When it comes to eating meat, Mexico goes from nose to tail. From menudo to pancita, and from tostadas de pata to tacos de cabeza, not only do we know how to cook each part well, we go on to dress and celebrate it on the plate.
As for me, the only part I haven’t warmed up to is sesos. My dad tricked me into eating some, when I was Juju’s age, in a quesadilla from a street stand that he said was filled with potatoes (…caught you on the first bite, papi!).
No doubt, one of the most popular and tastiest parts is the tongue.
Continue reading Eat your Tacos de Lengua, or else I will
3 pounds beef stew meat cut into 11/2-inch to 2-inch chunks, or beef shank meat cut into 11/2-inch to 2-inch chunks and bones added in the pot
1/2 white onion
3 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
10 cups water
1 large sprig of fresh mint, or between 10 and 12 leaves
3 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 pound ripe tomatoes (about 4), preferably roma
1/4 pound tomatillos (about 1 or 2 depending on size)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 chayote squashes, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
1 large zucchini, cubed (about 3 cups)
3/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into about 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
3 ears of fresh corn, husked and cut into thirds
3/4 cup finely chopped white onion, for garnish
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
3 to 4 limes, quartered, for garnish
In a large heavy-bottomed casserole or pot, place the meat, half onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, mint and a tablespoon of salt. Cover with 10 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface, and reduce the heat to low or medium-low heat, cover and simmer for an hour.
Meanwhile, place the ancho and pasilla chiles in a medium bowl, cover with boiling water and let them rehydrate for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the tomatoes and tomatillos in baking dish under the broiler, until they are completely charred and mushy, about 10 minutes. In a small skillet set over medium heat, place the sesame seeds and toast, stirring constantly, anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes until they start to become golden brown, but not completely dark brown.
In the jar of a blender, place the soaked chiles, along with 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid, the broiled tomatoes and tomatillos, and the toasted sesame seeds, and puree until completely smooth.
Remove the lid from the large casserole, remove the cooked onion, mint and garlic cloves (if some remains, it is totally fine) and pour the chile mixture in with the meat. Stir, cover again and cook for another half hour.
Remove the lid, raise heat to medium heat, add the cubed chayote squash and the corn, and cook partially covered for 15 minutes. Add the green beans and zucchini, and cook partially covered for another 10 minutes. Taste for salt and add more if need be.
Serve in bowls, making sure that each bowl has a serving of meat, corn, chayote, green beans and zucchini. Place white onion, cilantro and halved limes at the table, for people to add as last seasonings and garnishes.
Note: Traditionally, this recipe uses xoconostles, which are hard to find in the US. Instead, I use tomatillos, which have a similar tart flavor.
© 2010-2015 MEXICAN TABLE, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
I don’t think twice about eating a hot stew in the summertime. And, as far as I know, millions of Mexicans feel the same way.
You will see Pozole served in fondas in the middle of June, hot Caldo de Camarón as one of the most popular items on beach restaurant menus, and the famed Mole de Olla being ladled, sizzling hot from the pot, in markets all over the country at peak midday heat.
I’ve read that having something hot in the summer will actually cool you off. It turns out chiles are thought to have the same effect. All these Mexican stews, quoted above, have rich broths that are usually flavored with one or more kinds of chiles.
Continue reading Mole de Olla
Papas Rellenas con Salsa de Aguacate
Recipe courtesy Sabrina Soto
For the Cuban picadillo:
2 cups diced white onion
1 small jar of pimento chiles
2 cups seeded and finely chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, for sauteing
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground beef
3 large Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped green olives
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
For the papas rellenas:
4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon warm milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
2 eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the avocado sauce:
2 ripe Mexican avocados
Freshly squeezed juice from 4 limes (just over 1/2 cup lime juice)
1 medium bunch of cilantro, leaves and upper stems, roughly chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher or coarse sea salt, to taste
To make the Cuban picadillo: Heat olive oil in in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pimento chiles and green pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the garlic and ground beef to the pan, stirring to break up the meat and combine it with the onion and peppers, and cook until the meat has browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cumin and oregano to the pan, stir to combine and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes to thicken. Stir in the olives and simmer 5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the papas rellenas: Place the quartered potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are soft, then drain. Mash the potatoes with the salt and warm milk, and let cool enough to handle.
