Just as Saint Patrick’s Day brings out the Irish in all of us, Cinco de Mayo has a similar cultural effect. Instead of pints, we consume shots. Instead of Corned Beef, it’s tacos. Just as most of the newly born “Irish” of Saint Patty’s Day have no idea what they are celebrating, most think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s 4th of July.
In Mexico, May 5th is also known as the Battle of Puebla Day. Surprisingly enough, it is a minor holiday in Mexico compared to the massive celebration in America. The reason for this is that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. That day is celebrated on September 16th. However; the 5th of May does involve a battle and victory.
In 1810, Mexico had won its independence from Spanish rule. But by 1861, when Benito Juárez was elected President of Mexico, the country was in financial ruin after years of internal strife. The newly elected President was forced to default on his country’s debt payments to European governments. Default was a signal to Europe that Mexico was weak. Europe responded with France, Britain and Spain sending navel forces to Veracruz, Mexico to demand repayment. President Juárez, an attorney, was able to negotiate with Spain and Britain. They withdrew their forces from Mexico. France remained. Late in 1861, a well-armed French Fleet stormed Veracruz and forced President Juárez along with his government to retreat.
On May 5, 1862 a vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexican army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza faced the French assault. The battle for Puebla began at daybreak. By evening, when the French finally retreated, they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash. Although not a major strategic win for Mexico, Cinco de Mayo represented a major symbolic victory that bolstered the resistance movement. France would not withdraw for another five years.
In America, Cinco de Mayo is widely acknowledged as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. This is especially true in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Having grown up in California’s central valley, Cinco de Mayo has always been a part of community identity. I cannot imagine not embracing the day with food and music.
We are fortunate in that we have a wonderful Mexican Restaurant within walking distance of our home, just at the edge of the neighborhood. Be it for lunch or dinner, we like to try a various their dishes and weekly specials. When they can’t decide, both Hubby and Kiddo have their fallback favorites. Kiddo’s is Carnitas Asada Fajitas while Hubby will go with Carne a la Tampiqueña. I didn’t have a fallback favorite until I tried their Enchilada with a Mole Sauce rather than the traditional red or green sauce. Wow! Inspired by Javi’s Mole Enchiladas and National Totally Chipotle Day, I give you our 2021 Cinco de Mayo Menu.
Cinco de Mayo 2021
Chipotle Shrimp Bites
Chipotle Chicken Mole Enchilada
Mexican Tomato-Jalapeno Rice
Smoky Chipotle Refried Beans
No-Fry Fried Ice Cream
Margaritas By the Pitcher
Chipotle Shrimp Bites
24 (26 to 30 count) Shrimp
2 tablespoons Avocado Oil
1 Lime, juice
1 teaspoon Chipotle Powder
1 teaspoon Roasted Garlic Powder
1 Pinch Cumin Seasoning
Dash Cayenne Seasoning
Heat oven to 400-degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, set aside.
Peel and deveine shrimp. Set aside.
Cut lime in half, juice into a medium bowl. Whisk in the avocado oil and spices. Add the shrimp, toss to coat. Let the flavors develop in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
Remove seasoned shrimp from the bowl with a slotted spoon. Spread in a single layer on the prepared pan. Roast chipotle shrimp in the heated oven for about 8 minutes or so, until a beautiful pink. Remove from the oven. Chill until ready to assemble bites.
1/4 Red Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Jalapeno Pepper
2 medium Avocados
Kosher Salt to taste
Peel and finely dice the onion and garlic, set aside. Stem and mince the jalapeno, retaining seeds as desired for more heat.
In a medium bowl, mash the avocados with a fork. Cut lime in half, squeeze juice over the avocado. Add red onion, garlic and jalapeno. Season with salt. Continue to mash with a a fork, combining the flavors until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
48 Tortilla Chips
On a platter, arrange tortilla chips in stacks of 2. To each tortilla stack, add a dollop of guacamole. Top each guacamole chip with a shrimp. Serve and enjoy.
Chipotle Chicken Mole Enchiladas
3 cups Chicken Stock
1 jar Mole Sauce Concentrate
1 small Yellow Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
1 tablespoon Adobo Sauce from the can
2 large boneless Chicken Breasts
12 Corn Tortillas
1 cup Cotji Cheese
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large glass casserole dish with cooking spray, set aside.
In a saucepan, warm the chicken stock. Warm stock will blend more smoothly with the sauce Place mole sauce in a blender. Add chicken stock and blend until just smooth. Set aside.
Peel and dice the onion, set aside. Peel and roughly chop the garlic, set aside.
Set Instant Pot to SAUTE for 5 minutes. Add oil and heat. When pot is ready, sauté onions for about 3 or 4 minutes, just until softened. Add garlic, continue to sauté for just under a minute. Shut Instant Pot off. Scrape out onions and garlic, add to the blender.
Clean out bottom of the Instant Pot insert, and return insert to the pot. Let pot cool.
Meanwhile, remove 2 chipotle peppers from a can. Roughly chop peppers and add to the blender. Add a tablespoon of the adobo sauce from the can, blend until smooth. Reserve 1 cup of the Mole Sauce.
Lightly coat the Instant Pot insert with cooking spray. Arrange chicken breasts in the insert. Pour remaining 2 cups of Mole Sauce over the chicken.
