Just as there is wine grape cultivation in Canada in more than just the West coast, and the first Canadian wine grapes were actually grown near the East coasts of Nova Scotia, Mexico’s wine grape crops have thrived for centuries not only in the Baja California peninsula, but also in many other regions. The optimum latitudes for wine grape production lie between parallels 30 and 50 from the Equator, leaving most of Mexico’s territory too far South, but high altitudes, slopes and other conditions have allowed the growth of grapes outside of that geographical band prison, from Sonora and Coahuila to Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, and even as far south from the 30º parallel as Queretaro and Guanajuato.
Although there were native grapes in the American continent (for example, Vitis labrusca, which includes Concord grapes), Europeans found them not well suited for wine; French settlers first brought Bordeaux vines to Nova Scotia, and Spanish conquerors introduced their wine grapes to Mexico. In 1597, Casa Madero was established as the first winery in the whole continent, in the town of Santa María de las Parras, Coahuila (parra is the Spanish word for grapevine); from there, wine grape vines were introduced to the Baja region, and South America. After 1699 and until the end of colonial times (1821), wine production in Mexico was limited by the Spanish crown to crimson wines for Catholic communion, and it was not until the mid-20th century that Mexican wineries had replenished their cellars with wines worthy enough to become known at international levels.
For this post, I chose a recipe, with both wine and grapes, from the state of Aguascalientes, where there is a vast wine production, and a spread of table grape vineyards. I found several recipes from this state, and this roast is a brilliant example of Aguascalentense cuisine.
Aguascalientes Style Roast with Grapes – Asado con Uvas
2 lb (1 kg) Beef roast, such as tip Sirloin
1 lb (454g) seedless sweet red grapes; washed
1 lb (454g) tomatoes; washed, stem spot removed, and sliced
1 white onion; ends removed, peeled, and sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp sweet red wine, such as Jerez or Port
½ tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup water
2 tbsp corn starch, for thickening
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Pat dry the roast with a paper towel, then place in a baking tray with rim; season all sides of the roast with salt and pepper, pricking around with a fork:
Arrange sliced tomatoes and onions all over and around the meat, then drizzle with olive oil:
Bake in the over for half an hour.
Meanwhile, mix together the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sweet red wine and mustard (photo below, left); add half a cup of water, and mix. After the half hour, take roast out of the oven, sprinkle tomatoes and onions with salt, then pour sauce all over (photo below, right):
Return to the oven.
While the roast continues to bake, separate grapes into small bunches of three to five grapes each (photo below, left). After another half hour, take the roast from the oven and arrange the grapes on top (photo below, right):
Return to the oven and bake for another twenty to thirty minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer meat, veggies and grapes to a large serving plate and tent with foil:
While the meat rests, mix corn starch with the other half a cup of water, to form a smooth slurry; add to the juices and sauce remaining in the baking tray (photo below, left). Vigorously stir with a beater; pour into a saucepan while scraping any bits off the bottom of the tray. Place saucepan over medium heat and cook sauce, stirring constantly with the beater, until it thickens and starts to gently bubble (photo below, right):
Serve roast with grapes and gravy:
To plate, first make a bed of onions and tomatoes; slice some roast and arrange on the veggies, placing some grapes on the side. Decorate meat with a couple of slices of tomato and onion, and top with a small bunch of grapes. Finish with a generous helping of gravy on top, and enjoy while still piping hot:
It is hard to describe the amalgamation and harmony of so many layers of flavour notes in each bite of this dish. Tanginess and richness of the gravy and sweetness from the roasted veggies and grapes, all combine to complement the juicy meat to perfection.
FUN FACT: The name Aguascalientes translates literally as “hot waters”. A demonym for people from that state, as I used in this post, may be Aguascalentense, dropping the “i” in the middle, and another more curious word, and also correct, is Hydrocálido, from the prefix hydro (from Ancient Greek húdōr- water), and the Latin calidus – warm, hot.
I received two sets of Corning™ French white ceramic bakeware as bridal shower gifts over 27 years ago, and still love them and use them frequently. For your convenience, click on the highlighted text below for products available on Amazon™. DISCLAIMER: Any reviews included in this post are my own, for items I have purchased, not provided by any company; as an Amazon Associates Program affiliate, I might receive a commission for any purchases originated from the links below, at no extra cost to you. Thank you to readers who have bought other products starting with a click from my links!
I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #565, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.