Thursday, April 30, 2009

El Sabor de Chiapas

Time for a break from swine flu news. I decided to spend the afternoon listening to podcasts on my iPod (U2 Special Edition iPod, that is - thanks EJ!) and doing my primary activity of spring 2009: cooking. Today’s menu: Oaxacan Black Bean Soup.

The recipe comes from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen, a cookbook Chris bought me for my birthday last summer, just before we crossed the border. Rick Bayless owns our absolute favorite Chicago restaurant, Frontera Grill (if you’re in the Chicago area, you should go there!), and he’s been our constant companion as we’ve explored Mexican cuisine this year.

Rick calls today’s recipe “Oaxacan” in part because he is in love with Oaxaca and in part because black beans are particular to southern Mexico. Up here in Mexico’s central and northern regions, white beans are more popular – and are best when they’re cooked up with jalepeños and bacon to make frijoles charros, which I did last week with incredible results. But normally we like black beans better, so I’d been wanting to make this soup for a while.

I began with a bag of dried black beans (frijoles negros). I dumped 2 cups of these into a pot, then threw in some diced white onion (cebolla) and about 4 chopped up canned chipotles for good measure. I then covered the whole thing with water and let it simmer.

It’s been simmering for about two hours now, all during the time I listened to the World Soccer Daily podcast talk about today’s match between Chelsea and Barcelona and all during the time I listened to Ross Reynolds on Seattle’s KUOW talk about cuts in public health funding in the state of Washington (yep, Seattle NPR – the Seattle prep has begun!). Before I moved on to my baseball podcast to see if my Cubbies won, I checked the simmering pot.

Whoa.

Forget Oaxaca. The whiff I got when I removed the lid of the simmering pot of black beans was all Chiapas, Mexico’s other southernmost state. You know that climatic scene in Ratatouille when the critic tastes Remy’s food for the first time and is suddenly transported back time-machine-style to a memory from his childhood? It was like that, except that I was WHOOSH transported back to a little courtyard restaurant in the misty mountain town of San Cristobal de las Casas. Funny thing is, I don’t even think I had black bean soup there… but I’ll take a Chiapas memory any way I can get it, thank you very much.

Finishing the recipe, it looks like, will just require pureeing everything in batches in a blender, and then serving it with some fried-up tortilla strips.

Now if only Subcomandante Marcos was here to enjoy it with us…

1 comment:

From Michigan with Love said...

I hoped you used your garlic press...or at least your lemon squezzer!!!