Beans

Chicken, Hominy and Pinto Bean Stew

Chicken Hominy and Pinto Bean Stew
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4.84 from 6 votes

Chicken, Hominy and Pinto Bean Stew

Chicken, Hominy and Pinto Bean Stew recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 9, Episode 8 "Super Sonoran"
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Course: Soup, stew
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: anaheim chiles, chicken, frijoles de la olla, gallina, gallina pinta, hominy, Mexico, pati’s mexican table, pinto beans, pozole, Sonora, soup, stew
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound dried hominy soaked in water to cover for 8 to 24 hours, or 4 cups cooked (2 15-ounce cans )
  • 1 head of garlic with peel on, halved horizontally (if cooking hominy only)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt if cooking hominy
  • 1/2 recipe frijoles de olla using pinto beans (3 cups cooked beans), or 2 15-ounce cans

For the chicken:

  • 1 4- to 5- pound whole chicken cut up into 8 to 10 serving pieces
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1 fresh Anaheim chile stemmed, seeded, cut in quarters
  • 10 stems fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

For the Anaheim seasoning sauce:

  • 1 fresh Anaheim chile
  • 1/4 white onion halved
  • 2 garlic cloves unpeeled
  • 10 sprigs cilantro

For garnish:

  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and top part of stems
  • Crushed chiletpin chiles may substitute finely chopped chiles de arbol, ground chile piquin or red pepper flakes
  • 2 limes quartered

Instructions

  • Strain soaked hominy and rinse. Place in a large pot, add water to cover by at least 4 to 5 inches, and add the halved head of garlic. Set over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce to medium heat, skim off foam, cover partially and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the hominy “blooms” or opens up. Once the kernels are very soft and you see them opening on the top like a flower, add salt, stir, turn off the heat, and set aside and let cool. Do not continue to cook or the hominy will fall apart. If making the frijoles de olla, you may do so while the hominy cooks. If using canned hominy and beans, you may skip this step.

To cook the chicken:

  • Do this while the hominy and beans are cooking. Place the cut up chicken in a large soup pot or casserole. Cover generously with water by at least 2 to 3 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, skim off foam and add the halved onion, 4 peeled garlic cloves, the quartered fresh Anaheim chile, 10 stems of cilantro and 2 teaspoons salt. Cover partially and simmer for 1 hour, until the chicken is falling away from the bone. Remove from heat, transfer the chicken pieces to a bowl and let cool until you can handle them. Strain the broth, set aside 1 cup, and return the rest to the soup pot.
  • Discard the onion, garlic, Anaheim and cilantro. Remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Remove meat from the bones, tear it into small pieces, and return it to the strained broth.

To make seasoning sauce:

  • Preheat the broiler with the rack adjusted at the highest setting. Cover a baking sheet with foil and top with the fresh Anaheim chile, the onion quarter, and the 2 unpeeled garlic cloves. Broil for about 10 to 12 minutes, flipping the vegetables over halfway through, until completely charred on the outside and soft on the inside. The garlic will be done before the other ingredients, usually halfway through, and should be removed from the baking sheet when you see that it is charred and softened. Alternatively, you can roast the vegetables on a comal over medium heat, flipping them over every 4 to 5 minutes, until charred.
  • Place the chile in a plastic bag and let it sweat for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the skin, stem and seeds from the chile and peel the garlic. Cut the chile into pieces and place it in a blender along with the charred onion, the peeled roasted garlic cloves and 10 sprigs of fresh cilantro. Add the cup of strained chicken broth that you set aside, and puree until completely smooth. Pour back into the soup pot or casserole with the chicken and remaining broth.
  • Remove the onion from the pinto beans and stir the beans into the soup pot, along with 1 cup of their broth (or more, to taste). If using canned beans, rinse and add to the soup pot. Discard the halved head of garlic you added to the hominy and add the cooked hominy along with 1 cup of its liquid (or more to taste) to the soup pot. If using canned hominy, drain, rinse, and add to the pot.
  • Return the pot to medium heat, bring to a simmer and simmer, partially covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. You will know it’s ready when the seasoning sauce pools on the surface into tiny dark green puddles that are a darker green than the rest of the soup. Taste and adjust salt.
  • Serve and let everyone garnish with chopped white onion, cilantro, chiltepin chiles and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Notes

Gallina Pinta

Fiesta Refried Beans

fiesta refried beans
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4 from 5 votes

Fiesta Refried Beans

Fiesta Refried Beans recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 9, Episode 5 "Flour Power"
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beans, Chipotle, Chorizo, fiesta, Mexico, pati’s mexican table, refried beans, Sonora, Sonoran
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 dried chiles colorados a.k.a. New Mexico chiles, California chiles, dried anaheim chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 recipe Frijoles de Olla made with pintos
  • 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Chihuahua, asadero or Monterey Jack cheese or melty cheese of your choice
  • 1/2 pound Mexican chorizo or longaniza peeled, coarsely chopped (optional)

Instructions

  • Place the dried chiles colorados in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until softened and plumped, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  • In batches, puree the cooked beans and 2 cups of their cooking liquid, the rehydrated chiles and the chipotle chiles in adobo.
  • Heat the lard or oil in a large casserole or sauté pan set over medium heat. Once hot, add the bean puree, cook for about 15 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan as it thickens. Stir in the cheese and continue to cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the beans have thickened into a soft puree and the cheese is completely incorporated and melted.
  • If adding chorizo, in a small pan set over medium-high heat, cook the chorizo or longaniza until brown and crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes. Top the beans with the chorizo or mix it in.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.

Notes

Frijoles de Fiesta

Pinto Bean Soup with Masa and Queso Fresco Dumplings

Pinto Bean Soup with Masa and Queso Fresco Dumplings
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4.86 from 7 votes

Pinto Bean Soup with Masa and Queso Fresco Dumplings

Pinto Bean Soup with Masa and Queso Fresco Dumplings recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 8, Episode 7 “Jinetes, Adventure in the Mountains”
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cilantro, green onions, masa, mexican crema, mint, onion, pati’s mexican table, pinto beans, queso fresco, Tomatoes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons canola or safflower oil divided
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 pound (about 2) ripe Roma tomatoes cored and chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt divided, or to taste
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans with 1 cup of their cooking broth
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth divided
  • 1 cup corn masa flour preferably the masa harina mix for tamales, but masa harina for tortillas also works
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  • Mexican crema optional, for garnish
  • Sliced scallions mint, cilantro and crushed dried chiltepín chiles or chiles de árbol, optional, for garnish

Instructions

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy soup pot or casserole over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 to 6 minutes until it has completely softened, the edges are golden brown, and there is a toasted and sweet aroma wafting from the pot. Add the garlic clove and and cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant and has colored. Stir in the tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes have cooked down to a soft, thick paste.
  • Add the beans along with 1 cup of their broth, as well as 4 cups of the chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover partially and simmer for 10 minutes. The beans should be completely soft and the broth thick and soupy.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the masa for the dumplings. In a medium bowl, combine the corn masa flour with the water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Knead together with your hands. The dough will be very coarse and seem dry. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, queso fresco, cilantro, and mint, and mix together until the dough is very soft and homogenous, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  • Working in batches, puree the pinto bean soup in a blender until completely smooth. Pour back into the soup pot and whisk or stir in the remaining 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low.
  • Begin forming the dumplings. Scoop up enough masa to make 1-inch balls, roll them between your hands (moisten your hands with water if they stick and, one-by-one, gently drop them into the soup. Once all the masa balls have been shaped and added to the soup, gently stir with a wooden spoon to make sure none stick to the bottom. Cover the pot partially with a lid and let the soup simmer gently for 15 to 20 more minutes until the masa dumplings are cooked through. They will thicken the soup as they simmer.
  • Taste the soup for salt and add more if need be. Serve hot, garnishing each bowl with a spoonful of fresh Mexican cream if desired. You may also sprinkle on some sliced scallions, mint, cilantro, and crushed chiltepín chiles or chiles de árbol for a punch of heat.
  • Note: If you are lucky enough to live next to a tortilleria or store that sells fresh corn masa, already mixed, go for it! You will need about 3/4 pound. Just mix it with the queso fresco, oil, mint, cilantro, and salt. If you can’t get ahold of fresh masa, rest assured that the corn masa made with masa harina for tamales or tortillas will still be excellent. If you have a choice between corn masa flour for tamales or for tortillas (they are two different products; masa harina for tamales will say so on the package), go for the tamal mix for these dumplings. The masa harina for tortillas is finer than the flour for tamales, but it will still work.

Notes

Sopa de Ombligo 

Taquitos Dorados Ahogados

Taquitos Dorados Ahogados
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3.43 from 7 votes

Drowned Crispy Taquitos  

Taquitos Dorados Ahogados recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 8, Episode 1 “A Local's Tour of Culiacán”
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 30 mins
Course: Antojos
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beef, corn tortillas, guajillo chiles, mexican crema, pickled red onions, potatoes, queso fresco, taquitos
Servings: 40 taquitos
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

For the taquitos:

  • 2 pounds beef chuck roast rump roast or other stewing meats, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 white onion halved
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles stemmed and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 2 carrots cut into large pieces
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes halved
  • 1 cup refried pinto beans
  • 40 corn tortillas
  • Wooden toothpicks
  • Vegetable oil for frying

To Serve:

  • 1 head green cabbage shredded
  • 1 cup Mexican crema
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • Pickled red onions

Instructions

  • Place the meat, onion, garlic cloves, bay leaf, chiles, peppercorns, tomato, carrots, and salt in a large casserole or soup pot. Fill with water until covered by at least an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, skim off any foam that may formed on top, and cover and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes, and continue simmering for another 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the meat is easy to shred and the potatoes are fork tender.
  • Transfer the meat and potatoes to a large bowl. Strain the broth into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for about another 30 minutes until reduced slightly.
  • Meanwhile, place the meat on a cutting board and finely chop. Mash the potatoes in the bowl, and add the refried beans and chopped meat. Mix until combined and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a comal or a dry skillet over medium heat until hot. Heat the tortillas on the comal or skillet for about 30 to 40 seconds per side; this will prevent them from breaking when rolling them into taquitos. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of shredded beef on one side of each tortilla and roll them up tightly, inserting a wooden toothpick through the seam to hold them together. You can insert a toothpick through 2 to 3 taquitos at a time, so they will fry evenly and hold their shape. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
  • Fill another heavy pan or large casserole with about an inch of oil. Heat over medium heat for at least 5 minutes before frying the taquitos.
  • Once the oil is hot, gently drop in the taquitos in batches, being careful to not overcrowd the pan. Fry them until they have crisped and turned golden, about 2 to 3 minutes on one side, then flip and repeat on the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the taquitos from the oil and put them on a plate or tray lined with paper towels.
  • To serve, place 3 to 4 taquitos on a rimmed plate. Top with shredded cabbage, crema, queso fresco, and pickled red onions. Pour hot broth onto the taquitos and serve drowned! Or, you can serve the broth on the side for dunking, or for people to drown the taquitos as they please.

Notes

Taquitos Dorados Ahogados

Border Pintos

Border Pintos
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4.72 from 7 votes

Border Pintos

Border Pintos from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 7,  Episode 4 "Baja Breakfast"
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Chorizo, pati's mexican table, pinto beans
Servings: 6 to 8 Servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pinto beans rinsed
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound Mexican chorizo casings removed, chopped
  • 1/2 pound thick sliced bacon chopped
  • 1 ripe Roma tomato cored and diced
  • 2 to 3 poblano chiles charred, sweated, skin removed, cut into strips
  • 1 cup queso fresco crumbled, for garnish

Instructions

To cook the pintos:

  • Place rinsed pintos in a large pot, cover with 3 liters of water, drop in the onion half and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and keep at a constant simmer, covering partially with a lid, for an hour. Check the beans from time to time to make sure they are not drying out. If they are, add a couple cups of hot water. Once they are cooked and soft, and should be very soupy, add the salt, remove the onion, stir and set aside.

Note:

  • You may substitute for 2 15-ounce cans of already cooked pintos. Heat with 2 cups water, season with salt to taste and set aside.

To make the Border Pintos:

  • Heat the oil in an extended skillet or casserole over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chorizo and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has started to brown and has rendered its fat. Add the bacon, stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until it begins to brown. Add the tomato and poblanos, stir and cook for a couple minutes. Incorporate the cooked pintos and all their cooking broth, let them come to a simmer, then reduce to medium heat and cook for 7 to 8 minutes. Until the beans are nicely seasoned, all the flavors have come together, and you see some lovely puddles of red fat over the top. Turn off heat. Crumble the queso fresco over the top before serving.

