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Oaxaca Culinary Tour

By Jane Butel  May 11, 2021

Oaxaca is a very special culinary and art center and so much fun to tour.  I have loved it since I was a child visiting my Aunt and Uncle who lived there for a few years.  I truly enjoy sharing  the charms of the area.

In our forthcoming tour where we still have a few openings, we will have three full participation cooking classes.  Each is quite different.  The first will be a City market tour where we select the ingredients for a special seasonal class.  The second class will be in a charming  colonial setting in a lovely tiled huge classroom where we will learn some of the essential moles of Oaxaca.  And, the third class is in Teotitlan,  often called the corn village or the weaving center.  We will have a full participation class on cooking with corn many different ways.  Also, we will learn how they card, spin and dye the wool for their beautiful weavings. All of the dyes are natural.  For example, the red dye comes from a small beetle that lives on the cacti, the brown dye comes from walnut shells and so on.

Additionally, we will visit the ancient, well restored ruins of Monte Alban which is considered one of the ten wonders of the ancient world.    We will learn how advanced the ancient Zapotecs were with astronomy, medicine,  water aqua ducts and much more.

Other villages we will visit specialize in various crafts.  One is world wide known for their very colorful and playful figures hand carved out of a special wood.  Others are known for pottery and other art forms.

We will also be treated to special dinners.  Our final dinner is a many course dinner where the Celebrity Chef demonstrates how he creates his specialties using local ingredients that are deliciously and artfully presented with the appropriate wines.  

I hope you can join us!  For the next two days, I am giving  you a special additional 5% off. for the tour.

The next local class is our Classic Paella dinner featuring  Paella Valenciana. 

Following are  two popular Oaxacan dishes--both considered moles.

OAXACAN STYLE MOLE

This recipe is by Nora Gutierrez of the La Casa de Mis Recuerdos, which she demonstrated during our Culinary Tour to Oaxaca, Mexico, March, 2003. Estofado is one of the famous moles from Oaxaca. It is a home-style mole served with Mexican rice, hot corn tortillas, and jalapenos escabeche (pickled).

For the Chicken:

One 4 pound chicken, cut for frying into 10 pieces (no innards)*

2 quarts chicken stock or water to cover with onion, carrot, garlic and salt added

Splash jalapeno pickle juice

  1. Place chicken pieces in stock pot, add bouillon or water with the carrot, onion, etc. Liquid should cover the chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes.

For the Sauce:

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 pound tomatillos

4 to 6 tomatoes, to equal 1 pound

1 medium onion

4 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup white sesame seeds

1 cup graham or zwieback cracker crumbs

1/2 very ripe plantain (banana family)

2 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

2 one-inch pieces canella (cinnamon)

12 large capers

3 green olives per person

1/4 cup parsley

4 peppercorns

Salt to taste

1. Boil the almonds in 1½ cups water and boil the tomatillos in 1½ cups water.

  1. Parch the unpeeled tomatoes and onion on a comal or griddle until browned all over. Toward end of browning, add garlic. When done and slightly cooled, peel each and coarsely chop.
  1. Add the oil to a large skillet, then add the raisins and sauté until they puff up. Place in a bowl. Add the sesame seeds and cook them until they brown lightly. Add a teaspoon of salt as they are browning. When they are toasted, add the plantain sliced into ½ inch slices. Continue to cook until lightly browned. Then add the crackers and toast.
  1. Place a portion of each ingredient (reserving the spices, chocolate and olives) in the blender jar. Make sure to have some of the more moist items, such as the tomato, with each batch and blend all the ingredients together, creating a smooth paste.
  1. When all is blended, strain through a fine sieve and place in a large pot. Add 2 ½ cups chicken stock a little at a time until a sauce the consistency of thick soup is developed. Add the seasoning and olives, tasting to adjust seasonings.
  1. Add the chocolate, broken into pieces, and whole parsley sprigs and cook to melt chocolate. Taste and determine if more chocolate is desired. Add chicken and cook together for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce has flavored the chicken. Serve with fluffy rice.

*Option: Cook chicken whole, then peel and debone, leaving large pieces. Then add to the sauce as above.

LEGUMBRES EN PIPIAN, OAXACA STYLE
(Vegetables in Oaxacan Pumpkin Seed Sauce)


Steamed vegetables, usually green ones are frequently served with Green Pipian Sauce, a delightfully spiced sauce thickened with ground, green pumpkin seeds. Sometimes the vegetables are cooked with epazote or avocado leaf to lend a slightly anise flavor or a small amount of ground anise can be used if desired when steaming the vegetables.

Yield: 6 servings

1 teaspoon salt
1 pound small green zucchini, thinly sliced or nopales, cut in thin strips
12 small red potatoes, halved and cooked until tender
2 cups fresh spinach or Swiss chard
Pipian sauce, recipe follows
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted until lightly brown
Few sprigs fresh cilantro, optional

1. In a vegetable steamer or in a small amount of salted boiling water, add the zucchini or nopales and potatoes and cook until tender, about 6 to 10 minutes. Add spinach and steam another two minutes.

2. Then toss each vegetable in about a Tablespoon of pipian sauce, or enough to cover, and compose the vegetable dish by arranging each vegetable in a section or circle on the platter in an artistic arrangement and center with a bowl of pipian sauce. Serve with toasted sesame seed and cilantro garnish.

Pipian Sauce
Yield: 4 1/2 cups (approximately)

1 teaspoon ground or 2 dried chipotle chiles
Water to cover
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 cup green pumpkin seeds or pipian
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup sliced scallions, including the greens
1/2 cup cooked or canned tomatillos, drained and chopped, or salsa
2 cups chicken broth

1. For preparing the chipotles, if a microwave oven is available; combine chipotles, vinegar and water in a quart glass measuring cup. Cover and simmer on HIGH power 5 minutes. Or, combine the chipotle chiles, vinegar and water in a small saucepan and simmer 30 minutes, or until flesh and skin are soft. Set aside.

2. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a hot skillet until they start to brown, taking care not to let them burn.

3. Combine the chile, toasted seeds, cilantro, scallions, and tomatillos in a blender along with 2 cups of chicken broth and puree until smooth. Keeps well in the refrigerator for two weeks or three months frozen in a sealed container.

See the entire archive of Southwest Recipes and more suggestions for cooking with chiles.

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