Acclaimed chef Pati Jinich remembers the distinctive menudo she tried on both sides of the Mexico-United States border, in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and El Paso, Texas. In both cities, it is eaten with hominy and served with bread — not with corn tortillas, as is the case elsewhere in Mexico.
Univision Al Punto: Chef mexicana habla de su respeto por la comida Tex-Mex
La afamada chef mexicana Pati Jinich presenta una nueva serie titulada ‘La Frontera con Pati Jinich’, en la que recorre cada punto de la frontera entre Texas y México, mientas que comparte platos tipicos con lugareños y reflexiona sobre la fusión de culturas.
WTTW: “Doubly Blessed”: Pati Jinich Explores the Intermingling of Cultures at the U.S.-Mexico Border
“Tex-Mex food gets a bad rap. ‘When you are part of two things, you’re seen as lesser, unfortunately. You’re seen as less pure of this, less pure of that—instead of thinking, ‘Whoa, this is a doubly rich world,’ where you have more freedom to play with techniques and ingredients from both sides, and you’re creating some new thing.’
That’s what Pati Jinich believes, at least, and the same line of thinking applies to the area from which Tex-Mex hails: the United States-Mexico border, which is the subject of Jinich’s new two-part PBS special La Frontera with Pati Jinich, premiering October 15 and 22.
Mexican Chocolate Donuts
Mexican Chocolate Donuts
- 1 cup milk
- 2 Mexican chocolate bars, 3 ounces each cut into large chunks
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of kosher or coarse sea salt
- 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 large egg
- Special equipment optional – Ebleskiver filled pancake pan
- Fillings dulce de leche or cajeta, chocolate and hazelnut spread, jams or preserves
- Confectioners' sugar optional for dusting
- In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat. Add chocolate chunks and stir occasionally until it has dissolved, a few minutes. Remove from heat and using a molinillo or whisk, emulsify or foam as much as you can. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour with the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the melted butter to the dry ingredients as well as the beaten egg and start to mix with a spatula. Slowly, pour the Mexican chocolate milk, mixing fast so the egg will not cook (!) if the milk is still hot. Continue to combine until you get an even and homogeneous batter, just a minute or so. You should have a shiny and a bit runny batter. Taste it: it’s so good! Let it sit for a few minutes, it will fluff up a bit, which is what you want.
- Meanwhile, heat your special pan or skillet over low to medium-low heat until very hot, about 4 or 5 minutes. Butter the pan and spoon batter into each hole, about 3/4 of the way up each cup. Once you can move the balloons around (like when pancakes are ready to flip), but the batter in the center can still be runny, you can add a half a teaspoon of a filling of your choice. Cover with a bit more batter to fill the cups just a tad beyond the rim. Using two spoons or two wooden skewers, flip the donuts to the other side. Give them a minute or two and remove from the pan. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired, (I always do!) and eat while hot.
- If making normal pancakes, cook as regular pancakes. Heat the skillet over medium-low heat until very hot. Grease with unsalted butter and ladle batter into the pan. Flip once the top shows bubbles and the bottom is cooked enough to be released from the pan. Cook on the other side for a minute or two and serve. Add the fillings as toppings instead of as a filling.
Poblano, Bacon and Cheddar Skillet Cornbread
Poblano, Bacon and Cheddar Skillet Cornbread
- 3 poblano chiles charred, sweated, peeled, seeded and diced
- 6 to 8 slices center cut bacon
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 eggs well beaten
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 2 cups corn kernels preferably fresh, or thawed from frozen
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- In a large cast-iron pan, over medium-high heat, add the bacon. Cook until crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the bacon from the pan and turn off the heat.
- In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the milk, cream and eggs. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry. Add the cheddar cheese, corn and poblano chiles. Crumble the bacon and toss it in. Pour in most of the bacon fat from the cast-iron pan into the batter, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan. Mix well.
- Place the cast-iron pan with the remaining bacon drippings again over medium heat, pour the batter into the pan. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve.
- 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)
- sour cream
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Tortilla chips
- Green onions sliced thin
- 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.
Tex Mex or Mex Tex: Take Two
Talking about American foods enriched by Mexican ingredients, I can’t leave out those tasty, juicy and smoky Ancho Chile hamburgers. My mother used to make them for our birthday parties as me and my sisters grew into teenagers. We felt more hip having funky burgers instead of kid sized tacos. Plus, they were a hit with our friends.
They are a snap to make and for the Mexican spin you just need to prepare a seasoning paste with Ancho Chiles. Anchos, being ultra mild and somewhat fruity with a hint of prunes, make an instant click with the meat.
My mother used to mix half veal and half beef, when making hamburgers, meatloaf or meatballs. It works out well, but it is not necessary. She used to serve these hamburgers with the traditional American trimmings: sliced onions, tomatoes, fresh lettuce, ketchup and mustard.
But when I was reminiscing with my friend Andrea about these Mexicanized American dishes, she suggested we try a citrusy mayo spread. What a surprise! That tangy spread makes these tasty hamburgers bounce off the walls out of happiness…
I wouldn’t dare call this hamburger traditional Mexican food, although the recipe has been in my family for more than four decades. When you think about it, once an ingredient or a dish of a country enters another country and becomes accepted, it gains a life of its own.
