Cinco de Mayo celebrates the batalla de Puebla when the native Mexicans defeated Napoleon’s army on May 5, 1862. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday than to prepare and feast on traditional Mexican fare.
My friend, Maria Concannon, owner of Don Juan’s Restaurant in Chicago, tells me there is a wonderful parade in Mexico where the armed forces of the city of Puebla don their guns and march though town. Afterward there is a lively celebration and no small amount of tequila served. Maria says that one of the most popular “cocktails” that the revelers order the next day is a ceviche dish. The name translates literally to “come back to life” meaning that it is the perfect food for soothing a hangover. Maria uses tilapia fish fillets in the ceviche she serves at Don Juan’s and her recipe is truly delicious.
I will serve the ceviche as a first course to one of my family’s favorite Mexican dishes, Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas. I serve them with a side of refried black beans spiked with a good jarred salsa, such as the Frontera brand.
Don Juan’s Ceviche
- 1 pound skinless boneless tilapia fish fillets, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
- 1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (from 4 to 6 large limes)
- 1 cup seeded and finely chopped ripe tomatoes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons Mexican hot sauce
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
- Lime slices
- Tortilla chips
Place the fish in one layer in a shallow glass dish or pie plate. Pour lime juice over fish to cover completely. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour for soft-textured fish or up to 4 hours if you prefer your fish firmer. (The lime juice will “cook” the fish.) Do not let the fish marinate more than 4 hours.
Combine the tomatoes, oil, onion, cilantro and salt and mix well and set aside. Drain fish, reserving lime juice. Combine ketchup, hot sauce and 2 tablespoons of the reserved lime juice. Taste and add additional lime juice if desired. Spoon this mixture into the bottom of 6 wine goblets or large martini glasses. Spoon half of the tomato mixture over the ketchup mixture and top with the drained fish. Combine remaining tomato mixture with avocado and spoon over the fish. Garnish with lime slices and serve with tortilla chips.
Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas
- 2 cans (10 oz. each) enchilada sauce
- 3/4 cup salsa
- 3 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 cups shredded Cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese, divided
- 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- Olive oil cooking spray
- Optional toppings: chopped cilantro, diced ripe avocado, sour cream
Heat oven to 350oF.
Combine enchilada sauce and salsa. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in bottom of a 13” x 9” baking dish. Mix chicken, cumin and 1/2 cup of the sauce. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese.
Place tortillas in a single layer on two baking sheets. Coat each side lightly with olive oil cooking spray. Bake 4 minutes or until tortillas are soft. Working one at a time, turn warm tortilla over onto a work surface. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture down center of the tortilla, roll up and place seam side down in dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Spoon remaining sauce evenly over enchiladas and top with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with toppings as desired. Serve with Mexican hot sauce on the side.
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