We’re not trying to rain on your nachos, but we thought you might like a recipe for the real Cinco de Mayo…
The 5th Of May commemorates victory of the small, poor, Mexican militia over the bigger and well armed French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862.
It is not, as many people mistakenly believe, Mexico’s Independence Day, which is in September.
The victory stopped the invasion of Mexico, and was important for Mexican patriots, as it helped develop a much needed feeling of national unity – a great reason for annual celebration…
For the most part, Cinco de Mayo is more of a regional holiday in Mexico, celebrated to varying degrees throughout the country’s different regions, but there is no question it is honored most in the state of Puebla.
Celebrating it has become increasingly popular along the U.S.-Mexico border and other parts of the U.S. that have a high population of Mexican-Americans.
In these areas the holiday is more a celebration of culture.
WHO DOESN’T LOVE A FIESTA?
Businesses in the U.S. and Mexico also promote the holiday, with products and services focused on Mexican food, beverages, festivities, and music. Cities throughout the U.S. have parades and concerts the week of May 5th, so that Cinco de Mayo has become in many ways, a bigger holiday North of the border than it is to the South, and seems to be getting bigger every year.
The only problem with that is a lot of things will be thrown at you in the name of selling stuff that has nothing to do with the real thing; think green beer on St Patrick’s Day. You won’t find it in Ireland. Puebla, like Yucatán, has a rich and varied cuisine.
So here are some suggestions of what to really enjoy on Cinco de Mayo…
Besides the beautifully complex Mole (from Epicurious) and Chiles, why not try this recipe for the real Cinco de Mayo? These are simple, homemade Chalupas. Today they’re a hugely popular street food in Puebla, and often an antojito, appetizer. They are said to be named for the laundry baskets women used to carry to the Almoloya river. At the end of the day they’d hurry home to quickly fry up corn tortillas in lard, and top them with any leftover salsa, shredded pork, and onion to make a new meal.
Chalupas are still a great way to use any leftover roasted red meat, chicken, or turkey on hand, but can also be served vegetarian. Of course many people prefer to cook without lard, but know Chalupas do not taste the same without it. Corn oil may be used, but don’t expect the authentic, dense flavor/texture you’d get in Mexico.
1/2 cup lard OR corn oil
24 3″ diameter tortillas
3/4 – 1 cup salsa verde, homemade OR jar, (like Herdez)
3/4 – 1 cup salsa roja, homemade OR jar
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded beef, pork or chicken (may omit for vegetarians)
1 1/2 cups queso fresco OR mild feta cheese
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
In a deep frying pan, heat the oil or lard until a few drops of water into the pan sizzle.
Place tortillas – as many that fit – in the pan and soft-fry them, just a few seconds each side. They should remain pliable – not crispy. Drain them on paper towels as removed from pan.
Spoon salsa verde, roughly 1 tablespoon per chalupa, over half of them, and salsa roja over the other half. Top each with a bit of shredded meat, crumbled cheese and onion.
See that? Red Salsa, Green Salsa, White Cheese… the colors of the Mexican flag.
Vive Mexico! Provecho!
Serve immediately. Makes 24 (6 appetizer or snack servings.)
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