Cinco de Mayo can be very tasty

Published 10:09 am Wednesday, May 2, 2012

This Saturday is the fifth of May or as you probably know it, Cinco de Mayo.

In the aftermath of the Mexican-American War from 1846-48) Mexico entered a period of national crisis during the 1850s. After years of not only fighting the Americans but also a civil war, Mexico was left devastated and bankrupt.

On July 17, 1861, President Benito Juarez issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for a brief period of two years, with a promise that after this period payments would resume.

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The English, Spanish and French refused to accept this decision and decided to invade Mexico and get their money by any means. The Spanish and English eventually withdrew, but not the French. This proved to be a fatal error. On May 5 , 1862, a Mexican army of 5,000 ill-equipped Mestizo and Zapotec Indians defeated the 8,000-man French Army, in the Batalla de Puebla.

This date of historical importance to Mexican and Chicano communities has become synonomous with the word fiesta here in the United States. So mi amigos, here are the perfect recipes for you to hold your own Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

While there are some great salsas available commercially nothing can compare to fresh salsa. This is only a basic recipe, when you finish making it, let it set about 30 minutes, taste and do your own thing with it.

Fresh Salsa

2 cups freshly chopped tomatoes

1 jalapeno chili, seeded and finely chopped

1-2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

2 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Juice of 1/2 lime

Salt to taste

Combine onions, cilantro and jalapenos. Add tomatoes and salt. Mix in oil last and then squeeze in lime juice. Do not make more than three hours ahead. And this is also excellent with fresh mango substituted for the tomatoes.

Pork tenderloin marinated and grilled with green chilies

1 bottle beer

6 fresh green chiles, roasted and peeled or 2 cans of the whole or sliced green chilies, not chopped

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 medium onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 package pork tenderloin (these usually contain 2 small ones.)

Combine all ingredients except pork. Pour over pork and refrigerate overnight. Remove pork from marinade and transfer marinade to medium saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil and boil for at least 8 minutes, then simmer until onion and red pepper are tender, stir occasionally.

Place room temperature meat on hot grill. Baste. Sear meat on both sides. Then either turn gas heat down or spread coals so that heat level goes down and cook for about 20 minutes, basting occasionally. To serve slice thinly and spoon marinade over pork.

Cilantro Rice

2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced

1 red onion

2-3 tablespoons oil

1 1/2 cup raw rice

3 cups hot chicken stock (in a pinch you can make this with water and boullion cubes)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Sauté garlic, onion, rice, salt and pepper in a 3 quart saucepan for 2 minutes–stir constantly. Stir in hot chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover for about 15 minutes. Add cilantro before serving.


Christina Hall writes a weekly column for The Democrat. She can be reached at