End of the World Menu- Part One

Epicurious.com editors got together and selected 3 menus for your end time dining pleasure.  The first one is based on actual Mexican and Guatemalan cuisine and consists of a Shrimp Ceviche (Ceviche de Camaron), Chicken Tamales with Tomatillo/Cilantro Sauce, Chayote Slaw, Braised and Fried Pork Carnitas, a Chocolate Flan, and a Tropical Fruit Margarita “because if the end has come, a little inebriation is in order.”

Tropical Fruit Margarita

(serves six)


  • Lime wedges
  • Sugar (for rimming)


  • 3 cups Homemade Sweet-and-Sour Mix for Margaritas
  • 1 cup gold tequila
  • 3/4 cup papaya nectar
  • 3/4 cup guava nectar
  • 1/2 cup canned cream of coconut available in the liquor department of most supermarkets.
  • 16 ice cubes
  • 6 lime slices

Rim 6 glasses.

Combine 1/2 your sweet-and-sour mix, tequila, papaya and guava nectar, cream of coconut and ice cubes in blender. Process until blended. Repeat. Pour into 6 glasses. Garnish each with lime slice.

Rest of the recipes below the fold.

Ceviche de Camaron

(serves 6)

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 generous pound unpeeled smallish shrimp (I prefer the ones that are 41/50 count to a pound)
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vinegary Mexican bottled hot sauce (such as Tamazula, Valentina or Búfalo, the latter being on the sweet side)
  • About 2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin (optional, but recommended to smooth out sharpness)
  • 1 cup diced peeled cucumber or jícama (or 1/2 cup of each)
  • 1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
  • Salt
  • Several lime slices for garnish
  • Tostadas or tortilla chips, store-bought or homemade or saltine crackers for serving

Bring 1 quart salted water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Scoop in the shrimp, cover and let the water return to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat, set the lid askew and pour off all the liquid. Replace the cover and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes. Spread out the shrimp in a large glass or stainless steel bowl to cool completely. Peel and devein the shrimp if you wish: One by one lay the shrimp on your work surface, make a shallow incision down the back and scrape out the (usually) dark intestinal tract. Toss the shrimp with the remaining 1/2 lime juice, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

In a small strainer, rinse the onion under cold water, then shake off the excess liquid. Add to the shrimp bowl along with the cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, optional olive oil, cucumber and/or jícama and avocado. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

Spoon the ceviche into sundae glasses, martini glasses, or small bowls: garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of lime. Serve with tostadas, tortilla chips or saltines to enjoy alongside.

The ceviche is best made the day it is served. The flavorings can be added to the shrimp a few hours in advance.

Chicken Tamales

(serves 6 x 4)


  • 1 onion, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 pound (about 3 breasts) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Poach and Shred the Chicken. Combine the onion, garlic, salt, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts, bay leaves, and oregano and decrease the heat to a simmer. Cook the chicken, partially covered, for 35 minutes, or until cooked through. To check for doneness, slit the chicken in half to make sure the interior is no longer pink.

Allow the chicken to cool in the broth. When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the pan. Strain and reserve the broth. Shred the chicken by hand by pulling apart the fibers of the chicken with your fingers and set aside.

Tomatillo-Cilantro Sauce

  • 8 tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, and quartered
  • 2 to 3 jalapeños, stemmed and halved
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, tender stems and leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Salt and black pepper

Combine the tomatillos, jalapeños, cilantro, garlic, and water in a blender and purée until well blended. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until the onion is limp and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatillo mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

Add the shredded chicken to the sauce and stir to coat. Allow to cook for 3 more minutes. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Set aside.

Corn Husks (about 30)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil then remove from heat. Add the corn husks, making sure to submerge them under water, and cover the pot. Soak the corn husks in the pot for 20 minutes. They should be soft and flexible, and take on a deep beige color. Remove the corn husks from the water and wrap them in a damp paper towel until you are ready to use them.

Tamal dough

  • 2 1/2 cups masa harina (cornmeal for tamales; Maseca brand is recommended)
  • 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons chicken broth (reserved from poaching chicken)
  • 3/4 cup fresh lard or solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt

To make the masa, combine the masa harina with 2 cups of the reserved chicken broth and mix well. The masa should have the consistency of a stiff dough. Set aside.

Put the lard in a mixing bowl. Beat the lard with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add half of the masa and beat until well blended. Add the 3 tablespoons of the reserved chicken broth and the remaining masa and continue beating until a teaspoon of the dough dropped into a cup of cold water floats, about 10 minutes. If after 15 minutes of constant beating your dough does not float, move on (despite it not floating, the dough will be fine).

Sprinkle the baking powder and the salt over the dough and mix in well.

Assemble the Tamales

Place a corn husk lengthwise in front of you with the wide side closest to you. Spread 2 tablespoons of the dough all over the bottom half (wide side) of the corn husk, leaving about a 1-inch-wide border on the left and right sides.

Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling lengthwise down the center of the dough. Pick up the two long sides of the cornhusk and unite them. Allow the dough to surround the filling by pinching together the corn husk where the dough comes together. Roll both sides of the corn husks in the same direction over the tamal. Fold down the empty top section of the cornhusk and secure it by tying a thin strip of corn husk around the tamal (the top will be open).

Repeat this process until all the corn husks or tamal dough are used up.

Steam the Tamales

Create a tamal steamer by crumpling a large piece of aluminum foil into a large ball. Place the foil ball in the center of a large saucepan and arrange the tamales “standing up” around it. You can stand tamales in front of each other; just make sure that the open end of the tamal is facing upward.

Pour in 1/2 inch of water. Cover tightly with a lid and simmer for 40 minutes.

Serve warm accompanied by Mexican crema (homemade or store-bought), Creamy Salsa Verde and Chipotle Chile Sauce.

For a truly authentic taste, you must use freshly rendered lard. If you buy commercial lard, make sure it is fresh, refrigerated lard; otherwise use vegetable shortening, which still produces a very good tamal.

You will end up with a juicier chicken if you allow it to cool in the broth. Make sure you save the broth, because it has a wonderful flavor that you will want to use when making the tamal dough.

Be careful not to open corn husks when they are dry because they will split and break. After soaking them in hot water, wrap in a damp paper towel until you are ready to use them. If they cool down and dry out before you are ready to use them, submerge them in hot water for a few minutes until pliable.

Cooked tamales can be refrigerated for a couple of days and reheated in a steamer or in the microwave. If you are using the microwave, put the tamales in a bowl and pour in 1/4 inch of water. Seal with plastic wrap and heat for 2 minutes. The steam created within the plastic will reheat the tamales. If reheating in a steamer, recreate the tamal steamer explained in the recipe and steam for 5 minutes.

Assembled but uncooked tamales can be frozen. When you are ready to serve them, steam them straight from the freezer for 1 hour 20 minutes (twice the cooking time). Do not defrost before cooking.

Chayote Slaw

Chayote  is a squash-like, pear-shaped fruit similar in flavor to cucumber and often prepared like squash available at Latin American markets and some supermarkets. I suppose you could substitute actual cucumber if you liked cucumber.

Or peppers.

Or slaw for that matter.

You know what? Serve it on the side.

  • 1 poblano chili
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups matchstick-size strips pitted chayote (3 medium)
  • 1/3 cup Sherry wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Latin Spice Mix
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

Char chili and bell peppers over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in plastic bag 10 minutes. Peel, seed and cut chili and peppers into matchstick-size strips.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chayote and sauté; just until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Cool completely. Combine Sherry wine vinegar and 2 teaspoons Latin Spice Mix in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil. Mix in fresh cilantro. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine chayote, chili and peppers in bowl. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Pork Carnitas

  • 4 pounds fatty pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 orange, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1/4 cup pork lard or vegetable oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican, crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt, or 4 teaspoons kosher salt (because that’s what foodies use)

Put all the ingredients in a wide 6-to 7-quart heavy pot (don’t worry if the pork is not completely covered) and bring the water to a boil, skimming the surface as necessary. Lower the heat and simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until the pork is fork-tender and the liquid has completely evaporated, 1½ to 2 hours. Discard the orange pieces and bay leaves. If the liquid hasn’t evaporated after 2 hours, transfer the pork pieces to a bowl and let the liquid continue to bubble away, stirring often, until it has.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Transfer the pork and fat to an ovenproof dish, if necessary, and brown the pork, uncovered, in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. There’s no need to stir.

Carnitas keeps in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Chocolate Flan

(8 individual servings so you have 2 left over. Yum.)

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 6 ounces Mexican chocolate, such as Ibarra, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 (1 1/2-inch) cinnamon stick, preferably canela
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coffee liqueur, such as Kahlúa
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Pastry brush, 8 (5- to 6-ounce) ramekins, large roasting pan.

In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar with 1/3 cup water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, using a pastry brush dipped in cold water to wash down any sugar crystals clinging to the side of the pot, then lower the heat and simmer, without stirring, until the syrup begins to color. Swirl the pan continually until the syrup is an even, deep amber color. Immediately divide the caramel among the ramekins, swirling so it coats the bottom of each.

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325°F.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the chocolate until it resembles small pebbles. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add the half-and-half, milk, cinnamon stick, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Place over moderate heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, coffee liqueur, and the vanilla and almond extracts and whisk to combine. Slowly pour about 1 1/2 cups of the hot milk/half-and-half mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add in the rest of the hot milk and whisk to combine. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl and divide evenly among the 8 ramekins. Discard solids.

Transfer ramekins to a large roasting pan and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Loosely cover the pan with foil and bake until the custard has barely set (a knife inserted halfway between the edge and the center should come out clean), 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the water bath, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly.

These also will refrigerate for 3 days.

Remember, only 2 more days until TEOTWAWKI (pronounced te-ot-wa-ki).


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