Notes

Frijoles Fronterizos

Tarascan Soup

tarascan soup
Print Recipe
4.78 from 9 votes

Tarascan Soup

Tarascan Soup, from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 7, Episode 12 "Photographic Food Memories"
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beans, pati's mexican table, pinto beans, Recipe, soup, Vegetarian
Servings: 6 to 8 Servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

For soup:

  • 1 pound ripe plum or roma tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 (about 1 ounce) ancho chile, stem and seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt divided, or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
  • 1 pound cooked pinto beans plus 2 cups of their cooking liquid or 2 14-ounce cans cooked pinto beans plus 2 cups water
  • 3 cups chicken broth vegetable broth or water

For garnishes:

  • 1/2 cup Mexican style cream
  • 1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled tortilla chips or tortilla strips
  • 1 ancho chile stemmed, seeded, diced, deep fried for a few seconds
  • 1 avocado, peeled seeded, meat scooped out and diced, optional

Instructions

  • Place the tomatoes, garlic, and ancho chile in a saucepan. Cover with water, and simmer over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tomatoes are completely cooked through and ancho chile is rehydrated.
  • Transfer the tomatoes, garlic, and ancho chile to a blender or food processor, along with 1 cup of the cooking liquid, the white onion, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Puree until smooth.
  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the pureed tomato mixture and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it darkens in color and thickens in consistency.
  • Meanwhile, rinse your blender or food processor, then add the pinto beans and 2 cups of their cooking liquid (or water, if using canned beans) and puree until smooth.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and stir the bean puree, broth and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt into the thickened tomato mixture. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the soup has seasoned and has a creamy consistency. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Turn off the heat, as it thickens quickly.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with a tablespoon of the cream and top with some cheese, a handful of crumbled tortilla chips or tortilla strips, a few fried ancho chile crisps and some diced avocado. You can also place the garnishes in bowls on the table to let your guests decide how much of each garnish they want to add to their bowls.
  • The soup itself may be cooled and stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Because this soup thickens a bit as it cools, you may need to add some chicken broth or water to thin it out when you reheat it.

Notes

Pinto Bean and Tomato Soup

Sopes

The very first class I taught at the Mexican Cultural Institute, after I switched from being a policy analyst at the Inter American Dialogue, was October 18, 2007.

I remember the date exactly, because it was a day after Sami’s 6th birthday. For months, I had been teaching him and his two brothers, Alan who was then 8 and Juju who was just 1, how to make sopes every night for at least 3 months.

I had been so nervous about teaching in front of a live audience that, instead of telling them our usual bed time story about an imaginary and mischievous monkey called Waba-Waba, I had switched to a nightly cooking demo. They were as loving and kind and patient as they are with me to this day, did not complain, and pretended to be making sopes along with me.

I started the classes at the Institute in an attempt to share my love for Mexican cuisine and culture and to try to open a much wider window into its richness, diversity and surprising accessibility. I wanted to help break misconceptions about our food and our people and invite people north of the border to make use of our ingredients, techniques and recipes to enrich their own kitchens.

The very first dish that I shared was sopes. I even found a photo of that day… and you can see Rosa and I showing how to make sopes many ways, with our hands, using a rolling pin, with a tortilla press…

Pati and Rosa making sopes at the Mexican Cultural Institute

Why did I choose sopes? To begin with, because they are one of my favorite things to eat! But also, because sopes helped me shine a light on so many crucial elements of Mexican cuisine…

Sopes are part of a category of dishes we Mexicans call antojos, or antojitos, which translates to little cravings. An antojo is something you can eat anytime of day and can either be a quick bite or make a full meal, depending on what you top them with… and how many you eat.

Sopes are made of corn masa, which is a cornerstone of Mexican cuisine that has existed for thousands of years. Made of nixtamalized corn, corn masa renders corn nutritious and versatile. You don’t need to nixtamalize corn yourself, you can buy masa harina, which simply mixed with water makes masa!

Sopes show how playful and versatile masa can be. They are similar to a tortilla, but they are much thicker, and the rim around it that helps contain its garnishes. They are like little edible plates.

Sopes are easy to make. Different from a corn tortilla, someone who is making sopes for the first time, doesn’t need to worry about knowing how to use a tortilla press, the correct thickness, or the technique for making them puff up. They are much more forgiving.

Sopes are also accessible: you can make them ahead of time, vary the toppings, assemble in a few minutes, dress them up or dress them down. I always, always, add a layer of refried beans, a tasty salsa and either tangy, salty and crumbly queso cotija or queso fresco, crumbled on top.

To boot, sopes are super fun to make by yourself or with friends or with your kids.

So as you can see, sopes helped me achieve many things: they helped me show how accessible, forgiving, fun, filling, nutritious, versatile, rich and delicious Mexican food is.

You can follow along with this video too…

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Zlm3lsNPF4[/embedyt]

To this day, I am still proudly teaching at the Institute where I am the resident chef 11 years after I started. I am also serving sopes any chance I get.

Pati Jinich sopes
Print Recipe
4.2 from 5 votes

Sopes

Sopes recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 6, Episode 10 "How I Got to Now"
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time18 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cotija, queso fresco, refried beans, sopes, Tomatillo Salsita
Servings: 12 sopes
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

To make the Sopes:

  • 2 cups masa harina or corn tortilla flour such as Maseca
  • 2 cups water more if needed
  • Pinch kosher or coarse sea salt

To serve:

Instructions

  • Heat a comal or skillet over medium heat until very hot.

To make the sopes:

  • Combine the masa harina, water and salt, kneading in a revolving motion with your hands. Knead for a couple of minutes, until dough is smooth and has no lumps. If it feels too dry, add a bit more water.
  • Divide the dough into 12 balls, each about 2-inches in diameter. Line the bottom of a tortilla press with circles cut from a thin plastic bag (like the ones from the produce section of your grocery store). One at a time, place a ball of dough onto the plastic lining the bottom of the tortilla press, and top with another layer of plastic. Press down to make a flat disk as thick as a pancake, about 1/4-inch thick (much thicker than a tortilla). You can also flatten and form them by hand. Repeat with all 12 balls.
  • As you make them, place each sope on the hot comal or skillet. Let them cook about one to two minutes on each side, until opaque and speckled, and they can be flipped without sticking.
  • Take them off the comal and place them on a chopping board. Using a kitchen towel to protect your fingers, make a rim around each sope by pressing and pinching with your fingers along the edges. Return them to the comal or skillet, and let them cook for one or two more minutes per side, until thoroughly cooked.
  • If eaten the same day, they may be kept wrapped in a clean kitchen towel. If not, wrap them in a kitchen towel or paper towel, and store inside a closed plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will keep for up to 3 days, afterwards they will turn too hard. Reheat on hot comal or skillet for a couple minutes before eating. They can also be frozen and kept for months.

To serve:

  • Once the sopes have been thoroughly cooked and warmed, place on a platter and add a generous tablespoon of refried beans, shredded lettuce, crumbled cheese, chopped onion and Quick Roasted Salsita. Salsa may be left on the side for people to add as much as they like.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

Just when you think you completely understand something, life proves you wrong. Does that happen to you? It happens to me all the time, especially when it comes to food.

A cuisine as rich and diverse as Mexico’s needs for us to make an effort to preserve what has been passed on. But, you also have to keep an open mind to new ideas that may in turn become classics.

In that sense, I find the kitchen to be one of the most humbling places because food is always growing and evolving and taking you along, if you let it. You get to constantly learn, apply what you learn, share it, and then start all over again.

Take tamales for example. I have made countless kinds from all regions of Mexico and from different historical times. I have wrapped them in dried and fresh corn husks, banana leaves, hoja santa leaves…practically any and every edible leaf I know of in Mexico. I have learned to make them with raw masa, with masa colada, with rice flour masa, with normal wheat flour masa and even with no masa! I have done savory and sweet, with fillings that range from picadillo to marzipan and beyond. You name it, I have probably tried it.

I thought I had the tamales from the city of Oaxaca nailed down. Then, a few months ago, as we were filming Season 6 of Pati’s Mexican Table there, I was amazed to try a new tamal at Criollo, Chef Luis Arellano’s new restaurant. Its masa was made with pumpkin and filled with sweet refried beans laced with piloncillo. The only way to describe it is brilliant!

Back in my kitchen, I was inspired by the possibility of not only flavoring the masa, but enriching it with a starchy vegetable to lend taste, consistency and color. I came up with this sweet potato tamal filled with savory refried beans.

When the time came to test and play around with it, I was reminded of how important it is to appreciate the lessons that have stood the test of time. In the case of tamales: to review our technique for steaming, for assembling, for achieving a good masa. So we can still call our new creation something worthy of the name TAMAL.

Given the addition of the starchy sweet potatoes, I ended up having to test the idea quite a few times to achieve a very fluffy, yet tasty masa.

In the end, I am very happy with this one! The masa is puffy and moist, and its barely sweet flavor contrasts nicely with the savory, earthy taste of the refried beans. I also took the liberty of drizzling them with crema and topping with salty queso fresco.

And, because my friends from FUD USA and I want to hear what your favorite tamales are, and mostly, we want you to be able to make them for the holidays, we’re giving away 5 tamaleras and each with a copy of my cookbook. Are you in? Go right here to enter.

Pati Jinich sweet potato black bean tamales
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

I thought I had the tamales from the city of Oaxaca nailed down. Then, a few months ago, as we were filming Season 6 of Pati’s Mexican Table there, I was amazed to try a new tamal at Criollo, Chef Luis Arellano’s new restaurant. Its masa was made with pumpkin and filled with sweet refried beans laced with piloncillo. The only way to describe it is brilliant! Back in my kitchen, I was inspired by the possibility of not only flavoring the masa, but enriching it with a starchy vegetable to lend taste, consistency and color. I came up with this sweet potato tamal filled with savory refried beans.
Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time2 hrs 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: black beans, pati's mexican table, queso fresco, sweet potato, Tamales
Servings: 12 tamales
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups corn masa flour or masa harina (such as Maseca)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 24 dried corn husks
  • 2 cups refried beans
  • 1 cup Mexican crema
  • 1 cup queso fresco crumbled

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminum foil. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until completely cooked and soft. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, cut open and scoop out the cooked pulp into a bowl. Set aside to cool.

To make the tamal masa:

  • Place the lard or vegetable shortening and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a mixer, and beat over medium speed until very light, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, add baking powder and sugar, and take turns adding the corn masa flour and the broth. Raise speed back to medium and continue beating another 6 to 7 minutes, until the dough is homogeneous. In batches, add the cooled sweet potato pulp and continue beating for another 5 to 6 minutes, until the masa looks fluffed up.

To assemble the tamales:

  • Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple minutes, or until they are pliable, and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. Spread about 1/3 cup masa into about a 2” to 3” square, the layer should be about 1/4” thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2” on the sides. Place about 2 teaspoons of refried beans in the middle of the masa square.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa starts to swaddle the filling) and fold them to one side, rolling them in same direction around tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open. Gently squeeze from the bottom to the top to even the filling out without pressing to hard. As you assemble all the tamales, place them as upright as you can in a container.

To prepare the tamalera or steamer:

  • Place water in the bottom pan of a steamer, so that water is under the steamer basket or rack, and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks.

To cook the tamales:

  • When you have all tamales ready, place them as vertically as you can, into the prepared steamer with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some corn husks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more corn husks, and steam covered with a lid for 55 minutes to an hour. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks. They will still be moist, and as they are released from the husks – you will see the moisture, like when you remove good moist muffins from their paper baking cups.
  • Finished tamales will stay warm for about 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 20 minutes and about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.
  • You can serve with a spoonful of Mexican crema and crumbled queso fresco on top.

