Family recipes at the Michelin-starred Casa Enrique

Family recipes at the Michelin-starred Casa Enrique

One of the first Mexican eateries in New York City opened in downtown in 1938. Its proprietor, Juvencio Maldonado, who had sailed across from the Yucatan Peninsula, named his place Xochitl after an Aztec goddess. He patented a mechanical taco-shell frying pan and printed a glossary of imported culinary terms for his confused diners. (Tortilla: “a flat, round corn cake, about 6 inches in diameter and 1/16 inch thick … can be bent or rolled, as we shall explain.”) For decades, Xochitl was almost the only game in town. The scene branched out into the nineties and nineties as the city’s Mexican population grew eightfold. Newcomers would launch taco trucks, tamale pushcars, bakeries, tortilla factories and more than a thousand professional kitchens in the five districts. If one is to believe a certain French tire manufacturer, among the best of them today is Casa Enrique, which opened ten years ago in Queens and which is the first Mexican restaurant in the city to have been awarded a Michelin star – every year since 2015.

Mole de Piaxtla, poured over stewed chicken, requires two dozen ingredients, including chili (five types), almonds, raisins, figs, sesame seeds, banana and cocoa powder.

Many years before chef Cosme Aguilar opened Casa Enrique – before working in French restaurants as a porter and then chef and then chef, before his first career as a teenage car mechanic, even before his birth – his mother ran a small restaurant in Chiapas. She died in 1983 when he was a boy. 29 years later, when Aguilar decided to open her own place, he turned to a notebook with recipes she left behind. One of the first dishes he tried to recreate was her albondigasMeatballs, each with a hard-boiled egg in the middle, sunk in a smoked tomato sauce prepared with onions, garlic and chipotle chili. “First time I made albondigas here, it really got me going, ”Aguilar said. “I had not tasted that meal for a very long time, and I thought, ‘Oh, God, it’s like my mother used to make.’ I almost cried. “

Whatever you order comes with a hot pot of steaming tortillas, and many dishes lend themselves to imaginative reunion in the form of tacos.

Aguilar has a dozen stories like it. “Anyone who wants to open a Mexican restaurant in New York,” he said, “would like to – they use truffles. “He wore a mask, but you could see he was making a face when he said ‘truffles.’ plunges over the railing of the tribute and into the cave of cultural snobbery.He chooses instead to go deeper.His menu is his memories.

Many of Chef Cosme Aguilar’s dishes are adaptations of family recipes. Years before he was born, his mother ran a small restaurant in Chiapas.

Aguilars Piaxtla mole, poured over stewed chicken, is a tribute both to her father’s hometown and to the memory of his grandmother, who would enter service within shouting distance when she made mole. “Someone would peel the chilies, another would shake the nuts,” he said. “There are many ingredients!” Aguilar’s version has twenty-four, including chili (five types), almonds, raisins, figs, sesame seeds, banana and cocoa powder. On top of the accompanying yellow rice, he throws a turn down: a single ripe chili tree (Scoville heating units: up to 65,000). A frozen blueberry margarita or more is a consolation here.

The most hearty winter dish, Pozole de Mi Tía, is a shredded pork-and-hominy soup topped with julienned radish, with fixation (avocado, onion, cilantro) on the side.

Whatever you order comes with a hot pot of steaming tortillas, and many dishes lend themselves to imaginative reunion in the form of tacos. Take it gray Chiapas, a love letter to Aguilar’s native Chiapas, to which he marinates pork ribs in apple cider vinegar, guajillo chili, garlic and fresh thyme before frying them slowly for four hours. Once you have shipped the ribs, what to do with the remaining marinade? Pour it over a rice-and-beans medley and of course fold it into a tortilla.

The most hearty winter dish, a shredded pork-and-hominy soup topped with julienned radish, appears on the menu as Pozole de Mi Tía. Aguilar will not specify which aunt. “I have to be careful,” he said. “I have six aunts on my father’s side and another six on my mother’s side.” A break. “There are many aunts!” (Registrations $ 21- $ 36.)

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