Isn’t this dinner Mexican, you say?

Southwest or Tex-Mex is a style of food that evolved from what the nomadic ranchers in northern Mexico and (what is now) the southwestern US ate. If you were driving cattle across a vast area of land, what do you eat? Easily stored/canned things like beans, unleavened breads (i.e., tortillas) salsa or pico de gallo. They are the core ingredients that you get in what most of the country calls a “Mexican restaurant” (but which is really Tex-Mex).

True Mexican food is highly varied and regional, but it contains a lot of corn grain and more sophisticated meat preparations than just the ground beef and grilled chicken common in Tex-Mex food. In Mexico, tortillas are made from corn and, in the southwest, tortillas are usually made with wheat. Mexican cheese is white, while Tex-Mex cheese is yellow. Taco shells are practically unknown throughout Mexican. South of the border fresh coriander, parsley, oregano and epazote are the usual spices. While north of the border, cumin is the spice most often used along with hot chile peppers.

There is nothing Mexican about sweet corn (which is a common ingredient in many Tex-Mex dishes). It is an American addition. In Mexico, corn is mostly used in the form of grain. Tamales and moles are probably the most common and the most true of Mexican dishes. Tamales are made with a dough made from corn (hominy) called masa and with lard. Tamales are generally wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves before being steamed, depending on the region from which they come. They can have a sweet or savory filling. The most common fillings are pork and chicken and they are served with either a red or green salsa or mole.

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

I used some of the leftover BBQ chicken for the stuffing that I made earlier in the week.

Ingredients

1 cup homemade or store-bought salsa
1 jalapeño chile (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat), minced
1 large scallion, chopped
1 minced garlic clove
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cups cooked chicken, finely diced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 large poblano chiles, a thin slice from the top, ribs and seeds removed
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat an 8 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, combine the salsa, jalapeno, scallions, garlic, cheese chicken, cumin and salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the filling evenly among the poblano peppers, pushing the filling in as much as possible without breaking the sides of the peppers.

Place them in the baking dish. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake until the poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes. Serve over the bean and corn saute.

Pinto Bean and Corn Saute

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 scallions, diced
1 jalapeño chile
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt
1 cup cooked pinto beans
1 cup corn
1 large plum tomato diced
1 tablespoon lime juice

Directions

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.

Saute the scallions and jalapeno for 2 minutes, until they are softened.

Add the garlic, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook for 1 more minute.

Add pinto beans, corn and tomato and cook for about 3 minutes. Add lime juice, stir until combined and serve.

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