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*March 2010 COTM--Kennedy: Beans, Rice, and Pasta; Sauces and Relishes

Please post reports in this thread on recipes from The Essential Cuisines of Mexico chapters BEANS, RICE, AND PASTA and SAUCES AND RELISHES

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Salsa de Chile Cascabel

    Cascabels are one of my favorite chiles. They're round, fat, shake like a rattle when dried (cascabel means rattle in Spanish) and have a nice nutty flavor with just the right amount of heat. This is not a super hot dried chile, but neither is it mild or bland.

    I grew cascabels this past summer and had a nice stash of them for this recipe, which has long been one of my favorites from DK. Not the easiest chile to find in the U.S., order them from MexGrocer if they're not available locally.

    This salsa has a deep, robust, roasty, nutty flavor and an intense, dark brick red color. It's super simple to put toghether and lasts longer than the 3 days in the fridge as indicated in the recipe. It's a great table sauce and can be used to enhance just about everything. I've used it as follows:
    - on eggs
    - tossed it into the pan while sauteeing chicken
    - added some sour cream and fininshed shrimp with the sauce
    - as a pasta sauce
    - a sauce for pork, cutlets or shredded
    - spooned a little on some plain white rice
    - sauteed off some onions, garlic and mushrooms, added some sauce and serve it with pork or over a steak. Makes a great taco filling too.

    It does not work very well as a dip for chips.
    I've kept it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks with no discernible problems.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DiningDiva

      I agree this is one of my favorites too! Its really interesting to me that the seeds are toasted separately and incorporated in the sauce. Very Sexy flavor in this salsa. I really like the pasta idea - that sounds perfect DD.

    2. Salsa de Tomate Verde, p. 236

      Super simple, but a great salsa. I did not cook the tomatillos first because I prefer them fresh. And I'm lazy. Recipe calls for blending tomatillos, onions, garlic, serranos, and cilantro with a little salt, how easy is that.

      1 Reply
      1. re: yamalam

        I just made this tonight. I didn't have serranos so (gently) substituted Tahi chiles. It's great, isn't it? I did cook the tomatillos, in water for about 15 minutes.

      2. Sopa Seca de Fideo - pg 166

        I've made this recipe for nearly 15 years and it's easy, yields a lot and goes with almost everything (except fish/seafood). I like it with chicken. It also makes a great vegetarian option when topped with (or without) grilled vegetable kebobs.

        This is one of Mexico's (in)famous "sopa secas" or dry soups. These are usually rice or pasta based and aren't soups at all. Sopa secas are usually served as the second course during comida and usually served alone. I use it as a starch replacement rather than potatoes or rice.

        Use coiled pasta and saute over as high heat as you can without burning them to toast them and bring out the nutty flavor. The recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of oil which some people think is quite a bit. You can do this recipe with less oil, but it will take the fideos (pasta coils) longer to brown as you need to use lower heat and they tend to want to burn. I tend to use the full amount of oil then drain the cooked pasta coils really well on paper towels and then pour off most of the remaining oil though there does need to be a film of oil let to cook the sauce. If you do remove the fideos to drain them be sure to put them back in the pan before proceeding.

        The rest of the dish is a snap to make. The whole dish start to finish usually takes me less than 45 mintues. The only other caveat I would mention is that if the dish looks too dry when it's put into the baking dish, don't be afraid to sprinkle extra liquid over the top before it goes into the oven.

        I can strongly recommend this dish. It's different, it's flavorful (I use fewer chipotles than called for 3 vs. 4) and it's a very forgiving recipe. Even if your technique isn't great, or you don't measure precisely, you'll come out with a good dish.

        Buen Provecho

        2 Replies
        1. re: DiningDiva

          Sopa Seca de Fideo - pg 166

          Great recipe. I've always liked this dish (though E prefers sopa de fideo), especially with the texture from frying the pasta and then baking. I'm also a big fan of Spanish fideo/fideuà and make that often, but this was the first time I've made this Mexican dish.