Notes

Tamales de Camote con Frijol

Oaxaca Style Refried Beans

Print Recipe
4.25 from 8 votes

Oaxaca Style Refried Beans

Oaxaca Style Refried Beans recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 6, Episode 9 "Oaxaca Breakfast: Messy & Delicious"
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 5 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: black beans, epazote, pati's mexican table, queso fresco, refried beans
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 1 pound black beans rinsed
  • 1 white onion halved
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • A couple sprigs fresh epazote or cilantro
  • 5 dried avocado leaves
  • 3 dried chiles de arbol
  • 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white onion finely chopped
  • For garnish queso fresco
  • For garnish ripe avocado

Instructions

  • Place the black beans and the onion in a large soup pot or casserole and add enough water to cover by at least 2- to 3-inches. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat and cover with a lid, leaving it slightly open. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes – making sure there is always sufficient water (if you need to add a cup, make sure it is boiling hot).
  • Once the beans are cooked and tender, add 1 tablespoon salt and a couple sprigs of fresh epazote or cilantro. Cook for another 15 minutes. Turn off heat.
  • In a hot comal or skillet set over medium heat, toast the avocado leaves and chiles de arbol for a couple of minutes until fragrant and browned, flipping as they toast. Remove from the heat. Break the leaves into pieces. Remove the stem from the chiles and break into pieces without discarding the seeds.
  • Working in batches if necessary, add the cooked beans and at least 1 1/2 cups of their cooking liquid (or add water if need be) to the jar of a blender, as well as the avocado leaves and chiles. Puree until a little chunky.
  • In a large skillet or casserole set over medium-high heat, heat the lard or vegetable oil. Once hot, but not smoking, add the chopped onion. Cook until translucent and edges are beginning to brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Incorporate pureed beans and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they thicken to your liking. I cook them for about 10 to 12 minutes.

Notes

Frijoles Oaxaqueños

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

Pati Jinich sweet potato and black bean tamales
Print Recipe
4 from 6 votes

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 6, Episode 2 "History of Oaxaca Cuisine"
Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time2 hrs 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: masa, mexican crema, pati's mexican table, sweet potato, Tamales
Servings: 12 to 16 tamales
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups corn masa flour or masa harina (such as Maseca)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 24 dried corn husks
  • 2 cups refried beans
  • 1 cup Mexican crema
  • 1 cup queso fresco crumbled

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminum foil. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until completely cooked and soft. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, cut open and scoop out the cooked pulp into a bowl. Set aside to cool.

To make the tamal masa:

  • Place the lard or vegetable shortening and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a mixer, and beat over medium speed until very light, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, add baking powder and sugar, and take turns adding the corn masa flour and the broth. Raise speed back to medium and continue beating another 6 to 7 minutes, until the dough is homogeneous. In batches, add the cooled sweet potato pulp and continue beating for another 5 to 6 minutes, until the masa looks fluffed up.

To assemble the tamales:

  • Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple minutes, or until they are pliable, and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. Spread about 1/3 cup masa into about a 2” to 3” square, the layer should be about 1/4” thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2” on the sides. Place about 2 teaspoons of refried beans in the middle of the masa square.
  • Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa starts to swaddle the filling) and fold them to one side, rolling them in same direction around tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open. Gently squeeze from the bottom to the top to even the filling out without pressing to hard. As you assemble all the tamales, place them as upright as you can in a container.

To prepare the tamalera or steamer:

  • Place water in the bottom pan of a steamer, so that water is under the steamer basket or rack, and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks.

To cook the tamales:

  • When you have all tamales ready, place them as vertically as you can, into the prepared steamer with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some corn husks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more corn husks, and steam covered with a lid for 55 minutes to an hour. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks. They will still be moist, and as they are released from the husks – you will see the moisture, like when you remove good moist muffins from their paper baking cups.
  • Finished tamales will stay warm for about 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 20 minutes and about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.
  • You can serve with a spoonful of Mexican crema and crumbled queso fresco on top.

Notes

Tamales de Camote con Frijol

Pork and Beans

pork and beans
Print Recipe
4.29 from 7 votes

Pork and Beans

Pork and Beans recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 5, Episode 2 “Mérida: Exploring with the Locals”
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time2 hrs 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Avocado, black beans, chiltomate, corn tortillas, epazote, habanero, lime, pati's mexican table, pork, radish, Yucatán Peninsula
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds black beans rinsed and drained
  • 4 pounds pork shoulder, butt, or country-style ribs (or a combination) cut into 2" chunks
  • 1 white onion outer peel removed and cut in half crosswise without cutting ends off
  • 4 fresh epazote sprigs or 15 cilantro sprigs, tied with kitchen twine
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 8 to 10 radishes julienned or cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and upper stems
  • 1 ripe avocado halved, pitted, meat scooped out and diced
  • 4 limes quartered
  • Yucatecan tomato sauce or Chiltomate to taste, optional
  • Habanero chiles to taste, either "dipped" or finely chopped optional
  • Warm corn tortillas

Instructions

  • Add 6 liters of water and the rinsed beans to a large casserole or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook at a steady rolling simmer, with the lid slightly ajar, for 45 minutes.
  • Incorporate the pork chunks, halved white onion, epazote or cilantro sprigs, and salt and stir. Continue simmering for another hour and a half, partially covered, until the pork is completely cooked and tender, making sure the broth does not dry out – I add another 4 cups of boiling water after I add the pork. Turn off the heat. Taste for salt and add more if need be.
  • Serve with garnishes of julienned radishes, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, lime quarters, Chiltomate, and habaneros (they can just be cut and dipped into individual bowls to add a bit of heat, called "chuk" or "remojar"). Each person can “puuch” or mash and mix the garnishes of their choice in their bowl. It is customary to serve along with warm corn tortillas.

Notes

Frijol con Puerco

Black Bean Puree

Print Recipe
4.5 from 4 votes

Black Bean Puree

Black Bean Puree recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 5
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: black beans, epazote, pati's mexican table
Servings: 2 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 sprigs fresh epazote (may substitute fresh cilantro)
  • Kosher or coarse sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup lard (may substitute with vegetable oil)

Instructions

  • Rinse the black beans and place in a large pot, along with the onion and epazote. Cover with 10 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Check periodically to make sure beans are covered with enough water, adding more if necessary.
  • Allow the beans to cool slightly, then carefully drain the beans over a large bowl or pot to reserve the cooking liquid.
  • Using a blender or food processor, puree the cooked beans with 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid and the lard. Add more cooking liquid, as needed, to achieve a thick but moist puree. Season to taste with salt.

Refried Bean and Cheese Chimichangas

Print Recipe
4.67 from 6 votes

Refried Bean and Cheese Chimichangas

Refried Bean and Cheese Chimichangas recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 1, Episode 8 “Mexican Brunch”
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time33 mins
Course: Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Brunch, Chihuahua cheese, flour tortillas, jalapeno, Mexican Manchego, Monterrey Jack cheese, onion, pati's mexican table, refried beans, serrano chiles
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil divided
  • 1/4 cup white onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano chile seeded and chopped (more or less to taste)
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 cups refried beans
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups Mexican Manchego Chihuahua, Monterey jack or light chedder, shredded
  • 12 Flour tortillas medium size
  • salsa of your choice

Instructions

  • Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a medium sized skillet set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and let it cook 4 to 5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the chile, give it a couple stirs and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 15 to 30 seconds more. Incorporate refried beans along with 1/4 cup water and mix well. Let it cook and season for a couple minutes as you mash it all together. Turn off the heat.
  • In a comal or skillet set over medium-low heat, heat flour tortillas one at a time, about 15 seconds on each side, to soften so they won’t break when folded. Add about 2 heaping tablespoons each of refried beans and cheese near the edge of the tortilla, one at a time. Begin rolling as if making a chubby taco, after the first fold, tuck in both edges of the tortilla, continuing to roll to make a thick bundle. Flatten a bit with your hand.
  • Reheat remaining oil in the same saute pan or comal, over medium-low heat. Place chimichangas in batches and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until they achieve a lightly browned crust on both sides. You may also use more oil and deep-fry them over medium heat for less time, but I like the first option more…
  • Serve along the side of the Rabo de Mestiza eggs and spoon some of its sauce on top, or serve with the salsa of your choice.

Notes

Chimichangas de Frijoles con Queso

Cowboy Charro Beans

Cowboy Charro Beans
Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

Cowboy Charro Beans

Cowboy Charro Beans recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 1, Episode 2 “Foods of the Mexican Revolution”
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: bacon, beans, black beans, Chorizo, jalapeno, pati's mexican table, Peruvian beans, pinto beans, Tomatoes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 6 oz sliced uncooked bacon chopped
  • 8 oz fresh uncooked Mexican chorizo casings removed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper finely chopped more or less to taste, seeded if desired
  • 1/2 lb roma tomatoes about 2 to 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt plus more as needed
  • 5 cups cooked pinto beans and their cooking liquid or substitute with black or Peruvian beans

Instructions

  • Cook the bacon in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until it is lightly browned and starting to crisp. Add the chopped chorizo; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until it starts to brown and crisp. As it cooks, use a wooden spoon or spatula to break it into smaller pieces.
  • Add the chopped onion and jalapeño; mix well and cook for 1 or 2 more minutes, letting them soften a bit. Add the tomatoes and mix well; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring, until the tomatoes soften and appear mushy.
  • Add the cooked beans and their cooking liquid; mix well and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the beans are moist but not soupy. Add a bit more water if needed. Taste, and add more salt to your taste. Serve hot.

Notes

Frijoles Charros con Tocino y Chorizo

Plantain and Refried Bean Quesadillas

Pati Jinich Plantain and Refried Bean Quesadillas
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Plantain and Refried Bean Quesadillas

Plantain and Refried Bean Quesadillas recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 1, Episode 1 “Quesadillas”
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Antojos, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: pati's mexican table, Plantains, Quesadilla, refried beans
Servings: 6 to 8 quesadillas
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 1 pound yellow mature plantains
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup refried beans store bought or home-made
  • Safflower or corn oil to fry

Instructions

  • Place the whole plantains in a large pot filled with boiling water. Simmer, partially covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are thoroughly cooked. Remove from the water and let cool. Peel the plantains, slice, and place in a food processor along with the sugar. Process until smooth. If the dough seems to soft and runny, you may add some all purpose flour to thicken it a bit. You may also let it sit in the refrigerator, covered, for a half an hour so it will harden too.
  • Make round balls of about 1 to 2″. Press in between plastic rounds in a tortilla press or roll with a roller until you get a flat disk of about ¼”. Place about a tablespoon of refried beans right in the center and fold like a turnover. Press down along the edges so they will be tightly sealed.
  • In a large deep skillet set over medium heat, heat enough oil to have about an inch high. About 3 to 4 minutes later, when it is hot but not smoking, insert the quesadillas a few at a time. The oil should be bubbling around the quesadillas as you do. Let them fry, about 2 minutes on each side until nicely tanned and lightly crisped. Don’t let them brown too much. Remove them and place on a paper towel to drain excess of oil.
  • Serve with your favorite salsa.

Notes

Quesadillas de Plátano Macho con Frijolitos Refritos

Ham and Cheese Torta Sandwiches

ham and cheese torta
Print Recipe
4.67 from 6 votes

Ham and Cheese Torta Sandwiches

Ham and Cheese Torta Sandwiches recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 2, Episode 2 “School Lunch with a Mexican Twist”
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Avocado, bolillo, cheese, chicken, ham, mexican crema, mozzarella, Oaxaca cheese, pati's mexican table, Pickled Jalapeños, queso fresco, refried beans, Sandwich, telera, Tomato, Torta, turkey
Servings: 2 sandwiches
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 2 Mexican bolillo or telera rolls or small baguettes
  • 1/2 cup refried beans
  • 1/2 ripe Mexican avocado scooped and sliced
  • 4 slices Mexican queso fresco Oaxaca or Mozzarella
  • 4 to 6 slices ham, turkey or cooked chicken
  • 1 tomato sliced and seeded
  • A couple of thin slices of onion optional
  • Pickled jalapeño peppers to taste optional
  • Salt to taste optional
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican style cream optional

Instructions

  • Slice the rolls in half lengthwise. If they’re not fresh, toast them slightly for a few minutes. On one side, spread a tablespoon of refried beans; on the other, mash 1/4 of an avocado with a fork.
  • Top the bottom half of the bread with a few slices of cheese, 2 or 3 slices of ham or cold cuts of your choice, it may also be shredded chicken or meat, and a couple of slices of tomato.
  • Drizzle a tablespoon of Mexican-style cream and crown your package with as many pickled jalapeños as you wish. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top.
  • Place the top half of the roll on the sandwich and slice the torta horizontally. Eat it or wrap it up so that it can travel along with you.

