Authentic Mexican?

Discussion in 'Recipes' started by paulemeyers, Oct 18, 2016.

  1. jimyra

    jimyra

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  2. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    One of my favorite things about Mexican cuisine is the whole cafeteria style mix and match approach (lol way easier to point at what looks promising and take your chances than try to maneuver thru the mine field of a menu written all in Spanish ;-)

    Texas has (in addition to all of the small corner stores with the huge butcher cases and food trucks that stalk the construction sites) a chain of Fiesta grocery stores with tiny lunch counters stuck off in one corner.

    Close to the fruit and veg area....which, my friends, is not an accident but instead a carefully thought out part of the business model.

    All day long the cooks are cruising the fresh seasonal offerings in order to replenish the soon to be empty bowls and pans with fresh and very tasty items.

    If you are adventurous let whoever is working the line choose for you.

    Like the skilled sushi chef these peeps know their flavor combos...you will not be disappointed.

    mimi
     
  3. adriyaya

    adriyaya

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    Hi,
    I grew up South West Texas and still live here. We border with Northern Mexico and so growing up my mom and grandma would make the typical food that is common in this region. Examples: Menudo - tripe and hominy in a spicy stew, Flautas - shredded beef or chicken rolled up in a corn tortilla and fried, accompanied by rice and beans, Asado - pork carnitas in a red chile sauce, Cabrito - goat cooked in various ways, Tripitas - beef intestines fried and served with corn tortillas, enchiladas - red or green, with or without chicken or beef. Chilaquiles - fried corn tortilla torn into pieces and fried and cooked in a green or red chile sauce and topped with cheese. Tortas - like a hamburger but instead of ground beef it is filled with everything from tongue to pork rinds cooked in chile. These are just a few of the dished that I grew up with. I have since learned how to prepare dished from the southern part of Mexico, my husband is from Veracruz. I have learned how to make mole, which is a chile and chocolate type sauce that has chicken in it, Enfrijoladas, which are black beans blended with chipotle chile and served with chicken and corn tortilla. These are just a few of many authentic types for Mexican food you can prepare, I would recommend watching YouTube in Spanish, there are plenty of great recipes and techniques if you want to watch an example of how some of these dishes are prepared. I hoe this helps
     
  4. popbistro

    popbistro

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    Hi, I just wanted to add that living here in CA we get a LOT of great mexican food. We work with many great Mexican food trucks, and have had this discussion frequently.

    The best food, regardless of origin comes from peasant food. Escargot? Menudo? Frye Bread?

    The downside and upside is the easy prep but long cooking times (like real beans). The low cost is certainly attractive in cuts of meat and the aforementioned dry beans but this is not cooking on the fly.

    Braising for most proteins is the way to go, and then getting a little texture on the flat top.

    Almost all of the chiles you can order dry online with free shipping at minimal cost. But 95 percent of the items you need can come from your local grocer. Hope that helps.
    Any specific recipes, feel free to PM.

    Best
     
  5. paulemeyers

    paulemeyers

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    Thank you to all who have posted in reply. I haven't been on for quite a while due to a chain of events in the lives of my nuclear and extended families which has kept me distracted. All of the advice you have given me and the resources you have directed me to are deeply appreciated.

    Is there a "one-size-fits-all" recipe for shredded beef that works well for enchiladas, burritos and other dishes?
     
  6. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Ropa vieja, Chile Colorado, Chile verde.
     
  7. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    A crock pot a hunk of leftover roast and your fave TexMex spices.
    I Like a ton of cumin and whole dried chiles instead of the powder, maybe some Mex oregano or thyme and a big pinch of garlic powder.
    A splash of beef broth and chopped raw potato and onion maybe some tomato and let it sit on low until the meat is falling apart.
    Fill your tortilla and then whatever add ins you want.
    Raw onion, fresh tomato maybe some pico...
    Cheese if you wish but one of the light tangy crumbly kind...leave the grated yellow in the fridge.
    Taco Tuesday at my house .

    mimi
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2017
  8. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Chorizo y papas.
     
