Two Authentic Mexican Recipes: Chili con Carne and Tamale Pie
Ever since the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico in the 16th century, Mexican food has evolved from mixing the indigenous foods of the native Indians with the European foods of the Spaniards. This harmonious marriage of ingredients has developed into one of the most sought out ethnic cuisines in the world. You can turn your own dinner into a fiesta with these mouth-watering authentic style Mexican recipes. If you know good food when you taste it, then you'll know these recipes are chock full of the fiery flavor that fine Southwestern and Mexican cuisine is known for.
Authentic Style Chili con Carne Recipe
Chili con Carne is said to have been invented by Mexican residents of Texas. J.C. Clopper, a reporter visiting San Antonio in 1828, described the dish this way: "When they have to pay for their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice a family; it is generally cut into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat. This is all stewed together." Edward King, a Northerner writing in 1874, complained that the "fiery pepper biteth like a serpent." But O'Henry liked it. He said it was a "compound full of singular savor and a fiery zest."
Here’s what you’ll need to create your own Chili Con Carne recipe that will set your taste buds on fire with an explosion of flavor you won’t be able to get enough of:
- 2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 quart skinned fresh tomatoes or home-canned tomatoes, or
- 2 (16-ounce) cans tomatoes
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
- Dash of hot-pepper sauce
- 2 cups pinto beans, cooked*, or 2 (16-ounce) cans pinto or red kidney beans, drained
In a heavy Dutch oven, slowly brown beef with onion and garlic until meat is cooked through. Add tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, beef broth, chili powder, cumin, salt, oregano and hot-pepper sauce. Simmer beef mixture, covered, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Add cooked or canned beans and simmer 30 minutes longer. Makes 8 servings.
*To cook pinto beans: Follow package directions. Or, wash and pick over beans; place in a large saucepan. Cover with water and soak overnight. Drain. Cover with water again. Simmer, covered, 2 to 3 hours or until beans are tender.
For the "quick-soak" method: Wash and pick over beans; place in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Return to a simmer and cook, covered, 3 to 4 hours or until beans are tender.
New Mexico Tamale Pie
Many so-called Mexican dishes are not so much Spanish as they are Indian. This dish is credited to the Aztecs who served it to Cortes when he arrived in Mexico City. Traditional tamales are made with corn husks that have been soaked in water, spread with cornmeal mush made from masa, and sometimes topped with chili con carne. The husks are folded up to enclose the filling, tied with another strip of husk, then steamed until heated through. Tamale pie has basically the same ingredients without the corn husks and is baked in a casserole lined with cornmeal masa. It makes a great meal accompanied by a garlicky green salad and followed with a platter of fresh melons for dessert. Here’s what you need to make it:
- 2-1/2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup whole ripe olives
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Jack or Cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup diced white onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
- 1 cup whole-kernel corn, fresh from the cob, frozen or drained, canned
- 1-1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1 cup sliced ripe olives
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Boil water in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in cornmeal and salt. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add butter. Cook, stirring, 20 minutes over low heat. Grease a 2-quart casserole. Spread cooked cornmeal over bottom and sides of casserole. Set aside while you prepare filling. Preheat oven to 350-F (175-C). Pour filling into lined casserole. Bake 45 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle top with whole ripe olives, raisins and shredded cheese. Return to oven just long enough to melt cheese. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
To prepare filling: In a heavy skillet, heat oil. Add onion and garlic. Sauté over low heat 5 minutes. Increase heat to high and add beef. Brown meat, stirring constantly. Add celery, green pepper.