Best of Mexican Cooking: 75 Authentic Home-Style Recipes for Beginners, written by Adriana Martin, features an amazing variety of regional Mexican recipes created with modern cooking techniques for the home kitchen. A few highlights include Encacahuatado de Pollo (Chicken in Peanut Sauce), Tacos de Huevo con Nopales (Cactus and Egg Tacos), Enchiladas Mineras (Miner Enchiladas), Frijoles Charros (Ranchero Beans), and Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding). I will also be sharing her recipe for Chilaquiles Verdes (Green Chilaquiles) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Rockridge Press 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.
Adriana Martin was born in the state of Tamaulipas, raised in Mexico City, and is currently based in Florida. She is a home chef, food writer, recipe developer, trained food stylist and photographer, and creator of the blog- Adriana’s Best Recipes.
Her work has been featured in a variety of publications since 2011. She also teaches online cooking classes and has collaborated with top brands. This is Adriana’s first cookbook.
Best of Mexican Cooking
Adriana begins with a short introduction of her family and how she developed a love for cooking. She then describes basic pantry ingredients, and ingredient prep to help get you started.
I absolutely love the focus on regional cooking with the area of origin for each dish and brief notes on the history. Even between the recipes, there are small sections with a closer look at specific ingredients and cultural traditions.
The chapters are divided according to the following: The World of Mexican Cooking, Staples, Breakfast, Snacks and Appetizers, Soups and Stews, Main Courses, Sides and Salads, and Desserts and Drinks.
There is a photo at the beginning of each chapter by Hélène Dujardin with food styling by Anna Hampton. Measurements are listed in US Customary (there is a basic measurement conversion chart towards the back of the book).
Titles are written in Spanish and English. Each recipe has a headnote with origin, prep and cooking time, serving size, any special equipment required, helpful tips, and the history behind the dish.
Chilaquiles Verdes (Green Chilaquiles)
This Chilaquiles Verdes (Green Chilaquiles) recipe comes from the Breakfast chapter. Adriana states, “there is no clear history on the origins of chilaquiles, but the name comes from the Náhuatl chilaquili– chil (Chile) and aquili (for submerging in chili sauce).”
Chilaquiles can be made with red, green, or mole sauce. In this vibrant green version, freshly fried tortillas are coated in a homemade tomatillo salsa and topped with shredded chicken, crumbled queso fresco, onion slices, and a drizzle of Mexican crema.
If desired, pair with Mayocoba Refried Beans (recipe in book) and sunny-side-up eggs. For the shredded chicken, I simply poached chicken ahead of time and refrigerated it until ready to use.
Use yellow corn tortillas for this recipe. Adriana mentions if possible to leave the tortillas out on a tray to dry overnight after cutting them. This will create chips with a crispier texture that absorb less oil.
Tomatillos are a fruit related to the gooseberry and Chinese lantern plant. They range from green to deep purple in color with a papery husk and have a bright, tart flavor. I have been able to find them in larger grocery stores and markets with Mexican ingredients.
Queso Fresco is a crumbly, unaged cheese with a mild flavor. It is made with cows or a mixture of cows and goats milk. It is located in many larger grocery stores and markets featuring Mexican ingredients.
Mexican crema is a dairy product similar to crème fraîche, but a bit thinner with a more tangy, sweet taste. It is now available in many larger grocery stores and markets specializing in Mexican products near queso fresco and other Latin American dairy products.
I also made Guacamole de Aguacate Asado (Grilled Guacamole), Pollo en Salsa Cremosa de Chipotles (Chicken in Creamy Chipotle Sauce), Milanesa de Res (Beef Milanesa), and Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding).
I was immediately drawn to the Guacamole de Aguacate Asado (Grilled Guacamole) as the perfect way to use up leftover avocados. It also comes together in less than 30 minutes! Avocado halves are grilled cut-side down, then mashed and blended with garlic, Serrano pepper, lime, and cilantro.
The Pollo en Salsa Cremosa de Chipotles (Chicken in Creamy Chipotle Sauce) is a wonderful option to add an abundance of flavor to dinner with very little prep. This recipe was recreated by Adriana’s mother with inspiration from Chepina Peralta. Pieces of chicken are paired with a creamy sauce packed with crema, cream cheese, and chipotles in adobo along with a sprinkling of cheese and Mexican white rice.
Introduced from Europe, Milanesa de Res (Beef Milanesa) is created by pounding thin cuts of steak, coating in a breadcrumb mixture, and frying until golden. This meal also came together quickly and is perfect for pairing with Mexican Rice, black beans, salad, mashed potatoes, or fries.
I had such a difficult time narrowing down which dessert to try first, but finally went with Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding). This comforting treat is prepared by simmering rice with cinnamon, orange, and milk until tender. The use of milk, evaporated milk, and condensed milk creates such an amazing, creamy texture.
Best of Mexican Cooking is a wonderful pick for those interested in regional Mexican cuisine. All of the recipes were developed with the home cook in mind. While there are only a few photos, I found the instructions to be well-written with helpful tips every step of the way. The dishes range from basic staples and breakfast all the way through meats, seafood, soups, salads, sides, desserts, and drinks.
Having a market nearby with Mexican ingredients will be helpful in locating items such as tomatillos, dried chiles, queso fresco, masa harina, cortina cheese, epazote, achiote, crema, piloncillo, and star anise.
Chilaquiles Verdes (Green Chilaquiles) Recipe
Excerpt from Best of Mexican Cooking
Chilaquiles Verdes (Green Chilaquiles)
For the Green Tomatillo Salsa:
- 10 fresh tomatillos husked and washed, or 1 (16 ounce) can cooked tomatillos, drained
- 2-3 serrano peppers or 2 jalapeños for less heat
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup cilantro leaves
- 1 tablespoon chikcen bouillon
- Salt optional
For the Chilaquiles:
- 1 cup high smoke point oil such as corn, vegetable, or grapeseed oil
- 8 corn tortillas cut into triangles
- 1/2 cup cooked, shredded chicken
- 1/2 cup crumbled Ranchero queso fresco or cotija cheese
- 1/4 onion cut into rounds
- 1/2 cup Mexican crema
To make the green tomatillo salsa:
- Place the tomatillos in a large saucepan, add water to cover, and set it over medium heat.
- Bring to a simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tomatillos turn yellow-green. To avoid bitterness, do not use high heat or overcook. Turn off the heat and leave the tomatillos in the warm water for about 10 minutes.
- Remove them from the water and set them aside to cool, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Tomatillos need to be cold before blending to avoid developing bitterness.
- In a comal or nonstick skillet, roast the serrano peppers with the garlic.
- Transfer the tomatillos to a blender with the peppers, garlic, and cilantro. Add the reserved cooking water and blend until smooth. It should not be watery.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, pour in the tomatillo salsa and chicken bouillon and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and add salt (if using) or more water if necessary.
- Turn off the heat and keep the sauce covered with a lid until ready to use.
To make the Chilaquiles:
- Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the oil starts bubbling, add the tortilla triangles, one handful at a time. Do not overcrowd the pan and take care to avoid burns.
- When the chips are golden brown, transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to remove ecess fat. Repeat until all tortilla chips are fried, then set aside.
- Drown a handful of chips in the warm salsa for 1 or 2 seconds only (they need to stay crispy).
- Place the drowned chips onto four plates and add the chicken. Drizzle each with additional sauce.
- Top each plate with queso fresco, two onion slices, and Mexican crema.