Making Staples: Mexican Crema

Crema is a Mexican condiment that is much like sour creme or creme fraiche in taste. Either can be substituted for crema in a recipe, but since crema is so ridiculously easy to make, it’s little trouble to have some on hand.

Plus, you can spice it up any way you like with the addition of chopped chipotle pepper (or the adobo sauce chipotles come packaged in), chopped cilantro or chives, lemon or lime juice/zest, or diced onion. Crema is a great multi-purpose ingredient not only for Mexican dishes, but to add body to a quick pan sauce for pasta or rice, as a quick dressing for fish or chicken, or as a base for salad dressing.

Make it once, use it a thousand different ways.

Stuck on what to do with the extra buttermilk? You can always make some fresh ricotta or a batch of Southern-style biscuits.

Mexican Crema

2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. buttermilk
big pinch salt
big pinch pepper

Bring your cream up to room temperature by setting it on your counter for an hour or so.

Stir in the buttermilk, cover with plastic, and let set in a warm place (80-90 degrees F) over night. If you are using a jar or other lidded container for this step, make sure not to secure the lid tight; you need bacteria to come in and do its thing. I made mine in a glass measuring cup covered with plastic wrap and it worked like a charm.

Voila. In the morning, you will have a cream that is noticeably thicker than the night before. Add salt & pepper and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours more to continue the thickening process and there you go. Crema, and lots of it.

Add your optional ingredients and enjoy. The first thing I enjoyed mine in was the Nacho Empanadas (recipe to come) I made on Superbowl Sunday.

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