Sunday, November 10, 2013

Choctaw Pompano A La Mud

This is from Howard Mitcham's incredible tome of seafood cookery and jazz history Creole Gumbo and All That Jazz.  He says that he got the idea from an old Choctaw Indian fried of his by the name of Nick Ducre' and that it originated on the norther shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  This is really more of a cooking method, rather than a recipe with specific amounts.  I have made this and it is really, really good!  Any type of whole fish can be used in this.  Trout would be an excellent substitute for the pompano.  It is a very ancient cooking method that can be found in various forms all over the world.  I have experimented, for example, with a very old "recipe" from the British Isles that is very similar with just as good results.

Choctaw Pompano A La Mud

Rub a whole pompano with oil, salt and pepper, wrap it in a tight layer of dampened paper towels.  Get some firm clay that's free of sand, moisten it just enough to make it thick and malleable, and cover the fish all around with a one-inch of the mud.  Place the package on the coals of the campfire and cover with more hot coals.  Let it bake for a couple of hours or more, or until the clay is hard as a brick.  Bring it to the table and crack the clay open with a hammer.  Remove the paper towels.  

The Indians used this method for cooking all sorts of fresh-water and salt-water fishes, but just as we do, they treasured the pompano over all other fishes.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Paiute Frybread

Another "gathered" recipe, this time by the late Paula Giese (Anishabeg).  This comes from one Phyllis Jarvis who is Paiute.  Every tribe in the US and Canada have their own version of Frybread; it has even spread to tribal people in Siberia!  The Nenets, for example, make over open fires, just like the Navajo do.  There are hundreds of variations on this native staple bread; and hundreds of ways to serve it.  Some are subtle variations, other, like adding colored corn flour, are not so subtle.  This is a straight wheat flour recipe, but some corn flour, particularly blue corn flour, can be added for texture, taste and color.  This makes 8 to 10 smaller round breads or 5 big flat ones that can be made into Indian Tacos.

Blue Corn Frybread

Paiute Frybread

2 cups flour 
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
Deep hot fat for frying

1.  Sift the dry ingredients.  Then, lightly stir in the milk. Add more flour as needed to make a dough you can handle.  Knead and work the dough on a floured board, with well flour hands, until it is smooth.

2.  Pinch off fist sized limps and shape into a disk. (Actually shape this anyway you want, there are almost as many shaped for fried bread as there are recipes).  If you want large disks, the bread needs to be flat, with a depression (almost a hole) in the middle (actually some groups actually push a hole through the dough, to release "the frybread spirits, this is especially common here in the southeast).

3.  Fry in hot fat (around about 375º F), until golden and done on both sides, about 5 minutes.  Drain on absorbent paper.  Serve as is, with powdered or cinnamon sugar, the preserves or as the base for an Indian Taco.

Chaquewa (Tesuque Indian Porridge)

This is the ultimate "anytime" food for the cold months.  It is a basic recipes, which can be made into a type of unbaked quick bread, similar to the way that southerners mold, slice and fry cold cooked grits.  This is always made with blue corn, but any type of high quality cornmeal will suffice, no matter the color.  This is "gathered" recipe from Sue Dorame from Tesuque Pueblo, which appears in Lois Ellen Franks' expanded Foods Of The Southwest Indian Nations. As she notes, this is usually served with milk and/or sliced fruit, with the local peaches and strawberries being a favorite.


2 cups water
2 cups ground blue cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups milk
Sliced fresh fruit (optional)

1.  In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil.  Add in the cornmeal and the salt and stir constantly until completely mixed.  Decrease heat to low and continue to cook and stir for about 7 minutes.  The porridge will thicken as it cooks.

2. In another saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat.  Pour milk over porridge and serve warm.  Top with sliced fruit, if desired.

Variation:  Mold cooled porridge into a loaf shape and all to cool completely.  It can be slowly reheated and sliced and served as quick bread.  [My Note:  These slices can be fried.

Pueblo Lamb Shanks

Modern Photo of Taos Pueblo

Sheep are an introduced animal to the southwest, but they have become a very traditional food in both the Pueblos of New Mexico and the Navajo of both Arizona and New Mexico.  Shanks are an inexpensive cut of lamb, but can be quite tough if not prepared right.  This recipe renders them very tender, falling off the bone so, and is beautifully flavored with juniper.  It is found in various Native American cookbooks; this particular recipe comes from The Art Of American Indian Cooking by Yeffe Kimball and Jean Anderson.

Pueblo Lamb Shanks

3 to 4 lamb shanks
Fresh ground black pepper
Salt (optional)
Flour for dusting
1/4 vegetable or other frying oil
5 dried juniper berries
2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
8 large mushrooms, wiped clean
1 1/2 salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 cups of water, or 1 cup of water and 1 cup dry white wine
1 2lb. can of tomatoes with basil

1.  Season the shanks with black pepper (and salt if you like), then dust with flour.

2.  Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet or kettle, add shanks and juniper berries.  Add the shanks and slowly brown the meat on all sides.  Remove and drain on toweling.

3.  Add onions and garlic and saute until golden.

4.  Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop, set caps and and add chopped stems to the onion mixture.

