Mexican Food is My Heart’s Home
As many of you know, I hail from West Texas. Having spent most of my tender years vacationing in New Mexico and living in places where the only restaurant besides a cafeteria was a Mexican one, I still long for the perfect Mexican meal.
My husband and I are in a delightful dinner group here in Charlottesville with accomplished, like-minded cooks, travelers and gourmands. Our theme for this month’s dinner is Cinco de Mayo, a holiday which is much more important in the U.S. than in Mexico. As hostess, I am to create the main dish, so I thought that I would share it with you. My pattern for selecting a recipe for any special occasion is to look at everything and settle upon 4 or 5 recipes which then are combined in some way.
I decided some time ago to prepare a green Molé as they use lots of herbs which are already growing, despite the cold evenings. This sauce can be used with chicken, fish or pork. I will be using pork for the green Molé and chicken with a Bride’s White Mole (link included). Making two Molés is not as complicated as it sounds as they have many ingredients in common and will be served side-by-side along with Ceviche, Margaritas, Guacamole, Potatoes with Chard, and Flan supplied by the rest of the group. I will purchase handmade corn tortillas from La Michoacana on High Street because making them myself is a bridge too far for a woman who runs The Spice Diva Emporium 6 days a week! I highly recommend Amigos market on Seminole Trail for all ingredients Latin.
Molé Verde with Pork (adapted from Pati Jinich at Food Republic and sbs.com.au/food)
2 pounds pork tenderloin (1 large or 2 small)
5 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or 1 Tablespoon dried, rubbed
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cups water
1 pound tomatillos, husked and thoroughly rinsed
2 garlic cloves
2 serrano or jalapeños
3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup blanched, slivered or whole almonds
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt, or to taste
15 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
1 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves and upper part of stems1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and upper part of stems
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
1 1/2 cups meat juices from the cooked tenderloin or substitute chicken broth
10 to 12 radishes, trimmed and cut into matchsticks (2 cups)
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt, or to taste
12 corn tortillas
Prepare the meat
Using a sharp knife, make a 1/4-inch deep slit down the length of the tenderloin from one end to the other.
In a small bowl, mix the garlic, sage, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Spread the seasoning paste all over the meat, including inside the slit. Tie the meat with kitchen twine, or if you have two tenderloins, tie them together, one of top of the other. It is not necessary to marinate at this point, but you can cover the tenderloin and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
The day of serving, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Heat a large ovenproof casserole or a deep 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Add the tenderloin and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes.
Add the water to the pan and roast the pork for 30 minutes. The internal temperature of the meat should be 150-160. Place the meat on a a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Pour the meat juices into a measuring cup. The meat can be made 24 hours in advance and refrigerated.
When ready to reheat, dice the meat.
Cut radishes into very small matchsticks. Combine with lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Mix well. Let them macerate several hours or overnight.
Combine the tomatillos, garlic and chilies covered with water in a medium saucepan, Simmer for 10-12 minutes until everything is soft and the tomatillos take on an olive green color. Drain and save the liquid.
In a small skillet over medium high heat, toast the sesame seeds, then the almonds, followed by the pumpkin seeds separately until each is browned and fragrant. Shake the skillet and watch carefully to prevent burning. Let cool and then process in a blender with a little of the pork liquid. Set aside.
Add spring onions, cilantro, tomatillo mixture, green bell pepper, cumin, salt and pepper to the blender. Add two cups of the cooking liquid from the pork/tomatillos and blend thoroughly.
Heat a little oil in a saucepan and fry the nut/seed mixture for a few minutes. Add the mixture from the blender and combine, simmering for 5 minutes.
Heat the pork in a pan with meat juices added and simmer until heated through.
Dip a tortilla into the warm molé to soften it, place on a plate and fill with about two-three Tablespoons of pork. Roll up and top with more sauce. Garnish with matchstick radishes.
Molé Blanco di Novia may be found at https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1992-10-15-9204030499-story.html. Happy Cooking Adventures!