Notes

Tortas de jamón y queso

Bell Peppers, Cucumber and Chickpea Salad

Print Recipe
4.17 from 6 votes

Bell Peppers, Cucumber and Chickpea Salad

Bell Peppers, Cucumber and Chickpea Salad recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 4, Episode 4 “Summer Evening Party”
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: bell peppers, chickpeas, cucumber, garbanzo beans, jalapeno, mint, peppers, red onion, red wine vinegar, vinaigrette
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno chile stemmed, seeded and finely chopped, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas rinsed and drained (or about 2 cups home-cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 red bell pepper stemmed, seeded, cut into “matchstick” slices (2-inches by 1/4 to 1/2-inch)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper stemmed, seeded, cut into “matchstick” slices (2-inches by 1/4 to 1/2-inch)
  • 1 orange bell pepper stemmed, seeded, cut into “matchstick” slices (2-inches by 1/4 to 1/2-inch)
  • 1 green bell pepper stemmed, seeded, cut into “matchstick” slices (2-inches by 1/4 to 1/2-inch)
  • 1 cucumber peeled, seeded, halved and sliced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, beat the lime juice, red wine vinegar and oils with a fork or whisk until emulsified. Toss in the oregano, mint, red onion, jalapeño, and salt and pepper and whisk again until fully incorporated. Add the chickpeas, and let it all marinate while you prepare the rest of the vegetables. You can also cover and refrigerate the marinating chickpeas for up to one day.
  • When ready to serve, add the bell peppers and cucumbers, mix well, and set on the table.

Notes

Ensalada de Pepino, Pimiento y Garbanzo

Black Beans from the Pot

frijoles de olla or black beans from the pot
Print Recipe
4.5 from 6 votes

Black Beans from the Pot

Black Beans from the Pot recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 4, Episode 1 “Good Morning, Mexico!”
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: black beans, cilantro, epazote, onion, pati's mexican table
Servings: 5 cups, plus cooking liquid
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black beans rinsed
  • 1/2 white onion
  • A few sprigs of cilantro or epazote optional
  • kosher or coarse sea salt to taste

Instructions

  • Place the beans in a big heavy pot and cover with enough water to cover the beans by at least 3-inches, about 12 cups of water. Incorporate the onion and bring to a rolling boil. You may also add cilantro or epazote. Let the beans simmer over medium heat, partially covered, for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the beans are soft and then add the salt. Don’t add the salt in the beginning, or it will toughen the beans.
  • Let them continue simmering for another couple minutes, or until the beans are so soft, they come apart if you hold one between your fingers, and the broth has thickened to a soupy consistency. If the beans are not yet soft and the broth is drying out, add more hot water. Remove the cooked onion and herbs with a slotted spoon before serving.

Notes

Frijoles de Olla

Big Brunch Enchiladas

An intrinsically Mexican dish, enchiladas are not one but a multitude of possibilities that can dress up a corn tortilla. Simply the sound of the word enchilada makes any Mexican’s mouth water in less than a millisecond and is cause for celebration.

One of the dearest antojos or antojitos (translate to whims or little whims), enchiladas are corn tortillas that may be heated up or lightly fried, either folded or rolled, with or without a variety of fillings, always bathed in a salsa or sauce, and garnished with a a few from a long list of possible toppings. From crumbled queso fresco and a drizzle of crema, to raw or pickled onion, chiles or other vegetables, Mexican avocado, chorizo, shredded lettuces and cabbage, just to name some.

Considering the variations of fillings, salsas, and toppings, enchiladas not only embody different regional cuisine’s identities, but also the whims of different cooks…

Here is my latest one; I call it the Big Brunch Enchilada.


Before filling the corn tortillas with soft scrambled eggs, seasoned with sautéed scallions, I opted to quickly fry the tortillas. As we Mexicans say, pasamos las tortillas por aceite caliente: we dip the tortillas in very hot oil for a couple seconds to make them malleable and even more resilient to withhold the sauce and garnishes. If the oil is very hot, the tortilla will not absorb the oil, but will be transformed. You can opt to not fry and instead heat the tortillas on a hot comal, skillet, or griddle, for a minute per side until thoroughly hot and barely crisp.

However, please: for the love of anyone or anything you love the most, don’t use flour tortillas to make enchiladas.

Just, please, don’t? I am begging here.

Flour tortillas are sweeter than corn tortillas, they are less resilient to withhold sauce, fillings, and garnishes and become a mushy mess of the worst sorts if given the enchilada treatment.

Please, please, please, proudly stick to corn tortillas.

big brunch enchiladas
As for the salsa or sauce, the most well known enchiladas are verdes soaked in a salsa verde, enchiladas rojas soaked in a red salsa, and enchiladas de mole. All, of course, with their multiple variations.

For my Big Brunch ones, I am bathing them with a rich, thick and earthy black bean sauce, common in the Mexican Gulf Coast. I tend to have trouble deciding whether to eat my black beans with chipotles in adobo sauce or pickled jalapeños. Truth is, if I use one, I usually end up adding the other one too and mixing them up. So here, I am adding and combining both. The homemade black beans, or store bought ones if you don’t have time to cook them, are seasoned with the smoky, sweet and spicy adobo sauce from chipotles in adobo, as well as the vinegary pickling sauce from the pickled jalapeños. I couldn’t be happier with the result.

Forget about a light garnish, add tons of meaty and crisp bites of Mexican chorizo.

big brunch enchiladas
Fresh, tart and slightly salty crumbled queso fresco.

big brunch enchiladas

Bright fresh scallions (I love scallions…) that contrast with the cooked scallions scrambled with the eggs.

big brunch enchiladas
To finish off, punchy chopped pickled jalapeños go on top.

big brunch enchiladas
I liked these enchiladas so much, I couldn’t even decide on an ending photo for the blog post. So I am showing you the view from the top and from the side.

big brunch enchiladas
These enchiladas ended up being not an antojito but an antojote, a huge antojo of mine. Made to be eaten for a big brunch, they passed the critical approval of all my boys to the point that they were fighting for each piece on this plate. This is the one time when I don’t complain about them fighting.

Since this is a sign of success in my kitchen, the recipe is now yours!

I hope you give it a try for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta, your Mother or Father’s day brunch, or anytime you may want to indulge. As complex as they may sound, they are super easy and fast to make. Here’s how.

big brunch enchiladas
Print Recipe
4.6 from 5 votes

Enchiladas with Chipotle Black Bean Sauce, Chorizo and Queso Fresco

An intrinsically Mexican dish, enchiladas are not one but a multitude of possibilities that can dress up a corn tortilla. Simply the sound of the word enchilada makes any Mexican’s mouth water in less than a millisecond and is cause for celebration. One of the dearest antojos or antojitos (translate to whims or little whims), enchiladas are corn tortillas that may be heated up or lightly fried, either folded or rolled, with or without a variety of fillings, always bathed in a salsa or sauce, and garnished with a a few from a long list of possible toppings. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Antojos, Breakfast
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Avocado, black beans, chipotles in adobo, Chorizo, corn tortillas, Eggs, Enchilada, pati's mexican table, Pickled Jalapeños, queso fresco
Servings: 12 enchiladas
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked beans and 1cup of their cooking broth or 2 drained cans black beans plus 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vinegary sauce from pickled jalapeños in vinegar or escabeche
  • 1 pound Mexican chorizo casings removed, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil plus more oil if frying the tortillas
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions plus extra for garnish
  • 9 large eggs beaten with a fork or whisk until foamy
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco cotija, farmer’s cheese, or goat cheese
  • 6 to 8 pickled jalapeños seeded and chopped, for garnish
  • Ripe Mexican avocado slices optional

Instructions

  • Place the cooked black beans and cooking broth (or water if using canned) in a blender, along with the sauce from the chipotles in adobo and the vinegary sauce from the pickled jalapeños, and puree until smooth. Place in a medium saucepan, heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until very hot. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and keep warm. The puree should have the consistency of heavy cream.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the chopped chorizo and cook, crumbling as it cooks with a wooden spoon or spatula into small bite sized pieces, until it has browned and crisped, about 5 to 6 minutes. Scrape into a bowl, cover and set aside.
  • Pre-heat a comal or cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Heat the oil in a medium 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the scallions and cook until soft and translucent and the edges begin to brown lightly, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, pour in the beaten eggs, sprinkle with the salt, and cook, stirring often and gently, until desired doneness. I like to stop the cooking when the eggs are still soft and tender, not dry, which takes about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Heat the corn tortillas, a pair at a time, in the pre-heated comal or skillet, about 1 minute per side, until completely heated through and even slightly toasted. Alternatively, you can heat enough oil to have 1/2" in a medium skillet set over medium heat, once very hot but not smoking, quickly pass each tortilla through the oil (4 to 5 seconds) and place on a plate or drying rack covered with paper towels. You know the oil is ready if when you dip a tortilla, the oil bubbles actively all around the edges and the tortillas begin to puff up after a few seconds.
  • One by one, place on a plate and spoon about 2 generous tablespoons of the scrambled eggs onto the center of tortilla. Roll it into a soft taco and place in a platter, seam side down.
  • When all the tortillas are stuffed and rolled on the platter, pour the bean puree on top. Cover with the cooked chorizo, crumbled queso and extra scallions. Add as many chopped pickled jalapeños as you like. Decorate with ripe avocado slices if you want to take those enchiladas way over the top.

Notes

Enchiladas de Huevo con Salsa de Frijol con Chipotle, Chorizo y Queso Fresco

Grilled Cheese and Bean Heroes

molletes pati jinich
Print Recipe
4.6 from 5 votes

Grilled Cheese and Bean Heroes

Grilled Cheese and Bean Heroes recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 3, Episode 3 “My Three Favorite Boys”
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time13 mins
Course: Antojos, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Avocado, bacon, bolillo, bread, Chorizo, ham, Monterrey Jack cheese, mozzarella, Mushroom, Oaxaca cheese, Pico de Gallo, refried beans, telera, turkey
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 4 teleras, bolillos, Portuguese buns, or baguettes cut into 5- to 6-inch pieces
  • 2 cups refried beans homemade or store-bought
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) shredded Oaxaca cheese, mozzarella, Monterrey Jack or mild cheddar
  • Traditional pico de gallo or other salsa of your choice

Optional extra toppings:

  • Mexican-style chorizo crumbled and fried
  • Crisped bacon
  • Turkey or ham
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Sliced avocado

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice the bread in half lengthwise. Spread each piece with 3 to 4 tablespoons of refried beans and top with 3 to 4 tablespoons of grated cheese. Arrange the molletes on a baking sheet as you make them. If you want to add more toppings like ham, turkey, bacon or chorizo, sprinkle them on top of the cheese.
  • When they are all assembled, bake until the cheese has melted and the bread has a nice toasted crust on the bottom and around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Eat while hot. Serve with pico de gallo, or your favorite salsa, on the side.

Notes

Molletes

Tex-Mex Chili

tex mex chili pati jinich
Print Recipe
4.72 from 7 votes

Tex-Mex Chili

Tex-Mex Chili recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 3, Episode 2 “Pati’s Texican”
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: beans, beef, bell peppers, cayenne pepper, chili, chipotles in adobo, ground beef, jalapeno, onion, pati's mexican table, pinto beans, pork
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil plus one tablespoon set aside
  • 1 pound beef stew meat cubed into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 pound ground pork or beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more to taste
  • 1 white onion chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño seeding optional
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Chili powder such as ancho or chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chiles in adobo sauce or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans drained and rinsed (or about 4 cups homemade)

To garnish:

  • sour cream
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Tortilla chips
  • Green onions sliced thin

Instructions

  • In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom casserole, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef, and begin to brown on all sides. After 2 to 3 minutes, add the ground meat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let it brown along with the cubed meat for another 5 to 6 minutes. The juices of the ground meat should have come out and then dry out. Stir as the meat browns.
  • Make room in the center of the pan, add the extra tablespoon of oil and add the onions and peppers, cook for 5 more minutes or until they begin to soften. Make some room in the casserole again, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, cayenne, paprika, chili powder, chipotle sauce, cumin, oregano, stir well.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and vinegar, mix well and cook for 3 to 4 minutes stirring a couple times. The tomato paste should have dissolved and the sauce thickened a bit. Pour in the beef stock and once it comes to a strong simmer, reduce heat to medium. Add the beans and stir. Lower the heat to medium-low, it should have a low steady simmer, and cook uncovered for an hour, stir every once in awhile.
  • Serve the chili in bowls and let your guests garnish with sour cream, cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla chips and green onions.

