It has been an absolutely crazy week. My company got bought, well part of it did, and others not. Not much actual work got accomplished despite the show going on, etc, etc. So I needed to get in the kitchen and try and calm it all down. Of course, a little Mexican feast was the perfect antidote to get me focused and my mind away from the reeling . . .
While in Mexico recently, I purchased a comal -- the metal flat cooking sheet for dry roasting -- but had not seasoned it yet so it couldn't be used. But in order to make tonight's delicacy, the comal had to come out of its shell and get to work! So I got it out, washed it, wiped it with oil and heated up until it was good and hot. Then let it cool, washed, wiped with oil again and got it all hot and smoky once more for good measure. Another cooling and washing and wiping and we were ready to rock and roll. I imagine it will get blacker over time but this is just it's virgin voyage.
This is the comal after the seasoning and then getting itself in the game with some garlic and tomatillos.
The dinner plan was chicken in pasilla sauce. It was one of the sauces I learned at cooking school and have wanted to give it a go since I got back. Luckily I had planned ahead and pasilla chiles were sitting in the kitchen waiting for their moment in the sun! Tonight I made it so.
Dona Elena would be pleased that I cooked my chicken (a whole one cut into pieces) in the pressure cooker. I'll tell you this, 10 minutes of pressure cooking time is too much!! Who knew? So the chicken was a tiny bit more done than necessary but I did also get a couple of cups of chicken stock for the freezer out of the deal, so double excellent.
I will admit that I did leave out one of the herbs from the sauce, which may explain why it was as awesome as the one we made in Tlaxcala but it was still pretty freakin' good. It started with many tomatoes, tomatillos, and cloves of garlic cooking it up on the comal (as you've already seen from the fab pix above!). Then taking the dried pasilla chiles, which are not hot but have a very deep taste, cleaning the seeds out and toasting them on the comal. I kept in mind the lesson of doing it very quickly -- they will blister in seconds, flip 'em over for a few more secs and then toss them in some boiling water with onions for five minutes or so until they're soft. Then you waz everything together in the blender. Do it for longer than you really think it needs because that'll make the sauce smoother. This is where I forgot to add the thyme but the sauce was still good.
I added small cubes of potatoes to the sauce and chicken, which needed to cook together in a pan for a while to get all flavourful. The taters were from our CSA box and were like the hardest potatoes ever. It took forever for the tiny lit squares to get soft so the already well cooked chicken got even more well cooked. Luckily in the case of this saucy dish, it's okay if the chicken fell of the bone. Served it up with some tomato rice and some fresh corn on the side.
We have also been getting a tremendous number of cucumbers in our veggie box and seeing as how J doesn't really eat cukes and they can't be cooked really, there is not a whole heck of a lot to do with them. So tonight I tried a really simple cucumber salad. First thinly slice the cuke and salt it and let sit for about half an hour to get some of the liquid out. Rinse off some of the salt and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Add an equal amount of water and vinegar (depending on how much cucumber you use, you need just to cover it all), a pinch of sugar, and a bit of dill. Mix it up, put it in the fridge to chill and eat!
It was actually nice to cook at home tonight and it did the trick and calmed me down a bit. And I think J enjoyed it after her super-terifically long run! And just for good measure, I finally bought James Taylor's Mexico (and other of his super tunes) so I've got them on my computer and I can really feel like it's summer because to me, JT's music means summer.