¡#MeatCamp! – Highlights from our Mexican Cooking Chat

Last week we discussed some of the intricacies of Mexican-style cooking, including cooking methods, seasoning, regional differences, and flavor profiles.  There was much interest and super contributions by our two guests, Patricia Jinich (@PatriciaJinich), a cooking teacher and food writer at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., and Chefe Pepe of Frida Restaurant (@FridaRestaurant) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

This was the first “chat” for both Pati and Pepe, so @CarrieOliver and I had a conference call with this culinary duo.  Because the conversation was so fantastic, we invited chat participants to “call-in,” which worked well for about 5 seconds, then something went awry with the free conference call service.  Oh well.  Below I have captured some of the great tweets provided by our guest experts and our participants.  I hope they’re helpful.

Highlights from #MeatCamp, March 11, 2010

Tips and “good eats info” from Pati and Pepe –

Pati on pepper flavors:

  • Mexican food is not ALL spicy. There are even many chiles that are not even spicy: some are sweet, chocolaty, mild…
  • Yeah! Have you tried Ancho chiles? chocolaty, a bit bittersweet and even with prune undertones
  • Oh, and citrus is a wonderful meat tenderizer. Great for marinades: especially bitter oranges.
  • Basic flavors of Mexican cuisine are layered, I would say. Complexly layered but can be very smooth.
  • In regards to dry chiles, they last forever in pantry as long as its dry and not humid.
  • In regards to which chile to choose: you just have to get acquainted with the different ones! Bring them home baby!

Chef Pepe on pepper selection:

  • To choose dry peppers, look for how plump they look, in the sense that they are not completly dried, they have to be maleable.
  • For fresh peppers look for some that look fresh, plump, looking fruit.

Pati on cooking methods:

  • In Southern states, like Oaxaca there are very complex stews and moles and meats braised in sauces. Huge variations.
  • In the North there are a lot of grilled meats: discadas, asados. Simple.
  • Cabrito comes from the North of Mexico, and there are variations within regions as well.
  • For carnitas, good method is to sear over really high heat, get a crunchy outside, then cook over low heat for a loooong time..
  • For the stews and long braised yes: cooked not only until done but coming apart. But not well done as in dry.
  • Another way we tenderize meat aside from marinade w citrus or vinegar, chiles, is to wrap it in banana leaves, cook long and slow.
  • For braising, I really like brisket. And leg or shoulder of lamb or pork. As in barbacoa. Or Pibil

Chef Pepe on cooking methods:

  • Mexican Styles? Many, and very well different, I opted in Toronto to offer a little bit of each.
  • Carnitas are a preparation basicly of pork cooked in its own fat and slowly cooked until tender.
  • The skin that is crunchy outside is called chicharron but to get to that you have to fry at higher temps.
  • Mexican food is not always well done, in the northern Mexico, they have similar cooking practices as the States.
  • On the other hand the rest of Mexico braises a lot their meats, which in that way are cooked fully.
  • About carne asada – the thing is to cook on top of charcoal.
  • Fajitas means “little belts” – we use onion, green pepper, red pepper and meat or veg.

And various tweets about dishes, meats, and common perceptions –

FridaRestaurant as well they cook the whole animal, literally from head to tail, you can ask your “Taquero” to serve an ear taco beside a nose one #meatcamp -8:34 PM Mar 11th, 2010

PatriciaJinich There are also fabulous Mexican ways of cooking tongue: in salsa verde, veracruzana, tacos… #meatcamp -8:37 PM Mar 11th, 2010

PatriciaJinich Yeah someone asked about pigs feet: I think the favorite in Mexican cuisine is pickled…Cueritos #meatcamp -8:39 PM Mar 11th, 2010

SlowMoneyFarm RT @iTweetMeat: Very good point! RT @slowfoodkc: Quite a few people are afraid of goat meat. Call it cabrito and they might try it. #meatcamp -8:32 PM Mar 11th, 2010



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