Notes

Chili Tex-Mex

Hearty Bean & Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

One of the things that I’m most enthusiastic about in what I do is breaking down myths about Mexican food and also about Mexicans. One of the biggest misconceptions is that Mexican food is greasy, fatty, cheesy and overloaded in heavy amounts of condiments. Some of the dishes that crossed the Mexican border and have become popular in the US, have been re-interpreted and promoted by the US fast food industry. Yet, mega burrito bombs, nachos smothered in cheese, and sizzling fajitas with scoops of sour cream on top are things you will have a really hard time finding in Mexico.

One thing that surprises people who delve a bit more into the Mexican culinary world is how crazy we are about salads. Not taco salads, no, no, no… Wholesome salads that use vegetables and beans and grains and flowers and all kinds of dried chiles and herbs…

It may be that the Mexican use of the word salad “ensalada” doesn’t help much to spread this good information because we usually call “ensalada” when there is lettuce or leafy greens in it. This leaves out chayote en vinagre, calabacitas en escacheche (pickled zucchini salad), nopalitos, and a gazillion other salads named simply by their main ingredient.

Mexican salads are so fascinating that I dedicated an entire chapter to them in my cookbook. They tend to be easy to make, and there always tends to be something exotic or interesting going on. A hibiscus flower vinaigrette, crunchy and watery jícama, or quickly pickled ancho chiles, super crispy and sweet garnishes like caramelized pecans or peanuts, spiced pepitas, or toasted sunflower seeds, just to name some.

Salads are usually dressed up in an oil and vinegar treatment, and Mexican cooks get very creative with them. We whip up vinaigrettes quickly, either in the blender or simply shaking them up in a jar. After they are made they can be refrigerated and re-used, with just a re-shake to emulsify. Every Mexican home that I know, has their home staple vinaigrettes of choice.

Pick a flavor of your choice: say, cilantro! Fresh, grassy, strong.

cilantro

Don’t like cilantro? Pick another one, such as chives, tarragon, mint, parsley… a combination of many.

But stick with me on cilantro for this one. This is one of my regular vinaigrettes. All you do is add the ingredients in a blender, puree, done. Don’t be deterred. In less time than it takes to run to the store for a bottle, you have a tastier one made at home.

cilantro vinaigrette

You can use it in a regular green salad, over tomato and mozzarella, soaking up other cooked vegetables like green beans or asparagus and sprinkled with fresh cheese. I tried it with this combination of corn, hearts of palm and black and garbanzo beans, and we all went wild over it. So many textures, so many flavors, so many colors, so very playful.

It can be your main dish, anytime of the year, with some crusty bread on the side. It can also be a great side salad for your barbecues and picnics in the summertime.

bean and corn salad

bean and corn salad
Print Recipe
4 from 3 votes

Hearty Bean & Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

Salads are usually dressed up in an oil and vinegar treatment, and Mexican cooks get very creative with them. We whip up vinaigrettes quickly, either in the blender or simply shaking them up in a jar. After they are made they can be refrigerated and re-used, with just a re-shake to emulsify. Every Mexican home that I know, has their home staple vinaigrettes of choice. Pick a flavor of your choice: say, cilantro! Fresh, grassy, strong.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: bell peppers, black beans, chickpeas, cilantro, Corn, garbanzo beans, hearts of palm, Recipe, red onion, red wine vinegar, salad, vinaigrette
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 15.5oz can black beans drained and rinsed, or 1 ¾ cups black beans from the pot , drained
  • 1 15.5oz can garbanzo beans or chickpeas drained and rinsed, or 1 ¾ cups cooked garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 15.2oz can corn drain and rinsed, or 1 ¾ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels cooked
  • 1 14oz can hearts of palm rinsed and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and upper stems, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt or more to taste

Instructions

  • Place all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a blender and puree until smooth. You may make the vinaigrette up to a week ahead and store covered in the refrigerator. If made ahead, whisk with a fork or whisk to re-emulsify prior to using. You may also shake it in the covered container.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine black beans, garbanzo beans, corn, red bell pepper and red onion. Pour vinaigrette and combine well. Add hearts of palm, gently toss and serve.

Notes

Ensalada de Frijol, Garbanzo y Elote con Vinagreta de Cilantro

Molletes with Pico: No Way not to Fall in Love

It takes three ingredients, plus any extra topping that you fancy, 8 minutes in the toaster or oven and you get one of the most comforting foods I have eaten since I can remember: Molletes.

One of the most popular Mexican anytime antojitos or cravings, that can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, a hearty afternoon snack or dinner.  It used to be a standard option for breakfast or dinner at my house growing up in Mexico City, just as quesadillas were. But I also used to crave Molletes from my school cafeteria.

So yes, even if I had some at home in the morning, I would have more for lunch at school…

First, you need the earthy and filling refried beans. You can make your own at home -I make a weekly double batch of beans and use it all week long- or buy ready made at the store. I usually go for Pintos, from photo below, or Black beans.

molletes 1

Secondly, you need crispy bread. In Mexico it is always a bolillo or telera, the Mexican adaptation of the baguette (since times of Maximilian in the 1860’s…). But you can use petite baguettes or cut individual portions from a large baguette. Portuguese buns are similar too.

Slice the breads in half lengthwise and slather 2 to 4 tablespoons of refried beans on each half.

Molletes 2

Lastly, add a generous amount of shredded, melting cheese. Something flavorful, but not too overpowering, like Oaxaca, Mozzarella (but not the fresh wet one), Monterey Jack, Light Cheddar or Muenster. In Mexico I would also go for the Chihuahua or Mexican Manchego, but those are hard to come by in the US.

Then in the toaster or oven they go, for about 8 minutes. Until the bread crisps on the outside even more, the earthy beans have heated up and the cheese is oozing on top of it all.

Molletes 3
As with most antojitos, they can be messed around with. You can add extra toppings like crumbled bacon, chorizo, turkey or ham.

My boys love to have those choices! It makes them feel empowered in the kitchen, different from one another and like they are fully enforcing their free will on my territory. Which honestly, is more and more theirs, as the years go by. And I just love that, I can’t begin to tell you how much.

In restaurants and coffee shops Molletes are usually served with a side of Pico de Gallo.

Molletes 4

Talk about a way to make them even more wholesome and colorful. A healthy mix of ripe tomatoes, a bit of onion, cilantro and fresh chile, all mixed with fresh squeezed lime juice. But sometimes I will serve them along a Salsa Verde or Chipotles in Adobo. Delicious as well.

There is no way not to fall in love with this quick, fun and tasty meal. There’s just… none.

Enjoy!

Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Grilled Bean and Cheese Heros

It takes three ingredients, plus any extra topping that you fancy, 8 minutes in the toaster or oven and you get one of the most comforting foods I have eaten since I can remember: Molletes.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Course: Antojos
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Antojo, beans, Monterrey Jack cheese, mozzarella, Oaxaca cheese, pati's mexican table, Pico de Gallo, Recipe, refried beans, telera
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 4 teleras bolillos, petite baguettes or large baguettes cut into 6" portions
  • 2 cups refried beans homemade or store bought
  • 2 cups Oaxaca cheese mozzarella or Monterrey jack, grated (any melting cheese of your liking will do)
  • Serve with pico de gallo salsa or another salsa of your choice

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Slice the bread in half lengthwise to have 8 pieces. Spread each piece with 3 to 4 tablespoons of refried beans and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of grated cheese on top. Arrange Molletes on a baking sheet as you make them. If you want, add additional toppings like ham, turkey, bacon or chorizo. Sprinkle them on top of the cheese. When they are all assembled, place the baking sheet into the oven.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread has a nice toasted crust around the edges. Serve with Pico de Gallo salsa, or a salsa of your choice, on the side or on top.

Notes

Molletes

Fava Bean Soup: Time to go Mainstream!

When I think about my mother, I think about her fava bean soup (fine, and a couple other things too…). That’s how strong an impact that soup has had on me.

But not many people are wild about favas, habas in Spanish. Different from pasta or potatoes, Favas haven’t gone mainstream.

Okay. I can see why.

First, the fact that they come in many forms can be confusing (fresh in their pod, fresh out of the pod, dried with their skin on, or dried and peeled). Also, the ways to cook them in their different forms haven’t been widely publicized. On top of that, favas have a strong flavor that can be overpowering, and to some, hard to bear.

Now, bear with me here. If you know what form of favas to get for which kind of dish, the confusion is almost gone. With the right recipe, the confusion evaporates further and their overpowering flavor is tamed. Thus… beloved cooks, favas become what they must: filling, rich, wholesome and deliciously intense.

dried and peeled favas

Since we are almost in the middle of winter, and I started talking about my mother’s soup, let’s consider dried favas which can be found year round and store forever in your pantry (fresh ones are found from Spring to Summer).

You can find them with shells on, like these on top. They are pretty, but you need to soak them, cook them and peel them. Quoting my mother: “Ay no Pati, eso de pelar una por una es una monserga” (translates to something like: peeling them one by one is a pain).

If you are looking for a relaxing therapy that will take hours, that’s fine. If you are not, go for the already peeled dried favas, like the ones below. They don’t look as pretty, but have more personality.

dried favas skin on
To cook: Soak them in cold water anywhere from 2 to 12 hours. If you forgot to soak them, they will take a bit longer to cook, that’s all.

soaking favas
Now, drain them and place them in a pot with chicken broth and let them simmer, with the cover ajar, for about 50 to 55 minutes. They will be soft, thoroughly cooked and coming apart. That’s what you want.

See the broth? Its thick and lightly hay colored. Soothing looking already…

cooked fava beans
Next step, seasoning base: tomatoes, onion and garlic. My mom makes a rustic kind of soup. She chops the tomatoes, onion and garlic, cooks them with a little oil for 5 minutes and adds it to the cooked fava beans and broth.

I prefer a more smooth version of the soup because:
a) It lets me trick my monsters into eating the beans.
b) It looks more fancy if I want to serve it to guests.
c) With this cold, I find it much more comforting.
d) I like creamy things, so let me indulge myself.

So, I puree the fava beans with the broth once they are ready.

pureed fava beans
As for the seasoning base, with the blender in working mode, I puree the tomatoes with the onion and the garlic too….

tomatoes garlic onion
Cook that nice and thick puree over medium high heat for 5 or 6 minutes, until it thickens and darkens its color. Which means that the ingredients have seasoned and transformed from having a raw flavor to a cooked one.

tomato puree
Pour the fava bean and chicken broth puree right on top of that seasoned tomato base. Add salt, pepper, a pinch of cumin and let it all come together and season for about 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile, slice some bolillos, teleras or baguettes.

slicing baguette
Brush them with a light coat of olive oil, on both sides, if you must. Toast them until tanned and crispy.

brushing baguette
With the soup seasoned and thickened, you are ready to pour it into a bowl.

serving soup
Lay a piece of toast right on top…

place bread on soup
Crown it with some Pasilla chile crisps if you want an extra layer of flavorful crunch (see recipe below).

garnish with pasilla crisps
And jump in.

fava bean soup
Just watch as that piece of toast jumps in along with me.

fava bean soup
And if this blog had sound you would have heard the toast crack in the midst of that fava bean bath…

fava bean soup
And yes it is fabulous! What are you waiting for?

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Fava Bean Soup with Crunch Toasts and Pasilla Crisps

When I think about my mother, I think about her fava bean soup (fine, and a couple other things too…). That’s how strong an impact that soup has had on me. But not many people are wild about favas, habas in SpanishDifferent from pasta or potatoes, Favas haven’t gone mainstream.
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: bolillo, chicken broth, cumin, fava beans, garlic, onion, pasilla, pati's mexican table, Tomatoes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fava beans peeled and dried
  • 12 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound ripe Roma tomatoes quartered
  • 1/2 cup white onion roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled
  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil corn or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of cumin
  • 2 pasilla chiles stemmed, seeded, and cut into small strips and quickly fried
  • 6 diagonal slices of bolillo telera or baguette, lightly brushed with oil and toasted
  • Olive oil to brush over the toast

Instructions

  • In a bowl, cover the fava beans with cold water and let them soak anywhere from 2 hours to overnight. Drain. Place the lima beans and chicken broth in a large soup pot set over medium heat. Let it come to a medium simmer with the lid ajar and cook until the beans are thoroughly cooked and tender, about 50 to 55 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them cool a little bit. Puree in batches in the blender. Place in a container or a large bowl.
  • Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes along with the onion and garlic until smooth. In a large soup pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Once it is hot, but not smoking, pour in the tomato puree. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, until it deepens in color and thickens, about 5 to 6 minutes. Pour in the lime bean puree. Sprinkle the salt and black pepper, and continue cooking for about 8 to 10 minutes, until all of the flavors have combined.
  • Ladle the soup in individual bowls. Garnish with a piece of toast, brushed with olive oil, and sprinkle some crunchy chile strips on top.
  • Note: To make the chile crisps, quickly fry the chile pieces in a saute pan with 1/4" oil set over medium heat. Once oil is hot but not smoking, quickly fry the crisps, literally 2 seconds, remove and place on a plate covered with paper towel.

