Mexican recipes

Dishing It: Low-Fat Carnitas Tacos

January 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm , by

Slow-cookers are like magical dinner-making fairies. Or really awesome sous chefs. Seriously, I throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot, set it on low, go to work and come home to a fantastically yummy meal? Best thing ever. Someone needs to give its inventor a medal. Or at least a hug, on my behalf.

All that said, I don’t use my cooker as often as I intend to, mostly because I want the prep to be as simple as possible and I balk at anything requiring more than 5 ingredients and 10 minutes. (It’s tough enough for me to get up extra early to get the ingredients together. Added thinking or excessive time cannot be required, or I will go right back to bed.) So when I saw this taco recipe from our fabulous food editors, Tara and Khalil, in our February issue, I couldn’t wait to make it!

A small disclosure: The recipe called for pork loin, which is lower in fat than the cut I used, pork shoulder. I happened to have pork shoulder in the freezer and wanted to use it, so my tacos were a bit less good-for-you than Tara’s version! (Hers is above on the left, and mine is on the right. I could have benefited from some better lighting.)

Prep could not have been easier. I cut the meat in half, chopped up onions and carrots in my little food processor, minced some garlic and a chipotle chili and plopped it all in the pot with the rest of the ingredients: cannellini beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Besides the spices and cilantro, there are only eight ingredients, and I already had most of them!

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Celebrity Chef Snapshot: Marcela Valladolid

February 2, 2010 at 4:23 pm , by

Photo by Claudia TalaveraSay ‘hola!’ to the Food Network’s newest star, Marcela Valladolid, whose show “Mexican Made Easy” premiered last Saturday at 9:30AM Eastern. “What I hope viewers get from the show,  Marcela tells us, “is to show that authentic Mexican cuisine is different than nachos, burritos, and margaritas – it can be healthier and much more fresh with ingredients that are not processed.” Of the recipes featured on her new show, Marcela reflects, “it was really important to keep the recipes as authentic as they were approachable.”

But what comes first, the pollo or the huevo? Are the ingredients the key to making great Mexican food or is it the tradition behind the techniques? Marcela tells us it is a combination of both: “A lot of my food has to do with tradition, but at the same time in those traditions, sometimes it can get a little complex in terms of the ingredients.” If you can’t find a particular ingredient at your local market, Marcela suggests swapping one or more items while still maintaining the integrity of the flavors and textures. “It’s going to be fresh, and just as good, and will still give you authentic results”

No stranger to the culinary world, Marcela was classically trained as a French pastry chef hailing from the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris, and her cookbook, ‘Fresh Mexico,’ hit bookstores in August 2009. When asked if her French training plays into her Mexican menus, Marcela told us, “I’ll take those wonderful techniques I learned in Europe and use my indigenous Mexican ingredients to make it a Mexican-inspired, spicier dish.”

Any plans to do another cookbook? “Definitely!” says Marcela. “What I enjoy most about my job and my career is developing recipes and bringing recipes down to a level where an everyday cook can prepare them – to be given that opportunity {to write a book} again, I would do it in a minute”

Tune in to see the next episode of “Mexican Made Easy” this Saturday at 9:30am EST on the Food Network. Marcela will be preparing “Cuddle Cuisine” in time for Valentine’s Day!

Photo by Claudia Talavera