Classic Mexican Recipes
Chicken Tinga Tacos
"The chicken is braised in the oven, but you can make it in a slow cooker or completely on the stove, in a casserole," says Jenn Louis. There are many versions of tinga—the smoky Mexican tomato sauce—and this one is especially easy, calling for only a few simple ingredients.
Mexico City native Richard Sandoval makes his guacamole tableside in a volcanic-rock molcajete (mortar and pestle) and serves it with hot, superthin corn tortilla chips and two kinds of salsa: avocado-and-tomatillo and fresh tomato.
Crispy Corn Tortillas with Chicken and Cheddar
For these flautas, tortillas are rolled around a savory filling and pan-fried until crisp.
Except for its Velveeta-y chile con queso, San Francisco's acolicious prizes local ingredients—both at its Ferry Plaza stand and at its restaurant.
Red Chile-Chicken Enchiladas
Grace Parisi makes a slightly spicy red sauce for these enchiladas with smoky guajillo chiles and fruity ancho chiles.
Mexican Spice-Rubbed Rib Eyes with Lime Butter
For this intensely flavorful rib eye steak from chef Bernie Kantak, restaurateur Peter Kasperski skips the obvious choice—Cabernet—in favor of an Argentinean Malbec, which has a floral aroma that is marvelous with the spice rub and the puckery lime butter that melts into the juicy beef.
Scallop Ceviche with Aguachile
Aguachile (chile water) is a vibrant sauce made with fresh chiles, herbs and cucumbers that’s fantastic on any type of fish or shellfish. Chef David Goody serves aguachile with thinly sliced scallops that have been just cured in fresh lime juice.
Tortilla chips heated in a quick-cooking chile sauce and topped with feta, onion, sour cream, cilantro, and chicken make a particularly tasty version of this popular Mexican dish. Don't let the idea of softened chips put you off. This recipe is a winner.
Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas
"Pressure cooking is great for braises," says Modernist Cuisine co-author Maxime Bilet. "You can make pork shoulder tender in 35 minutes." Thanks to the rapid cooking time, this dish is a realistic weeknight meal.
Sweet Potato Tamales
These roasted bone-in chicken breasts with a light, citrusy sauce were inspired by Marcie Turney's trip to the Yucatán. At her restaurant, the chicken's burnished color comes from achiote, a paste made with annatto seeds.
Grilled T-Bone Tostadas with Spicy Radish Salad
Make mini versions of this tostada using tortilla chips, or skip the tostada and roll the steak and salad in soft corn or flour tortillas.
Fruity, pale-yellow güero peppers—just like Hungarian wax peppers—are a great source of vitamin C, folate and manganese. They're perfect for stuffing because "they have a little chile personality without being too hot," Deborah Schneider says. The shrimp-and-cheese filling here is a delicious source of protein.
Carne Asada with Black Beans
Rick Bayless serves this classic dish that combines grilled marinated steak, fried plantains, homemade black beans and fresh guacamole. To make it at home, trim the dish back to a simple duo of spice-marinated rib eye steaks and canned black beans served with avocado.
Mexican Chicken Pozole Verde
There are many variations on pozole, a traditional hominy-based Mexican stew closely associated with the Pacific-coast state of Guerrero. Anya von Bremzen's version, a green pozole, derives much of its flavor from tangy ingredients like tomatillos, cilantro and green chiles.
Chicken, Cheese and Mushroom Enchiladas with Sour Cream Slaw
A crunchy coleslaw made with a sour cream dressing is a cooling accompaniment to this spicy sauced enchiladas.
Cola-Marinated Flank Steak with Frito Chilaquiles
To make his version of chilaquiles (fried tortilla chips lightly cooked in salsa), Jamie Bissonnette unabashedly opts for Fritos. “They have great corn flavor, and they are crunchier than I could ever get tortillas by frying them myself.”
Basic Homemade Corn Tortillas
With just three ingredients, these quick, easy homemade corn tortillas are so much better than store-bought.
