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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Toasted Vermicelli in Roasted Tomato Salsa with Fried Pasilla Chilies aka Sopa Seca

Sopa seca or literally translated to as dry soup is another one of my favorite Mexican comfort food dishes.  I was intrigued by the dish initially because I didn’t understand what dry soup was supposed to mean, but the name made more sense once I figured out how sopa seca is prepared.  The noodles are fried in oil,  added to a spicy roasted tomato sauce and then baked or cooked over low heat until the noodles have absorbed the liquid.  

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Roasted Poblano Strips with Rich Mexican Crema

Today is my Momma’s 69th birthday so I decided to whip her up some rajas con crema. I’m in Mexico City and she’s in Chicago, so she won’t actually get to eat them but it’s the thought that counts right? In all seriousness, my mother looooooves this dish so it always reminds me of her. The times I’ve made it back home in Chicago she’s cleaned the dish. So here’s to my Mom, the woman who instilled in me my passion for food and cooking. I love you lots and am wishing you a very happy birthday.

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Pork with Fruit + Nuts from “Con Sabor A Tixtla” Restaurant

Picadillo is a dish that is made with ground or shredded beef or pork that’s eaten in tacos and quesadillas or used as filling for chiles or turkey.  There are simpler versions of picadillo that are made with ground meat in a tomato sauce with chopped carrots and peas and more elaborate versions have a lot of chopped ingredients and have both a sweet and savory element.

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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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