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 –