Lock lid in place, pressure cook on HIGH for 9 minutes. Vent immediately. Remove chicken, shred meat. Add sauce to the shredded chicken to moisten. Set aside.
Heat a flat griddle pan over medium heat. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Warm tortillas to make pliable, set aside until ready to fill.
Just slightly off-center, place some shredded chicken in a line. Fold shorter side of tortilla over the filling, then roll tightly. Place seam side down in the prepared casserole dish. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled. Pour reserved mole sauce over the enchiladas. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until enchiladas are heated through.
Remove from oven, lift enchiladas carefully from baking dish to a large platter. Spoon sauce over enchiladas. Crumble cheese over the top, serve and enjoy.
Mexican Tomato-Jalapeno Rice
2 Roma Tomatoes
1 Jalapeno Peppers
2 cups Water
1 box Farmhouse Mexican Rice
1 tablespoon Butter
Chop tomatoes, set aside. Stem peppers, dice and set aside.
Fill saucepan with water. Add seasoning package from the box of rice, whisk to blend.
Add rice, butter, tomatoes and peppers. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Fluff and serve.
Smoky Chipotle Refried Beans
1-1/2 tablespoon Bacon Drippings
1 large can Refried Beans
2 tablespoons Taco Seasoning
1 pinch Chipotle Seasoning or to taste
Mexican Cheese Blend, as desired
Heat a small amount of bacon dripping in a skillet over medium heat. Spread refried beans out in the skillet, reduce heat to low heat. Season as desired, stir to blend and cook until hot.
Transfer to a serving bowl or plate and garnish with cheese if desired. Serve and enjoy.
Mexican Fried Ice Cream
6 (8-inch) Flour Tortillas
Vegetable Oil as needed
3 (4-inch) oven-safe Ramekins
Aluminum Foil Squares as needed
Note: If you have 6 ramekins and an oven large enough to accommodate a baking sheet for all the tortillas while allowing space between for even browning, go for it. If not, work in batches.
Heat oven to 375-degrees.
Brush half of tortillas with vegetable oil on both sides. Set aside.
Invert ramekin on a work surface; center oiled tortilla on the bottom of the inverted ramekin. Gently shape the tortilla down around the sides. Place a double layer of aluminum foil over the tortilla and press to form the bowl around the ramekin.
Place tortilla right side up on a baking sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch of the edge of the tortilla above the foil. Repeat 2 more times to form 3 tortilla bowls.
Place baking sheet in the heated oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. With tongs carefully remove the ramekins from inside the tortilla shells. Return baking sheet back to the oven, bake shells until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove sheet from oven for a second time.
Carefully remove foil from around the shells; reserve the foil. Flatten foil sheets. Invert tortilla shells on the pieces of foil. Gently bring foil up around the bottom of the shells to protect the top edge.
Return tortilla shells to the oven. Bake until browned and crispy, about 8 minutes or so. Remove sheet from oven. Invert the shells once again so they are right side up. Place on foil squares and place back into oven for the final crisping. Bake for only a few minutes longer.
Remove sheet from oven; transfer tortilla shells to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining tortillas to form 6 crisp bowls.
As the tortilla bowls cool, make the Fried Ice Cream.
No Fry Fried Ice Cream
6 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
5 cup Corn Flakes
1/2 cup Butter
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
4 teaspoons Sugar
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scoop Ice cream and form into balls about 2-1/2 inches round. Place ice cream rounds on the prepared baking sheet, place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
In a food processor, pulse corn flakes to crush. Set aside.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir crushed corn flakes and cinnamon into the melted butter. Fry, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat, stir sugar into mixture.
Pour corn flake coating into a shallow dish and allow to cool. Once cooled, lace ice cream balls one at a time into the fried corn flake mixture and roll to evenly coat. Press corn flake mixture around outer surface to cover completely. Return to rimmed baking sheet, let coated ice cream freeze another 10 or 15 minutes.
Fried Ice Cream Toppings
Canned Whipped Cream as needed
Chocolate Sauce as desired
Caramel Sauce as desired
6 Maraschino Cherries
Drizzle chocolate and caramel sauces on individual plates in a decorative pattern. Squirt some whipped cream in the center of each plate. Position a tortilla bowl on the whipped cream. Place an ice cream ball in the tortilla bowl. Drizzle with more sauce, a squirt of whipped cream and place a cherry on top.
Serve immediately and enjoy.
Margaritas by the Pitcher
12 Limes, divided
1/2 cup Superfine Sugar
2 cups Top Shelf Tequila
1 cup Triple Sec
1/4 cup Margarita or Kosher Salt
Grand Marnier Floaters, optional
Juice enough limes to render 1 cup. Pour the juice into a large pitcher or beverage dispenser. Slice remaining limes for garnish and to moisten the rim of the glasses.
Slice and juice lemons to create a cup of fresh lemon juice. Dump into the pitcher with the lime juice. Add sugar, stir until dissolved.
Add Tequila and Triple Sec. Stir to blend. Float a few lime rounds in the top of the pitcher. Chill until ready to serve.
When serving, wet the rim of the margarita or cocktail glasses with a lime wedge and dip the rim of each glass in the salt. Put ice in the glasses and pour the Margarita over the ice. Float a shot of Grand Marnier at the top of the glass.