Right drinks for Latino food

What to drink with Latino foods
By VICTORIA BRETT, The Associated Press

Latino food is hot. Often figuratively, sometimes literally. So what do you drink with it?

In Mexico and Cuba, one of the top choices since the 1950s has been the michelada cocktail, and the trend is inching north.

Not just a lime squeezed into the neck of a beer bottle, the michelada — also known as "cerveza preparada" or prepared beer — is a true cocktail and a perfect compliment to Latino food.

Recipes vary by bartender and region, but traditional ingredients include lager beer over ice, juice from one lime, two to three drops of Tabasco, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and pinch of salt.

"It's like a Bloody Mary in a weird way," says Lourdes Castro, author of the recent cookbook, "Simply Mexican." "It gives Latino food a different dimension. The acid from the lime brings out the flavors in the beer and the food."

Castro says a michelada goes perfectly with shredded pork stew spiked with smoky chipotle tomato sauce.

"The beer and pork combination goes really well together. It's a classic pairing in Cuba," she says. "The effervescence from the beer is good with something on the heavier side, like stew. The combination lightens up the meal."

The smoky chipotles in this stew add deep flavors and moderate heat. Mexican crema is the traditional accompaniment, but sour cream is a fine substitute. Either will help tame the heat.

While this stew can be eaten with a spoon, it is thick (and delicious) enough to scoop up dip-style with the tortilla chips.

SHREDDED PORK STEW WITH SMOKY CHIPOTLE TOMATO SAUCE

Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes (45 minutes active)

Servings: 6

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1 pound pork shoulder

2 bay leaves

3 cloves garlic (2 crushed and 1 chopped)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casing removed

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

1 1⁄2 pounds (about 7) plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, cored and sliced

2 canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped

1⁄4 cup adobo sauce (from the canned chipotles)

1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem

2 sprigs fresh marjoram, leaves removed from stem

6 sprigs fresh cilantro, to garnish

Tortilla chips, to serve

Mexican crema or sour cream, to serve

1. Place the pork in a large saucepan. Add enough water to cover the meat by 1 inch. Add the bay leaves and crushed garlic. Bring to a boil and skim off the grayish foam that rises to the top during the first few minutes.

2. Lower heat to simmer and cook for 45 minutes, partially covered, or until the pork is tender. Allow the pork to cool in the water, then drain, reserving 1 cup of the liquid. Shred the pork by pulling apart the fibers with your fingers. Set aside.

3. In a large saucepan over medium, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the chorizo and cook, breaking it apart as you stir, until it begins to render its fat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chorizo from the pan and set it aside.

4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and set over medium. Add the onion and remaining chopped garlic, then saute until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes.

5. Add the shredded pork and salt, then saute for another 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan by pouring in a couple of tablespoons of the reserved cooking water and scraping the bottom of the pan with a heatproof silicone spatula.

6. Add the chorizo, tomatoes, chipotles, adobo sauce, oregano, thyme and marjoram. Stir well and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour in the remaining reserved pork cooking water and continue simmering, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

To serve, transfer the stew to a large shallow bowl and garnish with cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips and Mexican crema or sour cream.

Recipe from Lourdes Castro's "Simply Mexican," Ten Speed Press, 2009

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 574 calories; 394 calories from fat; 44 g fat (15 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 117 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrate; 32 g protein; 3 g fiber; 1,430 mg sodium.

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