Jacinto, another native of Oaxaca, opened Jacinto's Kitchen four months ago in the Sonoma Valley with the help of his brother and business partner, Pablo Jacinto. Although the menu includes American classics, Erasto's mission is introduce the cooking of his Oaxacan mother and grandmother to Wine Country.
The brothers like to compare today's Mexican cuisine to Italian cuisine 25 years ago. It's a rich motherlode of flavor just waiting to be mined.
"When we first came here, everything was burritos," Erasto said. "Then we introduced squash-blossom quesadillas and rabbit tostadas at Mustards Grill."
The brothers grew up in the verdant valley surrounding Oaxaca City. They ate simply -- mostly beans and corn -- but during celebrations, they enjoyed the famous, labor-intensive mole sauces over turkey, pork or chicken.
The Jacinto brothers came to the Napa Valley in 1985 and have cooked in many high-end kitchens, including Cindy Pawlcyn's Mustards Grill in Yountville. They also consulted for C Casa at the Oxbow Market in Napa.
At Jacinto's Kitchen, Erasto specializes in Oaxacan classics like chicken smothered in a mole negro, a thick sauce built upon layers of toasted chile negro and chile ancho, apples and bananas, sesame seeds and golden raisins.
Other popular dishes at Jacinto's Kitchen include Braised Lamb Tostadas, Sauteed Shrimp with Housemade Chorizo in a cilantro-jalapeno broth, and Pasilla Chiles Rellenos made with roasted chiles that are crisp and less greasy, because they are not fried.
The following recipe is from Mateo Granados of Mateo's Cocina Latina in Healdsburg. You can find the annatto seed paste, banana leaves and masa fina at Mexican markets. Granados prefers to use the Del Mayab Achiote (annatto seed paste) from La Perla.
Makes 6 servings
4 pounds pork shoulder (bone in and skin on)
7 ounces annatto seed paste (achiote)
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
3 cups water
1 cinnamon stick (broken in half)
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 medium yellow onion, julienned
1 small package banana leaves (enough to wrap the shoulder
For cured red onions:
2 large red onions
3 cups distilled vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
3 tablespoons salt
For handmade tortillas:
3/4 pound masa fina
4 ounces extra virgin olive oil (high quality)
1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt
For pork: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk the annatto seed paste with the vinegar and 3 cups of water. Season with salt and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer. Line a roasting pan with the banan leaves (or aluminum foil), leaving enough space hanging over the rip to wrap the leaves around the pork shoulder. Place the pork shoulder on the banana leaves adn pour the strained sauce over it. Add the whole cloves of garlic, onions and cinnamon stick pieces and wrap the leaves over the shoulder. Cover the pork with aluminum foil and roast in the oven for 4 1/2 hours, until falling off the bone.
For the cured onions: In a medium bowl, combine the red onions, vinegar, cinamon sticks and salt. Set aside to cure whiel the pork is cooking.
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