Shrimp and Fried Avocado Tacos

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Photo Credit: Dennis Prescott, 2016.

 

Take your avocado obsession to the next level by rolling them in breadcrumbs, baking them to crispy perfection and stuffing them in a tortilla with a few spicy shrimp. This version of a textural dream that is crunchy, spicy, and refreshing, all at the same time.We are sure that your hunger for tacos will never be the same on Taco Tuesday!

Serves 8

Ingredients:
For the Avocados:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large egg whites
1 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium firm but ripe avocados

For the Slaw:
1 lime
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 small red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for serving

For the Spiced Shrimp:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
24 medium (31-40 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
A squeeze of fresh lime juice

For Assembly:
8 small flour tortillas, warmed
Lime wedges, for serving
Sour cream, for serving
Chopped tomatoes, for serving

Directions:
To make the avocados:
Heat oven to 425°F.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Lightly beat the egg whites in a second small bowl. In a third small bowl, combine the panko with the oil.

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and peel. Cut each half into ½-inch-thick slices. Working with one slice at a time, coat avocado slices lightly in flour, then in the egg, letting any excess drip off and finally in the panko, pressing gently to help it adhere. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining avocado slices. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

To make the slaw: Finely grate the lime, making zest, into a large bowl, then squeeze in 2 tablespoon juice from the same lime. Whisk in the mayonnaise and a pinch of salt. Add the cabbage, scallions, and jalapeño and toss to coat; fold in the cilantro. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble to tacos.

For the shrimp: In a medium bowl whisk together olive oil, garlic, cumin, chili and onion powders, paprika, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add in shrimp and toss to coat completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or up to 24 hours for best results.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a a large heavy-duty or cast iron skillet on high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the shrimp.and cook until  just cooked through and slightly pink, about 3 minutes. Do this in batches if necessary with more oil; the shrimp should be in a single layer.   Turn off heat and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. 

To assemble:  Grill tortillas on stove top over the flame until lightly charred.  Fill the tortillas with the avocados and top with the cabbage slaw, followed by three of four shrimp. Serve with extra cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream and chopped tomatoes, if desired.

Enjoy!

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Chalupas Poblanas


Photo Credit: Rebecca Smith Hurd.

Chalupas, an iconic street food of Puebla, are so popular that you will find them served at the top restaurants. They have a resemblance to tostadas and are the perfect antojito for any Cinco de Mayo celebration. To put it simply, chalupas are fried thick tortillas topped with salsa, shredded meat, chopped onion and sometimes queso fresco.

There are two versions on the culinary origins of chalupas. The first is that it gets its name from baskets.

According to “All About Puebla”,Ch alupas date back to the Colonial era, when Spanish settlers spent a good part of their days washing clothes by the Almoloya (San Francisco) River. It’s said that the women carried everything to the river in big baskets made of wood called chalupas, after which they’d rush home and quickly fry up corn tortillas in lard, top them with salsa, shredded beef or pork, and chopped onion – and call it dinner.

The second is that they are named after the Aztec boats (chalupas) used in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan.

Named for the canoe-like boats that the Aztecs used to navigate the canals of their ancient capitol Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, chalupas are one of the most popular snacks in Central Mexico. They are a specialty of the city of Puebla, where they are served everywhere from street stands to elegant restaurants. They are smaller than those found in other regions, and the silver dollar size chalupas sold in the San Francisco plaza are famous throughout the country.

Chalupas are an excellent way to use leftover roast meat or chicken, but can also be served with no meat at all. Although many people prefer to cook without lard, chalupas just do not taste the same without it. Corn oil may be substituted, but don’t expect the authentic, succulent flavor of chalupas fried in manteca.

Makes 24, Serves 6

Ingredients:
1/2 cup manteca (pork lard) or corn oil
24 3 inch-diameter tortillas
3/4-1 cup salsa verde
3/4-1 cup salsa roja
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded beef, pork or chicken
1 1/2 cups queso fresco or mild feta cheese
1 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped

Directions:
In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil or lard until a few drops of water sprinkled into the pan bounce and sizzle.

Place tortillas, as many as will fit, into the pan and soft-fry them, just 3-4 seconds on each side. They should remain pliable and not crispy. Drain them well on paper towels as they are removed from the pan.

Spoon salsa verde, about 1 tablespoon per chalupa, over half of them, and salsa roja over the other half. Top each with a bit of shredded meat, crumbled cheese and onion.

Serve Immediately.


Chiles en nogada

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Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day; it celebrates the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War, which came after Mexico’s independence from Spain, the Mexican-American War and the Mexican Civil War. In our neighbor to the south, the holiday is mainly celebrated in the region of Puebla, and mostly in the state’s capital city of the same name.

