Culture can be so intertwined with what we eat, especially for families who have immigrated as mine did from Mexico generations ago. Growing up, many of my early childhood memories revolved around the kitchen; whether it be helping my family cook or sitting at the table for family meals. These experiences contributed to my passion for food which led me to become a dietitian. One of my favorite foods to make for loved ones, or as comfort food for myself is encacahuatadas (peanut butter chicken enchiladas). Peanut butter is an essential component to create a creamy and flavorful sauce that pleasantly surprises everyone. As a dietitian, I also love how balanced this dish becomes with a variety of colorful vegetables on top.
For Hispanic Heritage Month, I wanted to share some other dishes and foods that celebrate the diverse cuisine of Hispanic cultures.
Lilly, currently our Kitchen manager at Bangerter Crossing, shares the following story of food bringing family together.
Birria is a wonderful traditional Mexican dish, originally made with goat meat, but also made with beef, veal, or lamb. It can be served as a stew or as a taco filling; in gastronomic terms, the word birria means “exquisite, savory dish, full of culture and traditions.” Her family would buy a goat to eat at every wedding or Quinceanera. She can still recall all of her uncles coming together to roast the goat over a poso (underground fire pit). The process of butchering and cooking the goat took approximately two days of teamwork. Women would collect all the goat drippings after it had been cooked and use them to prepare delicious rice and beans. She has always loved continuing this tradition with her family and passing it on. While she has been unable to walk her children through the traditional process step by step, they are aware of the legend, and maybe they will pass it on to their own children.
Chef Freyka of our Traverse Mountain cooking school teaches recipes from various cultures in her classes, but her specialty is the Peruvian cuisine from her home country. Her Peruvian grilled chicken recipe uses two pepper pastes as well as a variety of other seasonings. Causa limena, also known simply as causa, is an entrée made with meat layered between two discs of dough from potatoes. While the meat may vary, traditionally the dough is made from yellow potatoes for a soft texture and it is topped with lime, boiled egg, yellow chili pepper, and black olives. Papas a la Huancaina is also made from potatoes but smothered in a velvety sauce that is both spicy and sweet. You can watch her make these two potato dishes here.
Chimichurri is a sauce found in Argentinian and Uruguayan cuisine. It is excellent on a variety of meat dishes as a marinade, basting sauce as the meat cooks, or as a condiment. It also adds brightness to other foods such as sandwiches or vegetable dishes. While a food processor may be used to expedite the process, the more traditional method of hand chopping creates a dynamic texture.
There are many Hispanic family-owned businesses local to Utah that you can find in Harmons; several have also received Harmons Local Grant to grow their businesses. Here are a few:
- Salsa Queen has delicious salsas made with Chile flakes for a consistent level of heat year-round.
- Rico Brand started at the farmer’s market and now has a variety of burritos, salsas, tamales, and sides available in your local Harmons.
- Salsa Del Diablo has a variety of gluten free salsas; several are vegan as well.
- Most recently, Salsitas Mendoza was awarded the Harmons Local Grant to grow their salsas and sauces made with local ingredients.
Looking for ingredients to make dishes at home? Corn flour (Masa Harina) is used in a variety of Hispanic dishes such as corn tortillas, Mesoamerican tamales, Colombian or Venezuelan arepas, and Salvadoran pupusas. Rice and beans (canned or dried) can be used for a variety of dishes such as Puerto Rican habichuelas guisadas, Salvadoran casamiento, Peruvian tacu-tacu, and Brazilian fiejao com leite do coco. With a variety of produce, meats, and spices used in Hispanic cuisine, you can find key ingredients in all areas of Harmons grocery stores.
Interested in learning how to cook some of these dishes with our chefs? Check out Harmons cooking school for classes such as Exploring Mexican Birria, Low-carb Mexican Monday, and Taco Tuesday and Horchata. If you’d like additional help with grocery shopping tips, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org