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Old 04-16-2006, 12:49 AM   #1
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An Essential Mexican Technique

Roasting and Toasting

Preparation and mastery of Mexican cuisine will eventually lead the enthusiast to the art of roasting and toasting many different ingredients. Roasting and toasting are techniques used widely in truly authentic Mexican and other world cuisines.

Sitting around fires for thousands of years people have known that roasting brings out the natural Flavor (sugars and oils) within a particular food ingredient.

In traditional Mexican cuisine tomatoes (and tomatillos)* are often roasted on a comal. Traditional comals are made of clay but more recently comals are made of cast iron or steel. Sometimes roasting is done with a metal grate over an open fire or heat source such as an outdoor grill.

To roast a tomato, place the tomato (skin on) on the dry hot surface and allow it to begin charring. Turn the tomato and push it down every few minutes and after a bit you will have a charred roasted tomato with wonderful flavor. A cast iron frying pan works fairly well for this purpose.

The same technique can be used for an onion. Leaving the skin on, place the whole onion the hot dry surface and proceed as with the tomato. Don’t worry if you char the skin, just keep turning and pressing down on the onion and soon you will have an onion that has lost all its pungency, has become mellow, full of flavor and great aroma.

Garlic is roasted in the same manner, but requires considerably less time to roast.

Fresh chiles (as most of us know) are roasted best over an open fire, placed in a plastic bag or damp towel to steam so skins can be removed. A gas burner does the job best for me. Chiles such as Anaheim, Jalapeño, Serrano, New Mexico fresh varieties, and the popular Chile Poblano, and many others.

Mexican dried chiles like Chile Ancho, Chile Pasilla, Chile Guajillo along with California, New Mexico and a myriad of chiles are stemmed, seeded, deveined, and toasted on a dry comal. Then soaked in hot water or broth for 15 to 20 minutes and then blended for addition to recipes.
Cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, coriander seeds, star anise, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, and others are toasted in a dry comal
or frying pan to be ground into recipes.

For example, to prepare a really authentic and great tasting mole, the chiles, spices, nuts, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and other ingredients must be roasted or toasted. This is one of the authentic procedures that will produce a good mole.

Roasted tomato sauces and salsas are full of flavor and are actually very simple to prepare if you are comfortable moving around in the kitchen

* You can leave the husks on tomatillos and place them in a pyrex baking dish. Place them in a preheated 450 oven for about 20 to 25 minutes and they will be roasted beautifully. Allow them to cool enough to handle and remove the husks and the stem attachment point and use them as your recipe directs. I have found that this method gives the tomatillos a nice mellow flavor.

Bill Gibson
aficionado de la cocina mexicana


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Old 04-16-2006, 12:21 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Culpeper, VA
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I've always removed the husks when I've roasted my tomatillos. Sometimes they'll "collapse" somewhat during the roasting process, & it can be difficult & messy to pick out the husks.

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Old 04-24-2006, 02:32 PM   #3
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Location: Bombay, India
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interesting read! thanks cocinero!!
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