Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco De Mayo

 Did you know they don't celebrate Cinco De Mayo in Mexico?  I once knew a group of guys in L.A. who planned a raucous trip to Mexico for Cinco De Mayo.  They packed beer, condoms, they were "TOTALLY STOKED" for the awesome party that awaited them.  They came back dejected cuz "Dude, they don't even celebrate this holiday down there!"  I, of course, thought that was karmically hilarious.

However, any excuse to have Mexican food is one I support.  So this Cinco De Mayo (May 5th for you gringos)  I'll be whipping up some chicken enchiladas & homemade guacamole.  Instead of sharing a recipe today, I thought I'd do a show and tell instead...

My family and I recently took a vacation and spent time in Mexico.  Specifically, about 8 hours in Mexico.  My one goal was to score a molcajete.  In English: a mortar and pestle thingy.  In Spanish: a mortar and pestle thingo.

Yes, I know you can buy these at Sur La Table or other fine cookery stores but I wanted a real one made in Mexico.  And not to toot my own horn but half the fun was using what I remembered of my high school Spanish (Hola, Senora Calderone!) and bargaining down to half of what I would have paid here.  A special shout out to my husband who lovingly lugged this HEAVY thing through a few more countries and an airport to get it home in one piece.

These are made of volcanic rock and often painted or carved to look like a bull or pig.  They last forever and just get better the more you use them.  They are used for making salsa and guacamole but you could use yours to grind any kind of spices as well.

Here is my molcajete before it's "makeover" aka seasoning. Yes, you have to do a little work before you use yours unless you prefer your guacamole with a side of volcanic rock.  And here's how...
 He's been named Senor Pig
Seasoning A Molcajete

 Soak the molcajete in water for a few hours.  Scrub with a stiff or wire brush, rinse and let thoroughly dry.

Take a small handful of rice and grind it with the tejolote (pestle) until the rice is powdery.  Discard and repeat until rice no longer turns gray and remains white.

Add garlic cloves, cumin and kosher salt and grind into a paste.  Mash it into the entire interior of the molcajete.  Rinse out with water and allow to dry.

It should now be ready for your salsa or guacamole making.  If it still seems gritty, repeat the process.

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