Cinco de Mayo Party Fare

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Looking for authentic recipes for your fiesta? Here’s the perfect menu: quesadillas (awesome handhelds), margaritas (of course), and chicken mole (chocolate!).

WHOLE WHEAT QUESADILLAS WITH ROASTED CHICKEN, ANCHO CHILE CACIOTTA, AND MANGO SALSA

 

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Caciotta is a cow’s milk cheese whose rind is rubbed with tomato paste to produce a rust-like color and a deep, earthy flavor. It can be found in gourmet stores and specialty cheese shops.

Makes 6 servings

1 fryer chicken (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mango Salsa
2 mangoes, diced (peeled and seeded)
1/2 papaya, diced (peeled and seeded)
1/2 canned chipotle pepper, minced
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Juice of 3 limes

12 eight-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced green onion (split lengthwise)
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 1/2 cups grated ancho chile caciotta
Vegetable oil spray, as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Season the chicken with the salt and pepper and roast to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool, remove all meat from the bones, and shred. Reduce the oven to 225 degrees F.

For the salsa, combine the mangoes, papaya, chipotle, orange juice, and lime juice in a medium bowl and toss. Set aside.

Cover the tortillas with a damp towel and warm in the oven until soft.

To assemble the quesadillas, place the shredded chicken, green onion, pine nuts, and cheese in the center of a tortilla. Top with another tortilla and place in a heated, oil-sprayed sauté pan. Lightly brown on both sides over medium heat, making certain that the cheese is melted in the middle before removing from the heat. Cut the quesadilla into quarters and serve with
mango salsa.

NAO’S MARGARITA

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The margarita is one of the most popular cocktails, and definitely the most popular tequila cocktail. This one comes from the bartenders at Nao Latin Gastro Bar, our restaurant at the CIA San Antonio.

Serves 1

2 ounces Milagro Silver Tequila (100% blue agave tequila)
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce fresh lime juice

Combine the tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice.

Shake and strain over crushed ice in a rocks glass with salt on the rim.

CHICKEN MOLE

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This popular Mexican specialty often combines spicy flavors with a small amount of chocolate in a sauce that’s dark and rich with a hint of sweetness. Look for flat cakes of Mexican chocolate, flavored with sugar, cinnamon, and finely ground almonds, in the ethnic foods section of large supermarkets or in groceries specializing in Latin American foods.

Makes 4 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
Salt, as needed
Freshly ground pepper, as needed
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
1/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ginger root, grated
1/2 teaspoon thyme, minced
1/4 teaspoon aniseed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
3 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablets Mexican chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and then sear, turning as necessary, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Add the onion to the hot pan and sauté, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the bell pepper, jalapeño, almonds, and garlic to the pan and sauté until aromatic, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chili powder, ginger, thyme, aniseed, and cinnamon and sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn the mixture. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine.

Pour in 1 cup of the broth and stir to dissolve any browned bits in the pan. Whisk in the almond butter, return the chicken to the pan along with any juices it may have released, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. Braise the chicken, turning it occasionally, until tender, about 1 hour. Add a little more broth as needed throughout the cooking time to keep the chicken evenly moistened.

Remove the chicken from the pot and cover to keep warm. Add the chocolate to the sauce, stirring until melted. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Return the chicken to the sauce and turn to coat evenly. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat to warm the chicken through, and then serve at once. Garnish with sesame seeds.