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  9. Jain Daugh

    Jain Daugh

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    I grew up (circa 1950s) in what many would consider an 'international neighborhood' with a Mexican family living next door. Eating tacos was a usual for us as hamburgers. I have to say that the corn tortillas one finds now - even in a local Mexican store - are NOT as flavorful with real corn taste as years back. This is most likely due to GMO yellow dent corn having pretty much pushed all other ground corn out of the market. Plus the tortillas made today contain guar gum to help hold them together. I've yet to find a tortilla or even masa (corn flour) that has been lime treated which was the original preparation way.(lime increases nutrition and taste of corn too)

    What I have done is make home made flour tortillas instead. Freshly made they are SO good and as my hubby says - makes store bought flour torts taste like paper towels! Its a messy process - flour gets all over - but making a large batch at a time is not hard and these freeze well too. Just 'pop' them apart and quickly warm for near fresh made taste. One hint that makes all the difference with the recipe I follow is - WARM water to make a soft dough. Cold or hot water changes the texture.

    I'll have to look thru the Recipes section here to see if there are already some for Mexican food and if adding recipes that I have are warranted.
     
  10. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Since this topic strays so far off course I will add this...
    I am all over @Jain Daugh and her comment re corn tortillas....they are def different and not in a good way.

    Walked the #1 Grand thru cheese enchiladas yesterday and was pretty disappointed with the tortillas.
    One step is to soften in a shallow frying pan of hot oil....I had to take this job out of his hands because the tongs were ripping thru the tissue tender product...I had to dip and turn by hand (only one slightly burned thumb so yay for me) before CAREFULLY lifting to the drain towel.
    Have never had this happen so I s'pose will have to go straight to a private source from here on out.

    Just FYI for anyone is feeling the need for the real deal TexMex cheese enchilada experience.....

    Fiesta Enchilada Seasoning in the bottle (altho not affiliated, all Fiesta grocery stores stock it or you can find online).
    No other brand will do, and for God's sake don't use the canned kind if you are seeking the TexMex flavors of your youth.
    Every M&P place worth their salt will either make their gravy from scratch (good luck trying to get THAT recipe) or will source the Fiesta brand in huge jugs... just follow the directions on the bottle for the gravy...but stop there as that cheese mix they recommend will bog you down with a flood of grease.
    Use the Kraft brand Deluxe sliced American and cut into strips...
    One white onion (none of those sweet yellows as the flavor cooks out) finely diced.
    Corn tortillas (I recommend buying thick and letting them go stale so MAYBE they will hold together).
    Chili gravy (I always double the recipe on the bottle, just "in case")

    Shallow pan of HOT oil...dip tortillas in and flip then remove to drain... you want them limp (don't let bubbles form or it will start to crisp and that my friend will be great for crispy tacos , not so much for your 'ladas) so you have to work fast.
    Tip...I move the pan of oil on and off the heat source if the oil is getting too hot.

    Once the tortillas have cooled (firmed up a bit and easier to work with) dump a ladle or two of gravy into the bottom of your chosen casserole dish (I use 13x9 glass lined with foil) and spread around...not too much tho you are not making lasagna.
    Place the first tortilla with half hanging over the lip of your dish...lay some cheese strips down, sprinkle some onion on then roll and tuck to the side.
    Repeat by using the already rolled tube of goodness as a guide.
    Don't be shy, pack them tight.
    Once the pan is full pour just enuf gravy over to moisten...don't get carried away tho or all your work will come out as a mushy mess.
    Lay strips of cheese over the gravy and then sprinkle more onions.
    I bake in a hot oven until bubbly...try not to brown the cheese.
    Enjoy while still piping hot.

    There you go... authentic TexMex cheese enchiladas!
    I serve with a salad and homemade refried beans (if there are any leftovers in the freezer).

