Last week Patricia Quintana came into town to do a series of events and book signings. The week, of course, culminated in a big dinner at Masa that benefited several of her favorite charities. I had the opportunity to have dinner with her the night before the big soiree, and to taste the food she and her staff and the Masa team were preparing for the dinner. Not only is this woman one of the most intense, knowledgeable, and skilled cooks in the world (she is after all the Julia Child of Mexico), she is a charming and engaging dinner companion as well. She and my wife and I traded stories about our son and her grandchildren. She schooled me on the regional cuisines of Mexico, the joys of working with fresh hoja santa, the pleasures of mole, and a riveting discourse on global food flavors that left me breathless. Grab her new books if you can. She was also kind enough to share her recipes for the event with me, so I am sharing one of my faves with you. Use the salsa verde piece of this master recipe with any grilled foods this summer!
Black Rice with Calamari in Salsa Verde
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 onion, halved
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt to taste
2 c. white rice, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, rinsed until water runs clear
1 to 1-1/2 T. calamari ink
3 c. hot water or chicken stock
In a saucepan, heat oil, add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden. Season with a small amount of salt. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly golden. Strain off the oil and remove the onion and garlic. Add ink and cook uncovered over high heat 4 minutes. Add hot water or stock, correct seasoning, and boil for 3 minutes. Lower heat, cover, and cook 4 minutes more, or until rice is fluffy.
3/4 c. olive oil
1-1/2 c. minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 kg calamari, clean, sliced in rings
4 Serrano chilies, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 or 1/3 c. calamari or octopus ink, or 10 envelopes ink
Salt to taste
In a skillet, heat the oil and add the minced onion and garlic. Sauté until lightly golden. Add the calamari and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until they are soft. Add the chilies, green pepper, and allspice. Continue cooking, covered, for 10 minutes more. Remove from heat and add the ink, season with a small amount of salt, as the ink is salty.
30 medium tomatillos, washed, disinfected, and cut in pieces
5 green jalapeño chilies
10 Serrano chilies, washed and cut in pieces
6 cloves garlic, peeled
60 sprigs cilantro, washed and disinfected
Juice of 10 limes
3/4 to 1-1/2 T. salt, or to taste
In a blender, purée tomatillos, chilies, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Season and add a small amount of water, enough to obtain a slightly thick consistency. Set aside.
1 red pepper, cut in slices or rounds
1 green pepper, cut in slices or rounds
1 yellow pepper, cut in slices or rounds
Place rice on a platter or on individual serving plates. Arrange calamari on top. Pour salsa verde around rice and garnish with pepper slices.
Or, mold the rice, place calamari in the center, and pour salsa verde around the outside of the molded rice. Serve immediately. Serves 8.