Monday, January 4, 2010
Horchata! also Peanut Horchata!
As I have mentioned before, I spent a good amount of time living down near our scenic southern border region, Arizona mostly. It is an exceedingly interesting corner of the world for all sorts of reasons not the least being its cuisine. Every so often my heart aches for certain remembered food items such as a fresh tortilla dipped in red chile, a chile rellenos burrito, carnitas tacos, etc... Recently we discussed an interesting family of Mexican beverages called atoles (Champurrado specifically). Lately I have been getting a wicked horchata jones. Horchata is rice/cinnamon/vanilla drink (before I get comments, I know there are more traditional versions) and a member of the ubiquitous family of beverages known as aguas frescas. There is nary a taco shack in southern Arizona that doesn't have a bubbler of horchata, Jamaica, or tamarindo. Usually I satiate my cravings with a glass of the milky nectar made from the Klass brand horchata mix, a powder you can add to water or milk.
The other day I decided to give a go at making it myself from actual ingredients. I found a simple recipe and used this as a framework. You take a cup of rice, 1/2 cup sugar, a cinnamon stick, a vanilla bean (split and seeded), and a couple quarts of water.
I thought a little nut flavor (minds out of the gutter) might be nice, so I decided to add a wee bit of the almond drink mix stuff that I picked up at the Asian Market.
Thinking about nut flavorings, I remembered that I had some raw peanuts left over from my Ultimate Peanut Butter Bacon Sandwich recipe.
I made up a second horchata batch and added a cup of the raw peanuts. You let the ingredients soak for a few hours and then bring to a boil for about a half hour. Here is the peanut horchata getting ready to boil.
After the rice becomes tender, remove from heat and blend until smooth (remove vanilla pod and cinnamon stick). Run through some cheese cloth to remove any residual chunky bits and chill. I found that this recipe resulted in horchata that was a little thick for my liking so I treated it as a concentrate. I cut it with additional water (and a little sugar) to achieve the refreshing beverage that I was looking for.
I found the standard horchata to be very palatable, although the texture/viscosity was a little different from what I am used to. The peanut batch was also very interesting. Fresh peanuts have a more vegetable-esque quality than what you may be used to from roasted peanuts. The peanuts added an earthy, almost floral note to the beverage. I don't know why but it almost tasted like there was coconut involved. Definitely a unique flavor, I think it might work in a pina colada type cocktail. I would not turn down a little rum and peanut horchata over ice on summer day.