          My package of fideo coils was only about 6 ounces so I adjusted the ingredients. I used a can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes (about 2 cups) blended with a garlic clove and a little chopped onion, the full 1/2 cup of chicken broth, two large chipotle peppers, and MJ for the cheese. E thought it was plenty spicy though I wish I had used three chipotles.

          Just a great, satisfying dish. I served it for lunch, garnished with sour cream, and alongside a simple salad. Leftovers were delicious in a frittata.

          Thanks for the tips DiningDiva, especially re: adding more liquid before baking, which I did since it looked dry.

          (will post pics when I can get my camera to upload)

          1. re: Rubee

            Posting pictures:

        2. I notice nearly all of Kennedy's bean recipes include (delicious, I'm sure) lard, though one or two suggests vegetable oil. I was hoping to sub a more heart-healthy oil for the lard. I'm assuming olive oil would be a poor choice, but would Canola be okay? I assume I can just use a 1 for 1 substitution, oil for the lard? I need to make some adjustments to my diet to include more legumes and I thought, what better book to turn to than the current COTM? Maybe I can still squeeze in some participation this month--we're not even half-way through the month!

          Thanks in advance!


          1 Reply
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Yes, you can use canola oil. Plain old generic vegetable oil can be used as can corn oil. Spectrum Naturals makes a corn oil that is vibrantly orangish with a rich corn flavor. I've used it for Mexican cooking in the past quite satisfactorily, though the flavor tends to be stronger than most other corn oils on the market. The substitution is one-to-one. Very few of the dishes are affected by using oil instead of lard. However, many of the bean dishes are better if the lard is used...rounder. lusher mouth feel and flavor.

            There have been a number of studies over the last 10 years that have shown moderate amounts of lard in the diet are not detrimental, that it is not as bad healthwise as originally thought. By moderate the studeis mean a little bit now and then, not gobs every day.

          2. Rajas de Chiles Jalapeños Frescos (Durango), p. 238

            I'm making a nice Mexican feast tonight so made this fresh chile relish last night. Quick and easy too - slice jalapenos and marinate in oil and "mild vinegar" (I used diluted apple cider vinegar - a Bayless tip) with garlic, Mexican oregano, white onion, and salt.


            1. Salsa de Tomato Verde, p. 236

              An easy traditional green salsa with tomatillos. Blend cooked tomatillos (p. 492) with serrano chiles, white onion, cilantro, garlic and salt. I used a blender. It was excellent for Salsa de Albanil (p. 22) last night, and in chilaquiles this morning.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Rubee

                You're right, this is a great all-purpose "green" sauce. Try it on chicken.

                1. re: Rubee

                  I just made this for the second time today. Substituted jalapenos. I just love this. It's so fresh and lively. And gorgeous also.

                2. Frijoles de Olla ("Pot" Beans), p. 154
                  Frijoles Refritos (Well-Fried Beans), p. 155

                  Since both of these freeze so well, I always do a large batch when I cook pot beans - this time 5 lbs. I used pinto beans, and followed Kennedy's technique, with a couple of changes. I simmered the beans with a smoked ham hock since that's the way E's abuelita always made them. And when I make refritos, I always saute some garlic with the onion, and add some ground ancho chile (Penzey's). I used still-warm, fresh lard I bought from the Mexican market, though when I can't get that, I've used vegetable oil and/or bacon grease.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Rubee

                    Your cooking and photos have been so inspiring. Those beans look luscious :-)

                  2. Arroz Blanco – White Rice – p. 161

                    Though this is called “white rice” the recipe name doesn’t do the dish justice as the rice isn’t as neutral as the name might imply. This is a chicken broth infused rice that’s first cooked along w some finely chopped garlic, onion before simmering along w some thinly sliced carrots and peas.

                    I elected to add the carrots along w the onions and garlic and, since I was using frozen peas, I just added them prior to serving and tossed until they heated through.

                    Though fairly straightforward in terms of prep and ingredients, the final dish was quite tasty. I’d make this dish again without hesitation.

