I haven't posted much about Mexico or Mexican cooking lately. Okay, I haven't blogged about much of anything lately. Not for lack of interest, but for lack of time. But last night I made a really great chicken dish and felt compelled to share.
I wasn't sure what I wanted to make for dinner so I got a bunch of my cookbooks out and decided that I'd make the recipe I like best on whatever page fell open. The first few attempts didn't yield anything that turned my crank...until I reached for Zarela's Veracruzby Zarela Martinez. That cookbook fell open to page 215, Pebre de Pollo (Chicken in Sweet-Tart Sauce). The photo looked appealing, and better yet, I had almost all the ingredients on hand and it was only a quick trip to the store for tomatoes and olives. And, voila, dinner
What made this dish so good? Balance. The flavor was so well balanced. Each bite just kind of teased and delighted the palate...all the way to the very last bite.
No single flavor predominated. All of them blended together to make a sauce that was the perfect aamalgamation of it's parts. That harmony is exactly what sets Mexican sauces apart fromthe more traditional ones the world is used to. It is that harmony of many ingredients morphing into a distinct and unique taste. Each dependent on the other, but none the the star. I was a little concerned that the dish would end up being too sweet. Luckily, that fear proved unfounded. The acid from the olives, capers and probably even the tomatoes was enough to offset the sweetness of the raisins and apples.
The other thing that really appealed to me was that it so clearly showed the Spanish and Moorish influences through the incorporation of raisins, capers and olives. These are items the early Spanish explorers and settlers brought with them from Spain; a Spain that had just recently freed itself from 700 years of Moorish domination. But, no matter the origin or the influence, this is one seriously good dish.
If you own the cookbook, give the recipe a try. If you don't own the cookbook, get yourself to the nearest library or book seller and copy it you'll be glad you did.