Notes

Sopa de Habas con Pan Tostado y Chile Pasilla

On a Soup and a Book

It is partly because of a soup like this, that I want to write a cookbook.

A soup that makes me feel all warm inside when I spoon it into my mouth.

A soup that has the earthiness and simplicity that grounds me.

A soup that, aside from having a comforting base, has layers of surprising life and color and crunch.

A soup that makes me want to eat nothing else for an entire week.

A soup that speaks of centennial traditions and is passed down through generations recipes.

A soup that is a pleasure to think about, to write about, to talk about, to prepare and to savor.

It is mostly because I want to share a soup like this with you, dear friends, that I am jumping to write this cookbook.

So with great news to share: I will be working with the delightful Rux Martin, editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, to make this cookbook come to life.

In this book, I will write about -and tell you how to make- all of those foods that make me want to scream out of joy, along with the stories that revolve around them.

for tomato and bean soup-thumb-510x342-1527

So here you go, for this Fall season, which has already galloped in front of me as I was barely putting away my monsters’ bathing suits: The Sopa Tarasca. One of my favorite soups in the whole entire world.

As with many Mexican dishes, it has a base of tomato, onion and a bit of garlic.

Tarascan Soup 2
But it also has the addition of the prune like, exuberant flavor of the Ancho chile.

After those ingredients are cooked, pureed and seasoned, they are mixed with a bean puree

Tarascan Soup 3
and chicken broth…

Queso Fresco A1-thumb-510x342-1933
As if that earth shattering base wasn’t enough, this soup is garnished, to your liking with Queso Fresco

Tarascan Soup 5
Tortilla crisps.

Tarascan Soup 6
Ripe Mexican avocado chunks…

Tarascan Soup 7
And the tangy and salty notes from Mexican cream

Of course you can toss in some Chile crisps in there too…

Tarascan Soup 8
From the Purépechas -also known as Tarascos- who inhabit the mountainous regions of the soulful state of Michoacán, and after whom this soup was named in its colonial capital of Morelia where I have eaten it one too many times, to the city of Washington DC in the United States of America, where I make it regularly for my Mexican American family: and hopefully it will find a place at your table too.

I lost my breath in that sentence…

Enjoy!

p.s. If you have any Mexican food craving, just name the dish, I will try to make a page for it in that cookbook.

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Tarascan Bean and Tomato Soup

So here you go, for this Fall season, which has already galloped in front of me as I was barely putting away my monsters’ bathing suits: The Sopa Tarasca. One of my favorite soups in the whole entire world. As with many Mexican dishes, it has a base of tomato, onion and a bit of garlic.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: ancho chiles, beans, chile, corn tortillas, cotija cheese, garlic, mexican crema, onion, pati's mexican table, queso fresco, Recipe, refried beans, soup, Tomatoes, Vegetarian
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

For the soup:

  • 6 cups of bean puree
  • 1 pound ripe plum or roma tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 ancho chile steam and seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup white onion roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
  • 3 cups chicken broth vegetable broth or water

For the garnishes:

  • 4 Corn tortillas cut in half and into strips, fried until lightly golden or toasted
  • 1/2 cup cotija or queso fresco cheese crumbled (farmers cheese, ricotta salata, mild feta or shredded mozzarella cheese may be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup fresh Mexican cream heavy cream or cream fraiche may by substituted
  • 1 ancho chile stem and seeds removed, cut into thin strips, flash fried (optional)
  • 1 Mexican avocado peeled, seeded, flesh scooped out and diced

Instructions

  • Place the tomatoes, garlic, and the seeded and stemmed ancho chile in a saucepan, cover with water and simmer over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until tomatoes are completely cooked through. Once the tomato mix cools down, place it in a blender or food processor with a cup of the cooking liquid, the raw white onion and a teaspoon of the salt; puree until smooth.
  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the tomato puree and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it darkens in color and thickens in consistency. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the bean puree and broth or water, simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the soup has seasoned and has a creamy consistency. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Turn off the heat as it thickens quickly.
  • The soup without the added garnishes may be cooled and stored in a closed container and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Since it thickens a bit as it cools, you may need to add some chicken broth or water to thin it out when you reheat it.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle on top a tablespoon each of cream and cheese, a handful of tortilla strips, a few fried chile strips and some diced avocado. You can also place garnishes in bowls on the table to let your guests garnish to their liking.

Notes

Sopa Tarasca

Bossed Around at El Bají­o: Plantain Quesadillas

Each time I go back to Mexico City, even before the plane lands, I know there are some formal plans that can never, ever, be messed around with. They are all with my father and they all involve eating in the same places. Each single time.

One of the places is El Bají­o. If you know my father, you know he doesn’t let me order. You also know that he knows the Restaurant manager, waiters, bar servers and valet parking attendants by name. And they all know him too.

Continue reading “Bossed Around at El Bají­o: Plantain Quesadillas”

Enfrijoladas

We came back home exhausted, after being away for a couple weeks in Canada for a big family reunion. Though we had delicious meals, trying all sorts of Canadian fare, as soon as we walked in I was ready to make some comforting, home tasting food.

Few things taste more like home to me, than beans. In Mexico there is always, always, a simmering pot of beans cooking at some point during the week in any kitchen. As beans need to be cooked for a long time, they infuse the kitchen with a moist, earthy and cozy aroma, that remains even after the beans are ready.

Of course one can make more than a thousand things with a batch of Frijoles de Olla, or Beans from the Pot. But one of the things that are the most simple, yet comforting, asides from scooping them with corn tortillas, are Enfrijoladas.

Filling and tasty, Enfrijoladas wrap some of the main flavors and textures from Mexico’s cuisine in their fold.

The soft corn tortillas, that you can make or buy ready made at the stores (if you buy them, go for the unrefrigerated ones). The rich, straightforward and creamy seasoned bean puree, which also goes by frijoles colados, in which they are dipped in and smothered everywhere…

dipping corn tortilla in bean puree
The thick, tangy and fresh taste of the Crema Fresca, or Mexican cream, that you drizzle on them after you fold them on a plate…

mexican crema
The salty, crumbly, Ranchero take of the Queso Fresco (Remember I was going to tell you many things that you can make with Queso Fresco?)…

queso fresco
And of course, to top that off, you can slice some ripe luscious Mexican avocado on top. And if you feel like it, have a serving of any salsa, or Chipotles in Adobo on the side to drizzle along.

enfrijoladas
Enfrijoladas, as are most Mexican antojos or cravings, are truly versatile.  They can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner and can be a main dish or a yummy side to grilled chicken or meat.

They are so, so, comforting, the I was once asked what I would serve the Mexican President in times of distress if I had the opportunity: It has to be Enfrijoladas, I said.

enfrijoladas
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5 from 3 votes

Enfrijoladas

Few things taste more like home to me, than beans. In Mexico there is always, always, a simmering pot of beans cooking at some point during the week in any kitchen.O f course one can make more than a thousand things with a batch of Frijoles de Olla, or Beans from the Pot. But one of the things that are the most simple, yet comforting, asides from scooping them with corn tortillas, are Enfrijoladas.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Avocado, chipotles in adobo, corn tortillas, mexican crema, queso fresco, refried beans
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 4 cups frijoles colados or seasoned and pureed beans
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup Mexican cream or heavy cream
  • 1 cup queso fresco or fresh cheese, or farmers cheese, or a mild feta
  • Mexican avocado slices optional
  • Chipotles in adobo sauce optional

Instructions

  • Heat a comal or dry skillet over medium heat.
  • Heat the pureed beans in a medium cooking pot to a gentle simmer.
  • Taking one tortilla at a time, heat on the comal or skillet for about 30 seconds per side. Take the tortilla with a pair of tongs and immerse it in the bean puree. Place it on a plate, fold it as if it were a quesadilla or a turnover. Drizzle on as much cream and sprinkle on as much cheese as you like.
  • You can also top it with some avocado slices and a bit of chipotles in adobo sauce.

Beans: Frijoles de Olla or Beans from the Pot

The uses of beans in Mexican cooking are immense. Although you can buy them already made, if you make them at home they have a much nicer flavor and you will give your kitchen an irresistible smell. You can make a lot of them and refrigerate a batch which should last in the refrigerator for about 4 to 5 days. You can freeze another batch which will last for months.

I will give you two tips, included in the recipe below, if you make them at home:

1. Don’t add the salt in the beginning or it will toughen the beans. Add it at least after an hour of cooking when the beans are already a bit soft.

2. You don’t need to soak them the night before cooking. Yes, that helps to reduce the cooking time, but it is not necessary. If you do soak them, don’t soak them more than 12 to 14 hours, because they may begin to ferment and you will finish with a Chinese rather than Mexican tasting dish.

I like making them with either Black beans, traditional in the South of Mexico, Peruvian beans, which are more used in the Central part of Mexico, or with Pinto beans which are more customary in the North. The latter ones have a creamier feel and more subtle flavor.

Traditionally Frijoles de la Olla are cooked in an earthenware pot. It does impart a special Pueblo style flavor.

Many cooks in Mexican kitchens make them in pressure cookers, as it cuts the time almost in half, but I am a bit weary of them, as I have seen one too many explode!! Plus, cooking beans only requires you to be home for a certain amount of time, you don’t need to do anything but peek in every once in a while to make sure that there is still enough liquid.

I cook mine sometimes in an old earthenware pot and sometimes in a normal large cooking pot. They both work very well.

beans from the pot or frijoles de olla
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5 from 6 votes

Beans from the Pot

The uses of beans in Mexican cooking are immense. Although you can buy them already made, if you make them at home they have a much nicer flavor and you will give your kitchen an irresistible smell. You can make a lot of them and refrigerate a batch which should last in the refrigerator for about 4 to 5 days. You can freeze another batch which will last for months.
Cook Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beans, onion, pati's mexican table, pinto beans, Recipe, refried beans
Servings: 5 cups beans, 2 cups cooking broth
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (or about 2 1/4 cups) pinto peruvian or black beans
  • 1/2 white onion about 1/2 pound, outer skin peeled off
  • 10 cups water may add more if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste

Instructions

  • Rinse the beans in cold water and drain. Place them in a big heavy pot and cover with enough water to come up to at least 3″ above the top of beans, about 10 cups of water. Incorporate the onion and bring to a boil. Let the beans simmer, partially covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are soft and then add the salt. Don’t add the salt in the beginning or it will toughen the beans.
  • Let them continue simmering, for about another 15 minutes, or until the beans are so soft they come apart if you hold one between your fingers, and the broth has thickened to a soupy consistency. If the beans are not yet soft and the broth is drying out, add more water. Before eating, remove the cooked onion with a slotted spoon.

Notes

Frijoles de Olla

Beans: Frijoles Colados or Strained Beans

The Frijoles Colados or Strained Beans, are what the Yucatecans call Frijoles de Olla that have been pureed and then seasoned by being cooked in sauteed onion. They are cooked just for a couple minutes as they season. So its like a gently seasoned and lightly thickened Bean Puree.

They are like a dish made in between the Bean Puree and the Refried Beans. If you continue to cook the Frijoles Colados, you get to a consistency of a smooth version of Refried Beans.

strained beans or frijoles colados
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5 from 1 vote

Strained Beans

The Frijoles Colados or Strained Beans, are what the Yucatecans call Frijoles de Olla that have been pureed and then seasoned by being cooked in sauteed onion. They are cooked just for a couple minutes as they season. So its like a gently seasoned and lightly thickened Bean Puree.
Prep Time1 min
Cook Time7 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beans, beans from the pot, onion, pati's mexican table, pinto beans
Servings: 4 cups
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 1 portion basic bean puree (see basic pureed beans post)
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste

Instructions

  • In a large saute pan over medium heat, pour the oil and heat until hot but not smoking, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onions and let them saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until they have softened, become translucent, and have started to slightly brown along the edges.
  • Add a cupful of the basic bean puree at a time, over the sauteed onion, and let them season for 3 to 4 minutes.

