Let's talk about the merits of Mexican eats, and more specifically, the things we love about the upcoming Cinco De Mayo holiday. Avocados are basically all fat, disguised as a health food (respect, that's how we describe ourselves), liquid cheese, which generally doesn't require justification for anyone (though I really don't think they're eating this in Mexico, but I digress), and margaritas, hands down one of the best, most put-away-able cocktails of all time. This isn't like St. Patricks day when people are eating corned beef and getting weird on green beer. I'm still not even sure what corned means (I'm sorry to all of our Irish friends but you know cuisine isn't the highlight of your culture. Still love you.) No, this is something you can stand behind.
Of course, because we're American, we latch on to the part around getting sloppy on Espolon tequila. Probably like many others, I had no idea this holiday had significance, and represented a celebration to commemorate the Mexican defeating the French in 1862. In the last several months, the restaurant community in different cities across the US have shown an outpouring of support towards the vast population in this country that makes up Mexican immigrants, going so far as to close down for a day to show their position. So this year, when you're nodding for rocks and salt, take a moment to remember how lucky we are to be so eclectic, and how lucky we are to have tacos.
Yield - Serves 8
No one is too good for Velveeta.
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
6 oz. fresh chorizo, casing removed
2½ cups half-and-half
8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
8 oz. sharp cheddar, grated
2 tbsp. chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1¼ tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. chile powder
¾ tsp. chipotle chile powder
1/4 tbsp. cilantro
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until browned and crisp, 8–10 minutes; set aside.
Heat half-and-half and Velveeta in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until Velveeta is melted, 6–8 minutes. Add Monterey Jack and cheddar; cook, stirring, until mixture is smooth. Mix in chipotle chiles, salt, and both chile powders.
Transfer queso to a warm dish and top with chorizo and cilantro.
Yield - 2 cups
1 lb. tomatillos (about 10 medium), husked, rinsed
1 small onion, sliced into 1/4'-thick rounds
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 canned chipotles in adobo, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Position an oven rack 6" from broiler; preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange tomatillos, onion, and garlic cloves on prepared sheet. Broil, turning occasionally, until soft and slightly charred, 10-15 minutes. Let cool. Peel garlic; transfer to a processor. Add tomatillos, onion, and any juices from foil, along with the chipotles. Purée until mixture is as smooth as you like. Transfer salsa to a bowl. Stir in cilantro; season with salt.
Roberto Santibañez' Classic Guacamole
Yield - 2 cups
This guacamole recipe is truly top notch. There's almost nothing worst than an over mashed, unnecessarily weighed down bowl of guac. Texture is key, you should be barely touching the avocado! And we love you tomatoes, but not here please.
2 tbsp. finely chopped white onion
1 tbsp minced fresh jalapeno, including seeds, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro, optional
2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
A squeeze of lime
Mash the onion, chile, salt (the coarseness of kosher salt helps you make the paste), and half of the cilantro to a paste in a molcajete or other mortar. You can also mince and mash the ingredients together on a cutting board with a large knife or a fork, and then transfer the paste to a bowl.
Score the flesh in the avocado halves in a crosshatch pattern (not through the skin) with a knife and then scoop it with a spoon into the mortar or bowl. Toss well (it should be like salad properly dressed in vinaigrette), then add the rest of the cilantro and mash very coarsely with a pestle or a fork. Season to taste with lime juice (if you'd like) and additional chile and salt.