Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day, which is actually September 16. On that date in 1810, Mexico declared its independence from Spanish rule. But today isn't Dieciséis de Septiembre, now is it?
Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Yet Cinco de Mayo is celebrated only sporadically in Mexico, mainly in the southern town of Puebla and a few larger cities. Did you get that? Cinco de Mayo is celebrated only sporadically in Mexico. Then what the jalapeno are we doing celebrating it up here?!
In recent years, though, Cinco de Mayo rapidly gained popularity in the U.S., where it is suspected that changing demographics (no, not more college kids) have helped to turn the holiday into a cultural event. Latinos are the largest minority in the U.S. today with 44.3 million people, representing 15 percent of the population, according to a July 2008 U.S. Census Bureau report. And the rest of us... well, we'll just do anything for a party.
Here at La Perra Dejó de Cocinar, we put together some recipes to help you celebrate Cinco de Mayo with great cheer and great beer.
Roasted Poblano and White Bean Crostini
2 poblano peppers, roasted and peeled
1 can of white beans
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp cumin
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 bunch cilantro, picked but not chopped
Roast peppers on the grill until blackened and charred. Place in a bowl and cover with saran wrap for 20 minutes. Peel peppers. Heat olive oil over medium heat and fry cilantro very quickly (about 30 seconds). Remove and pat dry with slotted spoon. Reserve. Puree beans with garlic, cumin, lemon juice and poblano peppers. Serve warm on grilled bread. Garnish with crumbled fried cilantro.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
16 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes
Coat large saute pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.
Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, saute 1 minute.
Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to saute pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.
Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat.
Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.
makes 4 servings
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 cup tequila
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar (you can find this by the honey at the grocery store)
Wet the rim of 4 short glasses and dip in a mixture of 2 tablespoons coarse salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder. Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds of the way with ice. Add 1 cup tequila, 1 cup pineapple juice, 1/2 cup fresh lime juice and 11/2 tablespoons agave nectar. Shake well, then strain into the glasses.
Cerveza, cerveza, cerveza...
I know what you're thinking. You will go grab a 12-pack of coronas and a lime or two and you'll be all set. Just like in the commercials. Well, if you want to get real authentic, you might follow these suggestions.
If you can find them, Cucapa Brewing Company makes a mean hat trick of Mexican beers.
The Obscura is a brown ale, absolutely delicious and available in 22 ounce bottles.
Cucapa Honey is a blonde ale that has a hint of honey flavor. It's light, flavorful, and just sweet enough.
If you're a Mexican Hopping Bean and you can't get enough, try their Chupacabras Pale Ale. It's a pale ale with lotsa hops.
If you can't find these (though I think you will be able to), check out Allison Boyer's Top Ten Mexican Beers.
Have a happy, safe, and picante Cinco de Mayo!