I don’t think there ever is a right or wrong take in the kitchen (Diana Kennedy may just be aiming at me with a rifle now… ). It seems to me that it is all fair game as long as you get to know your ingredients and how to use them. And of course…there has to be a worthwhile and delicious result.
Ancho Chile Mexican Hamburgers with Lime Aioli
For the burgers:
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 1/2 pounds ground veal
- 1 1/2 cup white onion roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 ancho chiles rinsed, seeded and soaked (explanation follows)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground, or to taste
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- safflower or corn oil
For the lime aioli:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Juice of 1 lime about 2 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon grate lime rind
- 3 garlic cloves pressed
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the garnishes:
- 8 hamburger buns
- yellow mustard
- 2 red tomatoes sliced
- 8 iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves rinsed and dried
- 1/2 white onion sliced
- Rinse the ancho chiles. On a chopping board, make a slit down their side and take out all of their seeds, veins and stems. Place the cleaned chiles in a small bowl and cover with 1/2 cup boiling hot water. Let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Places chiles in the blender along with the soaking liquid, onion and garlic, and puree until smooth.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and veal. Add the chile mixture, two lightly beaten eggs, salt and pepper. Mix until it is all well incorporated.
- Heat the griddle or pan over medium heat until very hot, about 6 to 8 minutes. Brush some oil on the griddle or pan.
- With your hands, mold the patties and place them on the hot griddle or pan. Cook for about 4 to 6 minutes per side, depending on how well cooked you like your burgers. I like them medium-well, so it is about 5 minutes per side for me.
- Place the garnishes on the table so that everyone can choose to their liking.
- To make the lime aioli, place everything in a mixing bowl, and just mix it all up!
- If you want to make this hamburger into a cheeseburger, Monterey jack is a great companion. Just place a slice of cheese on to the burger once you flipped it and let it melt as it finishes cooking.
Shares the longest border with Mexico of any of the U.S. border states and home to Tex-Mex cuisine
Texas, the “lone star state,” has the longest border with Mexico of any of the border states, making it almost half of the U.S.-Mexico border. So there are many connections between Texas and Mexico including Tex-Mex cuisine, which is one of the most well-known U.S. cuisines.
Dive into Texas Content →
Episode 1: Miles from Nowhere
Pati travels from El Paso and Ciudad Juarez to Big Bend National Park. She discovers the people, places, and food that make it unique. Old and new friends help Pati discover the best places to eat and what makes the culture and economy of the region distinct. She learns how closely America and Mexico are connected through the cattle industry and visits the site where thousands of cattle cross the border every day. She cruises through downtown El Paso with low-riders, talks to muralists, and watches an all female Mariachi band play their long-awaited comeback concert. She learns how these two cities, which are almost like an island in the desert, rely on each other in order to thrive.
Episode 2: From Dos Laredos to Mars
Pati travels from Laredo and Nuevo Laredo to Brownsville, Texas. She learns how tight-knit family bonds are an underlying theme connecting everything in the Laredos, and throughout La Frontera. She gets an up-close look at the major industries of the region – trucking, trade and ranching. By tasting the food and meeting people who live and work here she sees how the border is a place ripe for opportunity and creativity.
Extra: Sergio Troncoso on Border Life
In Ysleta, Texas, Pati visits La Tapatia, a restaurant serving border-influenced tortilla, tamales and tacos since 1950. She sits down with acclaimed author, Sergio Troncoso – known for his many books and essays on border life – to discuss what it’s like to live in the middle of two cultures.
Extra: Meet Oscar Herrera
Pati and her friend chef Oscar Herrera drive across the border from El Paso, Texas to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua and discuss what it’s like to live in a region where you experience two very different cultures daily. At Oscar’s favorite menuderia, they discuss what differences he sees in running restaurants on both sides of the border.
Extra: The El Paso Art Scene
In El Paso, Texas, Pati meets with some of the most prolific muralists and artists of this part of the border region. She takes a walking tour to see the murals painted on El Paso’s buildings up close, and talks to the artists about what inspires them and what they’re hoping to convey with their incredible work.
Extra: What Makes the ‘Ultimo Taco’
Brownsville, Texas, is known for being one of the best taco destinations on the entire US/Mexico border. Pati stops at Ultimo Tacos to learn why Brownsville became so known for tacos and how being at the border influences their recipes and flavors.
Extra: Visit the Sabal Palm Sanctuary
Pati visits the Sabal Palm Sanctuary just outside of Brownsville, Texas. This protected land is the last place to see how the dense sabal palm forests looked centuries ago before this border region was developed. It is also unique in that it is in US territory but located on the south side of the border wall, so Pati has to cross the border wall to visit this US sanctuary.
Extra: Learn About Raspas
Pati travels to the Rio Grande Valley, just outside of McAllen, Texas, to taste and learn about raspas, a flavored ice treat unique to the region that comes overloaded with an assortment of candy and fruit toppings. She visits the Margo Raspa stand to talk about the origin of raspas, the endless variety of options, and why people in the Rio Grande Valley are so passionate about them.