Although Halloween is not one of those days I normally get all excited about, it does serve as a more important reminder that the Day of the Dead is coming.
In Mexico, the first three days of November mark an annual opportunity to collectively pay tribute to departed loved ones. There are plenty of scary skeletons and macabre figures too, but food plays the dominant role in unfolding events. Personal mementos, gifts, and favorite foods of the dead are prominently displayed and left at special altars and graveside sites.
During Dia del los Muertos it is not uncommon to participate in celebratory meals ranging from carefully planned picnics to elaborate family feasts replete with the deceased’s favorite foods — at the cemetery.
We had our own Day of the Dead brunch today. We gathered around the table and fondly remembered our deceased family patriarch, Gene Graven, who dearly loved Mexico. In his honor, we prepared Machaca con Huevos with warm tortillas and salsa, plenty of refried beans, fresh melon, Day of the Dead bread, and Mexican whipped hot chocolate.
This was a first at preparing machaca with eggs; thanks to a very helpful Huffington Post piece by Stephen Chavez and Art Rodriquez we were all pretty impressed with the outcome.
Machacado most likely originated in northern Mexico, predominantly Sonora, where early cattlemen would dry beef into jerky, or carne seca, for longer preservation over the winter. Machaca con Huevos, one of their most famous dishes, calls for adding shredded or partially ground up carne seca to sautéed onions to reconstitute it. Chiles or other peppers, garlic, and/or tomatoes may be added to taste; it is then scrambled with beaten eggs and served with tortillas.
Machaca con Huevos
Inspired by Huffington Post’s Machaca con Huevos by Stephen Chavez and Art Rodriquez
1 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 Tbsp butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 2 oz pkgs carne seca, shredded dried beef
½ tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
2 Serrano chile peppers, seeded and minced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
8 large eggs
2 Tbsp milk
Additional: Pico de Gallo, cilantro
- In a large frying skillet over medium heat, heat a combination of 1 Tbsp oil and butter; when hot sauté the onions until translucent, about three minutes. Add the garlic, stir until aromatic, about 1 minute.
- Add the carne seca and enough remaining oil and butter to moisten; allow it to cook slowly until it begins to soften and darkens slightly, about 5 minutes. Add oregano and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the peppers, cook until they begin to soften but are still bright green, about 5 minutes.
- Beat the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper and add to the pan; gently stir and lift the eggs up from the bottom of the pan to allow uncooked eggs to flow under.
- As the eggs begin to form curds add the tomatoes; stir gently to break up large curds and eggs set but are still moist.
- Garnish with cilantro. Serve with favorite salsa or Pico de Gallo, refried beans and flour tortillas. Serves 6
For Mexican Hot Chocolate: In jar of blender place 1 tablet Mexican Chocolate*, 4 cups hot milk, and a splash of vanilla. Blend until frothy.
*Note: My 2 oz Mexican chocolate discs from La Michoacana include chocolate, sugar and cinnamon.