Made in Mexico: The Cookbook: Classic and Contemporary Recipes from Mexico City, written by Danny Mena with contribution by Nils Bernstein, features over 100 recipes developed for the home cook along with a look into the local eateries, culture, and beautiful photography of Mexico’s capital. A few highlights include Tacos de Suadero, Costras, Ensalada de Palmitos, Ceviche Verde, Sopa de Tortilla, Mole de Olla, and Pan de Muerto. I will also be sharing his recipe for Chorizo a la Sidra following the review.
Disclosure and Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book from Rizzoli 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. Consume alcoholic beverages at your own risk and liability. This recipe is intended only for those over the age of 21 (in the United States). Please drink/eat responsibly.
Danny Mena and Nils Bernstein
Danny Mena was born and raised in Mexico City. He studied engineering at Virginia Tech and moved to New York City in 2004 for a job as an industrial engineer at a diamond company. Mena missed cooking and enrolled at the French Culinary Institute, which led to an internship at Blue Hill followed by his first culinary job at The Modern in the Museum of Modern Art. He started Hecho en Dumbo in a friend’s Brooklyn Bar in 2007 and La Lonchería in Brunswick, Brooklyn in 2018. This is his first cookbook.
Nils Bernstein is a food, drink, and travel journalist and recipe developer. His work has been featured in Bon Appétit, Epicurious, GQ, and Men’s Journal and he is a food editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine. He is currently based in Mexico City and New York City.
Made in Mexico
The chapters are divided according to course: Antojitos, Desayunos, Ensaladas y Ceviches, Para Picar y Sopas, Platos Fuertes, Postres, and Esenciales. A list of recipes is included in the table of contents with page numbers for easy reference.
Danny begins with an introduction into his life growing up in Mexico City and his path onto a culinary career (he was a picky eater as a child just like me!). From here, he dives right into the recipes- which have each been inspired by a local eatery. I absolutely love this personal touch to help bring the city to life within the pages. You will also find sidebars throughout the book highlighting important aspects of the food culture and notable ingredients such as Mezcal, Fondas, Cantinas, and Jugo Maggi. A restaurant index can be found following the index for those planning on visiting Mexico City along with the helpful corresponding maps.
The photography is provided by Aaron Adler and Brent Herrig. Most of the recipes are accompanied by a photo of the finished dish along with local scenery. Mexico City shines across the pages with even more photos of the people, restaurants, and food. Titles are written in Spanish. Measurements are listed in US Customary. Every recipe includes a headnote with background information, restaurants that inspired the particular dish, serving size, tips, and notable ingredients.
This book is a great pick for those interested in Mexican cuisine and Mexico City. There is an incredible range of dishes from quick snacks and filling breakfasts to fresh seafood, salads, flavor-packed tacos, more intricate mains, and decadent desserts. Many of the ingredients are readily available in larger American grocery stores, but having a specialty market nearby will be helpful in locating items such as guajillo chiles, queso Oaxaca, epazote, cactus leaves, hearts of palm, pasilla chiles, plantain, queso fresco, fresh seafood, tomatillos, pork lard, banana leaf, and masa harina.
Chorizo a la Sidra
Chorizo a la Sidra is a Spanish tapa popular in many Mexican cantinas. While it is usually made with cured Spanish chorizo, Danny states “I love it with the fresher and more deeply flavored Mexican chorizo.”
This is definitely one of the easiest recipes you will find in the book with only three ingredients! Mexican chorizo links are simmered in Sidra (hard apple cider) until cooked through and the cider reduces and thickens. While the cider continues to simmer, the chorizo is removed from the pan and cut into slices. The chorizo slices are simply served with the reduced cider on baguette slices.
Store-bought fresh Mexican chorizo in the casing is best for this recipe. Mexican chorizo is a fresh sausage made from ground meat (pork) seasoned with red chile powder and other spices. It is different from the Spanish and Portuguese varieties which are cured or smoked and seasoned with smoked paprika. If you can’t locate it, substitute with the cured Spanish chorizo.
I also made Mena’s Tacos Campechanos, Pollo en Escabeche, Teleras, and Guacamole.
The Tacos Campechanos were some of the best tacos I have ever made at home. Translating to “mixed,” Tacos Campechanos hold a mixture of filling which usually include beef and chorizo. This recipe includes cecina (thinly-sliced, salt cured beef), chorizo, and chicharrón. They were absolutely incredible served with warm corn tortillas, Salsa Campechana (recipe also in book) and lime wedges.
Pollo en Escabeche translates to pickled chicken. Mena mentions that Xel-Há is a Yucatecan cantina in Mexico City’s Condesa neighborhood and serves pollo and pavo (turkey) en escabeche as a filling for tacos and tosadas. He featured this recipe as a stand-alone entree paired with white rice to soak up the flavorful sauce. Bone-in chicken thighs are marinated in a spice mixture with a combination of citrus juices (to replicate the sour oranges in the Yucatán) and minced garlic. To serve, they are browned in a pan until golden, then simmered in the reserved marinade with onions, chiles, stock, and more spices.
The Esenciales chapter is devoted to the homemade basics that are essential to Mexican cooking. It is filled with a variety of salsas, tortillas, frijoles, chorizo, tamales, and accompaniments. I tried three recipes from this section: Salsa Campechana (to pair with the tacos), Teleras, and Guacamole. The Telera is a soft bread used for tortas and other sandwiches (recipe for Pambazos included). I made the Guacamole to use up a couple of extra avocados that had just hit their peak. It was such a refreshing accompaniment to tortilla chips and came together easily too!
Chorizo a la Sidra Recipe
Excerpt from Made in Mexico
Chorizo a la Sidra
- 2 pounds Mexican chorizo links
- 2 cups dry hard (alcoholic) apple cider
- 1 baguette sliced
- Place the chorizo and cider in a pan large enough to fit the chorizos in a single layer. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, turning the chorizo links a few times, until the cider is reduced by about half and is noticeably thicker,15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the chorizo to a cutting board (let the cider continue to reduce while you slice the chorizo) and cut it on the diagonal into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices (the slices may crumble a bit, which is OK).
- Transfer to a serving platter and pour the reduced cider over the chorizo. Serve with toothpicks and baguette slices.