When you say Mexican food, most people think of tacos and fajitas but there is a lot more to Mexican cuisine than just those two. Many Mexican foods are also extremely healthy since they tend to focus on lean meats, vegetables and citrus fruits. Plus they pair beautifully with margaritas, Mexican beer, and tequila. Really, what more could you ask for in a cuisine?
Common flavours include lime, lean pork and beef and, on the coast, seafood. Traditional staples to the Mexican diet include corn and beans. In many ways, the Mexicans use corn the way that North Americans use wheat – as a base flour for virtually every dough. Many Mexican dishes use chiles of varying strength, tomatoes, and Mexican cheeses. There are a number of different varieties of cheese including types of queso fresco (fresh cheeses which crumble and become creamy when cooked), melting cheeses such as queso quesadilla, and hard cheeses like cotija. Some are not hard to find at your local grocer while others may prove more difficult unless you have a Latin grocer nearby. I’ve indicated possible cheese substitutes in brackets for these recipes but if you can use the Mexican cheeses it is better. All of the recipes we’re looking at today come from All Recipes where individuals can submit their own recipes.
1) Carne Guisada
This is a Mexican beef stew. The recipe was submitted by Bao Le. It cooks for a long time but that is what makes the meat so tender. You can reduce the cooking time but your meat will be tougher.
- 2 TB cooking oil
- 1 lb. beef stew meat
- ½ (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 1 (10.5 oz) can beef broth
- ½ cup water
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp black pepper
- salt to taste
- 2 serrano chile peppers, seeded and chopped
- 2 tsp cornstarch
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan and brown the meat. Drain off the fat and add all remaining ingredients except the cornstarch. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 – 12 hours, stirring occasionally. About 5 minutes before you intend to serve it, take the cornstarch and dissolve it into a small amount of water then mix it into the stew to thicken it.
2) Mole Sauce
Pronounced moh-lay, this traditional sauce can be used on virtually anything although it’s most often seen on chicken. This is a bit more complicated to make but worth the effort. No author is attributed to this recipe so perhaps they wished to remain anonymous.
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 3 dried chipotle chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 1 dinner roll, torn into pieces
- 2 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips
- 2 tomatoes, cut in half crosswise
- 5 tomatillos, cut in half crosswise
- 1 tablespoon lard
- 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
- ½ head garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped peanuts
- ¼ cup raisins
- 2 TB cumin seeds
- 1 TB dried thyme
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 5 whole cloves
- 6 whole allspice berries
- 5 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 TB white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
In a saucepan, heat 2 cups of chicken broth until it begins to simmer then put it in a blender. In a dry pan, toast all chiles together. You’ll need to stir it constantly. After about 3 minutes, they will be warm and smell great. Add them to the broth in the blender. Repeat the toasting process with the dinner roll pieces and tortilla strips. Once they’re lightly browned add them to the blender mixture and let it all soak for about ten minutes then blend until smooth.
In a dry skillet, cook tomatoes and tomatillos over medium high heat until soft and blackened, about 3 – 4 minutes per side. Add them to the chile puree in the blender. In a large skillet, melt the lard and add in the onion, garlic, peanuts, raisings, cumin seeds, thyme, cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice berries. Cook over medium heat until onions are soft and golden in colour, about 5 – 8 minutes. Remove the whole spices including the cinnamon sticks and then add the mixture to the chile puree in the blender. Blend until smooth.
Put the puree in a large saucepan and heat it over medium heat, add in remaining chicken broth, chocolate, sugar and salt. Bring it to a simmer and cook until chocolate is melted and sauce is slightly reduce and thickened – about 10 – 15 minutes.
3) Chiles Rellenos (Stuffed Peppers)
This recipe is by Adrian Salas.
- 4 fresh poblano chile peppers
- ½ lb. lean ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup corn oil
Roast peppers over an open flame or under your broiler until evenly blackened and blistered. Then place them in a plastic bag to sweat for a bit so that they are easy to peel later. In the meantime, brown the beef over medium high heat in a large skillet. Once the meat is cooked, add in the onion, tomato and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove the peppers from the bag, it is best to wear gloves when handling hot peppers to protect your skin. Peel off the skin and rinse under cool water to remove any remaining burnt pieces. Make a small vertical slit in each pepper and remove the seeds and ribs from the vegetable. Stuff the pepper to about half full with the ground beef mixture and then fill the remainder of the pepper with shredded cheese. Close the slits using toothpicks.
In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until thick and fluffy. Add in yolks and blend until mixed. In a heavy skillet heat about ¼ inch of oil. Take each pepper and lightly coat it with flour then dip it in the egg mixture before adding it to the skillet. Fry until both sides are golden then drain on paper towels.
Cover photo: pinterest.com