Homemade churros are fried choux pastry covered in sugar and dipped in chocolate sauce
Homemade churros are fried choux pastry covered in sugar and dipped in chocolate sauce

M is for Mexican: From churros to peanut chili salsa

A fusion of traditional and contemporary dishes with street-food inspired recipes provides a tasty introduction to Mexican gastronomy 

Rukmini Iyer
Monday 05 September 2016 12:42
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Merging traditional dishes with street food-inspired dishes, M is for Mexican covers the basis of the country’s gastronomy. The newly released book has chapters dedicated to street food, salsas, sides, puddings and big dishes in 50 simple recipes, in a fun and easy-to-use way. It fuses the traditional Huevos Rancheros and Enchillada dishes but also offers more adventurous contemporary reinterpretations such as Caldillo de Chambarete (broth with beef shanks) and Baja (battered fish tacos).

Salsa de cacahuate y chile de arbol (peanut salsa)

Serves 6
Prep 10 minutes

2tbsps olive oil
5 chiles de arbol, deseeded
1 clove garlic
150g (5½oz/1 cup) peanuts
Sea salt

Peanut salsa is perfect for dipping, or spooned onto grilled meat

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the chiles, garlic and peanuts. Fry on a medium to low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently so that everything fries evenly to a golden-brown. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and allow it to cool down for 10 minutes. Add a teaspoon of sea salt and blend until smooth, adding 175ml (6fl oz/2/3 cup) of water gradually as you go.

Return the salsa to the pan and stir for 2 minutes over a very low heat before leaving to cool. Stir in a few extra tablespoons of water to adjust the texture as needed. Taste and season and serve alongside any of the beef or pork dishes. It will keep well refrigerated for a week in a jar.

Churros (fried choux pastry with chocolate sauce)

Serves 8

160g (5½oz/1 2/3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
½tsp baking powder
Pinch sea salt
80g (2¾oz/1/3 cup) butter
3 eggs
100g (3½oz/scant ½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
1 heaped tsp cinnamon powder
1 litre (34fl oz/4 cups) vegetable oil, to fry
500ml (17fl oz/2 cups) double (heavy) cream
Pinch chilli powder
200g (7oz/11/3 cups) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids minimum), chopped

Sift the flour, baking powder and sea salt together in a large bowl and mix well. In a large saucepan, heat 250ml (8½fl oz/1 cup) of water and butter until just boiling. Lower the heat, tip in the flour mixture and beat together quickly until you have a stiff dough that comes away cleanly from the sides of the pan. Tip the dough back into the bowl, spread it thinly around the sides and leave it to cool for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. One at a time, beat the eggs into the cooled dough, mixing until fully incorporated before beating in the next. You may need to use a whisk in conjunction with a wooden spoon – the mixture will come together eventually.

Cut the tip from a piping bag and fit the star-shaped nozzle. Spoon in half of the prepared dough and set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, making sure to fill it no more than two-thirds full, and bring the temperature up to 180ºC/350°F. While the oil is heating up, in a separate, small saucepan heat the cream with the chilli powder. Just as it begins to boil, lower the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir continuously until the chocolate has melted. Turn off the heat, cover and keep the sauce in a warm place.

Preheat your oven to 50ºC/120°F. Once the oil has reached the correct temperature, carefully pipe hoops of dough straight into the hot oil, using the side of the pan to “cut” the end of each hoop. It’s best to cook just three to four churros at a time as they’ll cook more evenly. Fry the churros for 1½-2 minutes on each side, until golden-brown and evenly crisp all over. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the churros one by one to a plate lined with kitchen paper, carefully draining the excess oil into the pan beforehand.

Toss the churros in the bowl with the cinnamon sugar within a minute of removing them from the pan, and keep the sugared churros in the oven to keep warm. Repeat, until you have used up all the dough, and serve the churros hot with the chocolate sauce to dip.

The spicy chicken broth uses boneless chicken and is topped with avocado

Caldo xochtil (Spicy Chicken Broth)

Serves 2

1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp finely chopped oregano
750ml (25 ½ fl oz/3 cups) chicken stock
300g (10 ½ oz) skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 large (approx. 250g/9oz) vine tomatoes, finely chopped
1 avocado, finely sliced
1 green chilli, finely chopped
Handful of coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion on a medium heat for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and oregano. Fry for a further 5 minutes until softened.

Add the stock and bring to the boil before adding the chicken thighs and reducing the heat to a low simmer. Cook for 40 minutes, partially covered. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the broth and add the tomatoes.

Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Meanwhile, shred the chicken and divide between two bowls with the avocado, chilli and coriander. Pour the hot broth into each bowl and squeeze over the lime juice. Eat while hot.

Alphabet Cooking: M is for Mexican (Quadrille, £12). Photography Kim Lightbody

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