OBJECTIVES

The student will master the techniques and basic ingredients of Mexican cuisine. Learn recipes that have international recognition as well as traditional and “home made” recipes that constitute the foundation of our gastronomic culture. In this way, participants get an integral knowledge of the techniques of the authentic Mexican cuisine that gives them the versatility and ability to prepare by themselves, many other recipes not included in the program.

TOPICS

Unit 1 – Basic techniques to work with chiles

Unit 2 – Other Basic techniques

Unit 3 – Cooking in action

 

1.     Basic techniques to work with chiles

1.1   Introduction to Mexican chiles

1.2   Techniques for working with fresh and dry chiles. Very specific ancestral techniques are used depending on whether the chiles are dry or fresh.

1.3    The Basic salsas in Mexico.What the students learn here is fundamental to their education as an authentic Mexican cook. As in many other countries, Mexican cuisine is based on sauces (salsas). There is a large variety of them and may change their name depending on the different ingredients or in what you will use it for. Salsas in Mexico are the basis of traditional meals; they are not dips or “pico de gallo” salsa type. These salsas are used to top poultry, fish and meat, including vegetables; that is why I strongly recommend you to take this class prior to other courses. This is a fundamental class in which you will learn the basic techniques to work with fresh and dry chiles. We are going to prepare six basic salsas and we will include more than fifteen suggestions to use them in your kitchen on a daily basis.

1.4    Adobos. Mexican adobos are sauces created from a dry chile base and are used mainly to marinate different meats. The main characteristic of these sauces is the high portion of garlic, vinegar and oregano, among other ingredients.

1.5    Pipianes. Pipianes are sauces made with “pepitas” (pumpkin seeds) as their main ingredient. Maybe, pipianes are among the oldest Mexican sauces since pumpkin seeds and chiles are two of the basic ingredients of our pre Hispanic gastronomy. Nowadays other seeds and spices are added to pipianes as well. Pipianes are grouped in two categories, the ones prepared with dry chiles, of which there is a wide variety, and the “pipián verde”, the only one that is prepared with fresh chiles and some vegetables.

1.6     Mole. The Word Mole is used to describe the most exquisite and complex sauce of the Mexican gastronomy. Most mole recipes include between 25 and 30 ingredients, which are added gradually and in certain order while cooking, many of them previously processed with different techniques. The ingredients used vary according the region in which they were originally prepared and may include dry chiles, fresh chiles, nuts, fresh and dry fruits, seeds, spices and vegetables, and very few recipes include chocolate, in contrast to the mistaken belief that mole is a chocolate sauce.. Our recipe includes around 28 ingredients, but some recipes may need up to 60!.

2.     Other Basic techniques

2.1   The capeado (batter).“Capeado” is the Mexican traditional way to cover chiles or vegetables with a batter made of whipped egg whites with the yolks added at the end; fry until golden and topped with a traditional tomato salsa.

2.2    Stuffed dry and fresh chiles. Chiles are basic to our cuisine and we have a great variety, from mild to very spicy. You will participate in the different techniques used to prepare dry or fresh chiles to be stuffed and learn about the different fillings that are typical for this purpose.

2.3    Mexican style rice and wheat pasta soups. The technique used to make rice in Mexico is very traditional and unique; there is no other cuisine that uses this technique. You will need to make 5 previous steps: rinsing, soaking for 20 minutes in warm water, drain, deep fry in vegetable oil, and drain. You will be amazed how oil is almost completely recovered. And then continue cooking with several ingredients such as tomatoes, onion, garlic puree and chicken broth to give flavor and color to the rice.

2.4    The nopales (cactus leaves). Nopales are a part of our staple food. With a high nutritional value, they are frequent companion to many delicious dishes, including red or white meat. They are, as well, used to prepare fresh and spicy salads, as appetizer or as side dishes. Simply grilled they are excellent. You will learn the techniques to cook them and how to get rid of the viscous gel.

2.5   The tamales. Tamales are made of ground corn; the recipe varies from region to region. Different grinds give different textures and thus different types of tamales. You will know how to mix the ground corn with lard to get different dough that are then placed in dry corn husks, banana leaves (or other plant leaves). There are different basic salsas and different fillings, according to the tamal type and region where they belong. Sweet tamales are popular as well and have different fillings.

2.6    Handling typical ingredients. You will learn the technique on how to cook and combine traditional Mexican ingredients such as jamaica flower or zucchini blossoms and huitlacoche (a corn mushroom) (this last available during raining season).

2.7    Corn and the Mexican “antojitos de comal”. Long before the Spaniards arrived to Mexico, Mexicans used corn, a tradition that is strong as ever and forms part of many dishes. You will learn to prepare most popular “antojitos de comal”, from cooked or fried tortilla that may be thicker or have different shapes from the round traditional tortilla. They are hard to find beyond our borders. They are topped or stuffed with a wide variety of fillings, depending on the region. What the students learn here is fundamental to their education as an authentic Mexican cook.

3.     Cooking in action

3.1   Stews. Student learns the secrets on how to prepare the different Mexican regional stews. These include a variety of meats, outcome of cooking different kind of meats and other ingredients generally with mild or spicy chile, vegetables, spices and other ingredients in broths that become rich and thick as they simmer. Among the most popular of these one-dish meals are pozole, mole de olla, beef stew and pork with beans.

3.2   Soups, creams and broths. Student will learn how to prepare several of this “every day” dishes. The variety is huge and may include vegetables, pasta, meats or fish. Many of them are prepared on a tomato basic sauce and in general are light.

3.3    Every day “guisos”. “Guisos” are the main course of a Mexican home meal, served after starters, soups or salads. They, generally, are not too complex to prepare (unlike mole) and therefore, they stand as the typical every day “home cooking”; flattering flavors, textures and more are typical of Mexican “guisos”. Learning the basics to cook these “guisos” is fundamental to a Mexican cook, since as for they nature, they keep the secrets of each family cooking tradition, have not transcended our frontiers and are hardly known abroad, thus their importance in this Diplomado.

3.4    Breakfasts and “almuerzos”. Traditionally, breakfast was light and served very early, before going out to the fields, and “almuerzos” were served around ten or eleven hours including more fulfilling dishes. Many of the recipes include eggs. Student will learn as well other typical options without eggs like enchiladas or chilaquiles.

3.5    Regional dishes. Students will learn how to prepare some different regional specialties, representative to different gastronomic regions in Mexico.