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    Central Highlands, Mexico
  1. This whole idea makes me want to throw up. Geez. Just because you call an elephant a cigar, doesn't make it a cigar.
  2. Greetings, it's been 50 years at least since I posted here. Amazed that my password still lets me in. One note: when I am at the tianguis (street market) in my Mexico City neighborhood, I choose poblano chiles very carefully. It's easiest to roast them if they are flat (i.e., not deeply grooved) all around. It's hard and too fiddly to get off the skin charred in those grooves. When I make chiles rellenos, I roast the chiles (poblanos, in this context) on a cast iron comal--not in a skillet. I do it that way because (a) you can do five or six at once; (b) you don't have to watch them like a hawk; © the black charred bits still have all the flavor of flame-roasting. I do 'sweat' them for about 10 minutes in a tightly closed plastic bag, and then take off as much of the blackened skin as will come off. As Rancho_Gordo says, leaving some of those blackened bits is not a problem; they give the finished product excellent flavor. Be careful about leaving your chiles in the plastic bag till they are cool; take the skins off while they are still hot to the touch. Once they're cool, it's too difficult; the skin sticks tight in spite of the roasting. As to the placenta and the seeds: I use my hand to wipe out as many of the loose seeds as possible--the loose ones that are on the inside chile walls. Then I hold the slit open with one hand and pull as many seeds as possible off the placenta with the other hand. As another poster said, if your chile is too fragile to withstand this, you have roasted it too long. It's never perfect, though, and sometimes there are seeds left. You can also stick a small knife into the placenta, right where the seeds start, and slice the seed bunch off. As for 'battering'--the coating for chiles rellenos isn't really a batter. It's just very stiffly beaten egg whites with the beaten yolks folded into them. I dust the chiles with flour and dip them into the egg mixture. The egg mixture should be thick enough to stick to the flour-coated chile without sliding off. Normally I do this part at the counter next to the frying pan on the stove, so I can just lay the chile into the hot oil. When it's golden brown on one side, I hold the stem and slide a spatula under the chile to turn it over. If the stem end isn't getting brown, I spoon hot oil over it until it turns golden. Slightly off topic: what are you using to fill your chiles?
  3. Chris, I'm a little confused by your gordita reference. The tortilla on the comal in your photo doesn't look anything like a gordita--to me, it looks just like a normal tortilla. And I have a question: what are the dark yellow flecks in your masa and in that tortilla? The flecks look like pieces of very coarsely ground corn. I've never seen that kind of fleck in any tortillas in Mexico, or even in the USA. The soaking time for nixtamaliz-ation seems very short. Maybe a longer soak would make grinding easier? You shouldn't have to use the molcajete, if that's what that is in the photo. Most folks use a metate y mano and forego the mechanized grinder, or use the grinder and forego the metate y mano.
  4. Yes, that's how enchiladas are made...fried very briefly in lard, then dipped through the salsa and filled.
  5. Aha, good point. Absolutely true: corn tortillas are made from nixtamal-ized corn and water and nothing else.
  6. Yes! Northern Mexico style enchiladas are delicious!
  7. Of course Biko isn't a Mexican restaurant and the others are. Perhaps you simply prefer Spanish food to Mexican.
  8. Is this cook-off about true Mexican enchiladas, or Tex-Mex enchiladas? Both are wonderful, but there are huge differences. Enchilada sauce here in central Mexico is not made with chile chipotle. Nor are enchiladas placeras made with beef. I think you have misquoted Diana Kennedy, who lives in central Mexico. And enchiladas in this part of Mexico are rarely filled and rolled; the tortilla is filled and folded in half. If this cook-off is trying to approximate enchiladas made in Mexico, it will be difficult if you are buying packaged tortillas from a supermarket. Fresh tortillas made at a tortillería or at home are the way to go. Supermarket tortillas are too much like cardboard to soften properly. Jaymes is absolutely right: enchiladas (at least in central Mexico) are always made with corn tortillas. They're passed through a bath of very hot oil, just long enough to make them flexible, and then are passed through salsa, making, as Jaymes said, the enchilada (tortilla bathed in salsa, or enchile-ed). In central Mexico, enchiladas are not baked after being lightly fried and bathed in salsa. They're filled, folded, and plated for serving. A little additional salsa might be ladled over them and they're topped with a sprinkle of crumbled queso fresco or crumbled queso Cotija, some thinly sliced rings of white onion, and that's it. In nearly 30 years in Mexico, I've never seen enchiladas put in a baking dish, covered with cheese, and stuck in the oven. There are any number of kinds of enchiladas made in Mexico. One of my favorites is enchiladas verdes (green enchiladas), made with fresh green salsa, shredded chicken, minced onion, and crumbled queso Cotija. If you'd care to read an article about making real-deal enchiladas placeras, click here: http://mexicocooks.typepad.com/mexico_cook...enchiladas.html Jaymes, I suspect the article will bring back heavenly memories of Pátzcuaro. C'mon down and we'll go eat.
