The Mexican Home Kitchen: Traditional Home-Style Recipes That Capture the Flavors and Memories of Mexico, written by Mely Martínez, features classic Mexican recipes with easy-to-follow instructions perfect for the home cook. A few highlights include Chiles Rellenos, Caldo de Pollo (Chicken Soup), Empanadas de Carne Molida (Ground Beef Empanadas), Calabacitas con Queso (Mexican Squash with Cheese), and Gelatina de Mosaico (Mosaic Gelatin). I will also be sharing her recipe for Carne con Papas (Beef and Potatoes) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Rock Point in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Mely Martínez was born in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. She started helping her family in the kitchen at a young age and learned more about regional cooking while working as a rural schoolteacher and traveling through her husband’s job.
Mely created her website, Mexico in My Kitchen, in 2008 as a way to share “Mexican recipes so that they can be passed down and preserved for new generations, as well as shared with all food lovers.” This is her first cookbook.
The Mexican Home Kitchen
Mely begins with a short introduction and a few basics of Mexican cooking before jumping into the amazing recipes. She explains essential ingredients in the Mexican pantry with descriptions, how to use them, and substitutions when available. There are even notes on how to roast specific peppers and other vegetables. The section on notable tools and equipment to make prep easier and more authentic is also incredibly helpful.
Chapters are divided according to course: Soups, Main Dishes, Salsas & Sides, and Desserts & Drinks. The contents have a list of the included recipes with page numbers for easy reference.
The photography is provided by David Castañeda. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a beautiful half to full-page photo of the finished dish. There are a few step-by-step photos to demonstrate how to make homemade (corn and flour) tortillas and assemble Tamales.
Titles are written in Spanish with English underneath when applicable. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Each recipe includes a headnote with background information, personal stories, prep and cook time, serving size, and helpful tips. I especially love the notes (Notas) explaining regional differences and variations.
Carne con Papas (Beef and Potatoes)
I was immediately drawn to Mely’s comforting Carne con Papas (Beef and Potatoes). This warming stew combines cubes of tender beef chuck roast and potatoes in a rich tomato sauce. Best of all, it comes together easily with only a handful of ingredients.
After trimming the beef chuck roast and cutting into 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) pieces, it is browned on all sides before simmering in a blended tomato sauce with onion, garlic, and chicken broth. Potatoes and serrano peppers are added after about 20 minutes and the mixture continues to simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. Immediately before serving, season with cilantro and adjust the salt/pepper to taste.
For more spice, blend the serrano peppers with the tomatoes instead of adding with the potatoes. If you aren’t a fan of cilantro, you can substitute with other herbs such as oregano, bay leaf, or thyme.
I served the Carne con Papas with Mely’s Arroz Blanco. She also recommends Arroz Rojo or warm corn tortillas.
I also made the Entomatadas, Guacamole, Arroz Rojo (Red Rice), and Café de Olla (Mexican Spiced Coffee).
The Entomatadas were a favorite with the kids. Corn tortillas are dipped in a warm tomato sauce, filled with queso fresco and finely chopped onions, then topped with more sauce and cheese. I especially love how easily they come together.
The Guacamole is another easy, yet delicious recipe. Avocados are mashed until smooth or a little chunky, then seasoned with salt, tomato, onion, serrano pepper, and cilantro. Mely mentions along with pairing it with chips and tostadas, you can also serve the guacamole as a side dish for grilled meats and fried seafood.
Along with making the Arroz Blanco (White Rice) for the Carne con Papas, I also tried the Arroz Rojo (Red Rice). A flavorful side that pairs perfectly with so many dishes in the book (or even on its own with avocado or a fried egg as Mely states), the instructions are easy to follow to create a light and fluffy rice packed with tomato, onion, garlic, and chicken broth. Green peas and carrots can also be added or a serrano pepper for a bit of spice.
I especially love the variety of drinks featured at the end of the book. With the cooler mornings we are currently having, the Café de Olla (Mexican Spiced Coffee) was the perfect start to the day. Ground coffee is steeped in water flavored with cinnamon and piloncillo for a delicious, warming drink. Other additions may include cloves, orange peel, or anise seeds.
The Mexican Home Kitchen is a great pick for those interested in regional Mexican cuisine. The instructions are incredibly easy to follow and perfect whether you are a beginner or already have a basic knowledge of Mexican cooking. There is a wonderful blend of quick recipes for weeknights along with a little more time consuming stews and delicious desserts made for larger family meals or entertaining.
Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. A few that may require further searching include Mexican chocolate tablets, crema, chicharrones, tomatillos, chipotles en adobo, piquín and other dried peppers, epazote, panela cheese, queso fresco, masa harina, piloncillo, anise seeds, and dried hibiscus flowers.
Carne con Papas (Beef and Potatoes) Recipe
Excerpt from The Mexican Home Kitchen
Carne con Papas (Beef and Potatoes)
- 1 1/2 pounds (675 grams) beef chuck roast trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) cubes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vegetable oil
- 4 large tomatoes chopped
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) chopped white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup (240 milliliters) chicken broth plus more if needed
- 2 large potatoes cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes
- 2 serrano peppers
- 1/2 cup (20 grams) chopped fresh cilantro
- Arroz Rojo or Arroz Blanco
- Warm corn tortillas
- Season the beef with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet or casserole over medium-high heat. Add the meat cubes to the pan and cook until they're browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
- While the meat is cooking, place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chicken broth in a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Pour this sauce into the pan with the meat using a strainer. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes. Add more broth if the sauce is too thick.
- Stir in the potatoes and peppers, and continue cooking until the meat and potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes, continually stirring throughout the cooking process. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve on plates with the rice and tortillas.