Mexican Food Questions
September 13, 2004 6:06 PM   Subscribe

ComidaFilter: Yesterday, in Delaware (of all places), I had some seriously kickass Mexican food. Like, the best I've had since I left Texas. [mas adentro]

This brought up a couple of questions:
First and foremost, how do you make that yummy chicken in the tomatoey sauce? The kind that just sort of pulls apart? We (and by 'we,' I mean 'my SO') have tried a number of recipes, and they just don't hold a candle to the goodness you can find in a decent Mexican restaurant.
Also, just as a trivia thing, how authentic are black beans in Mexican food? To me, if someone says, "Mexican beans," pinto beans come to mind first. Is it a regional thing? Is one kind of beans more of a Mexican-American thing?
posted by willpie to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yeah -- Mexican food isn't a monolithic thing. The styles vary quite a bit, depending on the region. For instance, the Sonoran style we find commonly find here in PHX is quite a bit different than the food you'd typically get in the southern part of Mexico.
posted by ph00dz at 6:41 PM on September 13, 2004

By "tomatoey sauce" do you mean chicken mole? That's one of my favorites, and you can find a ton of recipes. Experiment! Also, black beans are common in a lot of regional latin cuisine, and are a staple of cuban food.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:46 PM on September 13, 2004

Mexican cuisine is highly regional. Generally, pinto beans are from the Northern cuisine and black beans from the South. There's immense variation as you travel across the country.

I mean, I grew up thinking plain old morisqueta was mexican rice but as it happens it was highly regional.
posted by vacapinta at 10:00 PM on September 13, 2004

One of the reasons the saucy chicken is so tender is that it sits in a double-boiler inside a steam table all day. Ever-so-gently simmer yours in tomatoes and onions all day long and it will have that texture as well.
posted by scarabic at 10:51 PM on September 13, 2004

Texas knows nothing about Mexican food, homes. Or at the least not so much. Apologies. But really now, y'all call catsup "salsa", even when it's salsa verde and it's got all the kick of a dead mule.

New Mexico knows more than a little something about it, Arizona probably a bit less, but more than Texas.

And the only thing New Mexico has on California is damn good and hot chiles and a borrowed remnant of a name. (One of our fifty is missing? :P)

"Good, real Mexican food" is on my running list of reasons to stay in Southern California, along with oceans, real mountains, real deserts, In-N-Out, and more. (I missed In-n-Out so much when I was in Texas I almost had someone FedEx me my usual packed in dry ice. Cold In-n-Out is better than none, but I couldn't justify spending like 50 bucks on a cheeseburger, cold fries, and a milkshake of dubious consistancy. And please don't talk to me about Sonic and Whataburger, you heathen cowpokers! That filthy goop is just wrong!)

Anyways, yeah, "Mexican food" is highly varied by region. It's easiest to notice the difference between Baja and mainland food. (Baja tends towards the fish and seafood, lighter fair and a bit less dairy, mainland is *generally* more into beef, pork and poultry, dairy and heavier sauces, but it depends on the region.)

Argh. I was going to have a point. I swear. But I'm suddenly hungry. /me dashes out the door in search of all-night taco cart manned by a swarthy, well-steamed tortilla flinging woman named Conseula to get a fix.

(Hubris? Hell yes, but I've eaten so much good Mexican food out here I've been honorarily renamed "Jesus 'El Gordo Grande' Octavio Hernandez, III")
posted by loquacious at 1:56 AM on September 14, 2004

Now listen up. I've been out of Texas so long that going home feels like visiting an alien planet, but I am not going to sit here at my monitor and take these kinds of slurs against my native cuisine.

If you like super-spicy "Mexican" food, fine. But don't go dissing Texmex, either. Specifically, the stuff I grew up with in south Texas. The flavors are subtle and smooth, and blend together nicely. I don't care if you like it, but I love, Love, LOVES me some cheese enchiladas with onions on top and refried beans on the side. (I was just home this weekend, and got to have some really good Texmex for the first time in several years).

Having never been to an In-n-Out, I can't comment on the quality of their food. However, Whataburger and Sonic both are superior fast food, in my opinion. Both make a mustard burger with sliced/shredded lettuce and chopped onions, unlike the slab of iceberg drowning in ketchup that Wendy’s and other places like to slap on burgers.

So, having said all that, here's my question: Are there any Texmex places in the DC metro area (preferably on the Va. side)? Having finally had some (what I call, without disparaging others preferences) good Mexican food, I am suddenly suffering withdrawal. I have found lots of places that are South and Central American (Guatemalan, Peruvian, etc) but nothing yet that serves what I would call Texmex.
posted by Irontom at 4:41 AM on September 14, 2004

Was it La Tolteca?
posted by Otis at 6:36 AM on September 14, 2004

Response by poster: Otis -- it WAS La Tolteca! How'd you guess?

Scarabic -- I figured it was slow-cooked. I haven't tried a double-boiler set-up yet, and now I will. Thanks.

Now I'm wondering if I should be cooking a whole chicken, pieces with bones or boneless breasts. Any thoughts anyone?
posted by willpie at 7:10 AM on September 14, 2004

But really now, y'all call catsup "salsa", even when it's salsa verde and it's got all the kick of a dead mule.

Ah don't much cotton ta yer tone of voice, mister.

Eh, I dunno, I just went to southern California two weeks ago, and none of the Mexican restaurants I went to were that radically different from the Texas stuff - but then a lot of the Mexican restaurants here in yeehawland have been getting less and less Tex-Mex for years now. Also, you go to Sonic for the drinks, silly people.
posted by furiousthought at 7:31 AM on September 14, 2004

I know what you mean about the chicken. Here is a chimichanga recipe that I used one time and the chicken filling part of the recipe was very similar to the chicken filling used for most mexican style dishes. Note: I omitted the potatoes and doubled the amount of chicken.
posted by internal at 8:12 AM on September 14, 2004

I used to eat at La Tolteca on a weekly basis when I lived in Wilmington. I was addicted to their Carnitas, which I highly recommend if you make a return trip. Since moving away I've tried to duplicate them using a pork roast, crock pot slow cook method. It's just not the same. (sob).
posted by Otis at 8:45 AM on September 14, 2004

loquacious, you have just made me so goddamned homesick that I think I'm going to cry and see how much it'd cost to send some decent Mexican food to England.

Okay, dude. East Midlands. Does anyone know of any decent Mexican? Because, right now, Nottingham? NOTHING. It's fuckin' pathetic when the closest you get to decent Mexican is at freakin' Friday's.
posted by Katemonkey at 11:25 AM on September 14, 2004

Now I'm wondering if I should be cooking a whole chicken, pieces with bones or boneless breasts. Any thoughts anyone?

I would strongly suggest that you don't use boneless breasts. They're much too expensive for this kind of application, and you'll get a lot more chicken flavor if there's some dark meat in the dish. I like to use boneless chicken thighs for this sort of slow-cooked meal. The price is close to that of bone-in chicken parts, and you get both the flavor of dark meat and the convenience of boneless.
posted by vorfeed at 1:53 PM on September 14, 2004

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