Grab a handful of the mashed potato mixture and form into a little “bowl” in your hand. Fill the “bowl” with some of the Cuban picadillo and cover with more of the mashed potato mixture - forming a ball about the size of a small baseball. Repeat until all the mashed potato mixture is used up.
Combine the bread crumbs and flour on a plate. In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water.
Dip a ball into the beaten egg and roll to coat, then roll in the flour and bread crumb mixture until lightly covered. Dip the same ball, again, into the egg and roll a second time in the flour and bread crumb mixture to coat thoroughly. Repeat with each ball.
Refrigerate the balls for about 3 hours.
Add enough vegetable oil to a heavy skillet to come about halfway up the potato balls and heat over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking, about 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully place as many balls into the oil as possible without crowding the pan, working in batches if need be. Fry the balls for about 2 minutes or until the submerged half is golden brown, turn the balls and cook another 2 minutes until golden brown. Remove the balls from the pan and set them on a paper-towel-covered plate or wire rack. Serve hot with avocado sauce on the side.
To make the avocado sauce: Place the avocado, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeño chiles, garlic cloves, olive oil and cumin and puree until smooth. Season with salt, to taste.
Bocados de Barbacoa
For the marinade:
10 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
10 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
5 cups water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 medium Roma tomato, quartered
1/2 medium white onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 medium garlic cloves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 whole cloves, stems removed
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons safflower or vegetable oil
For the meat:
4 pounds beef round roast or brisket, cut into 4-inch chunks
1 pound banana leaves, or aluminum foil
12 ounces (1 bottle) light beer
24 small slider buns (brioche or challah buns are specially good with this!)
Drunken pasilla, prune and orange salsa (optional)
Pickled jalapeños (optional)
For the marinade: Heat a large skillet or comal over medium heat. Add the dried guajillo and ancho chiles and toast them for no more than 20 seconds per side, taking care not to burn them. Transfer the toasted chiles to a medium saucepan and add the water, place over medium heat and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the chiles have softened and rehydrated.
Transfer the chiles to a blender, and add 2 cups of their cooking liquid (discard the remaining liquid), the vinegar, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, cloves and salt. Puree until smooth.
Wipe out the medium saucepan and add the oil. Place over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the pureed chile mixture, being careful to avoid any splatters. Partially cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the color darkens and the mixture thickens to a paste-like consistency.
For the meat: Place the beef in a large bowl and cover it with the marinade. If you will not cook it that day, cover and place in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Wrap the individual meat chunks in pieces of banana leaf or aluminum foil as you would wrap burritos or tamales - making sure to add a generous amount of marinade in each packet.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the meat packets inside a large, heavy ovenproof French oven or casserole, pour in the beer and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Roast for about 3 hours, until the meat is succulent and comes apart when pulled with a fork. Transfer to the stovetop (off of the heat), and let everything rest for 10 to 15 minutes before opening the meat packets.
Serve on slider buns with drunken salsa and/or pickled jalapeños.
© 2010-2014 MEXICAN TABLE, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus one tablespoon set aside
1 pound beef stew meat, cubed into 1-inch chunks
1 pound ground pork or beef
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1 white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño, seeding optional
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder such as ancho or chipotle chile powder
1 tablespoon chipotles in adobo sauce, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
4 cups beef stock
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed (or about 4 cups homemade)
Chopped fresh cilantro
Shredded cheddar cheese
Green onions, sliced thin
In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom casserole, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef, and begin to brown on all sides. After 2 to 3 minutes, add the ground meat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let it brown along with the cubed meat for another 5 to 6 minutes. The juices of the ground meat should have come out and then dry out. Stir as the meat browns.
