Cook the Book

Papadzules From 'Yucatán'

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[Photograph: Eduardo Cervantes]

David Sterling calls papadzules the "hallmark—even the pinnacle—of Maya cusine" in his new cookbook, Yucatán. A dish of egg-filled tortillas smothered in a smooth, rich pumpkin seed and epazote broth, papadzules are fixtures of cantinas and restaurants throughout the region. Papadzules are not totally unlike enchiladas moles but, lacking the cheese and chilies of the more recognizable sauce, the dish is far more delicate. The simple sauce allows the nuance of the seeds to shine through, and its richness is perked up by the livelier tomate frito. Inside the tortilla, the boiled eggs are much more of an afterthought—an obligatory burst of protein to transform the wondrous sauce into a full meal.

Why I picked this recipe: Sterling mentions papadzules frequently in the beginning sections of the book; it would have been a shame not to try them.

What worked: The real achievement of this dish is the pumpkin seed sauce. Everything else serves to enhance it.

What didn't: Nothing.

Suggested tweaks: You can fill the tortillas with chicken or even sautéed vegetables. If you're using packaged tortillas, look for the smallest ones you can find. With tortillas larger than 5 inches, you will need to adjust the quantities of the recipe to use more egg. If you can't find epazote, you can try using cilantro and Mexican oregano. You could also use dried epazote in the broth if that's what you can find.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Yucatán to give away this week.

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