Succulently Yours Recipes

Thanks to everyone who attended the Bonfils-Stanton lecture on Thursday, May 22nd. It’s always such a great way to connect with the food-minded in Denver at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

We’ve had several requests for the recipes that were served at this event, and we’re happy to share them here, courtesy of Carrie Balkcom:

Banana Catsup
• 1 semi-ripe plantain or 3 red sweet bananas
• 1 3/4 c. water
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 tbsps. Cider vinegar
• 1/2 c. sugar
• 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
• 2 1/2 tsps. Salt ( to taste)
• ½ small red or green chili, seeded and chopped (peppers are subjective, pick the one that will give you the heat you like. I tend to go more to mild, since they grow in intensity with the garlic and the scallions.)
• ½ cup sliced scallions chopped
• 4 tbsp. tomato paste
• 2-3 tbs. fresh lime juice

Slice the bananas and put in a saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the tomato paste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until all of the ingredients are cooked mushy. Puree with a hand blender until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your degree of heat and salt. Add the tomato paste and lime juice. Mix again in the blender. Add more cider vinegar to make it the consistency of catsup, or you can add commercially made catsup to achieve the consistency you like. Store in the refrigerator.

Pickled Nopales

• 1 pound nopales (fresh cactus paddles)—thorns removed, paddles peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
• 2 seranno or small jalapeno peppers
• 1/4 cup kosher salt
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup apple cider vinegar
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon sweet pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)

1. In a large bowl, toss the cactus paddles and peppers with the salt and let stand for 45 minutes. Drain well. Transfer the cactus and jalapeños to a heatproof bowl.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water with the vinegar, sugar and paprika and bring to a boil. Pour the brine over the cactus and peppers and stir well. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for 2 days before serving.

The pickled cactus and peppers can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Nopales are sold with the spikes removed; any stray spikes can be removed with a sharp paring knife. Serve With Refried Beans.

Grilled Nopales
• 6 nopales
• 2 to 3 tbs pork lard, vegetable oil, or bacon drippings
• Salt
• 1 lb defatted brisket
With a sharp knife, clean the cactus paddles by trimming all the edges and scraping off the spines. Measure 1 tablespoon of the lard, oil or bacon drippings into a large (12-inch), heavy well-seasoned skillet (preferably cast-iron) or griddle and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cactus and cook until done, about 8 to 10 minutes. Slice into strips.
Generously salt both sides of each piece of meat. Wipe the skillet or griddle and return it to medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon lard, oil or bacon drippings. When very hot (it’ll just begin to smoke), lay in the meat in a single layer. If it doesn’t all fit comfortably, you’ll need to do this in 2 batches. Sear the meat on one side until brown (about 1 1/2 minutes), flip it over, and sear the other side.. Place seared meat covered in a preheated 300◦ oven with about 1/2 cup chicken stock. Keep covered and cook til fork tender.
Chop the seared meat into 1/2-inch bits and scoop into a serving bowl—a warm one makes a big difference in keeping the filling warm. Serve with the cactus and warmed corn or flour tortillas.

Grilled Yucca
• 1 large yucca
• ½ cup olive oil
• Salt
• Cilantro – chopped.
Peel yucca and cut into 4 cylinders; (you want the yucca to be in pieces about 3 to 4 “long) then split in half and remove the root (The inner core has a woody root, cut that out). Place yucca in a large pot. Add enough water to cover yucca and season with salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until fork tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove from heat, drain in colander, and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat half the oil. Slice the yucca, then add ½ of the yucca to the oil and grill til golden brown. Remove and allow to drain on paper towels. Salt immediately. Add remaining oil to pan and add remaining yucca and cook to golden. Repeat with draining on paper toweling and salt.
Place grilled yucca in bowl and mix with chopped cilantro. Keep warm or serve immediately.


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