cakes Stuffed with Refried Beans | Makes 4-8 servings
Tlacoyos are masa cakes stuffed with refried beans — pinto or black. They are usually prepared the night before and the ladies (page 18-19) pack them in baskets to sell the next day. If making ahead, place the raw tlacoyos on a sheet pan lined with a piece of parchment paper; cover with another piece of parchment paper and plastic wrap. Cook on a hot comal right before serving. The papas, champinones y acelgas taco filling (page 96) is another great vegetarian option that can be used as a topping for this recipe.
For the tlacoyos:
1 lb masa (fresh or prepared from mix, page 24)
1/2 cup refritos (page 132)
1 tbsp corn oil
For the tlacoyos (make ahead up to 1 day):
Divide the masa into eight equal masa balls; cover with a moistened kitchen towel while working. Using the palm of your hand, flatten each masa ball into a patty, about 4 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Place 1 tablespoon refritos in the center and enclose the beans inside each patty by rolling it into a cylinder. Place each cylinder on a clean surface and pat down into an oval shape, about 1/4 inch thick. Store in refrigerator until ready to cook.
Place comal over low heat, preheat 5 minutes. Drizzle with corn oil and wipe off excess with a paper towel. Working two at a time, place each tlacoyo onto the hot comal and cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from comal and top each with potatoes, Swiss chard and mushroom mixture, salsa, and garnish with cotija.
Tacos de papas, acelgas y champiñones
Potatoes, Swiss Chard and Mushroom Tacos | Makes 4-8 servings
This vegetarian taco is fulfilling as well as hearty. This recipe shows that tacos are very versatile for any eating lifestyle. This vegetarian Mexican saute can also be used as a substitute for the chicken in the tacos de chile relleno (page 77).
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 medium white onion, sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
1/2 lb white button mushrooms, cleaned, sliced or a mixture of your choice
1/2 large bunch Swiss chard, washed, stemmed
2 chilaca or poblano peppers, roasted, seeded, peeled, deveined, cut into strips
1 large yellow potato, roasted, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp kosher salt
8 regular-sized tortillas or masa cakes (page 74), warm
1 recipe Hugo's salsa Mexicana or Salsa Borracha, optional to accompany
Place cast iron skillet over medium heat, add olive oil to skillet and preheat 2 minutes. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard and allow it to wilt, about 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook for 6 minutes. Add potato and continue to cook 2 minutes. Stir gently as not to mash the potato. Add salt. Divide evenly among the tortillas. Serve with salsa.
Drunken Red Chile Salsa | Makes 1 1/2 cups
Traditionally, salsa borracha is made with pulque, a milk-colored alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of the maguey and agave plant. Due to its scarcity, I used my favorite Mexican beer instead, giving it a delicious, tangy taste. This particular salsa will keep in the refrigerator up to three days. Store in airtight jar or plastic container.
6 long dried pasilla peppers, toasted, stemmed
1 cup fresh orange juice
3/4 cup beer or 1 1/2 cups pulque if available
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp kosher salt
Place peppers in a deep bowl. Add orange juice, beer or pulque if using, and garlic. To completely submerge peppers in liquid, place a small bowl over peppers to act as weight. Allow peppers to soften in liquid, about 1 hour. Strain, reserving 1 cup liquid, discard the rest. Transfer peppers, garlic and reserved liquid to a blender and add salt. Puree into a smooth, thick consistency.
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