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Sweetness and heat together ... a Mexican secret.

Sweetness and heat together . . . a Mexican secret

The interplay of sweetness and heat isbasic to many of Mexico's most popular dishes. To add another dimension to these tastes, the tartness of lime or other fruit is often present as well.

In a summer cooking program we recentlypreviewed at the Acapulco Princess Hotel, chefs shared their recipes, including two classics using sweet-hot as a flavoring element. These recipes, for chilies rellenos and pico de gallo, are given here.

Chilies rellenos, or stuffed chilies, arefilled many ways, but a picadillo filling of browned and seasoned ground port with raisins teams the sweet and the hot deliciously. Our instructor selected stubby, dark green poblano chilies to stuff because of their generous cavities. The chili flavor, though warm, is palatable even to the timid. The dish's sweetness comes from raising in both filling and sauce, and from pineapple in the salsa.

(Poblano chilies are gaining a significantfoothold in Western markets; if you don't see them, you can probably order them through your produce market.)

Pico de gallo--literally "rooster'sbeak'--has many forms. Typically, it's a salad-like mixture or snack of jicama, cucumber, and orange, most often seasoned with chilies and lime juice--but there are many other kinds.

The cooking school's version starts withsliced jicama and cucumber, and adds pineapple, carrots, and papaya or mango. Slices are arranged on a platter and drenched with a refreshing sweet-hot mixture of orange and lime juices flavored with jalapeno chilies. Because the dressing contains no fat, calories are minimized, and the colorful salad, with its wide range of textures, qualifies as exceptional flavor value.

Chilies Rellenos

1 pound ground lean pork

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup each slivered almonds andchopped pecans

2 tablespoons minced fresh mintleaves, or 1 tablespoon dry mint

2 tablespoons minced fresh basilleaves or 2 teaspoons dry basil

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauceSalt

6 medium-size poblano chilies (about1 lb. total) or small green bell peppers (about 3 in. wide)

About 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Egg batter (recipe follows)

Minted salsa (recipe follows)

In a deep 10- to 12-inch frying pan, combinepork, onion, garlic, raisins, almonds, pecans, mint, and basil. Cook, stirring to crumble meat, on medium-high heat until meat is browned, about 20 minutes. Add tomato sauce and salt to taste. If made in advance, let cool, cover, and chill up to overnight.

Rinse chilies. Leaving stems on, slit eachchili (or pepper) lengthwise and pull out seeds and ribs. Fill chilies equally with pork mixture, packing in firmly. Roll chilies in flour; shake off excess.

Rinse and dry frying pan; add 3/4 to 1 inchoil. Place on high heat until oil is 425| on a deep-frying thermometer.

When oil is hot, hold a chili by the stemand dip into the egg batter, turning to coat well all over; as you use up the batter, you will need a spoon to ladle batter evenly over chilies. Lift chili, still holding by the stem, from batter and gently slide it into the hot oil; the pan will accommodate about 3 chilies at a time. Cook, basting chilies with hot oil, until golden brown on bottom, then turn and brown other sides.

Lift chilies from oil with a slottel spoonand drain on paper towels; keep warm. Repeat to cook remaining chilies. Serve chilies with salsa to spoon over them. Makes 6 servings.

Egg batter. Separate whites and yolks of 4large eggs. In a large bowl, whip whites until short peaks hold when beater is lifted. With the same beater, whip yolks to blend. Fold yolks into whites; use at once.

Minted salsa. In a 10- to 12-inch fryingpan, cook 1 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon salad oil over medium heat until onion is limp and golden, about 10 minutes; stir often.

Meanwhile, core, seed, and chop enoughripe tomatoes to make 2 1/2 cups. Add tomatoes to frying pan with 1/2 cup chopped fresh or canned pineapple; 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh mint leaves or 2 tablespoons dry mint; 1/3 cup raisins; 3/4 cup tomato juice; and 1 chicken bouillon cube.

Bring salsa mixture to a boil on high heat;reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bouillon cube has dissolved and mixture is reduced to 3 cups, about 10 minutes. If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to 2 days. Reheat salsa to serve. Makes about 3 cups.

Pico de Gallo Salad

1 piece ripe pineapple, 2 1/4 to 2 1/2pounds, peeled

3/4 pound jicama, peeled and rinsed

2 large carrots, peeled

1 medium-size cucumber, peeled

1 large firm-ripe papaya or mango(10 to 12 oz.)

Fresh mint sprigs, optional

Chili lime juice (recipe follows)


Cut pineapple crosswise into 1/4-inch-thickslices. Cut jicama into 1/4-inch slices. Cut carrots diagonally into 1/8-inch slices.

Cut cucumber diagonally into 3 pieces;with an apple corer or slender knife, cut out center with seeds if desired. Then cut each cucumber section diagonally into 1/4-inch slices.

Peel papaya, cut in half lengthwise, seed,and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Or slit mango peel just through to fruit, pull off peel, and cut fruit off the seed into 1/4-inch slices.

Group each element of the salad separatelyon a large platter. (If made ahead, cover and chill up to 4 hours.) Garnish platter with mint. Pour chili lime juice over salad; serve, adding salt to taste. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Chili lime juice. Stem and seed 1 smallfresh serrano or jalapeno chili. Whirl in a blender with 1/3 cup lime juice and 1/4 cup orange juice until chili is pureed.

Photo: Pudgy poblano chilies, encased in a puffyegg batter, are filled with pork, raisins, and nuts, topped with minted salsa

Photo: Low-calorie pico de gallo combinessliced papaya, cucumber, jicama, pineapple, and carrots with chili, lime juice, and mint

Photo: It's hands on in Acapulco cooking class.High-hatted chefs teach students how to make two classic sweet-hot Mexican dishes
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Date:Jul 1, 1987
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