Notes

Frijoles Colados

Beans: Basic Pureed Beans

Pureed beans are made with Frijoles de la Olla that are placed in a blender or food processor and pureed until smooth. They serve many purposes such as bases for soups and enfrijoladas. But also, they can be seasoned and turned into what the Yucatecan people call Frijoles Colados or Strained Beans.

Frijoles Colados are pureed beans that are seasoned by being cooked and thickened a bit over sauteed onion. If you keep on cooking the Frijoles Colados about 15 minutes more, you get to to have a smooth version of the Refried Beans.

 

basic pureed beans
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4.5 from 2 votes

Basic Pureed Beans

Pureed beans are made with Frijoles de la Olla that are placed in a blender or food processor and pureed until smooth. They serve many purposes such as bases for soups and enfrijoladas. But also, they can be seasoned and turned into what the Yucatecan people call Frijoles Colados or Strained Beans.
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beans, beans from the pot, pati's mexican table, pinto beans, refried beans
Servings: 5 cups
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 1 portion Beans from the Pot or 5 cups precooked beans and 2 cups of cooking liquid (including their liquid and enough water to make 2 cups)

Instructions

  • In batches, place beans and their cooking liquid in the blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Guest: Cristina Potters’ Refried Beans

In this post, I have invited Cristina Potters to be a guest and share one of her favorite recipes. Cristina is the author of Mexico Cooks!, a culinary and cultural website about all things Mexico. She is also known for giving outstanding tours. 

A Chicago native who arrived in Mexico in 1981, she was first a social worker in Tijuana.  Now, after 30 years, she is a permanent fixture in Morelia, Michoacan.  She learned the cuisines of the central highlands of Mexico from the Mayoras (Michoacan home cooks). Now, without further ado, here is Cristina…

I’d like to offer my personal recipes for frijoles refritos and frijoles de la olla. The following recipe for refried beans is not only simple and delicious; it converts people who turn up their noses at ordinary refried beans into folks who insist on another helping!

Christina Potters Refried Beans 1

In central Mexico, the most commonly eaten bean is the peruano (peh-roo-AH-noh), an oval, yellow bean that cooks to a pale beige color with a creamy consistency.  I like frijoles de la olla (freshly cooked beans, straight from the pot) served with a big spoonful of salsa fresca (chopped tomato, minced onion and chile serrano, salt, and roughly chopped cilantro).  I often steam white rice, fill a bowl with it, add frijoles de la olla, salsa fresca, and crumble cotija cheese and call it comida (main meal of the day).

Cristina Potters Refried Beans 2

For breakfast, I often prepare frijoles refritos (refried beans).  Served with scrambled eggs, sliced Mexican avocado, and a stack of hot tortillas, beans are a great way to start the morning.

Here’s some fun bean trivia: frijoles refritos doesn’t really mean ‘refried’ beans. Mexican Spanish often uses the prefix ‘re-‘ to describe something exceptional.  ‘Rebueno’ means ‘really, really good’.  ‘Refrito’ means–you guessed it–well-fried.

Frijoles de la olla are very easy to cook and the fresh-cooked flavor is a million times better than canned beans! In my kitchen I prepare about a pound of dried beans at a time.  After cooking, I serve some as frijoles de la olla, prepare some as refried beans, and freeze the rest in plastic sandwich bags.  The cooked beans and their pot liquid freeze very well.

To make frijoles de la olla, the traditional cooking method I use has no onions, no garlic, no salt, and no other seasonings–just water and dried beans. First, pick carefully through your beans.  Put the cleaned beans in a strainer and wash well under running water.  Now, to soak or not to soak?  I have tried both soaking and not soaking and have noticed that the cooking time is about the same either way. I never soak my beans.  My olla de barro (clay bean pot) holds about a half kilo of frijol plus enough water to cook them.  If you don’t have an olla de barro, a heavy metal soup pot will work almost as well.  After the beans are in the pot, add 6 to 8 cups of cold water.

Over a high flame, bring the pot of beans to a rolling boil.  Turn the flame to a medium simmer and cover the pot.  Allow the beans to cook for about an hour and check the water level.  If you need to add more water, be sure it is boiling before you pour it into the bean pot; adding cold water can cause the beans to toughen.  Continue to cook the beans until, when you bite into one, it is soft and creamy.  The pot liquid will thicken slightly.

Cristina Potters Refried Beans 3(Frijoles de la Olla, already cooked over the fried chilies, ready to be turned into refried beans)

Now’s the time to salt your beans–after cooking, but while the beans are still hot. I use Espuma del Mar (Mexican sea salt from the state of Colima) for its wonderful sweetly salty flavor, but any salt will do.  Add a little less salt than you think is correct–you can always add more later, and you don’t want to over salt your beans.

If you live in the United States or Canada, you’ll want to order the fabulous heritage dried beans sold by Rancho Gordo.  Its owner, my friend Steve Sando, has nearly single-handedly brought delicious old-style beans to new popularity in home and restaurant kitchens.  If you’ve tasted ordinary beans and said, “So what?”, try Rancho Gordo beans for a huge WOW! of an eye opener.

Following is a recipe for turning these frijoles de la olla into refried beans.

Cristina Potters Refried Beans 4 (Refried beans ready to eat)

 

Christina Potters Refried Beans Main
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3.5 from 2 votes

Refried Beans

I’d like to offer my personal recipes for frijoles refritos and frijoles de la olla. The following recipe for refried beans is not only simple and delicious; it converts people who turn up their noses at ordinary refried beans into folks who insist on another helping!
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beans, Peruvian beans, pinto beans, refried beans, serrano chiles
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 3 cups recently cooked frijoles peruanos de la olla
  • 1 or 2 chiles serranos depending on your heat tolerance
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil -- preferably lard and definitely NOT olive oil
  • Bean cooking liquid
  • Sea salt to taste

Instructions

  • Melt the lard in an 8-inch skillet. Split the chile(s) from the tip almost to the stem and add to the melted lard. Saute over a medium flame until the chile is dark brown, almost black. Allow the lard or oil and chile to cool a bit before the next step.
  • Now add the beans and a little of the bean liquid. When the beans begin to simmer, mash them and the chile with a potato or bean masher until they are smooth. Add more liquid if necessary to give the beans the consistency you prefer. Add sea salt to taste, stir well, and serve.

Notes

Frijoles Refritos

Foods of Michoacan are Forever

You know how some people become attached to a certain dish? They try it somewhere once and then want to go back to eat it again and again, or they make it at home repeatedly in an until-death-do-us-part kind of vow? Well, I am one of those people, and I have made that vow with quite a few dishes from the Mexican state of Michoacan.It surprises me how Michoacan’s cuisine has remained such a well-kept secret. It has a defined personality and a complex layering of delicious flavors like the more popular cuisines from Oaxaca and Puebla, but its dishes seem to be a bit more comforting and use fewer ingredients.

What’s more, some of Michoacan’s basic ingredients, such as pasilla chiles, tomatillos, cotija cheese and fruit pastes, have become readily available in stores outside of Mexico.

My love for Michoacan is inevitably tied to its food, but it goes well beyond its kitchens. The first time I went to Michoacan as a little girl, it had such an impact on me that whenever our family planned a trip, I begged my parents to return there. It wasn’t only the enchanting cobbled streets, the immense wooden doors framed in cantera stone, the aromas of freshly made breads and ground mountain coffee, or the town squares filled with dozens of home-style ice cream carts and sweets stands, all surrounded with colorful balloons and birdseed sellers. There was something more.

I returned a couple of decades later, as a production assistant for a traveling cooking show. It was breathtaking. As we researched for and filmed foods prepared for Day of the Dead — a Mexican holiday celebrated this week — we traveled from town to town, sampling delicate and simple dishes in the markets filled with fresh ingredients and goodies that women brought in baskets and set down on mats on the floor.

In the cities surrounding the Patzcuaro Lake area, we saw the famous fishermen using their immense nets, which seemed to fly off into the sky, before sunrise. We tasted to-die-for fish soups, meat stews, tamales and sweets that cooks prepared for this occasion.

Day of the Dead is one of Mexico’s most meaningful celebrations, and Michoacan is a spectacular place to experience it, partly because of its beauty and cuisine, but also because of the richness and depth of its centuries-old traditions.

The Purepechas, also called Tarascos, who remain the predominant indigenous group of the region, believed since pre-Hispanic times that the dead return once a year to visit those they miss. Centuries of intermarriage between Purepecha, Spanish and Catholic Church traditions and ingredients resulted in an eclectic mix of rituals and exquisite foods.

Last year, a decade after my second trip, I returned to Michoacan to do further research for the culinary program I teach at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. We brought our three young sons, and I was eager to share with them the things and foods I had been fascinated with on previous trips. Yet as soon as we unpacked, it became clear that there was so much more to taste and learn. I experienced new things along with my boys.

After a stay in Morelia, the colonial capital where we tasted traditional and modern spins of Michoacan cuisine, we spent a sweet time in the small town of Santa Fe de la Laguna among a Purepecha community. Some of the women fed us their traditional foods and invited us into their kitchens to teach us how to make those dishes. They also taught our boys, with so much patience and tranquility, how to work with their traditional black and green clay.

Upon our return, I finally realized what makes the cuisine of Michoacan distinctive: its people. Michoacanos are generous, warm, hospitable and caring. No wonder the state is known as “the soul of Mexico.” And it is a beautiful soul for Mexico to have. The more I cook, the more I am convinced that the food of a place resembles the characteristics of its people. If asked to define in one word the cuisine from Michoacan, I would say “soulful.”

In my until-death-do-us-part vow with the food of Michoacan, I shall keep sharing and cooking what I have learned from its cuisine until I am able to go back to explore and eat some more. What’s more, if I’m given a license to come back from another world for Day of the Dead, I will happily feast on this menu with the people I love.

Article written for and published by National Public Radio’s Kitchen Window.

tarascan soup
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4.78 from 9 votes

Tarascan Soup

Tarascan Soup, from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 7, Episode 12 "Photographic Food Memories"
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beans, pati’s mexican table, pinto beans, Recipe, soup, Vegetarian
Servings: 6 to 8 Servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

For soup:

  • 1 pound ripe plum or roma tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 (about 1 ounce) ancho chile, stem and seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt divided, or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
  • 1 pound cooked pinto beans plus 2 cups of their cooking liquid or 2 14-ounce cans cooked pinto beans plus 2 cups water
  • 3 cups chicken broth vegetable broth or water

For garnishes:

  • 1/2 cup Mexican style cream
  • 1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled tortilla chips or tortilla strips
  • 1 ancho chile stemmed, seeded, diced, deep fried for a few seconds
  • 1 avocado, peeled seeded, meat scooped out and diced, optional

Instructions

  • Place the tomatoes, garlic, and ancho chile in a saucepan. Cover with water, and simmer over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tomatoes are completely cooked through and ancho chile is rehydrated.
  • Transfer the tomatoes, garlic, and ancho chile to a blender or food processor, along with 1 cup of the cooking liquid, the white onion, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Puree until smooth.
  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the pureed tomato mixture and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it darkens in color and thickens in consistency.
  • Meanwhile, rinse your blender or food processor, then add the pinto beans and 2 cups of their cooking liquid (or water, if using canned beans) and puree until smooth.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and stir the bean puree, broth and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt into the thickened tomato mixture. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the soup has seasoned and has a creamy consistency. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Turn off the heat, as it thickens quickly.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with a tablespoon of the cream and top with some cheese, a handful of crumbled tortilla chips or tortilla strips, a few fried ancho chile crisps and some diced avocado. You can also place the garnishes in bowls on the table to let your guests decide how much of each garnish they want to add to their bowls.
  • The soup itself may be cooled and stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Because this soup thickens a bit as it cools, you may need to add some chicken broth or water to thin it out when you reheat it.

