Sunday, May 04, 2014

Cinco de Mayo

May 5th. Literally.

Most of us know it is a Mexican holiday; some wrongly assume it is Mexican Independence Day. That commemoration of the declaration of war against Spanish colonial government in Mexico is celebrated on September 16.

Cinco de Mayo is actually the observance of a triumph in a battle against France. My understanding is that when the Mexican government claimed their country was too poor to pay outstanding debts to foreign countries, the French decided that it would be an opportune time to carve out their own claim in Mexico. War was declared, and troops were sent. Against the odds, one small Mexican community managed to claim a victory over the French armies at Puebla. This win bolstered the resistance movement among the Mexican people, and after a lengthy, 6 year battle, France withdrew. 

Oddly, aside from Puebla, where the famous battle occurred, I am told that most of Mexico doesn’t actively celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It is just another day. Banks and schools are open, as it is not a federal holiday.

In the United States, we’ve never met a holiday we don’t like to celebrate. Areas with a greater Mexican-American population host festivals, parades, and parties for Cinco de Mayo which honor Mexican culture and heritage. For much of rest of the nation the holiday is synonymous with “2 for 1” taco and margarita deals. While this is a more commercial and less authentic observance of the historical significance of Cinco de Mayo, tacos and margaritas are certainly delicious. I am on board. 

Tostadas are open-faced crispy tacos, and throwing together Chicken Tostadas with Tomatillo Cream would be a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Shredded rotisserie chicken is tossed with smoked paprika for a grill-like flavor, piled over a creamy, but slightly spicy sauce, and topped with fresh salsa and cheese. If you can't find tostada shells, it only takes a minute to crisp a few corn tortillas in hot oil.
Chicken Tostadas with Tomatillo Cream at On My Plate

 (adapted from Cooking Light)

1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup tomatillo sauce or green enchilada sauce or salsa verde
1 tablespoon chopped roasted green chiles
1 cup tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon jalapeno pepper, minced
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced black olives
6 corn tostada shells

Combine sour cream, tomatillo sauce, and green chiles in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Combine tomato, onion, 1 tablespoon lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno in another bowl; toss well.
Toss chicken with remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and smoked paprika.
Spread some tomatillo cream on each tostada shell; top with chicken and salsa. 
Sprinkle cheese and black olive on top and serve with lime wedges. (Serves 4 {2 tostadas each})

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