We usually think of beer as the beverage of choice with Mexican food. It certainly works but as Mexico produces more and more outstanding wines they and they and we have found that wine is also a good accompaniment. Ground zero for excellent wine production in Mexico is in the Northern part of Baja (Valle de Guadalupe) in which you’ll find many outstanding whites and reds. This edition of recipes draws on the exceptional and varied cuisines of Mexico. For wine to work with Mexican flavors it must have both good acidity and lush fruit. ¡Buen provecho.
SOPA DE LIMA
(Mexican Chicken Soup with Lime)
Serves 8 or more
Typical of flavors found in the Yucatan. And yes . . . you can have wine with soup. Something with matching acidity like a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or unoaked Chardonnay.
Coconut or olive oil for frying
One 8-ounce package yellow or white corn tortillas, sliced into strips 1/4 inch by 2 inches
1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds)
2 medium white onions, peeled, halved and sliced lengthwise
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium fresh poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano, preferably Mexican
1 teaspoon fennel seed
2 teaspoons pure chile powder such as ancho or 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
3 cups or so quartered tomatillos
2 cups cooked long-grain white rice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
5 large limes, 4 juiced and one cut into wedges for garnish
Accompaniments: Sliced jalapeños, cilantro sprigs, avocado slices, crumbled cotija cheese and reserved tortilla strips
Line a plate with a paper towels. Add an inch of oil to a deep sauce pan and over moderately high heat, fry the tortilla strips until crisp and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the tortilla strips to the towel-lined plate and let them cool.
Nestle the chicken in a large stock pot and pour enough water into the pot to cover the chicken by 2 inches. Bring the water to a gentle boil over medium-high heat and then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and very gently simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the meat shreds easily with a fork, about 1-1/2 hours.
Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a plate to rest until it’s cool enough to handle. Remove and discard the skin. Pull the meat from the bone, discarding bones, shred or tear it and set aside.
Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding solids and set aside. Wipe out the pot, add 2 tablespoons of oil and over moderate heat, sauté the onions, garlic, poblano, cumin, oregano, fennel seed and chile until vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes. Add 6 cups or so of the stock, tomatillos, reserved chicken and simmer for 10 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, more chile powder and lime juice (at least 3 tablespoons) to your taste..
Add a scoop of rice to warm bowls and ladle soup over. Pass accompaniments separately and allow each guest to add to his or her bowl as desired.
Ladle the soup into bowls, being certain to scoop some rice from the bottom of the pot, and serve with the lime, sliced jalapeño, crumbled Cotija cheese, sliced avocado, and tortilla strips on the side for each person to add to his or her bowl as desired.