Happy Cinco de Mayo! I think many folks mistakenly think today is Mexico’s Independence Day, the most important national holiday in that country; but it’s not, that’s on September 16. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Puebla when the out numbered Mexican army triumphed over the better equipped French forces on May 5, 1862.
Cinco de Mayo is not observed as a national in Mexico although public schools are closed nationwide. It is an official holiday in the State of Puebla where the battle actually took place and the neighboring State of Veracruz. However in the United States it has been celebrated in California since 1863 and has spread to most of the other state since. The day took on more significance in 2005 when Congress issued a Concurrent Resolution calling for the US President to issue a proclamation calling upon Americans to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities. In short Cinco de Mayo is a much bigger deal in America than it is in Mexico where it is virtually ignored.
In the US the day is definitely embraced by commercial industries who capitalize on the day to advertise Mexican products with a particular emphasis on food, beverage, and music. I’m sure you’ve seen national ad campaigns hawking beer and tortilla chips! Not to mention most local eateries and bars roll out Cinco de Mayo specials starting the sometimes in the middle of April.
I’m all for a holiday when consuming abundant Mexican food and downing frozen margaritas is de rigueur, but I’m not much into standing in line for a table at my favorite Mexican restaurant. We usually stay home on Cinco de Mayo and cook up a bit of Tex-Mex and whip up a pitcher of margaritas.
This year I’m making some Chili. I’m not really sure if Chili is an American or Mexican dish, the verdict is still out on that! It does however supposedly have Spanish roots dating back from the time of Spanish conquistadors (according to some sources) and has been a staple in America’s Southwest since the days of wagon trains. There are many myths and legends surrounding the origins of this spicy dish but it really doesn’t matter whether it’s Mexican, Tex-Mex, or whatever. What is important is that many of us like it and it’s a good choice for Cinco de Mayo!
Traditionally Chili is made with beans, dried meat, and hot chili peppers that are all stewed in a pot for hours. These days most of us don’t have the time or inclination to simmer Chili in a pot all day, although there are crockpot recipes you can use. For me crockpot cooking takes too much forethought; I usually cook what I’m in the mood for on any particular day, so I need to have recipes that I can cook up quickly with ingredients I usually stock in my kitchen. Chili is one of my staples, I almost always have the ingredients! Actually my daughter Jaime used my recipe at a neighborhood Chili Cook-Off a few months ago and won! Here’s my recipe!
1 Onion, diced
2 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Oil
1 Lb. Lean Ground Beef or Ground Turkey
1 Fresh Jalapeno or Habanero Pepper, diced
1 Can Dark Kidney Beans in water
1 Can Chili Bean in Chili sauce
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Tbsp. Ground Chili Powder
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 Can Mexican Style Diced Stewed Tomatoes
Heat oil in a large pot and saute onions and garlic until half cooked.
Add ground meat, spices, and peppers mix very well while cooking to break up large clumps of ground meat. Cook until meat is crumbly.
Drain water from Kidney Beans and add to meat mixture.
Add entire can of Chili Beans to meat mixture, DO NOT DRAIN.
Add can of Stewed Tomatoes and mix everything well.
Simmer on medium to medium low stove about 1/2 hour or until at least 1/3 of liquid evaporates.
Serve over rice or with corn bread, or use a a hot dog or burger topping! Store leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge. Reheat before use. Like stew this Chili gets better as it “ages”, but don’t store it too long, no more than 2-3 day. For longer storage place Chili in freezer safe containers and freeze. It freezes very well and can go from freezer to microwave when needed.