                    We served this alongside the Penchugas De Pollo Con Rajas (Chicken Breasts w Poblano Chiles and Cream) from p. 347 of this book which didn’t impress us as much as this rice did.

                    Here's a link to that review and photos if you are interested:


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                      Very pretty photo, the rice looks so nice on that plate, especially with the carrots.
                      This sounds like a rice dish that could be served with many main dishes. Thanks for describing it.

                    2. Arroz a la Mexicana (Mexican Rice) Pg. 160

                      This dish was made as a side dish for hot grilled sausages in a spicy tomato sauce and the combination was delicious. I used jasmine rice and cut the amount of oil from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup and used EVOO since I didn't have the Spectrum Naturals corn oil Dining Diva mentions upthread. (we're not buying GMO corn, vegetable or canola oils).

                      To begin place rice in a bowl, pour boiling hot water over the rice and let it sit for 5-ish minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water, wait a few minutes then shake the colander then leave to drain again. Heat the oil, shake the rice again pour into the pan and stir til rice is coated. You litteraly stir fry the rice over high heat for about 1o minutes. This lessens the chance of the rice sticking to the pot and eventually it will cook evenly.

                      Tomatoes, onions and garlic are blended to a smooth sauce then added to the rice. This is cooked, stirring and scraping up from the bottom of the pan till the mixture is dry. Broth, sliced carrots, green peas and salt are now added and all stirring is stopped. Cover and cook over medium heat till liquid has been absorbed and remove from heat. Now, take a piece of terry cloth and cover the rice pan then place the pan cover back on top. The rice steams for 20 minutes. To serve fluff with a fork working up from the bottom.

                      We both thought this was the best Mexican rice we ever tasted. The process was a little strange to us but it produced a wonderful silky flavorful rice dish. We're having the left over rice tonight. Ms. Kennedy says this will freeze well but to reheat make a foil package and place in a 360 oven for 45 minutes.

                      I served a salad Very loosely based on the Original Ensalada Alex-Cesar Caradini on page 197.

                      Vida de Mexico...!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Gio

                        Interesting cooking method. Do you know the purpose of the terry cloth? I assume it absorbs some water from the steam?
                        Your entire dinner sounds great!

                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                          Thanks LN... I believe you're correct that the cloth does absorb the steam so the rice grains remain separate yet an integral part of the whole dish...IOW, not mushy. The leftovers were great too!

                      2. Lentejas Con Pina Y Plantano – Lentils w Pineapple and Plantain – p. 167

                        The unusual (at least to me!) combination of lentils, plantain and pineapple is what drew me to this recipe.

                        My prep time was significantly shorter in duration than that indicated by DK and the reason was that my green lentils cooked in 30 mins vs the suggested 2.5-3hours that DK suggests. Cooked lentils are drained and broth is reserved. The recipe calls for 8oz of tomatoes to be finely chopped but then notes this will yield about “3 cups” – clearly something isn’t right there! Since I’d used up all my best tomatoes last night, I decided to use 8oz of chopped Pomi tomatoes for this dish. Tomatoes are pureed along w some garlic and roughly chopped onion until smooth then the puree is fried over high heat for approx 3 mins. Heat is lowered prior to stirring in some cubed pineapple (no quantity specified in the recipe. . . just a vague note for “one thick slice” to be cubed. Along with ½ lb of thickly cut plantain. This mixture simmers for an additional 5 mins before the lentils and 1 1/2cups of reserved broth are incorporated and seasoned then cooked until the fruit is tender (approx 20 mins).

                        I tasted the cooked tomato mixture prior to incorporating the fruit and I loved the almost smoky flavour. It’s a shame those flavours were lost w the incorporation of the pineapple. While we enjoyed the final dish, we did find that the pineapple flavour was predominant and the tomato was lost somewhere along the way. We enjoyed the potato-like texture of the plantains. I’m confident I’ll enjoy this dish as a breakfast but it was a little too sweet for a side dish for our tastes. I’m still waiting for DK to knock my socks off!

                        We served this alongside the Chuletas De Puerco Adobados – Pork Chops Seasoned with Adobo Paste.