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Moonlight and Mariachis
Mexican Buffet (McIlhenny Company)

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that's-great-flavor? That's salsa! That's musica in your mouth!"

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Moonlight and Mariachis Mexican Buffet

Recipe Source:

Outdoor Pleasures:
Picnics, Parties, and Portable Feasts

by Elizabeth Sahatjian, 1985, Stewart, Tabori & Chang

Pico de Gallo
(Fresh Tomato and Jalapeño Sauce)
Mixiotes de Camarones en Pepian Verde
(Shrimp in Tomatillo and Pumpkin Seed Sauce)
Rajas con Crema
(Chili Strips with Mozzarella and Cream)
(Chicken with Fruit and Almonds in Tomato Chili Sauce)
Cochinita Pibil
(Pork in Orange and Annatto Marinade)
Zarela serves a very appropriate light, refreshing dessert of fresh mangos to
round out the buffet. Otherwise, we would suggest the fresh fruit of your choice,
or selections from the following excellent summer fruit dessert collections:

Cold Fruit Soups
Magnificent Melons

“Throughout the meal, pitchers of fruity red and white sangria and icy Mexican
beer provide refreshing coolers.
’People always associate Mexican food with a party,’ Zarela [Zarela Martinez,
chef and owner of Café Marimba in New York City] remarks. It is fare for cele- brating, for enjoying with close friends; hospitality is at the core of my culture.’
Mastery of the cuisine began with her mother, a well-known Mexican cook,
from whom Zarela learned the exquisite regional specialties of her country,
dishes, she explains, that are found only in the home in Mexico, not in any
restaurant kitchen.”

Pico de Gallo
(Fresh Tomato and Jalapeño Sauce)

2 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 fresh jalapeño chili, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
(white and tender green part)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Juice of 1 fresh lime
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup water

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir to blend well. Refrigerate until serving. Serve with fresh grilled meat, burritos, tostadas, poached chicken, and simply as a dipping sauce for freshly made
tortilla chips.

Note: For maximum flavor, do not prepare this sauce more than 1 hour
ahead of serving time.

 More Salsa Recipes
Fruit Salsa Recipes

Mixiotes de Camarones en Pepian Verde
(Shrimp in Tomatillo and Pumpkin Seed Sauce)

3 tablespoons sweet [unsalted] butter
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups Pepian Verde Sauce (recipe follows)
Six 10-inch squares aluminum foil or parchment paper

Prepare Pepian Verde Sauce.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees [F].
Heat butter in a large skillet. Add shrimp and sauté over medium heat,
part at a time, if necessary, for about 2 minutes, until barely pink.
Sprinkle with lemon juice and season lightly with salt. Add Pepian
Verde Sauce and toss to coat shrimp thoroughly.
Spread foil or parchment out on a flat surface and divide shrimp evenly
among the 6 squares. Fold each square over and crimp edges to form a packet. Place packets on a baking sheet in the oven and bake for 5
minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Pepian Verde Sauce
(Tomatillo and Pumpkin Seed Sauce)

1 pound fresh tomatillos or
one 10-ounce can (see note)
2 fresh jalapeño chilies, cored, or
2 canned jalapeños (not pickled), drained
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sweet [unsalted] butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup peeled pumpkin seeds
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoon lard (see note)
Freshly ground black pepper

Peel off paper-like outer skin from fresh tomatillos and rinse. Cook in a saucepan of 2 cups boiling salted water for about 10 minutes. (If using canned, the tomatillos don’t need to be boiled; drain the tomatillos,
reserving liquid.) Drain, reserving cooking water. Place tomatillos,
chilies, cilantro, garlic, onion, and 1/2 cup of the cooking water or
liquid from canned tomatillos in an electric blender and process until
smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.
Melt the butter and vegetable oil in a heavy skillet, add pumpkin seeds
and sauté over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent the seeds from
scorching, until lightly browned. (Scorched seeds will make the sauce
bitter.) Place seeds and chicken stock in electric blender, and process
until smooth.
Melt lard in a large saucepan, add tomatillo sauce and pumpkin seed
mixture and simmer, stirring, over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
Cool and use with Mixiotes de Camarones.
This sauce can also be served with cooked spare ribs or poached or
sautéed chicken breasts or whole piece.

Note:  Tomatillos are not green tomatoes. They are related to the cape
gooseberry and are distant cousins of the Chinese gooseberry, or kiwi.
Lard contributes a distinctive smoky flavor to many Mexican dishes as it
does to Chinese food. Butter or other shortening should not be substituted.
[In other words, if you do substitute another form of fat for the lard, you
will lose something in flavor.]


Rajas con Crema
(Chili Strips with Mozzarella and Cream)

6 fresh poblano chilies or long green California
chilies, roasted, peeled, and seeded, or
two 4-ounce cans whole green chilies, rinsed
2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, peeled but left whole
1 large onion, cut in half through root
end and vertically sliced
1 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups half-and-half

Pat chilies fry on paper towels and cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch wide strips.
Heat lard or oil in a large, heavy skillet, add garlic and sauté over medium
heat for several minutes, pressing garlic gently with the back of a spoon to release flavor. Remove and discard garlic. Add onion and sauté for 1 minute. Add chili strips and sauté 1 minute longer. Add cheese cubes and reduce
heat to low. Pour in half-and-half and simmer just until cheese begins to
melt; do not allow to boil or the sauce will curdle. Remove from heat immediately and serve hot with flour or corn tortillas. Makes 8 servings.

Note: This may be made in advance up to the point of adding the cheese and

Moonlight and Mariachis continued...

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