“Sólo Veracruz es Bello” (Only Veracruz is beautiful), says a popular slogan ... And it is, indeed! The first time we took our son to Veracruz he was just 3 years old. He asked why everything has that particular color while we were on the road. I asked him “what color”? And he said: “the same color as Oscar from Sesame Street. Green!” (Those who have children will understand). And he was right, everything is green from start to finish, from north to south the state of Veracruz is green and beautiful! I have been blessed with the opportunity to visit many states in my home country, but Veracruz has a mixture of virtues that make it different. It has magnificent natural landscapes: forests, plains, jungles, mountains ... Even a mountain-volcano, the mighty Citlaltépetl (also known as “Pico de Orizaba”) crowned with its permanent white snow. Nature definitely has been very generous with Veracruz. It is unknown to most of us that Hollywood often chose locations in this splendid state to film movies that have been hits in United States, such as “Romancing the Stone”, “Clear and Present Danger”, “Collateral Damage”, and “Apocalypto”, just to name a few.
Its people are a mixture of races that resulted in a rich, friendly and warm population that welcomes visitors from around the world and shows with pride its roots from native Mexican Indians, Europeans and African slaves. The “Veracruzanos” are very cheerful, friendly and hospitable society. As soon as you arrive they will make you feel at home. The fame of its cuisine is due to this fusion of cultures.
“Picadas” are also known as “picaditas”, “sopes”, “huaraches” o “garnachas”, depending on the toppings or the town you are eating them in. These are small tortillas with a pinched-up rim around the edges to hold the filling. In Veracruz it is common to eat them for breakfast topped with salsa, cheese, onion and cream.
These make a great main dish for your weekend brunch as it did for us served along with fried plantains and café lechero (strong coffee with milk) as they do in Veracruz.
Ingredients for 16 picadas
For the picadas:
- 2 ½ cups of masa harina
- About 1 ½ cup of water to form the dough,
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of salsa verde
- 1 cup of roasted salsa
- 1 cup of chipotle salsa ( recipe follows)
- 1 cup of Mole Poblano Sauce, optional
- 1 ½ of grated fresh cheese, could use farmer cheese or feta
- ¾ cup white onion finely chopped
- 3/4 cup Mexican cream or Crème fraiche
- 3 tablespoons of melted lard or oil
For the chipotle salsa,
- 4 dry chipotle peppers, cleaned and seeded for the salsa
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 ½ teaspoon vegetable oil
Instructions:For the chipotle salsa:
Place the chipotles in a sauce pan and cover with water. Cook until peppers are soft, about 15 -18 minutes. Place the pepper and some of the water in the blender and add the garlic clove. Blend until smooth. Add the vegetable oil in a small skillet in a low heat, add the chipotle sauce and cook for about 8 minutes. Add salt to taste.
Cooking the salsas and the end results.
For the Masa harina dough:
Combine the 2 ½ cups of masa harina, salt with the water. Mix throughly for about 2 minutes to form a soft dough. If dough feels dry, add more water (one tablespoon at a time) Form small balls and proceed to make the tortillas following the instructions given HERE.
Remove the tortillas from the comal and using your fingers pinch the edges to from a rim around the edges while they are still warm, like when you are making the edges of a pie crust.
Place the picadas in a cloth napkin to keep warm and set aside while you finish making the rest of the dough. This step can be done in advance and just warm up before serving.
When ready to serve gather all the salsas, picadas, cheese, chopped onion and melted lard to assemble your dish. Heat your griddle.
Brush the griddle with the lard, place the picadas with their rims up and spread some more lard in their tops. While they are warming up spread the salsa of your choice, followed by the cheese and then the chopped onion. Note: Some people prefer to fry the picadas instead of warming up in a griddle and then add the salsa and cheese.
Serve warm and add cream. You can use any salsa for the topping, refried beans, shredded beef or chicken.