For Cinco de Mayo, Lard Makes Tortillas, Frijoles and Enchiladas Verde So Much Better, Coast Packing Says
Cinco de Mayo, celebrating the stunning defeat of Napoleon III in Mexico nearly a century and a half ago, has become the perfect showcase for traditional Mexican cooking – and few things say Mexican food better than lard.
So suggests Coast Packing Company, the leading supplier of animal fat shortenings in the Western U.S., including the popular VIVA brand. “We believe in natural, minimally processed food, and that’s why lard is such a staple of Mexican cooking,” said Eric R. Gustafson, CEO of the 93-year-old company. “Whatever the dish — from freshly made tortillas to long-simmering carnitas — lard brings out authentic flavors like nothing else. Home-based cooks are always wise to avoid industrially-produced partially hydrogenated fats in favor of animal fat shortenings, which have the benefit of being consistently delicious and, in moderation, promoting health.”
With appreciation to Epicurious, Allrecipes.com and Chef Rick Bayless, Coast extends warm wishes to all of those celebrating this Cinco de Mayo. The recipes follow:Homemade Flour Tortillas “Traditional flour tortillas – homemade and much better than store bought. Do not substitute vegetable oil or shortening for the lard.” o Prep 15 minutes o Cook 45 minutes
o Ready in 1 hourIngredients o 4 cups all-purpose flour o 1 teaspoon salt o 2 teaspoons baking powder o 2 tablespoons lard
o 1½ cups waterDirections 1. Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Mix in the lard with your fingers until the flour resembles cornmeal. Add the water and mix until the dough comes together; place on a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Use a well-floured rolling pin to roll a dough ball into a thin, round tortilla. Place into the hot skillet, and cook until bubbly and golden; flip and continue cooking until golden on the other side. Place the cooked tortilla in a tortilla warmer; continue rolling and cooking the remaining dough.
From La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine by Marilyn Tausend with Ricardo Muñoz Zurita, © 2012 University of California PressIngredients o 1/4 cup freshly rendered pork lard o 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion o ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic o 2 ½ cups drained Frijoles de la Olla, plus 1 cup bean broth
o ½ teaspoon sea saltFor the Optional Topping
o ½ cup crumbled queso frescoDirections
Heat the lard in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and fry, stirring often, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and beans and begin to smash the beans with a bean or potato masher until they are paste-like but still have some lumps. Stir in the broth and salt and continue to smash and stir occasionally, for about 5 minutes. When the bean mixture begins to spew and sputter, lower the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bottom of the pan stays clear for a moment when scraped with a spoon, another 5 to 7 minutes. Serve hot, and, if you want, sprinkle on the cheese.
Enchiladas Verde, from Rick BaylessIngredients o 1 pound (about 8 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed o 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled o 1 or 2 fresh serrano chiles o 1 small white onion, sliced ½ inch thick plus A few slices for garnish (divided use) o 2 tablespoons fresh-rendered pork lard o 1 ½ cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water o 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley OR a large sprig of epazote o 2 3/4 cups (12 ounces) cooked, coarsely shredded, boneless chicken, pork or beef (this is a good place for rotisserie chicken or leftover roasted or braised meats); or 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Mexican melting cheese (such as Chihuahua, quesadilla or asadero) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar; or 1 ½ cups (12 ounces) goat or dry-ish ricotta cheese o 8 corn tortillas, preferably from a local tortillería o Dollops of Mexican crema, sour cream, crème fraiche or Greek-style yogurt thinned with a little milk OR A few tablespoons grated Mexican queso añejo or other garnishing cheese such as Romano or Parmesan OR a handful of shredded Mexican melting cheese (such as Chihuahua, quesadilla or asadero) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar —you can sprinkle it over the enchiladas before they go into the oven.
o A handful of cilantro leavesDirections
First make a roasted tomatillo base: On a rimmed baking sheet, spread out tomatillos, garlic, serrano, and the small white onion, sliced ½ inch thick. Slide the baking sheet as close up under a preheated broiler as possible. After 4 or 5 minutes, when everything is blotchy-black and softening, turn the vegetables and roast the other side until everything is cooked through (they should be soft), while taking on an attractive bit of rustic char. Once the vegetables are roasted, they go on the stove top to cool down a little.
When the vegetables have cooled down enough to handle, slip the skins off the garlic and pull the stem off the chiles. In a blender, combine the tomatillos (and any juice on the baking sheet), garlic, chiles, onion and a scant teaspoon salt, and blend everything to a coarse puree. In a large (10-inch) skillet over medium-high heat measure the oil or lard. When it’s hot, add the roasted tomatillo sauce base. Let the sauce reduce and concentrate, stirring it frequently, for about 4 minutes. When it’s thicker than spaghetti sauce, stir in chicken broth and cilantro or parsley. Season the sauce with salt, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer while you prepare the filling.Measure out your choice of filling. Turn on the oven to 400 degrees. Spray or brush with oil on one side of the tortillas then stack them up, slip them into a plastic bag, fold it over and microwave them at 100 percent for 1 minute. Let them stand for a minute (to uniformly absorb the heat) while you stir a little sauce into the meat to moisten it (the cheese needs no sauce). Then lay out the tortillas on the counter, top them each with a portion cup of the meat or cheese, roll them up and fit them into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Spoon the hot sauce over them (covering the whole tortilla avoids dry ends), slide them into the oven and bake just until heated through — about 4 minutes. Longer in the oven means mushy enchiladas. To serve the enchiladas, simply use a spatula to transfer them to dinner plates. Garnish the enchiladas with the topping(s) of your choice, crema, cheese, white onion, and or cilantro leaves.