Tamales for Christmas

photo(1)My sister Meg spends her long commute on the subway reading the New York Times on her iphone, and on Wednesdays I can usually expect her to email me a recipe or two from that day’s paper. The week before Christmas it was this story about the Mexican tradition of making tamales for Christmas. We immediately started planning an Boxing Day tamale feast. For one batch we cooked a whole pork shoulder over night in the slow cooker, and then tossed the shredded meat with a New Mexico red chile sauce, based on the recipe in the Times. The second batch was filled with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and pickled jalepeños. We made a big pot of beans and some rice and served it all with a few of the salsas I put up last summer. The meal was a huge success and we all agreed it should become a new Christmas tradition. Continue reading

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Salsa Verde

Mexican food is a staple of my diet, and living in New York City I always took for granted that I could walk down to the corner store and pick up a pound or two of tomatillos any time I wanted them. Now that I live in a much smaller town, I’ve found that tomatillos can be much harder to come by. When I signed up for my community garden plot, tomatillos were at the top of my list of things to grow. Continue reading

Black Bean & Tortilla Casserole with Pasilla Chiles

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When I was just out of college and my cooking repertiore was still pretty limited, I used to make a casserole beans and tomatoes layered with corn tortillas and cheese, a recipe my mom used to make from one of her Williams-Sonoma cookbooks. As tasty as it was, my roommate Leslie and I doubted its authenticity as a Mexican dish. It just seemed to us a bit like something out of The Family Circle Illustrated Library of Cooking, and we dubbed it Fiesta Casserole.

Perhaps this recipe was a little more authentic than we gave it credit for, because this week I picked up a copy of Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen and found a couple different variations on this theme. This one is rich and smokey, and tastes almost chocolatey, like mole, even though there’s no chocolate in it. It will take you the better part of an afternoon to make, but it’s definitely worth it. Continue reading