Thursday, August 26, 2010

Don Cuevas' Deli Ranch

It must be the weather or creeping old age, or both. I've had a craving for the deli foods of my childhood, like kosher dill pickles, smoked brisket and knishes. Challah, with poppyseeds.
Not to mention Black Radish Salad. Normally, these things are unobtainable here, unless you make them yourself.

I love pickles, especially if I can make them at home. Recently I was delighted to find some nice cucumbers in the Pátzcuaro mercado that were more suited for pickling than the usual overly mature, watery, seedy stuff found there.

I bought nearly three kilos and went to work. I think I've covered this before, so I won't reprise the technique. (Gee, I just did this a month a ago. I gotta check these things before starting to blog. But, since I'm this far, what the heck.)

2 gallons of kosher style dill pickles maturing
These cucumbers are unwaxed, so no wax removal was necessary, but of course, they were first scrubbed in clean running water. Because of the absent wax, the fermentation proceeded more quickly, and I was able to pull out the first half-sour cukes after only 3 full days in the brine.

Now, for something different and more Mexican.
A quicker, but slightly more elaborate process was involved in making Escabeche de Verduras a sort of "Giardiniera Mexicana". One could eat it straight, but it's used more as a relish to accompany meats or dress up sandwiches.

There are recipes, but I don't use them. But I had to keep adding vinegar and water and salt and sugar to make up enough pickling brine.

Some recipes I used in the past had way too many different kinds of vegs in it. It's hard to maintain the fresh, crisp-tender aspect. Some have mushrooms, which I don't like in this. Some have green beans. I used only cauliflower, carrots, onions, garlic and Jalapeño chiles. The pickling brine is approx 2:1 white vinegar to water, and a little sugar (optional; white or piloncillo—brown), with sea salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, allspice berries and cloves (both optional.)

The brine is heated to the boilng point, simmered a few minutes, then
the peeled and diagonally sliced carrots are dropped in, then the sectioned cauliflowers, then some small white onions (cebollitas).

I wanted to keep the chiles whole, but there were only 5 fat jalapeños, so I cut them lengthwise and depithed and seeded them. About 15 chiles would be more typical. It's important to at least slit the chiles before searing/sauteeing them.

Rather them prefry everything in oil, as some recipes would have you do, I only seared the chile strips in a little olive oil. Then they are added to the rest as it comes off the fire.

Feeble attempts were made to sterilize a few appropriate jars, and after mild frustration, I fit everything in two jars of different capacity. That's a half gallon on the left and about a quart on the right.

Escabeche de Verduras

This is pretty mild. Usually, the chiles are more numerous and dominate the whole.

It can also be made instead with dried chiles chipotles mecos, and whole small heads of garlic are added. That is some serious stuff. It looks serious, too, but good, although we never can seem to get anyone to eat them.

Chile Chipotle Meco
I had rendered a kilo of chicken fat recently, producing more than enough schmaltz and grebenes to make knishes and black radish salad. I decided to make Potato-Sauerkraut Knishes, and I have two of three dozen now baking.  An older knish blog is here. The surplus will go into our new chest freezer, to have on hand for parties and whims. The black radish salad is very easy to make. That also has been covered before, here.

What could make this lineup more complete? A pastrami! Lacking pastrami, how about a smoked brisket made with a pastrami-type dry rub? I'll cover that in my next post.

But, wait! Don't forget the rye bread, preferably seeded with caraway. I'm refreshing my sour rye starter now, and should be baking sour rye bread tomorrow.

Until then,
 Buen provecho, Don Cuevas


David Haun said...

Excellent! Who would have guessed a pickle ranch? Gracias!

Larry Wood said...

Wish I were there.

GlorV1 said...

Wow! You make your own pickles? I have never tried that. Interesting post I must say. My dad used to jar a lot. I did too for some time but now I freeze a lot and dehydrate as well. I like dehydrating the habaneros. Awesome. I cut them in half and put them on the trays and let the dehydrator roll. I leave them for a good 24 hours drying. Have to make sure they don't grow mold. I then jar them. They are crisp. When I use them I can take some out of the jar and just flake them into what I'm cooking. I also freeze them whole and they stay good for a couple of years. I've times them.:D Thanks for inspiring me to think of what I'm going to do next with all the veggies. Take care. Great post.

Don Cuevas said...

Pickles are just preludes to greater things. I hope to be describing the Texas BBQ Brisket Cookout in my next post.

Larry; I have some in the freezer for when you return.

Gloria, I'm looking at Bread 'n Butter Pickles next. They are preserved by cooking in a syrup, then canning but no fermentation is needed.

Sauerkraut is supposed to be easy, but I've never made it. We have more space for it now that there's some shelves in the garage.

Don Cuevas

Cooking in Mexico said...

We've resorted to making our own dill pickles, as its the only way we can get decent pickles in Mexico. The hard part is finding fresh dill, but it is possible sometimes at the big Mega.


Don Cuevas said...

Dill does well here at higher elevations.
We have had forests of it this year.
I was reading about freezing fresh dill on the stalk.

Don Cuevas