How to Celebrate Mexican Independence Day

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Mexican Independence Day with Authentic Mexican Food Recipes

In Mexico, September 16th is celebrated as the date of Mexico's Independence from Spain. Late in the eighteenth century, the middle and upper classes in Mexico began to question the structure of their society. Influenced by the revolutions in the United States and France, they too decided they wanted freedom of speech, a representative government, and a restriction of the over bearing power of the Catholic Church. They determined that the only way to reform their society would be to gain independence from the Spanish, whom they felt had oppressed them for over 300 years. (Cinco de Mayo or May 5th, is when Mexico won a battle against the French in the city of Puebla, Mexico in 1862.)

In late hours of September 15, 1810, Padre Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest in the town of Dolores, Guanajuato, led his people in rebellion against the Spanish. He rang the church bells, calling the Indians and Mestizos (those of mixed Spanish and Indian blood) to mass. He exhorted them to rebel against the Spaniards with cries of, "¡Viva México!" "¡Viva la independencia! ("Long live Mexico! Long live our independence!"), which is the now-famous "Grito de Dolores," or cry of Dolores. Hidalgo then ordered the arrest of the town's Spaniard population. With clubs, slings, axes, knives, machetes and intense hatred, the Indians took up his challenge.

The people's army marched to Mexico City, fighting all the way. When they finally reached the capital, they hesitated, and many soldiers deserted. Before the year was over, Father Hidalgo was captured and executed. His army fought on, however, and his "Grito de Dolores" became the battle cry of the war. The bloody fighting raged on until 1821, when Mexico finally succeeded in winning its independence from Spain.

Every year, on September 15th, the Zócalo, or main square in Mexico City is decorated with flags, flowers and lights of green, white, and red. People sell confetti, whistles, horns, paper-machie helmets, and toys in the colors of green, white and red. Street vendors sell all their favorite foods. At 11:00 p.m. the crowd becomes silent, as the president of Mexico steps out on the palace balcony, and rings the historic bell that Father Hidalgo rang to call the people. Then the president gives the Grito de Dolores. He shouts "¡Viva Mexico!" and "¡Viva la independencia!" and the crowd roars the words back at him. Fiestas celebrating independence take place that night and the next day-throughout Mexico. The air is filled with confetti and streamers. The 16th is a fiesta day-full of music, bullfights, rodeos, parades, more fireworks and plenty of dancing, food and drink.

Authentic Mexican recipes to help you celebrate Mexican Independence Day:

Queso Fundido (Mexican Cheese Fondue)

This delicious fondue takes only about 20 minutes to make. It serves six and can be served on tortillas or scooped up with chips.

1 lb Mexican queso "Cacique" or "El Mexicano" or any other queso blanco (light white cheese), cut into small chunks
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 4 limes, or ¼ cup lime juice
6 to 8 drops of a Mexican Hot Sauce, or other hot pepper sauce

Slowly melt cheese in a medium saucepan over flow heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon. When almost melted, add the garlic, lime, and the hot sauce, and heat through. Serve immediately with tortillas or chips.

Tamales de Puerco (Pork)

This recipe takes about four or five hours to prepare, but it will feed a crowd! It makes about two-dozen mouth-watering tamales. Serve them with a robust red salsa and a side of frijoles. Play some rousing Mexican music in the background and celebrate Mexican Independence Day in style!

3 lb pork shoulder
2 cups water
1 clove garlic
3 bay leaves
1/4 to 1/3 cup ground Pasilla chiles
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1 tbsp flour
1 cup green olives (preferably pitted)
4 cups masa harina
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 tsp salt
24 to 30 dried corn husks (2 packages)

In a large Dutch oven, cover the pork with water. Add garlic and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for three to four hours, until meat is tender and flakes off the bone easily with a fork. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Discard the garlic and bay leaves. Remove the meat from the bone and discard the bones. Set meat aside.

Mix together chile powder, oregano, and flour with two cups of the meat stock. Add to meat. Bring to a boil and simmer gently until mixture is thick. Remove from heat. Add in olives and set aside to cool.

Beat vegetable shortening until fluffy. Blend into masa harina. Little by little, add enough meat stock to make the mixture soft and pliable, but not soupy.

Soak cornhusks in hot water until soft, about five minutes. Drain on clean cloth or paper towels. Spread a thin layer of masa on a husk. Put a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture down the center of the masa. Roll the husk carefully around the meat filling.

Wrap another husk from the opposite side and tie the ends with a string, or a skinny piece of cornhusk. Stand the tamales on their ends on a layer of cornhusks in a steamer. Steam for twenty minutes to an hour over very low heat.

Birria de Borrego (Spiced Roasted Lamb)

You will love this one! While this Mexican delight takes nearly three hours to make, it will serve six to eight people, depending on their appetites.

2 pound lamb roast, boned
6 dried ancho chiles
3 chiles negros
3
Guajillo chiles
1 cup water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp ground cinammon
1 teaspoon ground oregano
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp thyme
2 tsp cider or wine vinegar
3/4 tbsp water
Salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
tortillas
Salsa Verde

In Dutch oven, place lamb and cover with one (or a bit more) cups of water. Add garlic, pepper, cinnamon, oregano, bay leaves and vinegar. Bring to boil and let simmer for two hours, or until meat comes easily off the bone. Remove from heat. Cut into bite-sized chunks, or shred. Add salt to taste.

In medium saucepan, bring water to boil. Remove stems and most of seeds from the chiles. Put into water and boil for about two minutes, or until slightly tender. Drain and set aside. Mix chiles into lamb. Heat until warm and serve with piping hot tortillas and plenty of salsa verde.

Menudo for the Morning After!

This recipe will hold you in good stead after any long night of partying. It takes about five hours to prepare, but you can do it a day in advance, so that it's ready when it's needed! Mexicans swear by this as the most effective cure for "la cruda" (a hangover) of all time! It's delicious, whether you feel great or not-so-great! Serves six to eight.

2 lb stew beef
4 cups water
8 cloves garlic, cut in half
1 large white onion, sliced
1 tbsp salt
2 pounds tripe
5 cups canned hominy
2 pods chile Guajillo, crumbled
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, with stems removed and chopped
4 limes quartered

In large Dutch oven, place stew meat, garlic, onion and salt. Add tripe and water, cover and simmer over low heat for approximately three hours. Add hominy. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. Continue simmering for another hour. Serve in bowls with the chile, onion, cilantro and lime on the side as condiments.

Please visit our top Mexican food recipes section at Top Mexican recipes

 


Recipe and tips provided by Ann Hazard.

Join author Ann Hazard, as she leads you through four generations of historic Baja culinary adventure. She shares not only her family's favorite travel tales, but also the delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes she has collected and created. By the time you've cooked a meal or two and finished reading the book, you're guaranteed a lasting dose of Baja Magic. The book may even turn your perspective slightly to the South, lighten your heart and forever transform your outlook on life!


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