Every day should be a celebration of food and drink, but there are some special days in the calendar which call for a revelry of food and drink. Cinco De Mayo is one of those special days when we get an excuse to indulge in and celebrate Mexican food. Falling on the 5th of May (literally translating into Cinco de Mayo), this day is filled with food, parades, fiestas and of course a lot of tequila. Historically, this day marks the Mexican’s army’s win over the French forces in Puebla, but it is considered to be a minor holiday in Mexico. Only in Puebla the essence of this holiday can be felt where there are military parades and festive events.
However, its popularity has soared across the US and other nations when people come out in full force to celebrate Mexican heritage and culture. Most Mexican areas are filled with revelers moving to the tunes of mariachi music, feasting on Mexican staples, beating the heat with chilled Margaritas and emulating Mexican folk dances. For the rest of us, it is a day to remove our chef’s hat, don a sombrero and enter the kitchen to cook up a Mexican storm, of course with a jug of Margarita in tow. Here are 3 of my Mexican favorites:
Spicy Beef and Cheese Nachos
Spicy beef topped with melted cheese and jalepenos is the ultimate Mexican snack. They are perfect to serve at Cinco de Mayo parties. The only downside, you will not be able to stop yourself from eating these fiery bites, and pretty soon you will just give in to temptation and lose count.
Simply heat oil in a pan and cook the minced beef till it has turned brown. Add salt, red chillies, cumin powder, paprika and minced garlic and cook for 10 minutes. Once the meat is cooked, let it cool down. Layer the nachos in a baking tray, top with minced beef, chopped tomatoes, chopped jalepenos and finally with a generous dose of Monterey Jack cheese. Heat it in the oven just for a few minutes till the cheese melts. Serve immediately with salsa and sour cream or just simply have them on their own.
Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas
Enchiladas have been a staple in Mexican households since the Mayan times, when fresh fish caught from the lakes would be rolled up in corn tortillas. The essence of enchiladas is still the same but the recipes have evolved over time. Its aromatic yet subtle flavors make it a must have at any Mexican restaurant or even at home.
Lightly toast the corn tortillas in an oiled pan till they turn brown. Set aside till ready to use. Marinate slices of chicken in olive oil, chipotle powder (if unavailable use cayenne pepper and paprika) and salt for 20 minutes and then cook on a grill. Meanwhile, in a saucepan brown some chopped onions and garlic, then add salsa, red chilli flakes and chopped tomatoes. Cook till a chunky sauce is formed. Oil the base of a large casserole. Take each tortilla, fill it with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and chicken strips, roll them up and place in the casserole. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Once the casserole is filled, pour the tomato sauce all over the tortillas, completely submerging them. Cover with more shredded cheese and bake till the cheese melts. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, cilantro and iceberg lettuce.
Key Lime Margaritas
No Mexican celebration or dinner can be complete without tequila, which also is the name of the city that gave this distilled beverage from a blue agave plant its identity. In Mexico, tequila is had straight up, no lime no salt. But to keep our head in tact, Margarita would be a better option. For an authentic Margarita, it is best to use key limes as they have a more pungent and tart flavor, which goes perfectly well with a strong shot of tequila.
For a key lime margarita, all you need is 1.5 ounce tequila, dash of triple sec and juice of 1/2 a key lime. Mix it together and pour over crushed ice in a Margarita glass. Before pouring it in the glass make sure to rub the rim of the glass with lime and spin it in salt to cover the rim. A cold glass of margarita is sure to put you into the mood to some Mexican dancing on Mariachi music.
This year Cinco de Mayo falls on a Sunday; an even better excuse to celebrate it in true Mexican style. Spice up your weekend with some fiery Mexican cuisine, tequila and a whole load of Mexican fun.