I’ve been sequestered in my Teotitlan del Valle casita for some days now (without internet connection), more out of choice than anything. Best to hide from the heat of the day under the ceiling fan with a sewing or cooking project.
So, after a trip to the Tlacolula market on Sunday where I saw an overabundance of fresh mango and papaya piled to the rooftops, I had to have some. Then, there were the tomatoes, everywhere. Did you know that tomatoes are one of Mexico’s gifts to the world?
I went home and made up this recipe for a chutney jam that is great on toast or to accompany meat, poultry fish or top on steamed veggies and rice.
- 1 large, ripe mango, peeled and cubed (1/2″ cubes)
- 1 small, ripe papaya, peeled, seeded, cubed (1/2″ cubes)
- 1 small, ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and cubed (1/2″ cubes)
- 8 plum tomatoes, peeled (score top, immerse in boiling water for 30 seconds until skin can be removed), and quartered
- 2 medium white onions, peeled, julienne cut
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled, whole
- 3 sticks cinnamon
- 2 hot red peppers (see example)
- 6 cubes of candied ginger, diced fine (can substitute candied kumquat)
- juice of six small limes to equal 1/2 c. liquid
- zest from 2 limes
- 3 cups granulated natural cane sugar
Put all fruit and spices together into a six quart saucepan. Add lime juice and zest. Stir in sugar. Stir well. Put saucepan on a heat diffuser over low heat for temperature control and so bottom of pan doesn’t burn. Sugar and juices will dissolve together into a thin syrup with fruit floating around. Bring to simmer.
Note: Remove the peppers mid-way through the cooking process if you don’t like spicy.
Continue cooking on simmer, stirring frequently, until liquid reduces by 50% and thickens to a jam consistency. You can use a thermometer or test for doneness if liquid drops in thick globules from a metal spoon raised about 12″ above the sauce pan.
We live at 6,000 feet altitude here in Oaxaca, so cooking takes time. The chutney jam was ready after about 2 hours on the burner. Patience here is a virtue!
Refrigerate to eat within the next week or two. Or, process for 10 minutes in canning jars in a water bath until the tops seal.
Tips: Last week I used cantaloupe and did not use tomatoes or pineapple. I also substituted kumquat for ginger. You could also add thin slices of oranges and lemons instead of the lime and use 1/4 c. vinegar. Muy sabroso!
I want to acknowledge two friends who gave me recipe inspiration: Natalie Klein from South Bend, Indiana, and David Levin from Oaxaca and Toronto. Natalie is a friend of 40+ years who shared her tomato ginger chutney recipe with me and I have adapted it many times, even canning and selling it.
David (and friend Carol Lynne) returned from Southeast Asia a few months ago where they took cooking classes. David has made chutney ever since. He inspired me to try my own hand at the concoction.
More years ago than I care to count, I owned and operated a gourmet cookware shop, cooking school, and cafe. It’s in my DNA.
Oaxaca to Durham–Pineapple-Lime Mezcal Cocktail Recipe: Serves Two
Is it a Mezcalini or a Mezcalita?
First you need tasty espadin joven mezcal. My limited stash in NC.
Most of the weight in my checked baggage from Oaxaca, Mexico to Durham, North Carolina, USA was attributed to three bottles of Gracias a Dios mezcal — two of Gin Mezcal and one of Cuixe (also spelled Cuishe, pronounced KWI-SHAY). I had four bottles packed and couldn’t move the luggage, so I reluctantly removed one.
(I buy my Gracias a Dios mezcal directly from Oscar Hernandez, the mezcalero, at his palenque in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca, the world capital of mezcal making.) He blends the Gin Mezcal with 32 aromatics including lavendar and juniper berries, ginger and rosemary.
The first pour!
Since I’ve gotten here, I’ve experimented with mixed drinks in addition to loving the aroma and taste of mezcal straight with no flavor additives. A little sip goes a long way! Never throw back a mezcal shot. It’s not done that way.
Start with ripe pineapple (more yellow than this one) and squeezable limes.
For the uninitiated, a Mezcalini is like a Martini in appearance only. Mezcal and pulverized fresh fruit with a bit of simple sugar syrup, are shaken together with ice and strained. Then, the bartender pours the aromatic liquid into a stemmed cocktail glass. Sometimes herbs and spices are added, like rosemary or ginger, in the shaken (not stirred) motif. Serve it straight up.
The Tipsy Glass of liquid gold — Pineapple Lime Mezcalita
But, for my version of a Mezcalini, I prefer to adapt the Margarita, substituting mezcal for the more lowly (IMHO) tequila. In restaurants, I order this as a Mezcal Margarita so no one makes a mistake. I like it over the rocks with a salted rim, garnished with worm salt.
Cut off crown, then bottom, and whack the sides off.
Let’s all now rightfully call this a MEZCALITA.
The classic will be fresh squeezed lime juice, mezcal and Cointreau (in Mexico, look for Controy).
It will look like this when you trimmed off the spines.
In Mexico City, I ordered such a drink on the rooftop terrace of the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, overlooking the Zocalo. So good, I returned again. And then, once more. It was blended with fresh pineapple and lime juice.
Section into quarters, then cut out the core.
I’ve been working on perfecting the recipe here in Durham, making it for every at-home occasion I can plan. I think I finally have it down, and I’m passing it along to you. No cheating. You can’t use tequila.
Here’s how you cut out the core. No mess.
Cut into 1″ cubes. Get your lime squeezer ready.
Pineapple-Lime Mezcalita Cocktail — Serves 2
In a blender, add together:
4 ounces of Joven mezcal distilled from the Espadin cactus
2 ounces of Cointreau
2 T. simple syrup (dissolve 2 T. sugar in 4 T. boiling water until liquid is clear)
1 C. fresh ripe pineapple, cut into 1″ cubes
2 ounces of freshly squeeze lime juice
6-8 ice cubes, or more for a slushier consistency
Add all ingredients to your blender.
Pulse your blender a few times to mix the ingredients. Then, add the ice cubes and turn speed to LIQUIFY. In seconds, your drink will be ready.
Add your ice cubes, and then …
I have two wonderful, clear, Tipsy Glasses, hand-blown by Asheville glass artist Ben Greene-Colonnese. You can order them online. Not sure where you can find mezcal where you live but definitely worth the search!
Blend on LIQUIFY, pour and enjoy.
We use this lime squeezer throughout Mexico. It’s a part of every kitchen. Mine is the cheapest and totally functional, all aluminum. I’ve had it for years. Where to buy in the USA? Amazon, of course.
At home in Teotitlan del Valle, I have a collection of many favorite brands made from wild agaves like tepeztate and tobala. Some, I bought from the distiller and they are unlabeled and not available for export.
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Food & Recipes, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture, Travel & Tourism
Tagged adult beverage, cocktail, Gracias a Dios, lime, margarita, mescal, Mexico, mezcal, mezcalini, mezcalita, Oaxaca, pineapple