Cinco de Mayo, as celebrated in the United States, shares some similarities to St. Patrick’s Day: a mainstream marketing gimmick that evolved out of an authentic celebration of cultural heritage. The typical Cinco de Mayo is a day of eating tacos and drinking margaritas. But, just like you won’t find corned beef and green beer in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, you won’t find ground beef tacos, nachos and frozen margaritas in Mexico on Cinco de Mayo.

Before Spanish explorers and immigrants swarmed Mexico, Puebla was already a culinary capital. The sacred town of Cholula known for its great pre-Colombian pyramid was also home to pre-Columbian street food. In this ancient city, vendors would set up outside the pyramid to feed those who came to worship.

After arriving in Puebla, the Spanish settled close to Cholula and created what is known today as the city of Puebla. Religion was a major aspect of Spanish conquest and convents and monasteries were set up across the city. Spanish nuns invented many of Puebla and Mexico’s most cherished dishes in these convents by integrating old world traditions with new world ingredients.

An authentic dish that can be served is Chiles en nogada, an iconic dish of Mexico. It is said to have been invented in the convent of Santa Monica for Agustin de Iturbide‘s visit to Puebla in 1821. Agustín de Iturbide was Mexico’s first emperor after Mexico won independence from Spain. He was served chiles en nogada in Puebla while traveling back to Mexico City from Veracruz after signing the Treaty of Cordoba, which gave Mexico its independence.

The dish signifies Mexico’s independence and is made up of the colors of the Mexican flag; red, white and green. The flavors are just as colorful as the ingredients. The sweet, savory, picadillo stuffed poblano pepper dipped in egg batter, fried, and topped with a rich walnut sauce, pomegranate seeds and parsley is something you will not regret. Though it is more traditionally made for Mexico’s Independence Day,, rather than Cinco de Mayo,  it is one of Puebla’s most cherished dishes.

In making this dish, it is  highly recommend  to roast the pork the night before you want to make the dish. You might also want to chop all the fruit so the picadillo is quick and easy to assemble. Also note that the walnuts should be soaked in milk overnight.

Makes 12 chiles

Ingredients
12 poblano chiles

For the Picadillo:
2 pounds boneless pork butt
1 tablespoon lard
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon all-spice
2 small white onions chopped
3 tomatoes
1 green apple
1 ripe yellow plantain
2 firm yellow peaches
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup Jerez Sherry Fino
zest of one lemon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

 

For the Nogada Sauce:
1 cup milk
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup queso fresco
2 tablespoons Jerez Sherry Fino

 

For the Capeado (optional):
10 eggs, separated
1/4 cup flour

Pomegranate nibs, for garnish

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

 

Directions:

For Chiles and Picadillo: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place 1 tablespoon lard in a oven-proof skillet, and heat on medium-high until rippling. Add the cinnamon, cloves and all-spice, toasting for 1 minute. Add the pork roast and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Add 2 cups water and one white onion chopped and simmer for 5 minutes. Put into the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes. Cut pork into a quarter-inch dice. Set aside.

Meanwhile, chop all the apple, peaches and plantain into a quarter-inch dice. Soak the golden raisins in the sherry. Set aside.

 

Roast the poblano chiles on an open flame or under the broiler until blistered and blackened — 3 minutes per side if over a flame, 5 minutes per side if under a broiler. Tightly wrap the chiles in a clean dry towel and let them “sweat” for 15 minutes. When chiles are cool enough to handle, gently remove blistered skin. Cut a slit in the side of the chile and carefully remove seeds.

 

Roast the tomatoes on a cast-iron comal or under the broiler until blishered and blackened and so flesh yields to touch. Peel off the skin, core and puree in a blender. Set aside.

 

In a large skillet, on medium-high heat melt butter. Add the chopped pork. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the remaining onion. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 3 more minutes. Add the chopped apple, peaches, plantains, lemon zest and raisins and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Finally add the tomato puree, salt to taste and simmer on low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings.

 

Photo credit: Apartment Therapy

 

Stuff each chile with about 1/4 cup picadillo filling, so the chiles are full but not bursting at the seams.

To make the Sauce: Soak the walnuts in the milk overnight. Place the walnuts, milk, sherry, queso fresco, salt and sugar in a blender and process until a smooth, slightly thick sauce forms. If you prefer a thin sauce add more milk.

(Optional) Capear/Lamprear: Let eggs come to room temperature. Meanwhile, lightly coat each stuffed chile with flour. Separate yolks and whites. In a clean bowl or blender beat egg whites until very fluffy. Gently fold the yolk into the whites. Heat a pan with 1/4 cup vegetable oil or lard until rippling. Dip each floured chile in to the batter and place in hot oil, cook on each side until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels. (See: How to Lamprear video by Zarela.)

 

Garnish and Serve: Place the chiles on a platter and pour the nogada suace over them. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and parsley for garnish.