Mexican cuisine may be famous for long-simmering braises, mole sauces and labor-intensive recipes for tamales and enchiladas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get something delicious on the table in minimal time. Check out our fastest, easiest Mexican recipes and get a south-of-the-border dinner ready in a jiffy.
Recipe: Good, Basic Mexican Rice
One of my measuring sticks for Mexican restaurants outside of Southern California is the rice, and it’s amazing how many places fail this simple test (the test is unnecessary in Southern Cal; everyone passes pretty much). I just want some rice with some appetizing color and a ton of flavor. Lucky for me, my mom taught me how to make the good stuff back in the day (thanks Mom!). This is a pretty basic recipe — if you want to start tinkering with add-ins like chopped jalapeños, lime juice and chipotle sauce, feel free to experiment.
I love this recipe because it’s a huge crowd-pleaser, which I think has a lot to do with the use of wood smoke. The recipe is inspired by elote, Mexican street corn, but I have found that smoking it over mesquite charcoal (or using wood chips in addition to regular charcoal) really transforms the dish. This recipe is super simple — the only work is grilling the corn and slicing it off the cob. Everything comes together real fast after that. I tend to prep all my other ingredients in a big bowl while I grill the corn. That way, you can choose to serve the dish hot or wait and serve it cold. I have also been using it as a topping for burgers and hot dogs lately, which makes it even better for tailgating and potlucks.
Recipe: Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
Shrimp cocktails have all but disappeared from American restaurant menus, but they are as popular as ever in Mexico. If you’ve ever vacationed at a seaside resort in Cancún or Acapulco, you are probably already a fan of this famous appetizer. Known as coctel de camarones on the Pacific Coast and coctel de Campechana on the Gulf Coast, this is everybody’s favorite Mexican seafood dish. When it’s hot outside, you’ll want to make it extra spicy. It is perfect on a hot day with margaritas or micheladas. Cholula is a favorite Mexican hot sauce in Texas and in the Southwest; it is made with chile de árbol and chile pequín.
Recipe: Corn And Goat Cheese Quesadillas
A quesadilla (from queso, the spanish word for cheese) is a tortilla “sandwich” containing cheese and any of a wide number of spicy filling ingredients, which is grilled, fried or toasted and usually served with salsa. We cooked these quesadillas in a frying pan but you can cook quesadillas, one at a time, in a heated sandwich press, if you have one.
You can use the marinade for this aguachile on most firm white fish, as long as it’s extremely fresh.
Recipe: 30-Minute Mole Sauce At Home
Mole is a notoriously time-consuming sauce. Iterations of the legendary Mexican staple are endless, and even those recipes closely associated with a particular region — such as Puebla, birthplace of the chocolate-laced mole poblano — vary from household to household.
Recipe: Spicy Mushroom Torta With Cheese
Tortas are quick and easy sandwiches made with bolillos. You can make them cold or grill the bread before stuffing. This grilled mushroom torta oozes creaminess, and the addition of long green chiles and tequila gives it just the right dimension of smokiness. The tequila notes linger on one’s tongue just long enough to taste the fumes from the agave in the tequila. Don’t worry, the alcohol dissipates during cooking. Give this torta a try on a cold winter night or cool summer evening.
Straight-ahead delicious, this is Mexican-style rice infused with smoky chipotles, garlic and cilantro. And studded with shrimp, which may seem pretty special-occasion for everyday eating. Chicken is more available and affordable, so feel free to replace the shrimp with an equal amount of boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Add them along with the broth rather than halfway through the rice cooking.
Recipe: Lubina Veracruzana
Veracruzana is a specific way to prepare fish with tomatoes, olives and capers, similar to what we know of the Spanish kitchen. The Veracruz city lies on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico in the eastern part of the country. Jalapeño chili peppers were also originally cultivated there.
Recipe: Easy Beer Beans
Have you ever had really good beans? And I don’t just mean some decent beans, I’m talking about those refried beans made with lard that will make you not care how bad your clogged arteries hurt. I love those beans. I also know I shouldn’t eat too much lard, but even if I wanted to, I couldn’t, because I can’t find beans like those around here. Also I don’t keep lard around the house, otherwise I might start spreading it on toast in the morning.
Recipe: Chorizo And Manchego Nachos
My favorite discovery since Nachos NY began is my love of chorizo. It tastes excellent with everything, especially here with the Manchego.