Ocho de Mayo (Cinco de Mayo Postponed)
We usually make margaritas and have a Mexican dinner on May 5th to observe Cinco de Mayo, even though, according to Wikipedia, Cinco de Mayo is an insignificant Mexican holiday, observed by more Americans than Mexicans. This year, on the 5th, Howard was still on a business trip to Chicago, so our celebration was delayed until the weekend.
Today was rainy, pouring buckets at times, with some thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure. Howard lucked out on the timing of Bella’s walks. He managed to take her out when it was only sprinkling lightly or not at all.
We had a relatively lazy day. We had planned to go to Maine, but the weather didn’t look good. Instead, we combined a shopping errand in Beverly with lunch at Woodman’s in Essex, where the fried clam was invented. Of course, we had fried clams (with bellies), with fries and onion rings. It was greasy and salty and wonderfully decadent.
Dinner was our delayed Cinco de Mayo meal. To start, Howard made his mango guacamole. I made margaritas. We had rice baked with tomatillo sauce topped with shrimp and bacon. It was sort of like a paella, but not exactly. For one thing, the flavors were Mexican, not Spanish. For another, it was mostly baked, not cooked on the stovetop. And, finally, it was much easier to make. It went nicely with a salad of baby arugula with a dressing I made with more tomatillo sauce.
Tomatillo Rice with Shrimp and Bacon
Adapted from Salsas That Cook by Rick Bayless
4 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cups arborio rice
2 cups tomatillo sauce (from a jar, or using recipe here)
1 cup water
½ tsp salt
4 scallions, sliced
1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
Generous amount of chopped cilantro
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small Dutch oven or another pot, over medium heat, sautee the bacon until the fat renders and the bacon crisps. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, and reserve.
You will need about 1 Tbsp fat for the next step. If the bacon wasn’t very fatty, as the bacon from that I used Chestnut Farms was not, add some vegetable oil. If there is a lot of fat, remove the extra from the pan.
Saute the rice for about 5 minutes, until it is lightly browned. Stir in the tomatilla sauce, and let it cook for about 1 minute. Add the water, salt, and scallions. Bring the mixture to a boil, stir again, cover, and turn off the heat.
Place the pot in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven (keep it on), and arrange the shrimp on top of the rice. Cover and return the pot to the oven for 8-10 minutes, until the shrimp cooks through.
Sprinkle bacon and cilantro over the shrimp, toss everything together with a fork, and serve.
Makes 2-4 (depending on the size of the glasses)
3 oz tequila (Jose Cuervo Gold)
1½ oz Triple Sec
1 6-oz can frozen limeade concentrate
3 cups crushed ice
In a blender, add all the ingredients in the order listed. Turn the blender on high, and puree until the margaritas are smooth and slushy.
If you want, rub the rim of the glasses with a cut lime, then dip the rims in a plate of kosher salt.
Fill glasses and enjoy.