Foodie Friday: Champandongo and Black-Eyed ‘Peans’

High time we resurrected the “Foodie Friday” tradition with the Rag Blog. I was doing this in the early days of the blog, but let it slip as political events overtook us. Now we bring it back in all its earlier glory and more (pictures!). If you have a recipe you would like to appear here, please use the e-mail link in the sidebar to submit it to us for consideration.

Richard Jehn / The Rag Blog

Champandongo. Photo: Madeleine Cocina.

By Richard Jehn / The Rag Blog / December 5, 2008

1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
3 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
3 tablespoons diced candied citron
3 tablespoons chopped almonds
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Sauté the onion in olive oil until just turning transparent, then add the meats, the cumin, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Brown meat until only one or two tablespoons of liquid remain in the pan, then add the chopped tomato, citron, and chopped nuts. Simmer slowly for about 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dark, earthy mole *
1/4 pound cotija cheese, crumbled (or use queso manchega for a very different flavour)
4 tortillas
Duck or chicken stock (only if required)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Pour the cream into a ceramic baking dish, then layer first 2 tortillas, then half the meat mixture, then half the mole and last half the cheese, repeating one more time in the same order until everything has been used. Finally, pour chicken stock into the dish to moisten everything well, but only if you need more liquid. Bake, covered, for about 30 minutes, then remove cover and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes until cheese is golden brown and dish is bubbling vigorously.

Serve with Black-Eyed Peans (see below).

* Note: my recipe for a dark, earthy mole:

2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and sliced in half
1 clove elephant garlic (or equivalent), finely diced
3 or 4 shallots, diced
3 Roma tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coriander
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3/4 to 1 cup of chicken or duck stock
1/3 cup of toasted and salted pumpkin seeds (pepita’s)
1 (1 ounce) block of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
A dash or two of salt
Juice of 1 lime

In a small pot, sauté the finely diced shallots and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil, while you are rehydrating the chiles in hot water and roasting the tomatoes in a very hot oven. Add all the spices to the frying shallots, then immediately add the now much softened and roasted tomatoes. Smash the tomatoes a bit with your wooden spoon to get some liquid in the pot. Add the duck (or chicken) stock to the stuff in the pot, then add the pumpkin seeds.

By now, the anchos are nicely rehydrated and should be chopped into small bits and added to the mixture, along with the soaking water. Simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, then stir in the chopped chocolate and keep stirring until it melts. [A word about the two recommended chocolates – Baker’s is truly semi-sweet and I prefer it for this recipe, while Ibarra is a Mexican sweet, sugary chocolate, and will still give a result, but too sweet and rather undesirably different, in my opinion.]

This should be a wonderful smelling, earthy, rich, deep reddish-brown sauce. Pour it into a blender, perhaps after it has cooled for a few minutes, adding the salt and lime juice, then pulse until it turns into a pasty liquid. Strain if desired.

Laura Esquivel’s Recipe for a Dark Mole

This recipe requires a glass of lime water with sage to cool the passions. Squeeze the juice of half a lime into a tall glass of (icy) cold spring water and stir in 1/4 teaspoon of minced fresh sage leaves.

Regarding the turkey stock, Tita fed the turkeys only corn and water, until 15 days before slaughter, when she added 1 walnut on T-minus 15 only for the “target” turkey, 2 walnuts on T-minus 14, 3 walnuts on T-minus 13, and so on. It is important that the targeted turkey continue eating corn and drinking plenty of water, also.

1/4 mulato chile
3 ancho chiles, seeds and stems removed, and lightly toasted in lard
3 pasilla chiles
A handful of almonds, lightly toasted
A handful of sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Turkey stock
A hard roll
1/2 onion, chopped
2 squares of chocolate
Seeds from the chiles
5 cloves garlic

Grind the toasted sesame seeds and almonds together, then add to the turkey stock, adding salt to taste. Grind the cloves, cinnamon, anise and pepper in a mortar, adding the roll last, which has been fried in lard with the onion and garlic. Combine the spices and hard roll with the wine, mixing thoroughly. The final step is adding the chocolate and a little sugar to taste, and baking in an earthenware dish until the mixture thickens.

So there, and this was a very difficult tiny project to write up, Tita’s Turkey Mole. Tita says, “the secret is to prepare the mole with a lot of love.” You figure out what to do with the listed ingredients that are not in the instructions…

If you don’t believe me, then read the book: Like Water for Chocolate, written by Laura Esquivel, copyright 1989 (and watch the movie, as well, to see if you can find any hints). “To the table or bed, you must come when you are bid.” The recipe for Tita’s turkey mole is in Chapter 4 – April.

Black-Eyed “Peans”

It’s a little difficult to decide whether these things are beans or peas, so I compromised. I suppose you could also call them “beas,” but it might create confusion.

1/2 cup dried black-eyed peas
Fresh-ground pepper to taste

Place peas and pepper in a small pot and cover with water plus one inch. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours, until tender. Drain and place into a bowl, reserving cooking water.

1 to 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 or 4 shallots, cleaned and minced
2/3 cup minced green bell pepper
1/3 cup minced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 large button mushrooms, cleaned and diced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons crushed fresh-dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Toss in the shallots, peppers and garlic and stir well. When things are going swimmingly, add the mushrooms, tomatoes and spicing. Stir again, to incorporate. Keep simmering and stirring for 20 minutes, then add cooked peas plus a little of the cooking water, mixing it all up and cooking for 5 more minutes to heat peans thoroughly.

The Rag Blog

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4 Responses to Foodie Friday: Champandongo and Black-Eyed ‘Peans’

  1. It all sounds delicious – for those who don’t eat meat, you can still use tofu and I get it will work great!

    Nice departure from the ‘heavy stuff’ that gets posted here; brings a touch of humanity and heart to the page.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I welcome occasional recipes to expand our culinary imaginations. However, unless one's larder is remarkably well-stocked & one's time unlimited, these particular dishes seem to give new meaning to the phrase "slow food". This isn't to say I wouldn't be the first in line if you were to invite me to dinner!

  3. richard jehn says:

    Anon: I’ll be fixing Champandongo on Friday night. Are you free?

  4. Okay, Richard, how come you aren’t inviting all your readers??? Teasing of course!

    The nice thing is in the winter when the doors are closed, people can’t ‘smell you cooking’ as easily, so you don’t end up with surprise guests (or so I’ve found).

    I’m glad you’re putting up recipes now and again – as one who’s been praised for her cooking for 46 years, I love to get new ideas

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