10 Quick Hacks That Make Mexican Food A Doddle
Intimidated by real Mexican food?
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 crazy!
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 here)
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 sauté dishes – and especially meats – and high temperatures, and minimise how much the oil will taint the flavour of the food.
Sponsored By Old El Paso
So now you know the tricks... time to put them into practice!
Ireland’s favourite Mexican brand Old El Paso has launched a new range of authentic Mexican meals inspired by regions of Mexico
Introducing Restaurante by Old El Paso: cook like a local tonight with our exciting range of soft taco kits: Chicken Tinga or “Tinga de Pollo”, most often attributed to the Puebla region of Mexico; Steak Carna Asada, which is popular in the northern state of Mexico; and Baja Fish from Baja California Peninsula on the Western coast of Mexico.