Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Homestyle Mexican Cooking" - Chicken Tabasco

Date I made this recipe: December 20, 2009

Homestyle Mexican Cooking by Lourdes Nichols
Published by: The Crossing Press
ISBN: 0-89594-861-3
Recipe: Chicken Tabasco (Pollo a la Tabaquena) – p. 127

Ah December; so much celebrating to do, so little time.

One of the things Andy and I are celebrating this year is the 20th anniversary of the first time we went out. To clarify, it really wasn’t our first “date” date, more like a meet and greet to get caught up on some mutual friends of ours, the Hartman sisters.

Older sister, Susan P. Hartman, worked with me at one of my companies and it was she who was responsible for me meeting Andy. Lisa Hartman was one of Andy’s roommates in a house he shared with three other people. Yes, you can all start singing “It’s a Small World.”

In the summer of 1989, I went across country with Susan P. to help her move back to her native New Jersey so that she could start grad school at NYU. As mentioned in a previous blog about Paris, traveling with Susan P. is a little like watching an episode of I Love Lucy. To this day, I cannot look at windshield washing fluid without thinking of the hilarity that ensued when we had to add it to her car (don’t ask), nor can I think of Lexington, KY, without thinking about this damned circle drive (from hell) that we kept getting ourselves on, over and over again. In exasperation, we finally pulled off the circle drive, went to a Hyatt Hotel and proceeded to the bar for a calming cocktail before getting better directions that got us the hell out of Lexington (not that it wasn’t lovely).

And so when Andy called in early November and suggested we get together to compare notes on the Hartman sisters, I was loaded for bear with stories. I can’t recall why we decided to meet at Pepitos, a Mexican restaurant located near my home at the time in south Minneapolis, but meet there we did; maybe we were in a Mexican phase back then? Given that I was then (and still am) a social butterfly, we were unable to meet and greet until December 22, 1989 and once we did, folks, well, it was all over but the crying. We’ve been together ever since and in May 2010, we will celebrate 19 years of (pretty much) wedded bliss. All of this, of course, is Susan P’s fault and is something that I tease her about from time to time (all in good fun, of course).

Although Andy and I do plan to revisit the scene of the crime on Tuesday, I thought it would be fun to cook something from one of the Mexican cookbooks I acquired and decided on the chicken recipe because it didn’t require a long marinade nor did it require me to go out and purchase lard—not that there’s anything wrong with lard. I tend to like lighter Mexican dishes and indeed, this cookbook was full of them.

This was one tasty dish that just capped off a day of sheer laziness on our part but hey, that’s one of the perks of being together this long. And speaking of being together a long time, Pepitos actually cleans our clock on the anniversary thing—according to their website, they have been in business since 1974 (they opened in 1971 under a different name). I guess that 20 years is nothing to them but we are happy to be able to return there on this auspicious anniversary. Congratulations, Pepitos! (And hooray for us!!)

For those of you living in the Twin Cities area, Pepitos is located at 4820 Chicago Ave S in Minneapolis. Their website is:

Chicken Tabasco – Pollo a la Tabasquena – serves 6
6 chicken quarters, skinned
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onion, charred and chopped
4 cloves garlic, charred and minced
6 medium tomatoes, charred, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
2 tablespoons green olives, sliced
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 tablespoons seedless raisins
4 ounces ham, chopped
4 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons cold water, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Season the chicken with the lime juice, vinegar, salt and allspice, and let marinate for 20 minutes.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan with a tight-fitting lid and fry the chicken until golden. Remove the chicken from the pan and fry all the other ingredients, except the water and cornstarch for about 5 minutes. Drain off any excess oil and return the chicken to the pan. Add 1 cup water, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour, turning the chicken pieces frequently.

Remove the chicken to a warmed serving dish. Mix the cornstarch with the remaining 3 tablespoons cold water and stir it into the pan juices. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened. Pour over the chicken and serve hot.

Note: I didn’t drain off any excess oil because the liquid from the chopped tomatoes, onions, etc. made it nearly impossible to tell what constituted the oil and what constituted the liquid. The taste didn’t seem to suffer at all from not draining anything. Also, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and they were quite tasty. Finally, I made up a little rice to go with the dish; the recipe didn’t call for it but I love rice and so there it is.

1 comment:

~~louise~~ said...

What a fun post, Ann. I find the addition of raisins quite curious. Thanks for sharing. Just popped in to say Happy Holidays!!! Enjoy!