Notes

Pinto Bean and Tomato Soup
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4.67 from 3 votes

Brisket in Pasilla Chile and Tomatillo Sauce

This is by far, the best brisket I’ve ever had. The meat chunks gain a nutty brown crust as they cook, yet as you take a bite they fall apart in your mouth. And the sauce, thick, a bit tart, a bit spicy and wholeheartedly rich, enhances the flavor of the meat. It is a dish with a flavor hard to forget: it has loads of personality.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time4 hrs 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Jewish, Mexican
Keyword: beef, chile, garlic, Jewish Mexican, pasilla, pati’s mexican table, piloncillo, Recipe, tomatillos
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds trimmed brisket of beef rinsed and cut into about 2-inch chunks (leave some fat on!)
  • 5 garlic cloves peeled
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt divided (plus more to taste)
  • 1 pound tomatillos husks removed and rinsed
  • 3 ounces black or pasilla chiles (may sub for New Mexico chiles) stems and seeds removed
  • 3 tablespoons corn or safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup white onion chopped
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups meat cooking liquid
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons grated piloncillo or dark brown sugar
  • Chopped white onion and cilantro leaves optional garnish

Instructions

  • Place meat chunks in a large cooking pot along with 5 garlic cloves, peppercorns and salt. Cover with water, bring to a boil, cover partially and simmer over medium heat for 3 hours, or until meat is very soft. Drain and reserve 2 cups of its cooking liquid.
  • Meanwhile, char or roast the tomatillos on a baking sheet under the broiler, or directly on the comal or dry skillet or grill over medium heat, for about 10 minutes, turning 2 or 3 times. Tomatillos are ready when their skin is blistered and lightly charred, and their flesh is soft, mushy and juicy.
  • Toast chiles on a hot comal or dry skillet over-medium heat for 5 to 10 seconds per side. Chiles will release their aroma and become more pliable, and their inner skin will become a bit opaque. Don’t let them burn.
  • Place toasted chiles and roasted or charred tomatillos in a bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water and 2 cups of reserved meat cooking liquid (if you don’t have 2 cups, add more water). Let this mixture soak for at least a half-hour and up to 4 hours. Pour the mixture into the blender or food processor, puree until smooth and reserve.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of corn or safflower oil to the same pot in which meat was cooked, and heat over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add cooked meat chunks and brown them, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add the chopped onion, and stir as you continue to brown the meat for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Incorporate pureed chile mixture, a teaspoon of salt and the piloncillo or brown sugar. Stir and simmer over medium heat for about 10 more minutes. The meat should be completely tender, yet still in chunks. The sauce should be think enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, but not pasty. Taste for salt and add more if need be. To serve, you can garnish with some raw chopped onion and cilantro leaves.
  • If there is any meat left over, you can cool, store and refrigerate it in a closed contained and then reheat, covered over a low simmer.

Notes

Carne Enchilada
tarascan bean and tomato soup
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5 from 1 vote

Cheesecake with Guava

In Mexico, a favorite dessert is to pair sweet slices of guava or other fruit pastes called ates with savory slices of cheese. Cheesecake with guava paste is a modern take on this combination. We tried it for the first time in the Museo del Dulce — the sweets museum — in Morelia. My adaptation has a thinner layer of guava paste than the museum's, and it is placed between the crunchy bottom and the smooth cream cheese batter, rather than on top. Also, the sweetened sour cream topping reflects a craving of mine, but it seems to make the combination even more irresistible. You can use this recipe as a guideline and see if you want to take the cheesecake in other directions: more guava, less guava, more sour cream or no sour cream.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Chilling Time4 hrs
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Ate De Guayaba, cheesecake, Dessert, guava, guava paste, Guayaba, pay de queso, Recipe
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces ground) Maria cookies or vanilla wafers, or graham crackers
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 ounces (or 3/4 stick) butter melted

Guava Spread:

  • 11 ounces guava paste or ate de guayaba
  • 5 tablespoons water

Cheese Filling:

  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Sour Cream topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Instructions

Crust:

  • In a big bowl, stir the ground cookies, sugar and melted butter until thoroughly mixed. Butter a 9- to 10-inch springform pan. Turn the cookie mixture into the pan. With your fingers or a small spatula, spread it evenly along the pan. Press gently, making a side rim of 1/2 to 1 inch on the sides. Refrigerate while you make the guava spread, cheese filling and sour cream topping.

Guava Spread:

  • Place guava paste and water in the blender jar or food processor. Process until smooth, and reserve.

Cheese Filling:

  • Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat at medium speed until smooth and foamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla, and continue beating until well mixed. Add eggs, one at a time. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, as the batter may stick to it. Add the heavy cream, and beat until the mixture is all incorporated and smooth. Reserve.

Sour Cream Topping:

  • In a bowl, mix the sour cream and the sugar together.

Assemble Together:

  • Adjust rack of the oven one-third up from the bottom and preheat to 350°F.
  • Remove the pan with the crust from the refrigerator. With a spatula, spread the guava mixture evenly over the crust. Turn out the cheese filling onto the guava layer, and spread gently and evenly.
  • Place the cheesecake in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until it is cooked and has a lightly tanned top. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Then spoon the sweetened sour cream over the cheese filling and place it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. It tastes even better if it chills overnight.
  • Before serving, release the sides of the springform pan. Place the cheesecake onto a plate (keeping it on the bottom of the pan), slice and serve.

Notes

Pay De Queso Con Ate De Guayaba

I am packing my own Torta…

Some people get motion sickness when they travel. Some people get hungry. I am among the latter.

The minute I step on whatever will transport me from one place to another, my mind swims through related food memories… and I just have to eat. So since I know I will have a craving for something other than a moist, soggy, chewy and never-ever crunchy baguette from the Amtrak train, and after being so spoiled with the food from El Chepe Train, I am packing my own Torta.

Torta (according to me…): A satisfying and delicious, self contained, easy to transport, edible package filled with tasty ingredients that just love to schmooze together.

I guess we owe a big part of the Torta to the French, since the bolillo or telera bread used to make them, is the Mexican adaptation of the French Baguette. Brought to Mexico City in the 1860s by Emperor Maximilian’s troupe of cooks, its use quickly spread out throughout the country. Maximilian ruled over Mexico’s very own, very last and very short-lived European Monarchy. Although it was unfortunate politically (he ended up executed for one thing…), it was blissful in a culinary sense.

When it comes to Tortas, I have eaten a fair share of variations. There are outstanding long established Torta stands and shops where I grew up, each with a peculiar signature twist. Moreover, my father is famous in our food-centered family for making blow-your-mind-away ones (his favorite has sardines, Mexican avocado, white onion and pickled Jalapeños).

But I think the best Torta I ever had (sorry Papi…) was in the state of Michoacán at the home of Diana Kennedy. Aside from an outstanding Torta maker, she is also one of the most respected authorities in Mexican cooking, and a woman whose books I have happily swallowed whole.

I ate Diana’s Torta almost ten years ago, when I was a production assistant for a PBS cooking series based in Texas. I traveled with the production team to different locations in Mexico, as each show focused on the foods of a specific region. There was of course one show about Diana and the food from Michoacán, her beloved and adopted home. She prepared many dishes to feature on the show and by the time lunch came, she assembled a Torta for each of the by then desperately famished members of the crew.

It tasted like a little piece of Michoacano heaven.

The bread, if freshly baked that day, doesn’t need to be toasted. Most of the ingredients Diana used were brought from the nearby Pueblo that morning, including the fresh cheese and the farm style ham. She had homemade refried beans and pickled Jalapeños which I think were the biggest treat of it all.

Pack my own torta 1

Here is how I assembled mine for today, in memory of Diana’s:

I sliced the bolillos in half, but since I bought them yesterday I toasted them slightly. On one side I spread home made pinto refried beans (I had leftover from sopes I made last night). On the other side, some fork smashed slices of avocado. Then went a layer of queso fresco or fresh cheese and one of smoked turkey (what could be found in my refrigerator), slices of tomato, onion, a very generous spoonful of Mexican style cream and a layer of homemade pickled Jalapeños, so packed, it seemed like a Torta wallpaper.

Right before adding the top half, I sprinkled a bit of salt, a habit I got from my father. It seems to help the flavors from all the ingredients shine through.

NOTE: For the bread you can use bolillo, telera, Portuguese rolls or small baguettes. the refried beans as well as the pickled Jalapeños can be homemade or there are excellent brands of already made ones at the stores.

Pack my own torta main
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3.34 from 3 votes

TORTA

Some people get motion sickness when they travel. Some people get hungry. I am among the latter. The minute I step on whatever will transport me from one place to another, my mind swims through related food memories… and I just have to eat. So since I know I will have a craving for something other than a moist, soggy, chewy and never-ever crunchy baguette from the Amtrak train, and after being so spoiled with the food from El Chepe Train, I am packing my own Torta.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Antojo, Avocado, bolillo, cheese, chicken, ham, mexican crema, mozzarella, Oaxaca cheese, onion, Pickled Jalapeños, queso fresco, Recipe, refried beans, Sandwich, telera, Tomatoes, Torta, turkey
Servings: 1 hungry traveler
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 2 bolillos teleras, Portuguese rolls or small baguettes
  • 2 tablespoons refried beans
  • 1/2 ripe Mexican avocado peeled and sliced
  • 4 slices of queso fresco or fresh cheese farmers cheese, Oaxaca or Mozzarella
  • 4 cups to 6 slices of turkey ham or 1/2 cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 sliced and seeded tomato
  • 2 to 4 thin slices of white onion
  • 2 generous tablespoons of Mexican or any Latin style cream
  • Pickled Jalapeños homemade or storebought to taste ( Jalapeños en Escabeche/Vinagre)
  • Salt to taste optional

Instructions

  • Slice the bolillos in half lengthwise. If not fresh, toast them slightly for a couple minutes. On one side spread a tablespoon of refried beans and on the other mash 1/4 of an avocado with a fork. Top the base half with a couple slices of cheese, 2 or 3 slices of turkey, a couple slices of tomato and onion.
  • Drizzle a tablespoon of Mexican style cream and crown your package with as many pickled Jalapeños as your heart desires. Sprinkle a bit of salt if you want. Place the top half and slice the Torta horizontally.
  • Eat it or wrap it up so it may travel along with you.

Beans: Refried Beans

You will find that refried beans are one of the most common sides for traditional Mexican dishes. From breakfast, to dinner, they are always a welcome companion. You can make them with different kinds of beans, like Black, Pinto,  or Peruvian. The choice in Mexico varies among regions but also among cooks. I tend to use the Pintos more, because they have a creamier consistency and softer flavor. The Black, delicious as well, have a stronger flavor and texture. The Peruvian have a peculiar flavor, that is hard to define, but it is stronger than the Pintos and lighter than the Black.

You can make the Refried beans in a traditional way, which is by mashing the Frijoles de Olla in the pan with onion that has been sauteed in lard, or you can substitute for oil. You can also make quicker and smoother Refried beans, by skipping the mashing part, and placing the Frijoles de Olla in the blender, to make a smooth Bean puree that you can then thicken and season.

Aside from a side, Refried beans are used to make many things like Tortas, Molletes, Tacos, Quesadillas and Dips.

Refried beans are absolutely delicious on their own, with corn tortillas and pickled jalapenos.  They also can be turned into many dishes such as charros beans.

Refried Beans 1

You can choose if you want your beans the traditional way, which takes a little bit more effort as you have to mash them as they season and thicken. Or you can opt for an easier and faster way, which doesn’t have that rough textured feel, but it is much smoother.

 

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4 from 4 votes

Smooth and Easy Refried Beans

You will find that refried beans are one of the most common sides for traditional Mexican dishes. From breakfast, to dinner, they are always a welcome companion. You can make them with different kinds of beans, like Black, Pinto,  or Peruvian. The choice in Mexico varies among regions but also among cooks. I tend to use the Pintos more, because they have a creamier consistency and softer flavor. The Black, delicious as well, have a stronger flavor and texture. The Peruvian have a peculiar flavor, that is hard to define, but it is stronger than the Pintos and lighter than the Black.
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beans, black beans, onion, Peruvian beans, pinto beans, Recipe, refried beans
Servings: 4 cups
Author: Pati Jinich

Ingredients

  • 6 cups basic bean puree
  • 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
  • 1/2 cup white onion chopped

Instructions

  • In a large saute pan over medium high heat, pour the oil and heat until hot but not smoking, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onions and let them saute for about 3 to 4 minutes, until they have softened, become translucent and have started to slightly brown along the edges.
  • Add the bean puree over the sauteed onion, and let them season and thicken for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the beans are bubbling way too much, lower the heat a little to medium-low heat. Let them continue thickening, until they have achieved a thick puree consistency and are somewhat pasty looking. It depends on your liking, some people like them thicker and some people like them with a softer consistency. While it depends on how you like them, they are mostly cooked until they can hold a shape when scooped with a spoon.