5.  Return shanks to the pan, add the salt, basil and liquid, bring to a boil and cook at this temperature for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6.  Reduce heat, add the mushroom caps and tomatoes, cover and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every so often.  Serve on a bed of pot beans and/or cooked seasoned hominy.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Huevos Yucatecos

The egg dish is modern recipe of the Yucatec peoples of the Yucatan Peninsula.  Like many of their dishes, this is actually one of the most well known Native recipes from any places in the New World.  As seen as a "Mexican" egg dish, it is second only to Huevos Rancheros.  It is also famous for being "that Mexican egg dish with bananas."  This is a really easy version that can easily be made for a quick brunch.  It comes Albuquerque's Green Chile Bible.  This can be jazzed up with pot cooked black beans or pintos and some green chile rice (as pictured), it also benefited by have from fresh hot salsa relish over the top and it sometime garnished with addition of avocado.  The olive oil used, should be of the light green kind, not dark.  What makes this easy is the use of the canned chiles (and Hatch makes a good product), but by all means use fresh roasted green chiles or Wax pepper (the traditional chile used in the Yucatan) if you like.  If a green sauce is desired, used tomatillas that are either canned or have been boiled.

Huevos Rancheros

For The Sauce:

3 tbsp. onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup canned green chiles, chopped
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken broth

For The Rest Of The Dish:

2 Green or very firm bananas or yellow plantains
2 tbsp. butter
8 corn tortillas
Oil for frying
8 eggs
1 cup refried beans, warmed
1 cup cooked ham, chopped
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2/3 cup peas, cooked (can use frozen, but blanch them)

1.  For The Sauce:  saute the onion and garlic in hot oil.  Stir in the tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Fry for 5 minutes.  Add the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.

2.  Slice the bananas lengthwise, then in halves; fry them in butter until browned.

3.  fry the tortillas in hot oil.  Drain on paper towels.  Then fry the eggs according to taste.

4.  Place 2 tortillas on a plate, spread with beans, and top with 2 eggs, ham and peas.  Pour the sauce over all, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, and garnish fried bananas.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nootka Poached Salmon

The Nootka, or the Nuu-chah-nulth people, are a loosely associated "confederacy" of First Nations in the Pacific Northwest; and like all peoples of that region, have relied on the annual salmon run as a MAJOR part of their diet.  They are famous for their cooking boxes in which fish and shellfish are cooked.  This is a modern take on that ancient method of cooking and involves the use of imported domestic vegetables to replace the foraged foods that would have gone into the cooking water in pre-contact times.  By poaching this dish in an oven, in a baking environment, it replicates pretty well the cooking box method.  It is from one of the best Native North American cookbooks out there, Cooking With Spirit:  North American Indian Food and Fact by two ladies Darcy Wiiliamson, and Lisa Winter Woman Rasilback, who is Navajo-Apache [Dineh/Indeh].

Nootka Poached Salmon

5 lb. fresh salmon, cleaned with head and tail remove
2 onions, chopped
2 celery stalks
2 carrots, scraped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt
fresh water

1.  Place the fish in a large roasting pan.  Put half of the chopped onions in the cavity and the remainder around the fish.  Place celery and carrots on fish.  Add bay and salt, plus sufficient water to cover the fish.  Bake at 400º F degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350º F, covered for 30 minutes.

Cooking Box

Chilmole de Pollo or Pavo For Hanal Pixan

Today is the last day of the celebration of Dias de los Muertos amongst the Maya people.  This is a big feast, especially in the Yucatan.  Maya calendar date currently is 9 Kaban 15 Sak (Chalchihuihtotolin Chicunahui (9) Ollin on the Aztec ritual calendar).  Amongst the dishes served on these feast days and offered up to the dead is Chilmole, a very, very ancient Maya food (it is mentioned in the Popol Vuh), cooked with poultry (pictured in the lower right corner above). The word itself, curiously, is a loan word from Nahuatl ("Aztec"); this is a type of Xak.   Obviously the pre-Columbian version would have been made with Pavo (that is:  turkey), but these days it is mostly made with Pollo (chicken), which were introduced by the Spaniards in the 16th century.  It can also be made with other birds as well, and is particularly good with Pato (duck)!  It is also the perfect cooking medium for turkey parts, especially turkey breast.  The chilmole itself can be purchased to make the dish much easier, mail order is available for it.  In a pinch, jarred sofrito, recado or even mole paste can be mixed home charred and ground dried red chiles to form the base for this.  This is another recipe from Cherry Hamman's Mayan Cooking.

Chimole de Pollo

1 box or recipe Recado de Chilmole (or use suggested substitute above)
Hot freshly made or packaged tortillas

2 chicken (or 2 ducks, or 1 turkey)
10 cup water
1 box or recipe Recado de Chilmole (or substitute)
1 onion, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
3 cups fresh masa or 1 cup masa harina and 2 cups of water

1.  Brown the whole chicken on a charcoal grill, griddle or heavy skillet.  Continue cooking until the meat is deep brown and partially cooked.

2.  Place the chickens in a large stockpot filled with the water and add the Chilmole.  Throw in the onion and tomatoes and bring the mixture to a simmer.

3.  Mix the masa or masa mixture and pass it either through a sieve or ricer into the pot, stirring frequently to keep from sticking.  Cook until the chicken are done, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Make tortillas or warm packaged tortillas, while this cooks.

To Serve:

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and cut into serving size pieces.  Place a portion in a large soup bowl and drench it with several ladles of chilied broth.  Take a torn piece of tortilla, pull some the meat from the bone and dip it into the sauce.  Provide plenty of napkins.  [my note:  provide some of the raw Chilmole on the side as a kind of "hot sauce."  This is optional] Serves 8

My Note:  when this is served in restaurants, if often shows up on a bed of achioted red rice and is often garnished with pickled red onion.  It is easier to eat this way.  But be sure to still provide the tortillas, and it also a good idea to place some of the broth in a separate bowl on the side, serve with or without extra paste.

Sugar skulls in the Yucatan for Hanal Pixan