As the days get longer and the sunset stretches on well past dinner time, all things Mexican-inspired start to sound irresistible. Guacamole with fresh tomatillos, agua fresca, mushroom chile tacos topped with pickled onions and jalapeños — and who can turn down a fresh margarita or a crispy, indulgent tostada?
These five recipes can serve as the cornerstone of a late afternoon Sunday supper, or make them all and invite some friends to sit around a backyard fire. Salud!
If by chance you have a gift certificate for turkey or ham still lingering in your wallet, you’re in luck this summer — according to About.com’s Chelsie Kenyon, “turkey is actually indigenous to Mexico and was a part of the Aztec diet along with tomatoes, squash and sometimes iguana.”
Tostadas are among the most forgiving of Mexican dishes, stacked like nachos on a crispy tortilla with everything from refried beans to fresh cilantro. Try Rachael Ray’s recipe for tostadas topped with black beans, corn and shredded turkey, with cheese (cotija is excellent), sour cream, lime and chipotle sauce for extra kick. A little avocado wouldn’t go amiss here either.
Queso Fundido with Chorizo
Some recipes don’t need any translating. That’s the case with this rich, gooey cheese dip, spiked with serrano chile and studded with fresh Mexican chorizo sausage.
Bon Appetit’s recipe combines Monterey Jack and cheddar with beer (they say a lager, like Corona), minced onion, tomato and fresh oregano.
Served hot out of the oven or in a fondue pot with some good tortilla chips, it’s a can’t-miss party appetizer.
Ham and Cheese Torta
A torta is basically a Mexican sandwich, a crusty white roll piled high with meat (steak, chicken, pork, chorizo) and the classic trimmings you’d find on a taco or tostada, like queso fresco (a mild white cheese) and pickled onions.
It’s also a great vehicle for ham, as made clear in this simple recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table. Made with refried beans, avocado, queso fresco, fresh tomato and fresh onion as well, these ham tortas would make an excellent weekend lunch.
For more inspiration, see a slide show of 10 fantastic tortas on Huffington Post Taste. Fried egg, spinach, pork belly and roasted jalapeño? Si, ¡dámelo!
Pozole (or posole) is a Mexican stew made with tender, slow-cooked pork, hominy (corn without the hull, soaked in lye), fresh chiles and lots of toppings. You can slurp it with a spoon or pull out the meat and toppings and wrap them in fresh tortillas.
A classic version is Rick Bayless’ white pozole with all the trimmings, which calls for three kinds of pork (shank, trotters and bone-in shoulder) and is best made on a weekend, when there’s plenty of time for a slow simmer.
Or try Marcela Valladolid’s recipe from “Mexican Made Easy” on the Food Network, a beef shank version that’s faster and simpler.
One Great Margarita
The perfect margarita doesn’t come from a mix, use bottled lime juice or require freezing and blending. No, the perfect margarita, as printed in Imbibe Magazine, is simple and fresh, the ideal thing to celebrate the coming of summer.
Make this correctly, and everything else on the table will taste even better. The salt on the rim is optional.
- 2 oz. silver tequila (or reposado if you like)
- 1 oz. fresh lime juice
- 3/4 oz. Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
- Ice cubes
- Tools: shaker, strainer
- Glass: double rocks
- Garnish: lime wheel and salt (optional)
Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish.