Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Getting Our Hands Dirty in Mexico

Third and last act of our family trip to Mexico.

After all the food we glimpsed at, lingered over, and ate, something was missing. We had to get into the kitchen and start cooking up some real Mexican food. 

Luckily, Maman had that all planned out for us and we embarked on a three hour-long journey through traditional Pueblan cuisine at the Meson Sacristia in the historic district with Chef Alonso Hernandez.

The agenda was tempting in itself. Imagine being given keys to the base of most Mexican cooking, and then seeing an example of what you could do with it. And, imagine being able to eat all of it with fresh hibiscus water as a refreshment. It's not heaven, my friends. It's Mexico.

The festivities started out with the traditional red and green sauces, a huge building block of Mexican food. With the help of a comal, a simple metal plate placed on a flame to cook ingredients, we turned tomatoes, tomatillos and chiles into two delicious sauces (with the help of a few other ingredients). Roasting on a comal gives everything a nice burn, helping the flavors develop and bloom in the blender.

The sauces were only a start. After setting them aside, we learned how the red sauce serves as a base for Mole Poblano. Puebla is the hometown of mole, the traditional Mexican sauce made with chiles and chocolate. Some of you may raise an eyebrow: chocolate in a sauce? A sauce that you can have with meat? "Don't knock it till you try it", as they say. Mole is worth le detour.

Mole takes a little while to make, and may be difficult because you need three different types of chiles: mulato, ancho, and pasilla. Once you've got them, though, you fry them up and let all the flavors explose--you're on your way to making a delicious mole, and that's no small feat.

During the class, my sister, maman and I had our eyes on the large bowls of salsa verde and salsa roja. We could imagine dipping huge tortilla chips and scooping up cup-fuls of the sauce...and why not eat it with a spoon?

We didn't get around to that, though, and made chalupas instead. Pan-fried corn tortillas get smothered in sauce, meat, and chopped white onion: a pretty nice alternative to the chips and salsa situation. 

If you're ever in Puebla, definitely consider taking this class if you can. Alonso Hernandez is eager to show his love for Mexican ingredients and Mexican cuisine, and we had a lot of fun trying out various recipes and cooking techniques. Not to mention that we left with a belly full of delicious food, and that's unbeatable. I wasn't even craving horchata afterward. And that's saying a lot.

Salsa Verde
makes one medium bowl

6 tomatillos
1/2 onion, cut into large slices
10 serrano chiles
1 clove garlic
1 bunch cilantro
1 cup water
salt to taste

Roast every ingredient except cilantro on a comal until tomatillos and onions start to blacken. 
Put all ingredients together in a blender, process until smooth, and add salt to taste. 

Salsa Roja
makes one medium bowl

6 red tomatoes
1/2 onion
4 dried chipotles
1 clove garlic
1 cup water
salt to taste

Roast all ingredients on a comal until they start to blacken. Process with water in a blender until smooth. Add salt to taste.
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A Busy Nest said...

I can't wait to try the salsa roja recipe. Looks like some wonderful authentic Mexican food.

claudia said...

I agree with "a busy nest" THIS looks like REAL mexican food! Had a cooking class once in Oaxaca and loved it too. I am glad you got to take a class there!

Mary said...

I love to take cooking lessons when we travel. It looks like you found a good one. I've filed the name away for another day. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Emily said...

You went to Mexico? How fun!

This class seems like fun, too. I would have made a pig out of myself. I love Mexican food.
No horchata?! What??

Paris Pastry said...

Oh my! You cooked up a storm! I can never get enough of Mexican food, so I'm not sure if this class would be very good for me ... Well not for my waistline anyways!

Barbara said...

What fun you had at the cooking class, Lucie. You are certainly enthusiastic about Mexican's been lovely to read about your experiences there.

grace said...

soo jealous! i absolutely want to eat some truly authentic mexican food before i leave this world, and if i get to help make it, well, that's even better!

Kerstin said...

How fun, glad you had such a great vacation! I would love to take a class like this - awesome!

Reeni said...

How fun! I love Mexican food and would of felt the same way about seeing the different salsas! I would of wanted to get straight to eating. I've never taken a cooking class while traveling - I need to keep it in mind!

Seo Services said...

nice recipe thank you ....