Ingredients of Mexican and Southwestern Cooking - 6
TEQUILA: A pale, sharp-tasting liquor distilled from the agave plant, which thrives in an arid, hot climate. The stem of the agave, known also as the "century plant," is used in making both PULQUE and tequila.
TOMATILLO: These fat little vegetables are the size of robust cherry tomatoes. They grow in papery husks reminiscent of Japanese lanterns and taste best when they are a brilliant green in color. By the time they begin to turn yellow, they have lost some of their acid freshness. This happens when they are lightly cooked too, but then, although they relinquish their vibrant color, the develop a gentler flavor and become more luscious. Uncooked, chopped tomatillos are the basis for chunky green salsas. Select tomatillos with their husks still drawn tightly around them. Husk and rinse off the sticky residue before using them.
TOMATO: Roasting tomatoes gives them a faintly mysterious flavor. It works best with truly ripe red tomatoes.
TO ROAST TOMATOES: To roast and peel tomatoes, set the oven control to broil. Arrange cored tomatoes with their top surfaces about 5 inches from the heat. Broil, turning occasionally, until the skin is blistered and evenly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. The skins will be easy to remove. If the tomatoes are roasted on aluminum foil, the cleanup will be easy and you'll be able to save any juice they give off as they roast.
TORTILLA: Tortillas are round, flat unleavened breads made from ground wheat or corn. They are the basis of Mexican cookery. Tortillas are rolled, folded, used as dippers, fried crisp and munched fresh. Corn tortillas are cut into wedges and fried for chips. For the best chips, fry tortillas that are at least one day old. Flour tortillas, softer than those made from corn, are more popular in northern Mexico where corn does not flourish; wheat was brought there by the Spanish. Commercially made tortillas of both kinds are best stored in the freezer until needed.
To soften tortillas, warm them on a hot ungreased skillet or griddle for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. They can be warmed in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes. Or, wrap several in dampened microwaveable paper toweling or microwave plastic wrap and microwave on high (100% Power) for 15 to 20 seconds.
TRIPE: Usually what is meant by tripe is the line of pig and sheep stomachs. Tripe is the identifying ingredient of traditional MENUDO, a hearty soup. Tripe needs to be thoroughly rinsed often, in three or four changes of cold water, before it can be used.
VENISON: Venison is deer meat. Because it is lean, venison needs moist heat to keep it tender. See GAME.
WALNUTS: The flavor of this nut is delicious with corn. See NUTS for toasting and grinding.
WILD RICE: See RICE.
====================================================================== A BURRITO is a flour tortilla folded like and envelope around a filling.
CHILAQUILES is a casserole of fried tortilla strips bake with sauces and fillings.
A CHIMICHANGA is BURRITO that traditionally is deep-fat fried after it has been filled.
An ENCHILADA is a filled corn tortilla served with a sauce.
FAJITAS are flour tortillas filled with slices of steak and various condiments.
A FLAUTA ("flute") is a very tightly rolled ENCHILADA.
NACHOS are crisp chips of corn tortillas served with cheese and salsa or chiles, usually as an appetizer. (See Sowest 3.) A QUESADILLA is a tortilla filled principally with cheese, then folded or stacked.
And a TACO is a tortilla, crisp or soft, folded in half around a filling.