As every Angeleno knows, Mexican food here is serious business. From the high-end restaurants to the taco stands and burrito trucks and seemingly countless birria slingers, there’s no shortage of great Mexican food available whenever you want it. And while I love our spots as much as anyone else, what really excites me is Mexican home cooking, dishes that are comforting, simple and enduringly appealing.
That’s why I’m so excited for my friend Rick Martínez’s first cookbook, “Mi Cocina.” I’ve known Rick for many years in the small circle of professional recipe developers in New York City, and his food has always been outstanding. So when I heard he was moving to Mexico full-time and working on a cookbook, I knew it would be stellar. Now living in Mazatlán in a home overlooking the sea, the Texas native has written a vibrant and lively ode to the country of his heritage, inspired by his travels from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
Each chapter is organized by region to give you a feel for how the cuisine shifts from inland to coasts, north to south, tropical forest to desert. Martínez’s eye for knowing which dishes would translate to home cooking best and making them shine there is on full display in the book. I was particularly taken by dishes I had never heard of from some of the more famous parts of Mexico.
From Oaxaca, Martínez offers up a dish of roasted vegetables served over a corn-thickened broth called Chileatole Verde, a pre-Hispanic dish sometimes served as a soup or drink. But here, he plates the thickened sauce as a bed for roasted squash and cabbage, one of those (unintentionally vegan) dishes that’s comforting and ideal for swiping through with fresh corn tortillas.
And from the Yucatán, a region known for its array of seafood-heavy dishes, he gives a recipe for Poc Chuc, a dish that originated with the Maya. Pork shoulder is sliced thin and marinated with orange and lime, then grilled quickly until tender and lightly blistered, and served with grilled onions, radishes, avocados and pickled habaneros. I can’t think of a better dish to be grilling this summer than that.
Elsewhere in the book, Martínez gives readers a chapter on niche salsas outside what most people in America have heard of, a primer on making seven different types of tortillas, and one of the most helpful front sections of any cookbook in recent memory, where he breaks down salt quantities, the importance of lard in his cooking, and a delightfully brief but informative guide to using dried and fresh chiles. Martínez’s recipes are a wonderful baseline for exploring the home cooking of Mexico. He wants you to feel his love for the country in every bite, and hopefully spur you to travel south of the border to seek out these dishes for yourself.
Get the recipes:
Time1 hour 10 minutes
Time45 minutes, plus 2½ hours resting
YieldsServes 6 to 8
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