Cinco de Mayo, or May 5th, is a Mexican holiday celebrating the victorious battle against the French in the city of Puebla in 1862. While a fairly minor holiday in Mexico, it is actually observed more widely in the United States, as a celebration of Mexican culture and cuisine, especially in areas with a large Mexican-American population.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, let’s learn a bit about traditional Mexican cooking and ingredients!
Mexican food often has a reputation for being very spicy. While this is often true, it all depends on the type of food and the ingredients being used. Mexican food uses many varieties of peppers (chiles) which have varying degrees of spiciness. The cuisine may be better classified as “strong” or “flavorful” due to the numerous spices used and the complex flavors from various sauces (salsas).
Along with chiles, some other Mexican cooking staples include corn, beans, rice, tomatoes, and avocados. The cuisine stems originally from Mayan and Aztec recipes, with an added Spanish influence. In the United States, Mexican-inspired food is often referred to as Tex-Mex since it often differs from authentic Mexican food in both flavor and style.
Here are cinco (Spanish for “five”) Mexican-style recipes in honor of Cinco de Mayo!
Enchilada literally means “covered with chile.” It is usually made with a corn tortilla, rolled around various fillings (like meat, beans, or cheese), and covered in a chile pepper sauce.
We took some liberties with our recipe by turning Martin’s Butter Bread into “tortilla” cups and filling them with some of the traditional chicken enchilada flavors. These mini bites are filled with seasoned, shredded chicken, enchilada sauce, tomatoes, green chiles, and some Mexican crema (similar to sour cream). You can also add some crumbled queso fresco (a fresh, mild, salty cheese) for some added authenticity.
Get the recipe: https://potatorolls.com/recipes/chicken-enchilada-bites
Churros are a type of pastry made from deep-fried dough. They can be filled with chocolate, fruit, or cream, or rolled in cinnamon-sugar. They are frequently found at fairs and sold by street vendors.
Our churro-inspired recipe uses battered and fried cut-outs of potato bread, coated in cinnamon sugar as the base for a delicious ice cream sandwich! You can even add a bit of caramel syrup to your vanilla ice cream for a taste of the traditional “dulce de leche” flavor that is often used as a filling for churros.
Chorizo is a type of pork sausage that is seasoned with various spices; it is common in several countries including Spain, Portugal, and Mexico/Latin America. While Spanish chorizo is commonly cured or smoked and seasoned with smoked paprika, Mexican chorizo is more commonly found raw, then crumbled and cooked similar to other ground meats. It is also usually seasoned with spicy chile peppers.
Another popular dish is Mexico is “Elote,” or Mexican Street Corn, which is usually sold by street vendors. Elote is grilled corn-on-the-cob, coated with mayonnaise or crema, lime juice, chili powder, and crumbled cotija cheese. It can also be served off-the-cob, which is usually called “esquites”.
We combined these two favorites into one dish. Part 1: chorizo and ground pork sliders seasoned with a few extra spices like cumin, paprika, and garlic. Part 2: corn and cabbage slaw with all the classic “street corn” flavors like chili powder, cilantro, lime juice, mayonnaise, and crumbled cotija cheese.
Cuatro: Chicken Fajita Grilled Cheese
Fajitas are technically considered “Tex-Mex” cuisine because they are not authentically Mexican, although they have many similar flavors and characteristics. Fajitas are typically served with soft tortillas, grilled skirt steak or chicken, grilled bell peppers and onions, and sides like rice, beans, salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.
We incorporated all the flavors of a chicken fajita into a delicious grilled cheese sandwich! Here, chicken is marinated in a variety of spices, then grilled alongside onions and peppers, and sandwiched between two slices of Martin’s Potato Bread with melty Monterey jack cheese. Serve with sour cream, salsa, or guacamole for dipping!
Get the recipe: https://potatorolls.com/recipes/chicken-fajita-grilled-cheese
For even more fajita goodness, check out: https://potatorolls.com/recipes/chicken-fajita-burgers
Mexican cuisine is famous for its many types of salsas, or sauces, and guacamole may be one of the most popular. Literally “avocado sauce,” guacamole consists of avocado, onion, jalapeno or serrano peppers, cilantro, salt, and occasionally lime juice.
This Southwest inspired burger is seasoned with cumin, cayenne, chili powder, salsa, and a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (another classic Mexican flavor). The cooked burgers, also containing eggs and crushed tortilla chips for binding, are then topped with a heaping helping of fresh guacamole and served on Martin’s Sandwich Potato Rolls.
Bonus: Pico de Gallo
You can’t celebrate with Cinco de Mayo without this classic accompaniment! Pico de Gallo, or fresh salsa, is frequently served alongside many Mexican dishes such as tacos or fajitas.
Pico de gallo is similar to other Mexican salsas, but contains only fresh ingredients (as opposed to cooked); mainly tomato, jalapeno, onion, and cilantro. Enjoy it as a dip with tortilla chips or as a topping for tacos or even burgers or hot dogs like the two recipes below!
Get the recipe: https://potatorolls.com/recipes/pico-de-gallo
Buen Provecho! (Enjoy Your Meal!)
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