Have you ever gone to the gym after a long, long absence and find totally knackered but really happy for being good? well, that's how I feel today. It is the day after the IFBA Mexican Supper Club Evening, I am tired, but really happy and for the first time in quite a while, I found myself itching to get my hands on the keyboard and blog about what happened yesterday. I had a fantastic time with fellow minded bloggers and some lovely foodies and it felt really good to be able to talk about Mexican Food and defused some of its myths and urban legends, such as 'Mexican food is all brown', or 'Mexican Food is mostly fried', or my favourite one 'you must deseed all chilies before using them' (what do people think is going to happen if you don't deseed a chili? will it explode and kill you or something?!). For the record lads, deseeding a chili is not only sacrilegious, but a lot of work. The flavour is in the seeds and the white membrane that holds them, so if you take those out, you're just eating a piece of weed! Please, please do not deseed them, if you're worried about the heat, use half of it only, (feels good to get that one off my chest!).
Back to the Mexican Supper Club Evening. We started with frozen strawberry margaritas, which were sampled by everyone. I was delighted to meet and catch up with fellow bloggers Joanna, from Smörgåsblog, Caroline from Bibliocook, Kristin from Edible Ireland, Margaret from A Year in Redwood and David from Irish Whiskey Notes and to meet all other guests. The margaritas were a huge hit and they help us set the right atmosphere. Weather was awful, but we were warm and dried. The menu had three mains, Barbacoa (beef marinated in Tequila and onion and slow cooked overnight), Rajas con Queso y Elote (a vegetarian dish of peppers with cheese and corn) and the favourite dish of the evening: Cochinita Pibil, which is a traditional South Mexican pork dish.
I made the barbacoa in advance, but cooked the rest of the mains before the guests. We also made Mexican Flan and of course, the participants had a master class on Corn Tortilla Making. We made a few tortillas and eat to our hearts content afterwards. Participants were able to go home with some Maize flour, some Achiote paste (to make Cochinita Pibil) and the lucky ones got presses. All in all, I had a ball on the day and I want to thank everybody who came. You made the afternoon special! Keep an eye on the blog as I will be posting all the recipes in the next few days. By popular demand, I am re-blogging the recipe of Cochinita Pibil (this time with some photos, mostly courtesy of Caroline form Bibliocook). This is my mam's recipe, so it is my pride and joy. Enjoy!
Pour the water in the pressure cooker and arrange the meat chopped in 3 or 4 big chunks around the bottom of the cooker.
Place the full head of garlic, unpeeled, in the middle of the meat. Followed by spreading the tomato and onion quarters over the meat making sure you wedge a few of these pieces in between the meat.
Put the vinegar, orange juice, achiote paste and salt in the blender of food processor and blend this until it becomes a ruby red runny sauce. This achiote sauce is quite powerful and it will stain anything it touches, so wear an apron!
Pour the achiote sauce over the ingredients in the pressure cooker, put its lid on and set the pressure gauge at low to middle level, which means plenty of steam will escape through the valve. Once sealed, turn the heat on to high. When your pressure cooker starts 'whistling', lower the heat to medium/low and let the meat cook for 50 minutes. Switch the heat off and let it rest for a few minutes until it is safe to open the lid of the pressure cooker. Check that the meat is fully cooked. It should be so tender, it shreds by just running a fork or spoon through it. At this point, the garlic and vegetables should have all been dissolved into the sauce, but double check for the garlic just in case. If you find it, squeeze it out with a spoon and take any leftovers of skin you might find. If you feel the meat is not tender enough, cover the top and cook it for further 10 minutes (after it starts whistling) to finish it off.
Once you are happy with the meat, use two forks to shred it in its own juices and let the meat rest and soak up all the lovely flavours. This is a very juicy dish, but it is the ruby red juices that make it spectacularly good.
I always try and make this dish a day or two in advance as the longer the meat rests in the juices the tastier it gets. It is perfect for freezing and it tastes much better after a few days. It is tradition to serve it with red onion pickled and in warm corn tortillas. We had a great time at the super club, here's a shot of the table!