  9. "...I do not think today Mexicans are influenced by class choices but rather what people can afford at one time or another..." With all due respect, I strongly disagree with the above statement. Let me quote Earl Shorris, author of The Life and Times of Mexico (W.W. Norton, 2004). "Nothing so distinguishes the European from the American worlds in Mexico as corn and bread. They are the primary symbols, native and imported, Mesoamerican and Christian, poor and rich, dark and light, ancient and modern, ignorant and intelligent. The conflict between corn and bread affects Mexican religion, regionalism, corruption, language, diet, personality, and politics. It is at the heart of Mexico. And it is learned early, even now. When I was a boy, the mothers of my schoolmates told their children to eat only tortillas made of wheat or bread baked in an oven; corn was for Indians, they said. As I remember their faces now, my classmates were all mestizo. Their mothers, especially the mothers of the girls, wanted them to be white, to live and think and look like people of pure Spanish ancestry, like criollos. It was a matter of class as well as culture. Wheat and white were the signs." (p. 79)
  10. Theabroma, what does that mean? I'm a little confused.
  11. Here in Mexico, we're not seeing a shortage of tortillas, but the price of tortillas has skyrocketed in the last two years, and particularly since January 2008. In the not-too-far-distant past, tortillas usually cost six pesos per kilo. In Morelia, the price of tortillas at the tortillería near me is currently at 10 pesos the kilo. A family of five people might eat two kilos a day, especially if the consumption of tortillas is filling out an otherwise meager diet. Twenty pesos (about $1.60USD) for two kilos (4.4 lbs, for you who are metric-challenged) doesn't seem like much money, but many Mexican families don't bring in much more income than that per day. I know one corn grower who didn't plant a crop this year because the price of raising the corn versus the price he'd receive for freshly harvested corn wouldn't bring enough to make it worth while. What did he raise instead? Marigolds, the traditional flower for the Day of the Dead. So: why is this happening? The article you posted is accurate: Mexico can't raise enough corn now to meet its own food needs (we import a huge amount of corn) and there is currently enormous pressure for Mexico's farmers to raise the yellow corn necessary for biofuel rather than the white corn necessary for food. In addition, Mexico has not succumbed to the move toward transgenic corn--until recently. There is a lot of fear now that transgenic corn will make Mexico's traditional corn crop obsolete, and that transgenic corn will take its place. These fears are well-founded, as the government here is pushing for the use of transgenic corn. I don't know about a tortilla crisis, but I can certainly vouch for an economic crisis. There's an old saying: when the United States gets a cold, Mexico sneezes. We're sneezing, folks.
  12. I find that so disheartening... I had intended to seek out real fresh masa here in Oklahoma, but from what I hear there is basically no such thing anymore. Tortillas made from masa harina are better than nothing, but I hear that tamales are much better made with fresh masa. ← I agree with you, it is disheartening. Here in Morelia, Michoacán, there are two or three tortillerías where actual nixtamal-ized corn is still used and masa is still ground (albeit by machine, not on a metate), but most everybody uses Maseca. You're so right about masa para tamales. The Maseca dried stuff makes a poor substitute for real masa. Time marches on, though. As I often say, not all change is progress.
  13. I was under the impression that in recent years, even this "fresh" masa from the tortillerías was actually frequently made from reconstituted masa harina. rancho_gordo posted a link to this article some time ago, and I think that Diana Kennedy has mentioned something along these lines in her books. Do you know if this is the case? ← Yes, this is unfortunately the case. It's very unusual to find a tortillería here in Mexico where the masa is made from freshly nixtamal-ized cacahautzintle. Maseca rules the roost. *sigh*
  14. You might be surprised to know that here in Mexico, Maseca isn't as much a kitchen staple as you would think. Most urban housewives who need a little masa (or a lot, for that matter) head out to the neighborhood tortillería and buy the quantity they need, whether it's for making tortillas and tamales, for sopes, or for thickening atole--in addition to the other gazillion ways to use masa. Of course, there are still many rural amas de casa (housewives) who grind their own masa on a time-worn metate.
  15. BIG NEWS: Ricardo called me on Tuesday. The revised Enciclopedia de Gastronomía Mexicana will be published in mid-2009. It will include about 200 pages more than the currently out-of-print edition. Larousse will publish the new edition. You heard it here first!
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