Saturday, August 22, 2009

Recipe Geek: Impossible Coconut Pie

I'm a sucker for really weird recipes. I'm also a sucker for coconut. This week, my local newspaper had an article about "pies" with self-preparing crusts. I hate making pie crust, so this was right up my alley. Basically, you make a thin batter and then the flour sinks to the bottom and forms a crust as the pie is baking. This sort of recipe was popular in the 50's and 60's, I think. I vaguely remember it as being sort of retro when I was a kid. I decided to make the coconut pie. I mixed all the ingredients in my stand mixer and poured it into a glass pie pan. You could also mix it in a blender. Then I popped it into the oven.
As it baked, it puffed up a lot and turned toasty golden brown. It smelled pretty good. It was still jiggly when I took it out of the oven. I let it cool or a while and tasted it. Bleah! It was too greasy and kind of eggy. I should've trusted my instincts and used less butter. I gave the rest of my portion to Recipe Geek Taster Cat. She liked it better than I did. I put in the fridge to chill overnight. Being cold did not improve it. I dumped it in the trash, which I NEVER do. For the next few editions of recipe geek, I'll be sure to avoid recipes in which the proportions seem off or the synthesis is unusual. Or I'll just avoid pies.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Recipe Geek: Enjococado Sauce (First Attempt)

As I mentioned in a recent post, Fiesta del Mar and their sister restaurants all serve various chicken dishes with enjococado sauce. It's a delicious creamy, mildly spicy orange sauce and they fiercely guard the recipe. Maybe my palate is not very sensitive, but I could not guess the mystery ingredient(s) other than to hazard a guess that there were ground pumpkin seeds in it.
A quick Google search turned up two kinds of recipes. Yogurt/sour creme is common to both types of recipe, since there is a type of Mexican yogurt called jocoque. One type is mainly pepper based, and the other one contains oranges and almonds. The latter recipe sounded more like what is served at the restaurant, although not exactly. Here's the recipe, and the story behind it can be found here.
Pollo en Jocoque (Chicken in Yogurt)
4 to 6 persons
1 mandarin (a mandarin is somewhere between
an orange and tangerine and more sour)
1 orange (large)
3 large garlic cloves
3 green onions
2 -3 red poblano chiles
3 tbl olive oil
1 cup cooking oil
2 cups jocoque (jocoque is a type of yogurt
that is close to "creme fraiche")
2 lb chicken pieces
1 cup sliced almonds (soak in hot water and
remove skins)
1) Wash chicken and dry well
2) Char chiles over open flame or in frying
pan and place in plastic bag for 5 minutes
to sweat.
3) Remove from bag and remove charred skin,
inside veins and seeds.
4) Heat cup of oil until very hot and fry
chicken until done and remove from pan..
5) Remove remaining oil from pan, leaving
chicken residue and add olive oil to same
6) Chop garlic. onion, almonds and chiles
and saute in olive oil until done.
7) Add chicken, orange and mandarina juice
and cook for 10 minutes, stirring gently so
as not to break up chicken.
8) Add jocoque and salt to taste (do not
add pepper)
** you can add more juice or jocoque to
taste as you play with the recipe
This afternoon I headed off to the Mexican market in search of ingredients. I shouldn't have bothered, since my local supermarket actually has a bigger selection of peppers and Mexican dairy products. I bought a couple of mandarins, two green pasillo peppers (I couldn't find red poblanos, but the green poblanos are also called pasillos), some green onions, and some yogurt and Mexican sour creme.
I followed the recipe fairly closely, but used twice as many green onions since I know that Mexican green onions are picked later so they're bigger than the ones I bought. I added some orange zest and coarsely ground up the almonds. I used mostly yogurt with a blob of sour creme. Lastly, when I fried the chicken, I used about half the oil that was called for, and put the cooked chicken on papers towels to sop up the oil.
Given my recent recipe geek experiences, I was expecting a nasty color and texture. Ground almonds + green peppers + yogurt and orange juice just did not sound promising. Much to my surprise, the sauce looked OK - pale yellow orange with green pieces of peppers. I served myself a bowl and ate it with a corn tortilla.
Results: It was very tasty. I wanted to lick out the bowl, but Recipe Geek Taster Cat (aka Rugrat) was intent on doing the same thing, so I let her. She liked it, even though there was no chicken left in it. It did have that certain je ne sais quoi of the restaurant dish, although it was not identical. The combination of oranges, garlic, almonds and yogurt is right. I think the restaurant uses more peppers, and red rather than green ones. They puree the sauce, too. They may add a bit of chicken broth too.
As a stand alone recipe, I will make it again, although I will lighten it a lot and just saute the chicken instead of using so much oil. I will probably add more peppers. The yogurt really toned them down. The almonds were tasty and I'll add them if I have them, but I think it would be tasty even without them, or with less of them. Likewise, the sour creme wasn't necessary.
I'm going to try one of the pepper based sauces to see how it compares to the restaurant version, and may try to come up with my own version based on what I learn. Nonetheless, this recipe is a good start.