Chicken with Pepita Pesto

When I first started this blog I was a staunch traditionalist when it came to Mexican food and cooking.  I believed that to really understand it I had to use purely classic recipes and I held my nose up to those who strayed from lo tradicional.  But these days, I’m over it.  While I still love traditional recipes, I no longer have qualms about deviating from strictly classic Mexican fare.  At the end of the day, the adjective traditional, as we apply it to Mexican cuisine, is very relative.  Given the history of colonization and migration and the addition of new ingredientes, recipes and techniques over time,  it’s really hard to define what´s truly traditional and what’s not. These days I prefer to embrace new interpretations of recipes and if they’re tasty, that’s really what most important.

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Steamed Chicken in Guajillo Sauce with Avocado Leaves from the Rincón Jarocho Restaurant

This central Mexican dish, pronounced me-SHOW-tay, is prepared with pork, lamb, fish, rabbit, chicken or beef and marinated in an aromatic mixture of chiles and spices.  It’s traditionally prepared by wrapping the meat and sauce in sheets of the thin outer layer of the maguey leaf and steamed, however now it’s more common that they are steamed in small plastic bags, aluminum foil or parchment paper.

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Spicy Chicken + Tortilla Casserole

Pastel azteca is a Mexican-style casserole made of layers of fried corn tortillas, salsa, melted cheese, sour cream, meat and or vegetables.  As far as I can find there is not much information regarding the origin of this dish, but I’ve always imagined it as the invention of a 1950’s Mexican housewife.  This is a dish that while completely Mexican, reminds me of the cheesy, satisfying casseroles my parents used to make during the brisk fall and winter months in Chicago.

This recipe comes from friend and restaurant owner Valentina Zarco Perelló.  After trying Valentina´s pastel azteca on several occasions I asked if she could teach me her recipe.  She invited me to her restaurant, Fando & Lis, in Mexico City´s Narvarte neighborhood and took me through the process step-by-step.

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Chile + Fruit Mole with Chicken

Manchamanteles, literally meaning tablecloth stainer is a type of mole, originating from the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Puebla.  As with most moles, manchamenteles is made with dried chiles, nuts and spices, however what makes it unique is that it’s prepared with fruit, giving this savory dish a subtle, sweet finish.

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Chicken Stew with Prunes + Olives + Vegetables from Chiapas

An estofado is a kind of stew that is prepared with meat, vegetables and spices and cooked in broth or sauce over low heat.  Because of the extended cooking time, the meat absorbs the flavors of the spices, dried fruits and vegetables resulting in   deliciously tender and flavorful meat.

Stews are a typical dish in Chiapas and this recipe is an adaptation of one by Patricia Quintana from her cookbook, Sabor a Mexico.  The combination of the savory meat, olives, spices and vegetables with the sweetness of the prunes is characteristic of cuisine from this southern state in Mexico.

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Chicken in Chipotle + Tomato Salsa

Tinga de Pollo is a classic dish primarily from central Mexico made with shredded chicken, beef or pork and served in a tomato, onion and chipotle sauce.  Tinga is commonly found in street stands and served as the filling for quesadillas and tacos or on tostadas.  This dish is a crowd pleaser and is also a staple at baby showers, baptisms, among other family events and parties.

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