We know you know but we'll say it again: Mexican cuisine is so much more than tacos, guacamole, and margarita. The cuisine is rich and varied, reflecting the many landscapes, communities, and cultures in a country that covers 760,000 square miles with coastal regions, mountainous areas, and bustling cosmopolitan cities. So we're taking a look at some of the forgotten dishes of Mexico and heading into the kitchen to travel the country through our tastebuds. Join us.
Cochinita pibil is a slow roasted pork dish from the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s succulent with a tart taste. It involves marinating pork in a mix of acidic citrus juices then slathering it with achiote (which gives it an orange hue), then steaming it in banana leaves until it's pull apart tender. It’s usually served with tortillas and bright pickled onions.
Moles are labors of love: they refer to a thick sauce that starts with spices and nuts ground down to paste (mole means to grind) and then simmered with chocolate, tomatoes, chiles, pumpkin, and more until thick. You’ll most often find dark moles slathered on chicken and served with rice and tortillas.
Pozole is a traditional soup made from hominy, meat (usually pork), and topped with a plethora of garnishes: radishes, avocado, salsa, cilantro, limes. It’s a celebratory dish, meant to feed a crowd (and known to help fight hangovers). It’s also a one pot meal, just use the biggest pot you own, let it simmer on the stove, and guests can enjoy all night long.
Red chile is a guisado that is known widely throughout Mexico. This variety hails from the northern Mexican state of Sonora. It's simple cooking: beef simmered in a red chile sauce and then served with warm tortilla de harina or in a large bowl with tortillas de maiz on the side; atop rice or eggs or on top of fresh grits. It's stick to your ribs food that will keep you satisfied all day long.
This is another traditional Mexican breakfast. Tortillas wripped up and fried along with eggs and topped with a tomatillo salsa. It's a way to feed the masses and use up leftover tortillas (that is, of course, before making a new batch).
Tortas ahogadas (which literally mean drowned sandwiches) are a specialty in the Mexican state of Jalisco. They’re made with a type of French bread called a bolillo, stuffed with pork (though you’ll also find chicken, beef, or Panela cheese) and drowned in two sauces (a sweet one and a spicy one with chile de arbol). Then it’s topped with shredded cabbage and lime.
This is a celebratory dish, served on Mexico's Dia de Independencia and meant to mimic the Mexican flag. It's a roasted and peeled poblano stuffed with a sweet ground beef and dried fruit filling, coveed in a walnut sauce, and topped with crunchy pomegranate seeds.
Refried beans, bolillos and cheese are a staple in most Mexican families and molletes are one of the simplest, inexpensive and most delicious breakfast you can have using these ingredients. If you are a vegetarian, the chorizo can be substituted with roasted mushrooms, pico de gallo or soy chorizo.
Chilaquiles is a fun dish, made up of fried tortilla pieces topped in a spicy sauce (and sometimes shredded chicken). They're usually served for breakfast or lunch and are meant to use up tortillas. They are also sometimes served at the end of a wedding party, typically right before morning comes.
Horchata is a refreshing rice drink found all over Mexico. It's creamy and sweet but not cloying and helps fight the heat. It involves soaking rice in a mix of water and spices (usually cinnamon and nutmeg), blending it till fine, and adding water to make a milk. It's served ice cold with a sprinkle of cinnamon.