What to do with: Feb 2021 Essentials

Ben @ Ben to Table

Read all about what to do with your Essentials for this month! Here's what's in the box:

  *  Blue Masa Flour (Masienda)
  *  Santanero Negro Delgado Bean (Rancho Gordo)
  *  Prepared Hominy (Rancho Gordo)
  *  Camargue Red Rice (Benoit)
  *  Marfax Crop Rotation Beans (Maine Grains)
  *  Mexican Hot Chocolate (Villa Real/Verve Culture)

As always, you can check out the "How to cook: Beans" post for both the santanero negros and the marfax beans, and it's basically the same idea for the hominy.

Blue Masa Flour
(Masienda)

Blue masa flour 

Masienda is at the forefront of making heirloom corn varietals from Mexico available for use in the US by chefs and home cooks alike. This nixtamalized masa flour comes from heirloom blue cónico corn, grown in the highlands of Atlacomulco in Estado de México. It’s extremely flavorful, easy to work with, and beautiful.

All you need to do is add water to create a dough you can use for tortillas, tostadas, tlayudas, huaraches, and more. The proportion is roughly 1:1, though you'll probably use very slightly less water than that, and of course elevation will affect the hydration levels.

Masienda have a bunch of demos online for making tortillas, and they're a great place to start. If you don't have a tortilla press, never fear! I don't either. Simply put a plastic bag around two cutting boards you can press together.

Similarly, a good cast-iron pan or griddle can easily substitute for the comal that's traditionally used to cook tortillas.

And here's more info on this particular masa.

Santanero Negro Delgado Bean (Rancho Gordo)

Santanro Delgado Rancho Gordo Bean

Black beans are the quintessential Oaxacan food – and this is Oaxaca’s most prized variety, brought to the US through the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc project.

These beans are renowned for their broth; you’ll want to cook them simply as pot beans, and then use and transform in any number of ways. You can of course serve them directly, or use them whole in a burrito, bean salad, or soup. You can use them in this black bean paste recipe, as a super tasty spread on tortillas. Or you could make enfrijoladas (tortillas in a black bean sauce), which also uses avocado leaves and epazote from the Taste of Oaxaca box this month.

Prepared Hominy (Rancho Gordo)

Rancho Gordo Prepared Hominy
This nixtamalized hominy is the key ingredient to pozole, the classic Mexican stew (and there’s a Oaxacan version that includes mole!). You can follow the instructions on the bag to cook it, and then here are the top uses:

1) In a classic, Mexican posole: Recipes abound, with many adherents to different versions (Steve Sando from Rancho Gordo published a whole posole cookbook, in fact!). The general idea is a heavily flavored (with different Chile powder) soup/stew — it’s usually thinner than what I imagine with the word “stew,”  but thicker than the average soup. Basic ingredients like onions, carrots, garlic, and oregano are essential. It’s excellent with long-simmered chunks of pork shoulder, or great with dark-meat chicken.  Just add the already prepared hominy toward the end, or cook it in the soup itself if you’re using a protein that can handle it (like braised pork shoulder).

2) Don’t call it “posole”: Hominy is also great in other soups and stews that just shouldn’t be called posole. For instance, it was delicious in a soup with pimentón, shrimp, and green beans, and also in a stew with tepary beans and turkey.

3) Could be a great alternative to a whole grain for “grain salad” type of recipe, with veggies and a protein of some sort.

Camargue Red Rice (Benoit)

Camargue red rice

Camargue is a famed rice-growing region in southern France; the red rice here is a fusion of the old wild red rice that used to grow in the region and the white rice brought in after WWII. (If it looks familiar, it’s because we also featured it mid-2020, to high praise!).

Flavorful and versatile, this rice cooks up in about 20 minutes.

Marfax Crop Rotation Beans (Maine Grains)

 Marfax crop rotation bean Maine Grains

We’re used to seeing Maine Grains for their grain and flour products; they’ve introduced these delicious, organic beans which come from the crop rotations used by their farmers to limit pests, diversify production, and enrich the soil! Cook these like the Rancho Gordo beans we know and love – rinse, bring to a boil, then a low simmer until done.

Here's more info on the whole crop rotation setup and ethos -- worth a read!

Mexican Hot Chocolate (Villa Real/Verve Culture)

 Verve Culture mexican chocolate

These Oaxacan chocolate tablets include almonds, pecans, and spices – tasty on their own, but perfect for making a warming, Mexican hot chocolate. Just follow the instructions on the tag (whisk together with milk over low heat) and enjoy!

 

 

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