Once I had my Corn Esquites Salad ready I decided to try it out in tacos. I settled on using a whole oven roasted chicken because the meat is tender and shreds easily so its perfect for tacos. I was thinking about which spices I wanted to use to season the chicken and I thought chipotle and lime would work well with the corn salad. I settled on a simple dry rub of chipotle pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, allspice and oregano. While the chicken was roasting the kitchen started to smell heavenly and I couldn’t wait to try them out! The tacos were really tasty and easy to put together. The smoky flavor of the chipotle and the tangy lime juice were a great combination. The recipe makes 12 tacos, or enough for two people for two dinners (3 tacos each).
When I came across the recipe for corn esquites salad I took one look at it and knew I had to give it a try. This salad is basically Mexican elote which is roasted corn on the cob seasoned with cayenne, butter, mayonnaise, and cotija cheese. The corn in this recipe is cut off the cob and pan roasted until the kernels char and caramelize. Then the corn is mixed with the elote ingredients, garlic, lime, jalapeno, and cilantro. I decided to kick it up a notch and add sliced tomatoes and avocado to the salad. It was so tasty! The combination of ingredients was sweet and spicy from the corn and jalapenos yet creamy and tangy from the lime juice and cotija cheese. It ended up being the perfect topping for tacos!
Tamales are a great traditional Mexican dish that is made with masa (corn flour), and stuffed with a meat or bean filling. They are then wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed. For the filling, I decided on a nice pork shoulder that I seasoned with savory annatto seeds, cumin, and allspice–the same recipe for the Cochinita Pibil Tacos. I made Chicken Tamales before, and I wanted to try pork. I decided to use a roasted tomatillo salsa and queso fresco again since salsa verde is so good with pork.
This dish is labor intensive and requires some planning–about 2 days. The first day is to get all the ingredients together and cook the filling. The second day is assembling the tamales and steaming them and of course eating them! When the tamales are in the steamer all you have to do is wait. Once the wait is over it is time to unwrap and enjoy some tasty tamales.
I recently made some pork tamales with tomatillo salsa. The pork filling I decided on was a recipe for Cochinita Pibil, a traditional mexican recipe consisting of ground annatto seeds, cumin, allspice and sour oranges. The pork is sweet and fragrant and roasted on low heat so it’s extra tender. Then the pork is shredded and can be added to tacos, sandwiches, quesadillas, or in my case tamales! The pork is wrapped in banana leaves (found at Latin grocery stores), but foil works fine too. The recipe sounds daunting but it’s actually pretty easy to make, especially if you have a spice/coffee grinder. Using whole spices is key as it produces the freshest flavor. The recipe calls for sour orange but I used a blend of juice oranges and limes and that produced a good sweet and sour flavor. The nice thing about a recipe like this is that you can put it in a variety of different sandwiches or mexican foods. I will be making this again in some way or another.
Cochinita Pibil tacos is a traditional Mexican/Central American dish that is made by slowly roasting pork shoulder with a savory spice blend that consists of cumin seed, annatto seed, cloves and allspice berries. The pork is marinated in spices and orange juice over night, wrapped in banana leaves, and baked in the oven. Thankfully it was easy to find the annatto seeds and banana leaves at a latin grocery store. After several hours, my kitchen smelled amazing from the spices and the pork was ready to be shredded and wrapped in warm corn tacos. I added a little crumbled queso fresco and Mexican pickled onions for garnish. To add a substantial amount of heat I put a tiny bit of roasted habanero salsa on them as well. I topped the tacos with fresh cilantro. If the salsa is just too firey, add a little sour cream to cool the heat.
I had never tried pickling anything for a recipe before but it turned out to be surprisingly easy and was a delicious condiment on tacos. A simple pickling technique is to submerge the onions in vinegar, salt, and sugar for several hours. You can also add acidic juices and spices to provide more flavor. In this recipe I used orange, lime, and apple cider vinegar for a vibrant citrus flavor. I also added a little fresh oregano which tasted great with the onions. After a few hours, the onions soften and turn an even brighter shade of red. Another way to get the onions even softer is to blanch them prior to pickling. This will be a great condiment on mexican food and even sandwiches so I plan to use it again soon!
Habanero Chilis are one of the hottest peppers in the world–just a few steps down from pure concentrated capsaicin (the ingredient found in pepper spray). I had never tried the habanero and I was looking forward to this very hot salsa. I recently made Cochinita Pibil tacos but the tacos had very minimal heat. I decided to try the habanero salsa with the tacos and the results were great, though I only needed a tiny bit (1/4 tsp per taco) to add the right amount of heat. The heat from the habanero sneaks up on you while eating so make sure to have sour cream, milk, or yogurt around to cool down the mouth. Water won’t do much when eating a habanero, and dairy or bread are the only things that really help. I can’t wait to use the habanero in tex-mex dishes like chili for some added heat.
Making a mole sauce is a bit time consuming and some ingredients are difficult to find. I knew it would be a fun challenge so I decided to give it a shot. The mole turned out well and I liked the nutty, spicy chocolate flavor of the sauce. The pork was excellent with those flavors. A lot of mole recipes are super complex and involved so I’ll try to make this one a little easier to follow.