Mexican Christmas Foods
Pork and Chorizo Pozole
Pozole is a slow-simmered, elaborately spiced Mexican stew made with hominy (dried corn kernels soaked in a mineral lime bath). This streamlined version from Chopped judge Aaron Sanchez, chef at Mestizo in Leawood, Kansas, uses two time-saving ingredients: fresh chorizo (which is already spiced) and pork cut into small, quick-cooking cubes.
Sweet Potato Tamales
Tamales are a traditional way to enjoy seasonal sweet potatoes.
Food & Wine's Justin Chapple soaks smoky chipotle butter in cheesecloth and drapes it over turkey while roasting, yielding superjuicy, delicious meat and skin.
Cheese Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce
At Mestizo, his restaurant in Leawood, Kansas, Aaron Sanchez makes an elaborate, long-simmered sauce for enchiladas. For a quick meal at home, though, he reaches for canned red chile sauce, such as one from Las Palmas. "It's old-school, very straightforward," he says. Sanchez sometimes adds shredded braised chicken to his enchiladas for a heartier meal.
Fruity, pale-yellow guero 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. And the tomatoes in the salsa add vitamin K and potassium while also balancing the sweetness of the mangos, which are high in vitamins A and C.
The Palomaesque Cocktail
The Paloma is a classic Mexican cocktail made with lime juice, tequila and grapefruit soda. Scott Baird, the mixologist who created this drink for Comal in Berkeley, makes his version with smoky mezcal, fresh grapefruit juice and Cocchi Americano, the sweet Italian aperitif wine.
Grilled Leg of Lamb, Mexican-Style
Homemade tortillas are on a whole different level from their store-bought siblings, especially when mixed with bacon fat and the green bite of fresh scallion. Don't be intimidated--they're fun to make and fairly simple. Rene Ortiz, from La Condesa, inspired this recipe, which has a roll-your-own element that echos the fun of family fajita night. And parents, please make these tortillas with your little kids, who will go bonkers for the meal if they get to help make it. -- Andrew Zimmern
Mexican Tripe Soup
This tripe soup is often considered the ultimate hangover cure, most likely due to the healing power of gelatin-rich broth made by simmering pig's feet. Served with hominy, it is called menudo; without, it is pancita.
Chipotle-Roasted Baby Carrots
When he makes this stunning salad at Empellon Cocina, Alex Stupak roasts baby carrots with mole poblano, a complex sauce that includes dried chiles, raisins and chocolate. Here, the carrots are roasted simply with smoky canned chipotles in adobo, then served with peppery watercress and cooling yogurt.
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.
Bolinho de Bacalhau
Look for thick pieces of salt cod when you shop, they are easier to shred and are better quality than thinner pieces.
Spicy Three-Pepper Guacamole
Jalapeno and serrano peppers, with a Fresno chile, bring the heat to this festive and fresh guacamole.
Mexican Street Corn (Elote)
"When we tried elote (Mexican street corn) for the first time, we basically thought we'd died and gone to heaven," say Adrian Harris & Jeremy Inglett, the Vancouver duo known as The Food Gays. "Commonly sold by food vendors in the streets of Mexico, it's an utterly addictive way to prepare corn on the cob, roasted over charcoal until charred and smothered in creamy, cheesy goodness. Totally indulgent and simple to prepare, these babies go perfectly with an ice cold beer (and plenty of napkins)."
Ginger's Lost Island
Bryan Dayton's mixture of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger liqueur and smoky mezcal evokes Mexican food and holiday flavor.
Fingerling Potato Hash with Mexican Flavors
The delicate skins and creamy flesh of fingerling potatoes make them good candidates for hash. Precooking the potatoes means you can use less oil for frying them than if you start with raw potatoes. Poblanos vary from mild to fiery; pass Tabasco sauce at the table for those who enjoy more heat.
Mexican Street Corn Drop Biscuits
In a nod to the corn sold on street corners in Mexico, F&W's Kay Chun makes these chunky biscuits with corn, cheese, cilantro and lime.
Burnt Strawberry Tamales
Chef Carlos Salgaldo makes these fantastic tamales by charring strawberries in a skillet, then mixing them into a buttery masa filling.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Kristin Ferguson, a pastry consultant at Firefly Bistro in South Pasadena, California, prepares this deliciously fruity pineapple upside-down cake in individual ring molds. She pairs the mini cakes with homemade buttermilk ice cream. To make things easier, you can also make a full-size cake in an 8-inch round pan and serve it with store-bought ice cream or whipped cream.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix
Spice up the winter season with a simple Mexican hot chocolate. You can make this mix in advance and whip together a hot beverage in no time.
Dulce de Leche Layer Cake
The version of Dominican cake that Scott Conant's friends introduced him to was a white cake layered with dulce de leche filling and frosted with a very sweet meringue. In his adaptation, Conant (along with his pastry chef Gerry Minos) lightens up on the sugar in the meringue and adds a nutty liqueur to the filling and frosting, giving it an Italian flavor. The cake is a knockout, with or without the liqueur, and stellar with either homemade or store-bought dulce de leche.
Mexican Chocolate and Dulce de Leche Crêpe Torte
Serve with a dusting of confectioners' sugar for a stunning dessert.