Today is Cinco de Mayo and here in Oklahoma we celebrate the day with great Mexican food. We have numerous local Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants to enjoy a good meal and the further south one travels the more authentic the Mexican food will be. The history of Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, is a day celebrating the date of the Mexican army’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Here in Oklahoma, and much of the U.S., the day is a wonderful opportunity to have a Mexican fiesta with loads of tacos and margaritas.
In preparation for today, I enjoyed ground turkey tacos Friday evening and today, Cinco de Mayo, prepared traditional tamales. Don’t get me wrong, I did not make the tamales. My husband has a client who is from Mexico and she makes tamales in large batches and sells them to those who place an order in advance. Having never been a fan of tamales from a restaurant, finding them dry, I was skeptical at first when my husband brought a batch home. However, now that I have tasted the real deal, I will order as many as I possibly can whenever she is in the mood to prepare them. She makes chicken and/or pork tamales which are wrapped in foil and can be kept in the freezer. They are absolutley delicious and our oldest son will drive home from college just to eat these tamale treats.
To jazz them up, we add chorizo to the pan, and some Hatch pepper sauce. At the end of the summer you can purchase Hatch peppers in the local grocery stores here in Oklahoma. Hatch peppers, or chiles, come from Hatch Valley, located in southern New Mexico. The Hatch chile is similar to an Anaheim chile but it has a different flavor and can bring extra heat. These peppers are usaully available as fresh produce in Oklahoma grocery stores late August or early September. We buy these by the bag (mild and hot) and bring them home to roast on the grill, then remove the skins under cool water, chop and place in a pot to simmer with chicken broth. When cooked on low, for a few hours, it will simmer into a sauce and can be placed in jars or freezer bags and frozen for use the remainder of the year.
Now back to my Cinco de Mayo tamale meal this evening. First, we removed the corn husks from the tamales, and placed them in a large cast iron skillet. Then we added the chorizo and some frozen hatch pepper sauce to the pan and let it simmer on low with a lid over the skillet to keep the moisture in.
In the meantime, my husband roasted two ears of corn on the grill while I diced a jalapeno, two avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, and full cucumber into a bowl. When the corn was roasted and lightly charred, I set it aside to cool. Once cooled, the corn was cut cut off the ear into the bowl with the other diced items. We then squeezed a half a lime over the mixture and a splash of red wine vinegar. This was served as a side salad to the home-made tamales. The corn salsa is not a Mexican salad just a side that we enjoy and chose to prepare this evening to have with these wonderful tamales.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!