    Merry Christmas ya'll!

    mimi
     
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  11. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Just thought to add....
    The Fiesta brand produces several stellar seasonings available to the public.
    I really like their beef fajita mix and the menudo and Spanish rice mixes (also cumin and Mexican oregano) are always in my pantry...I mix and match to produce many dishes, not always TexMex.
    They are not at all over priced and in a community with a large Hispanic presence the turnover is fast so always fresh.

    mimi
     
  12. Jain Daugh

    Jain Daugh

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    Thanks for confirming my observations mimi! The corn torts available today are the equivalent of white bread to us gringos. I'm noticing more 'soft/table style' notations on the packages at the store. They are not only taste LESS, they are indeed difficult to use in previous manner of tacos and enchiladas. Like you I preferred to cook torts in (med)hot oil to not only firm them up a bit, but it USED TO enhance a corn flavor too. Last batch of enchiladas I made turned out more like tamales - all corn torts turned to mush instead of holding fillings together individually.

    I used to be able to find 'lime water' - used to process masa in the Mexican markets (central California), but now I can't even find that product online! I did find this one mention which could be used if one really wants to go to this level of ingredients -

    https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/video-making-limewater-for-soaking-corn/

    The trick being to find the non -GMO corn to use.

    And while we are commenting on how corn torts have changed, I will note that the size of corn torts in the store packages are generally six inches, cooking up to five inches which make tacos that are too small to hold much of anything. The torts I remember from my child and early adult times (1950s-1980s) were more like 7 or 8 inches - standard. Yes now one can buy 'grande' (larger) corn torts but the price is a ridiculous inflated one for what one gets - basically the old STANDARD size :rolleyes:.
    And those still cook up unsatisfactorily.

    Am I also the last remaining person who doesn't like corn torts cooked to shattering 'crisp'?!? Packaged taco shells are more like tortilla chips than something one can happily eat a taco from. And for those with Mexican restaurants, 'warming' a RAW corn tort is NOT cooking it. (just my quirk and steam blowing)
     
  13. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    @Jain Daugh if you like your corn tacos on the softer side then check out my posts re puffy tacos.
    If I didn't give the recipe for sure I posted a link to my go to.
    Enjoy...

    mimi
     
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  14. Jain Daugh

    Jain Daugh

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    Actually I do NOT like the 'soft' tacos that are what most markets have available. I have played around with home made corn tortillas, but its near impossible to make these as thin and hang together like those that are machine made. Did look into home sized machines (NOT 'presses') but those were either too expensive to justify home purchase/storage or poorly made and a waste of $$s. Bottom line also was the fact that masa is now all GMO yellow dent corn and not lime processed.

    When I do make fresh flour tortillas (for hubby, I can't eat gluten), those do 'puff' a bit as they cook. I imagine corn might as well if some fat is added to masa?
     
  15. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    I've been reading your posts with interest, mostly because it seems that we have very different experiences. Perhaps due to locale...

    Down here in Southern California (Northern Mexico, it often seems) we get both bad and good tortillas. The bad are mostly the packaged ones from a factory - like Mission Brand, Ortega, etc. Those are often tasteless compared to those from a local tortillaria or Mexican market. A former friend of mine, who's family owns one of those companies, told me that they are not the same as one gets at a torillaria because they add a bit of wheat flour... to cater to the gringo taste I suppose. But I also don't know that he told the right story since I've never noticed wheat flour as an ingredient on corn tortillas.

    Our corn tortillas are 5 - 6 inches in diameter. This is the corn tortilla of my youth for everything... tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, and taquitos (rolled tacos)... ranging from chain Mexican restaurants to Taco Bell. Tortillas for "street tacos" are much smaller. The street taco in our area seems associated with the influx of Mexicans from Michoacán and Puebla... which seems the most prevalent operators of our greatest Mexican greasy spoons and taco trucks.

    The corn tortillas we buy from a tortillaria or made fresh in the Mexican markets are really good. Fresh and tasting of hominy corn. My only complaint is that they tend to package them warm so they sweat and the top/bottom two are wasted. But when one can buy 4.5 pounds (an 8 or 9 inch stack) for $3 or less, who cares about a few wasted. They are definitely made with corn treated with lime. Lime = cal = calcium hydroxide. Nixtamalized corn in other words. Same with Maseca brand dehydrated masa. I have no problem with GMO vs non-GMO corn and they don't divulge which one they use. But I'd sure like to know what masa you are using or have access to that does not use nixtamalized corn... that defies the very definition of corn masa.

