Archive for the ‘ Mexican ’ Category

RED CHILE & CHORIZO CHILAQUILES

I love chilaquiles.  In fact, I crave them so often that I drag myself out of bed early on a Saturday morning at least once a month to feast on one of my favorite versions from Primavera at the San Francisco Ferry Terminal Farmers Market.  That’s what you have to do if you’re going to try to beat the hordes of people that line up for this delicious Mexican breakfast dish every weekend.

We’ve all had huevos rancheros at one crappy diner or another at some point in our lives, but for those that have never tried authentic chilaquiles, it’s understandable how the concept could sound a bit bizarre.  Admittedly, the idea of crispy tortilla chips drowned in a sea of flavorful red chile sauce seems a bit unorthodox.  I mean who likes soggy nachos anyways? But for those that simply can’t wrap their head around the idea of a somewhat soggy nacho, I’d encourage you to think outside of Latin American cuisine to another ethnic group that also marries sauce and carbohydrates so beautifully — the Italians.

I an effort to convey the craveable aspects of this dish, I’d encourage you think of chilaquiles as you would the perfect bowl of pasta.  Here, the thick-cut (preferably homemade) tortilla chips play the role of al dente pasta that has a bit of soft crunch and resiliency left to it, but has also absorbed some of the delicious sauce that surrounds it.  Topped with spicy chorizo, tangy Mexican crema, crumbled cotija cheese and ripe avocado and you have a breakfast dish that will set you up for a whole days worth of activities…or an early afternoon nap.

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CINCO DE MAYO RECIPES

If you celebrate Cinco de Mayo the way folks around here do, you’re going to need some serious grub to soak up the booze. The following recipes will not only satisfy any Mexican cravings, they’ll also lay down a base coat before your night gets going. Best of all? They can pretty much all be scaled up to feed a crowd. So enjoy responsibly and leave other Cinco de Mayo menu ideas in the comments.

TACOS, TOSTADAS, APPETIZERS

Tacos de Barbacoa

Chile-Braised Pork Tacos

Tacos de Cochinita Pibil

Red Chile Beef Tostadas

Taquitos

SALSAS & DIPS

Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

Guacamole

Habanero Hot Sauce

Chipotle Bean Dip

Crema Mexicana

ON THE SIDE

Smoky Chipotle Black Beans

NICE & REFRESHING

Agua de Horchata

TAQUITOS

Cinco de Mayo is around the corner, and there are few hors d’œuvre in the Mexican repertoire better suited for munching on with a nice cold cerveza or margarita in hand than a crunchy, rolled taquito.  If the only kind of taquito you’re familiar with comes in a box from the frozen food aisle, then you’re in for a serious treat.  These are the real deal.  No microwaves, no ovens and no mystery meat here;  just the ear shattering crunch and savory interior of a freshly fried, homemade beef taquito.

Truth be told, I happily ate my healthy share of frozen taquitos for years. In fact, growing up I didn’t know many households that didn’t have a case buried somewhere in their freezer for snack emergencies. Throw them on plate, pop them in the microwave for a minute or so and go to town.  Let’s face it: they’re quick, convenient and the perfect vessel for your favorite condiment.  As a kid, I’d go as far as to dip mine in ketchup! It wasn’t until I decided to try a homemade version that I realized what this Mexican fingerfood could be. Where the frozen lack any serious depth of flavor and always end up being somewhere between chewy and soggy on the texture scale, the homemade is a knockout crispy treat.

These taquitos are the perfect way to use up leftover barbacoa.  In fact, I’ll even make an entire batch for the sole purpose of rolling up a few dozen of these bad boys.  If you really like them (which you will), go ahead and make a double batch and stash them in your freezer for the ultimate late night snack.  Like the kind from the box, but oh-so-much better.

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CREMA MEXICANA

Listen, there’s nothing wrong with sour cream out of a tub, but man can that stuff ever be thick.  That’s why I love crema — the rich, delicately sour, slightly thickened cream used in Mexican cooking.  Just look at how that stuff drizzles!  I like to think of it as a thinner version of crème fraîche. Unlike sour cream, crema Mexicana won’t break or separate when heated, making it ideal for stirring into warm sauces.  Sure there are a few good brands out there, but making it yourself at home couldn’t be any simpler.  All you need is some heavy cream, a cultured dairy product like buttermilk or yogurt and some culinary cajónes.  That’s right, in order to get this stuff to the right consistency you’re gonna have to leave it out on your counter overnight…unrefrigerated.  But don’t worry, considering the resilience of the ultra-pasteurized heavy whipping cream sold in most supermarkets, it’s gonna take a lot more than a night on your counter to spoil.  I too was a bit worried the first time I made it, but trust me, this recipe works like a charm.  The finished crema is complex, nutty and has a beautiful pourable texture, perfect for spooning on tacos, enchiladas or even a simple baked potato.  Or, do what I do and drizzle it on a plate of loaded, cheesy nachos — it certainly beats a thick glob of cold sour cream.

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TACOS DE BARBACOA

Having grown up in the Bay Area, I’m pretty accustomed to eating some damn good Mexican food.  As a true fan of the cuisine, I consider myself blessed to live within minutes of the birthplace of the original Mission-style burrito.  So, with some of the best taquerías in the entire state literally moments from my apartment, it’s with great embarrassment that I am here to say I enjoy eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill every once in a while.  Don’t get me wrong, I would NEVER pass up a burrito from one of my favorite joints here in town, but when I find myself craving some good barbacoa, I always know where I can find some.

Even though we have a taquería on every corner here in San Francisco serving mounds of carnitas, al pastor, chile verde and carne asada, very few in fact offer a version of this dish.  Good barbacoa is succulent beef that is slow-simmered in a spicy broth flavored with tangy lime juice, smoky chipotle chiles and plenty of garlic until it’s practically falling apart.  Seasoned with just the right amount of herbs, vinegar and salt, Chipotle’s come pretty darn close to some of the best I’ve ever eaten.  So, cobbled together from a few imposter recipes and knock-offs floating around the internet, along with some good, old-fashioned cooking know-how, I am here to offer my rendition of the barbacoa I’ve come to love from this massive chain restaurant .  I typically have them throw the stuff in a burrito at the restaurant, but here I serve it in authentic Mexican fashion, mounded up on a griddled tortilla and topped with diced white onion, plenty of cilantro and a lime wedge for squeezing over the top.  Pass some good bottled hot sauce or some avocado-tomatillo salsa for another great accompaniment or whip up a batch of cochinita pibil or chile-braised pork and throw a taco party.

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