Fried Chicken Tacos
"Right in Tijuana's red-light district sits Kentucky Fried Buches, where cooks fry chicken necks, skin on, to fill soft corn tortillas. I can't stop eating them," says Andrew Zimmern. "At home, I fry skin-on chicken thighs until they're supercrisp, then eat them with avocado-tomatillo salsa, my family's favorite."
Combining fresh tomato juice and orange juice, this cold soup was inspired by sangrita—the zippy Mexican drink typically served at bars as a tequila chaser. "I love how the tomato and orange juices combine to form an entirely new flavor," Marcia Kiesel says. For fun, add a shot glass or two of silver tequila.
Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Mole Negro
Oaxaca is famous for its complex mole sauces, often made with more than 20 ingredients, like unsweetened chocolate, seeds and chiles. Since moles are so time-consuming to make, most Mexican cooks rely on the prepared pastes sold at the outdoor markets, and Alejando Ruíz Olmedo is no exception. Instead of stewing chicken in the mole, he takes a more elegant approach: He roasts chicken breasts until the skin is crisp and serves the mole alongside.
Tuna Ceviche with Avocado and Cilantro
With only a few ingredients, Rick Bayless's salpimentado (salt-and-pepper) ceviche is typical of what one would find at stands around the southern tip of Baja. Cooks often make it with sierra, a large and meaty Mexican fish, but tuna works just as well.
Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas Verdes
Marie Hejl made these easy enchiladas with a Spanish-speaking friend on a bilingual episode of her show, and she occasionally prepares them with her dad, Jim Hejl. Following her Mexican grandmother's recipe, Marie first dips the tortillas in a fresh tomatillo sauce, then fries them in oil. Here, to avoid excessive spattering, the tortillas are first fried in oil and then coated with the tomatillo sauce.
Simple Pork Posole
Mexican posole is typically a thick, hearty soup made with hominy (chewy dried corn kernels with the hull and germ removed). For his version, Ethan Stowell slow-simmers chunks of pork butt in water with onion and garlic to create a dish that's appealingly brothy. He likes to make it with chicharrones (fried pork rinds) and pig's feet, hard-to-find ingredients that are omitted in the recipe here. The array of fun, potently flavorful condiments—jalapeño, onion, cilantro and lime wedges—is key to the dish.
Tacos al Pastor
"Tacos, whiskey, hillbilly music"—that's the promise of Chicago's Big Star, famed chef Paul Kahan's new project with Donnie Madia and mixologist Michael Rubel of Violet Hour. Though they call the place a dive (it's not), the classic tacos—like the exceptional grilled-pork one here—are impressively fresh. And there's a take-out window.
Watermelon and Papaya Salad with Tequila Vinaigrette
To keep the ingredient list in check, omit the deep-fried tortillas (or opt for store-bought chips).
Garlic and Pasilla Chile Soup
Jacques Pépin's best friend, Jean-Claude Szurdak, came up with this version of a favorite local dish. The soup can be made with anchos or even guajillo chiles, but Jean-Claude prefers pasillas for their complex, earthy flavor and aromatic notes of chocolate and tobacco. The avocado and crème fraîche toppings here are key to mellowing the intense pure chile taste.
Chicken Burritos with Black-Bean Salsa and Pepper Jack
Pepper Jack cheese looks innocent enough but adds a nice kick to these burritos. If you prefer a milder taste, use regular Jack instead.
Bartender David Yan created this margarita to showcase the property's own tequila. He coats the rim of the glass with citrusy Tajin-brand chile powder, but any powdered chile will give the drink a fun kick.
Baked Huevos Rancheros
Traditional huevos rancheros are fried eggs served over tortillas and smothered in sauce and cheese. Here, Grace Parisi bakes eggs, tortilla chips and cheese in a seasoned tomato sauce in individual gratin dishes. For more sophisticated eaters, swap pepper Jack for the Monterey Jack to get a spicy kick.