Make room in the center of the pan, add the extra tablespoon of oil and add the onions and peppers, cook for 5 more minutes or until they begin to soften. Make some room in the casserole again, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, cayenne, paprika, chili powder, chipotle sauce, cumin, oregano, stir well.
Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and vinegar, mix well and cook for 3 to 4 minutes stirring a couple times. The tomato paste should have dissolved and the sauce thickened a bit. Pour in the beef stock and once it comes to a strong simmer, reduce heat to medium. Add the beans and stir. Lower the heat to medium-low, it should have a low steady simmer, and cook uncovered for an hour, stir every once in awhile.
Serve the chili in bowls and let your guests garnish with sour cream, cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla chips and green onions.
© 2010-2014 MEXICAN TABLE, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
A taco is a beautiful thing.
One of the most satisfying, versatile, exciting, and downright honest foods I can think of.
Plus, there is no need or mood a taco can’t tackle.
You are hungry and have but one peso in your pocket? Eat a Taco de Nada. You pass a tortillería on your way home? A Taco de Sal will hold you off until you get there. A deep hangover ails you? Go for Tacos de Barbacoa with Salsa Borracha. Did you say you have a broken heart? A pair of fully stocked Tacos al Pastor will be your most effective rebound. You are home with a cold? Soft chicken tacos dipped in fresh crema will make you all better, no doubt about that. Need to feed your teen kid and his buddies before they head out? Crispy Potato and Chorizo Tacos dressed with shredded lettuce, crumbled queso fresco and Salsa Verde will make them happy and fill them up. It’s lunchtime and you are on the road? If you are in Mexico (or somewhere with a large Mexican community), you will find someone with a huge basket selling Tacos Sudados to go. Planning a backyard party? Tacos de Carnitas will kick it off, without you even saying a word.
Continue reading Bricklayer Tacos
BRICKLAYER-STYLE BEEF TACOS
Tacos al albañil
Serves 6 to 8
8 oz bacon, sliced
2 pounds beef sirloin or tenderloin, cut into 1″ pieces
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups white onion, slivered or sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño chile, sliced, seeding optional, or to taste
1 pound ripe Roma tomatoes
Flour or corn tortillas
Place tomatoes in a baking dish and under the broiler for 6 to 9 minutes, until charred, mushy and juices have begun to run. Once cool, roughly chop, but don’t discard the juices.
Heat the skillet, add the bacon and cook until it is crisp and browned, about 5 minutes. Add the meat and season with salt and pepper and sear for about 2 minutes per side.
Add in the onion and jalapeño and let them soften for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and before it browns, in less than a minute, add the chopped tomatoes. Stir here and there and let it all season for about 4 to 5 minutes.
In a skillet or comal, set over medium-low heat, heat the tortillas. It will take about 1 minute per side. Place the tortillas in a tortilla warmer or wrap them in a clean kitchen towel or cloth napkin.
Serve along with the tenderloin tips; guests can fill the tortillas with the amount of filling they desire.
This episode explores three very different, very authentic and very simple twists on Mexican tacos, one of Mexico’s most iconic foods.
This is by far, the best brisket I’ve ever had.
The meat chunks gain a nutty brown crust as they cook, yet as you take a bite they fall apart in your mouth. And the sauce, thick, a bit tart, a bit spicy and wholeheartedly rich, enhances the flavor of the meat. It is a dish with a flavor hard to forget: it has loads of personality.
It’s become the trump card I pull out for guests that love unusual and authentic flavors from Mexico. The best part of it is, the hardest part about making it, is waiting for the brisket to cook on its own.
I first tried a version of it in Santa Fé de la Laguna, Michoacán. A popular dish in that region, it goes by the name of Carne Enchilada. A young and knowledgeable Purépecha cook, Berenice Flores, showed me how to make it at her home. When my whole family sat down to eat it, we kept asking her for more corn tortillas to wipe the sauce clean off the plates.
Continue reading Brisket in Pasilla Chile and Tomatillo Sauce