Thursday, 19 April 2012

Huaraches with Black Beans and Salsa

Let's get a little saucy, shall we? Los condimentos add the zest and life to cooking - and Mexican cooking is no exception. Of course one of the most popular Mexican condiments is salsa, and there are probably as many different kinds of salsas as there are Mexicans out there. This one is fairly easy to put together and can be done ahead of time. Rick Bayless, the master of Mexican cooking, calls it "essential". So I figured I should give it a try. It was perfect with the huaraches we made last night - one step up from homemade corn tortillas, they are stuffed with black beans, shaped like sandals, fried and topped with more deliciousness. Seriously good eats. Definitely a weekend crowd pleaser - feel free to double the recipe.

Essential Roasted Tomato-Green Chile Salsa
From Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen
Online source - Splendid Table
Slightly adapted for I♥CC Salsas and Sauces

Makes about 2 cups

    1 pound (2 medium-large round or 6 to 8 plum) red, ripe tomatoes
    2 large (about 1 ounce total) fresh jalapeño chiles - I used 4 seranos - see notes below on chiles
    3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
    Salt, about  ½ teaspoon kosher
    1/2 small (about 2 ounces) white onion, finely chopped
    A generous 1/3 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
    Squeeze of lime to taste

1. Roasting the basic ingredients.
The broiler method: Lay the tomatoes on a baking sheet and place about 4 inches below a very hot broiler. Roast until blistered and blackened on one side, about 6 minutes; with a spoon or pair of tongs, flip the tomatoes and roast on the other side.
The griddle method: Line a griddle or heavy skillet with aluminum foil and heat over medium. Lay the tomatoes on the foil and roast, turning several times, until blistered, blackened and softened, about 10 minutes. Don't worry if skin sticks to the foil. Cool, then peel the skins, collecting all the juices with the tomatoes. While the tomatoes are roasting, roast the chiles and unpeeled garlic directly on an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet (you already have one set up if you've griddle-roasted the tomatoes) over medium. Turn occasionally until both chiles and garlic are blackened in spots and soft, 5 to 10 minutes for the chiles, about 15 minutes for the garlic. Cool, pull the stems off the chiles and peel the papery skins from the garlic.

2. Grinding the salsa.
The mortar method: In a large mortar, use the pestle to crush and grind the chiles, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt to a coarse-textured paste (this will release a wonderfully pungent aroma), paying special attention to breaking up the chile skins. A few at a time, grind in the roasted tomatoes, transferring the ground mixture to a bowl if the mortar gets unmanageably full.
The food processor or blender method: In a food processor or blender, grind the chiles, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt to a coarse paste, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Add the tomatoes and pulse a few times until you have a coarse-textured puree. Transfer the salsa to a serving bowl, and stir in any reserved tomato juices.

3. Final seasoning. In a strainer, rinse the onion under running water, shake off the excess and stir into the salsa, along with the cilantro and lime juice to taste. Add water, if necessary, to give the salsa a thickish, but easily spoonable, consistency (2 to 4 tablespoons is the norm). Taste and season with salt, and the salsa's ready to serve.

Advance Preparation:
This salsa comes into its own a few hours after it's finished, especially if left at room temperature. It can be made through step 2 a day or two ahead, covered and refrigerated. Add the cilantro and onion shortly before serving.

Other Chiles:
Besides jalapeño, serranos (3 to 5 for this quantity) are also classic. It's also made with habanero (1/2 to 1) or manzanos (1/2 to 1). With habaneros, this typical Yucatecan salsa, called chiltomate, is frequently made without chopped onion or cilantro and is flavored with sour orange juice in place of the lime.

Huaraches with Black Beans and Salsa
from Fiesta at Rick's, online source Serious Eats
slightly adapted, for I♥CC Salsas and Sauces


    1 pound fresh corn masa or 1 3/4 cups dried masa harina for tortillas
    Table salt
    ¾ cup canned or cooked black beans, drained, plus more for topping
    ½ cup vegetable oil
    1½ cups salsa
    2/3 cup grated queso anejo or queso fresco or feta   
    2/3 cup white onion, chopped
    ½ cup cilantro, chopped
    3 to 4 radishes, cut into matchsticks - I used chopped cucumber
    2 limes, cut into wedges


    If using masa harina, mix with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot tap water and 3/4 teaspoon salt and allow to hydrate for 5 minutes, covered with plastic wrap. If using fresh masa, combine with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Divide mixture into 8 balls. Cover with plastic wrap.
    Add drained beans to food processor with 2 tablespoons water. Blend until smooth, adding water as needed until texture resembles masa.

    Preheat heavy 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, form one ball masa into an egg shape. Using thumb, make deep, wide hole. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons black bean mixture into hole. Pinch the masa up to enclose it and roll into a cigar shape. Place between two sheets of plastic and flatten gently with tortilla press or under heavy skillet until ¼-inch thick. Carefully peel off top sheet of plastic. Flip the masa onto your fingers and peel the bottom sheet of plastic. Transfer quickly to skillet and cook until small lightly browned in spots, about 1 minute. Flip and cook until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside on plate. Repeat with other balls.

    Pour enough oil into the skillet to generously coat bottom heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Slide two huaraches into skillet. Cook for 1½ minutes and flip. Coat top side with 1½ tablespoons salsa, a few cooked black beans, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese. Cook one minute longer. Set aside and repeat with the other huaraches.

    Top the huaraches with onion, cilantro, and radishes (or cucumber). Serve immediately with lime wedges and extra salsa.

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