Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Chicken Tacos with Mole Sauce, Pico de Gallo and Guacamole

Do you ever find that those last-minute, spontaneous get-togethers often turn out better than the long-planned gatherings?

That's what happened a few nights ago. And in the end it turned into a pressure cooker Mexican extravaganza - with the pressure cooker participating in no less than three dishes!

A girlfriend of mine and I had determined that we would get together, but didn't know where or when. When she called in the late afternoon we determined to have dinner at my place. It was a good thing as I had been pretty lazy all day and it got me off my but.

My friend is originally from Mexico (not to be confused with my other friend from Mexico). She had a rough week and was feeling a bit blue and homesick, so I decided to make a Mexican dinner for her (with her assistance of course). I ran to the store and got some kitchen essentials including tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, jalapenos, and limes. Does that grocery list not scream Mexican????

I also got some tortillas. I've mentioned before that I live some distance from Mexico. I think the search for tortillas is one of the more telling sure signs. It's hard to find corn tortillas here. You can find wheat, flax, three cheese, and pesto. But corn tortillas are a little more challenging. I suspect that this is a sign that the wrap-sandwich folks have a corner on the market. I did manage to get a package of jalapeno corn tortillas - a sure substitute.

I prepared a guacamole dip and a pico de gallo salsa so that we could have those as appetizers with nacho chips (corn nacho chips to be specific) and set the scene. I didn't have any specific Mexican music so opted for Buena Vista Social club music to add Latino charm.

I then set out to make refried beans. A simple, yet complex dish with 3 steps.

I employed the pressure cooker first to assist with a "quick soak" of some dried pinto beans so that we would be able make refried beans. To do this you bring the beans to a boil for 2-3 minutes in a good amount of water. You then turn off the heat and let them sit in the heated water for a good hour. Of course, if you are able to plan ahead, you would just soak them overnight instead of going through this step - but that would require much more than 2 hours notice like I had tonight.

You then go onto cook beans in the pressure cooker, then finish them on the stovetop (the "refried" portion of their name I assume).

I did a quick cleanup of the pressure cooker and then prepared two large, bone-in, skin on chicken breasts in the pressure cooked. I've done this before, so I won't bore you with the details apart from the fact of the great smell. Also, for this evening's meal, I kept the reserved stock from cooking them for the mole sauce.

It was roughly at this point that my friend arrived. Although I had done quite a bit of prep work, there was still lots to do so we divided the tasks. She finished the refried beans and prepared the mole sauce. I shredded the chicken and then used the pressure cooker, again, to cook white rice.

The final step before sitting down to our feast was to prepare the tortillas. I learned something new.
In other cooking demos I've been shown the method where you sauté each tortilla in oil to soften it and make it pliable. Tonight, my friend took advantage of the natural gas flame and cooked them right on the flame - flipping often. It was fantastic, no mess and less fattening. You don’t want to get distracted though lest you burn your tortilla.

As we were in the final steps of preparation we invited another girlfriend to join. She arrived just in time to partake of the meal and get a demonstration on how to assemble the chicken tacos.


Pico de Gallo
1 large tomato diced
1/2 onion diced
1 jalapeno minced
1 small bunch cilantro chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour for flavours to absorb. If you don't have time, dig in.

2 avocados peeled and pit removed, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 small bunch cilantro chopped
1/2 jalapeno minced
Juice of 1/2 lime
Put all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade and process until desired smoothness.

Refried Beans
Step 1:
1 cup dried pinto beans
6 cups water
Bring beans to a boil in the water. Let boil 2-3 minutes. Then remove for heat and let soak at least 1 hour.

Step 2:
The absorbed pinto beans, drained
6 cups water
1/2 onion
1/2 jalapeno pepper
2 cloves garlic
Put all ingredients into a pressure cooker and secure the lid. Bring to pressure over med-high heat. Once at pressure, reduce heat (not so much that you lose pressure) and cook 6-8 minutes. Use a quick release method to reduce pressure. Discard, onion, pepper and garlic and drain beans. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Step 3:
1-2 tbsp oil
1/2 onion diced fine
1 cloves garlic minced
The cooked pinto beans, drained
Reserve bean cooking liquid
Salt and pepper to taste
In a sauté pan heat the oil and add the onion and garlic. Sauté until soft. Add the beans and mash. Add enough bean cooking liquid to make to a chunky-smooth texture. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mole Sauce
1/2 jar prepared mole sauce
45 grams unsweetened Mexican chocolate
1/2-3/4 cup chicken broth
Heat the mole sauce in a small saucepan with enough broth to make a thick liquid. When smooth, add the chocolate and stir until melted.

See the recipe and method here to prepare and shred the chicken.

White Rice
1 cup white rice
2 cups water
Put the rice and water into the pressure cooker. Secure the cover and bring to high pressure . Reduce the heat, but don't lose pressure. Cook for 7 minutes and use a quick release method to reduce pressure.

Prepare by heating in oil in frying pan or over an open flame on the cooktop. On open flame keep rotating every 20-30 seconds so they don't burn.

Sour Cream
Thin with milk to make a more fluid consistency.

To assemble the Tacos add shredded chicken, mole sauce, guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Roll up and devour.

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