    When I make corn tortillas from masa, or "finish" the store-bought corn tortillas on the griddle, they puff due to heat not fat.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  16. Jain Daugh

    Jain Daugh

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    Greeting to you Brian in 'Norte Baja'! I am at the other end of CA, just south of the Oregon border so yes, what is available here is most likely not what you have access to. I very much appreciate your feedback. I will be looking (again) more closely at the masa packages in stores here to see if those are indeed 'limed' corn or contain gums (guar/xanthan) to assist binding the tort together. I have ventured into a 'local' Mexican market to buy fresh made corn tortillas and found those to be just as 'flat' flavored as the packaged ones. So something is not what it seems. Interesting that some (wheat) flour could be added in which would make those less eatable for me (gluten free).

    The torts that I remember from my childhood (1950s) had to be closer to 6 - 7" size because then one could add enough meat, onions, lettuce and cheese and bite into a decent sized tacos without having half of the filling push out the other side. That is way too much the reality of a 5 - 6" tort that cooks down to 4 1/2 - 5+" size. And yes all torts will puff up some what when cooking, my understanding is that's probably due to 'steam' (which fat release also) released from uncooked tort's ingredients.

    Brian have you noticed a 'taste creep' away from original home made? I rarely find an younger, even middle aged Mexican gal who learned to cook watching her mother and/or grandmother. I often hear those I talk to say that they mothers didn't cook traditional foods from 'scratch', opting instead to buy packaged ingredients. And even ingredients are 'drifting' - finding whole cumin or (Mexican) oregano can be challenging. There used to be packages of these in most 'ethnic' foods sections, but now all I can usually find is ground.
     
  17. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Taste creep... not really. The commercial brands seem to have gotten better and more varied. Many offer both white and yellow corn tortillas in addition to the varying sizes. Some brands, Mission specifically, seem to have improved.

    The big difference down here is access to fresh tortillas, which are the only ones I eat anymore. Even many of our chain restaurants seem to make fresh tortillas.

    Americans of Mexican ancestry may be losing the cooking gene. Those who are recent immigrants certainly have not. And that’s both male and female.

    P.s. the furthest north I’ve ventured is Redding... and found their Mexican food to be much different than ours. Not authentic and not to my liking. Maybe I ate at the wrong places????
     
  18. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    As this thread wanders even further off course I will take this opportunity to clear the air re puffy tacos and a corn tortilla that happens to separate (and puff up) when exposed to heat.

    Puffy tacos were "invented" in San Antonio and should be on every TexMex lovers bucket list...

    1 pound fresh masa for tortillas or 1 1/2 cups of masa harina mixed with 1 cup warm water and left to rest, covered, for 15 minutes (see note above)
    • Peanut or canola oil, for frying
    • Kosher salt
    Fill a wok or Dutch oven with 2-3 inches oil and heat to 375°F over high heat. Pull off a 2-tablespoon-sized piece of masa and form into a ball. Press dough into a thin round between two sheets of plastic in a tortilla press or roll out using a rolling pin.
    Place masa disks in hot oil and let cook until it floats and puffs, about 10 seconds. Using a metal spatula carefully press middle of tortilla down to create a taco-shell shape and hold until form sets, about 10 seconds longer. Using the spatula, gently submerge one side of shell into oil and cook until crisp, 10-15 seconds. Repeat with other side. Remove shell from oil and allow to drain, then transfer to a paper towel lined sheet pan, season with salt to taste, and repeat with remaining masa.

    These don't hold for very long so I suggest having all of your planned fillings prepped and ready to go.
    Standards at my table are a good quality ground beef with cubed potatoes and diced onions, cooked until soft and well seasoned with salt and pepper only.
    Shredded lettuce...diced tomato...shredded sharp cheddar...more diced onion and a good house made salsa.

    That should cover it....
    Enjoy!

    mimi
     
  19. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Thanks Mimi. For the longest time I actually thought a puffy taco was same as a Gordita. Until I saw a documentary on San Antonio...
     
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