Always rely on a cheeky burrito takeaway when craving a bit of
Tex-Mex? These simple tricks and tips will make sure you have the perfect healthy, spicy meal at
home – and more importantly, you’ll always have a meal that drives your taste buds absolutely
Whether your making quick and easy tacos, or braising spiced beef, the first thing to remember
that Mexican food is about balance: big hearty meats and dry spices paired with quick salsa and
Don’t overpower your zesty rice salad with a whopping great lump of meat; similarly, don’t wash
out all your hard work on cooking the meat with too much tomato and lime.
Salsas are best of course when they are fresh and light, but try briefly dry-roasting the tomatoes,
chillies and onions for your salsa for maximum flavour with minimal effort.
Check the cuts of meat you’re about to start cooking with: if it has a lot of fat, try slow-cooking
rather than frying it.
This will allow the fat to render down into your sauce creating a rich meaty flavour – and that’s what
it’s all about.
Think slices, not chunks, that way it’s easier to pack and roll your fajitas and burritos, and if you do
it right, will make the meat meltingly soft and delicious. The trick is to make sure you slice
perpendicular to the grain (look out for little stripes across the meat, and angle your knife to cut at
90 degrees to it). This way you slice through the muscle sinews, making the meat soft and easy to
cook and chew.
Slice and dice your tomatoes
Shave time off your cooking with this quick way to chop your tomatoes: slice of the top and bottom,
then slice off ‘petals’ downwards. Then just discard the centre pulp and seeds (full instructions
Mexico is the home of chocolate. If you’re wondering why your moles and desserts aren’t turning
out quite right, try switching from the sweetened chocolate that is most popular here, to the real
stuff: unsweetened Mexican cocoa. For desserts in particular, this will give you loads of opportunity
to sweeten with added flavours like vanilla, and will make for rich and flavoursome sauces.
Often with dips and sauces it’s easiest to make a big batch and keep some for later, but with
guacamole, refrigeration of just leads to a brown and unpleasant sticky mess instead of the fresh
green you started out with.
This is because it reacts with the oxygen in the air when left exposed. When storing, put the
guacamole in a container and cover with a thin layer of water – this will prevent it from going
brown, and then all you need to you when you’re ready to use it again, is pour this water off.
Rehydrate Dried Chillis
Make sure you always have what you need for throwing together quick and easy Mexican dishes,
from cans of beans to tortillas. Often overlooked but extremely useful is the dried chilli, as you can
buy in bulk for pretty cheap and store for a long time, plus they give out lots of flavour. Just cut off
the stems and remove the seeds, and soak in water for 20-30 minutes. Plus, use the remaining
water in your recipes for extra bursts of flavour!
Though authentic Mexican cuisine doesn’t laden dishes with cheese, it still makes a delicious
added extra to fajitas, burritos etc. When using cheese in your home-cooked Mexican dishes, don’t
opt for the pre-grated, plasticky packaged cheese, even though they are quicker: using good
quality cheese (like manchego) and grating it yourself not only tastes better, but the cheese will
melt much better, and burn less quickly.
Swap the olive oil or vegetable oil for avocado oil: it has a higher smoke point and is much lighter,
meaning you can fry and saute? dishes – and especially meats – and high temperatures, and
minimise how much the oil will taint the flavour of the food.