Sunday, February 12, 2012
I didn't want to stay in the resort only, though. It's Mexico! Home of the Mayan Indians! It's 2012 and everyone is talking about the Mayans and their calendar. I thought what better time to go see some Mayan ruins than this year! On the plane ride to Cancun, I was reading a little bit about some of the ruins close to Cancun. There was one about an hour from Playa called Tulum. It seemed like it would be easy to get to. But there is a huge site about 4 hours from Cancun called Chichen Itza. According to the article I read, there is a movement to make Chichen Itza one of the new 7 wonders of the world. The way the temple of Kukuclan was built, it captures the sunlight in a unique way on the spring equinox of every year. Chichen Itza is anticipated to be the center of a huge celebration as millions will visit to see the Feathered Serpent descend the temple on the Vernal Equinox.
I didn't make it to either site however. After three days of scheduled activities, on my last day there, the draw of staying at the resort and taking full advantage of the amenities there was too big. A few people from our group did go, though and it cracked me up when they came back to Playa talking about Chicken Pizza.
I fell madly and deeply in love with pickled red onions while there. I had pickled red onions, salsa verde and guacamole with just about every meal. I decided to do a salsa verde base topped with pickled red onions, cotija, and grilled chicken (that I marinated in salsa verde). This pizza would have been awesome with some guacamole or even just sliced avocado on it. We did just about eat our weight in guacamole while there. When I was at the farmers market yesterday, I didn't even buy any avocados because I thought Nico might throw them at me. (Not really.) But he really is sick of them. I am not. I'll give him a week to get back on board with me.
Salsa Verde, adapted from All Recipes
1 pound tomatillos, husked
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 serrano chile pepper, minced
1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (I did 1, because I am not a cilantro fan)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic, chile pepper, cilantro, cumin and salt into a food processor. Process until smooth, about 4 minutes.
Place the puree in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the vinegar and adjust the salt if needed. Continue to boil for another 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.
Pickled Red Onions, only slightly adapted from David Lebovitz
3/4 cup white vinegar
1.5 tablespoons sugar (this was the only adjustment I made. DL called for 3 tablespoons)
pinch of salt
1 bay leaf
5 allspice berries
5 whole cloves
a small dried chile pepper
1 large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
In a small non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile until boiling. Add the onion slices and lower the heat. Simmer for about 30 seconds.
Transfer the onions and liquid to a jar. When cool, refrigerate until ready to use. (I poured off the pickling liquid the next day. However David Lebovitz suggests storing the onions in the liquid.)
For the pizza
2 chicken breasts, marinated overnight in salsa verde (I used less than 1/4 cup of salsa verde that was not as smooth as the finished salsa) and grilled, then diced or shredded
Pizza crust of your choice (I chose pre-baked shells. This one was whole wheat Boboli)
1/4 cup salsa verde
1/4 cup pickled onions
1/4 cup cotija cheese
sour cream, optional
cilantro leaves for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place a pizza stone in the oven. If you are using fresh pizza dough, grill or bake the dough now, so you are not topping raw dough. Top your prepared pizza crust with salsa verde, pickled onions, chicken and cotija cheese. Place on the pizza stone and bake for 10 minutes.
Top with sour cream and cilantro and serve.