Eat Mexico: Recipes from Mexico City’s Streets, Markets & Fondas, written by Lesley Téllez, was created as a way to feature memorable dishes following her four year stay in Mexico City with over 100 recipes. A few highlights include Enchiladas Verdes (Green Chicken Enchiladas), Mole de Olla (Mole from the Pot), Mextlapiques (Grilled Fish Tamales), Champurrado (Thickened Mexican Hot Chocolate), and Rajas con Crema (Roasted Poblano Peppers with Mexican Cream). I will also be sharing her recipe for Chicken Tinga following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Kyle Books in exchange for my review. All comments and opinions stated 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.
Lesley Téllez grew up in a Mexican-American family in Southern California, but moved to Mexico City in 2009 for her husband’s job. She immersed herself in the food over the next few years, including taking a 14 month cooking course at the Escuela de Gastronomia Mexicana (a diploma program for Mexican cooking).
Lesley begins with a quick guide to Mexican ingredients used in the book. This includes a full page photo of the most popular fresh and dried chiles, how to use the ingredients, and where to find them. She also discusses equipment needed to prepare the recipes and possible substitutions.
For those wanting to make your own corn tortillas, the first chapter starts with step-by-step instructions along with tips and a troubleshooting guide. These corn tortillas have their place in many recipes, from quesadillas (corn smut, zucchini, hibiscus, mushroom, and shrimp!) to tacos (carrot, curried cauliflower, fish, al pastor, steak and chorizo, steamed), enchiladas, flautas, carnitas, and fajitas.
There is a nice assortment of salsas and other condiments provided to accompany these recipes. I have two Chile de árbol plants in the garden just waiting to be used in the Salsa de Chile de árbol con Cacahuate (Arbol Chile and Peanut Salsa). In addition to the authentic dishes showcasing the cuisine of Mexico City, Lesley has also included original recipes inspired by her travels and family in the final chapter.
Lesley describes her experiences in the beginning of each chapter. Every recipe also includes headnote with details of her inspiration for the food and notes about particular ingredients. Many of the recipes also have cooking tips and variations provided at the bottom. Measurements are listed in US Customary.
There are beautiful photos by Penny De Los Santos of food-related scenes throughout the book. Many of the recipes include a photo of the finished product, some full page and some include step-by-step photos.
I decided to try Chicken Tinga first. Chicken Tinga is a guisado, or stewed mixture, that originated in Puebla and is now popular in Mexico City. Chicken breasts are cooked in water (also creating a chicken stock), shredded, then simmered in a chipotle-tomato sauce. I served them on warm corn tortillas, but tostadas would also work well. I topped the tortillas with crema, the chicken mixture, sliced onion, avocado, and crumbled cheese.
Mexican crema is a dairy product similar to sour cream, but a bit thinner and more mild. It is available in some larger grocery stores and markets specializing in Mexican products.
Lesley also provides a way to make your own: combine 1 cup warm heavy cream with 1 tablespoon plain yogurt and allow to sit in a warm place for 24 hours. Transfer to a refrigerator to thicken for at least 6 hours, then lightly season with salt to taste before serving. For an added punch, mix a little of the adobo sauce from the can to the crema before spreading it on tortillas.
This recipe can also be made vegetarian by swapping the chicken for 1 pound of shredded oyster mushrooms and using vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock. Don’t cover while cooking and increase heat to medium after 5 minutes to evaporate the excess liquid.
I also made Agua de Piña con Perejil (Pineapple-Parsley Cooler), Quesadillas de Hongos (Mushroom Quesadillas), Huevos a la Mexicana (Mexican-Style Eggs), and Sopa with Spinach and Cheese.
As I was flipping through the book, I came across the recipe for Agua de Piña con Perejil and wanted to try it right away (the recipe directly below it for Agua de Limón is definitely next on my list). It was ready after a quick spin in the blender. The parsley tends to settle with time, so stir before serving (or strain the mixture if you don’t care for minced parsley).
When I first made Quesadillas de Hongos, my often picky 3 year old grabbed Chad’s piece and ate most of it. I have made them twice since with the same result. Mushrooms are tossed mixed with garlic and chile, then sautéed before being sandwiched in a corn tortilla with cheese and epazote.
Chad invited some friends over for an impromptu brunch and I happened to have the ingredients available for Huevos a la Mexicana. The eggs are simply tossed with onion, garlic, chile, and tomatoes. I served them with salsa and corn tortillas. There wasn’t a single piece left on the plate.
The Sopa with Spinach and Cheese was a great weeknight meal with minimal (but full of vegetables!) ingredients. Small pasta shells are toasted, then simmered in pureed tomatoes. The pasta is then served on a bed of sautéed spinach and topped with Queso Fresco.
Chicken Tinga (Chicken in Chipotle-Tomato Sauce) Recipe
Chicken Tinga (Chicken in Chipotle-Tomato Sauce)
- 2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts
- 1/4 small onion
- 1 dried Mexican bay leaf
- 1 medium garlic clove unpeeled
For the Ting Sauce:
- 6 ripe roma tomatoes or 32 ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 1/4 cups chopped onion
- 1 medium garlic clove minced
- 2 chipotles en adobo from a can minced with the seeds, plus 2 teaspoons of the sauce or more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1/4 cup Chicken stock plus more if needed
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups Crema
- 12 tostadas or tortillas
- 1 onion sliced
- 1 avocado peeled, pitted, and sliced
- Queso Añejo or other aged, crumbly cheese
- Remove any excess fat from the chicken breasts, including the skin. Place in a large heavy pot and just cover with cold water. Add the onion, bay leaf and garlic and bring to a boil.
- Turn the flame to the lowest it will go, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove from the pot and let cool.
- Shred the meat into pieces with your fingers. Strain the broth, reserving 1 cup, and freeze the rest.
- Make the sauce. If using fresh tomatoes, cut in half and remove the seeds, then coarsely chop. If using canned tomatoes, drain them well, then pulse in a food processor into coarse, chunky pieces. Drain again if they're ver juicy.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until aromatic, 30 to 60 seconds.
- Add the tomates, cooking for about 5 minutes if using fresh (you want a thick, chunky paste) or about 3 minutes for canned to let the flavors meld, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the shredded chicken, chipotle and adobo sauce, oregano, chicken stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt. (If using fresh tomatoes, you'll need to add more than 1/4 cup stock so the tinga doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan as it cooks.
- The chipotle should be noticeable but not too punchy. Taste and add more if necessary. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Uncover and add salt to taste. If the tinga still looks soupy, raise the heat and reduce the juices a bit more.
- To serve as tostadas, slather a thin layer of crema on each tortilla. (For more amped-up chipotle flavor, mix a little adobo sauce into the crema.) Add a few spoonfuls of tinga, a slice of white onion and two slivers of avocado to each. Top with the crumbled cheese.