How do I Mexican Potluck?
August 22, 2018 4:29 PM   Subscribe

My company is doing a white-water rafting event. It's two nights at a campground, with rafting on the main day and a "Mexican Potluck" that night. Wait… what is a Mexican Potluck?

All I have to go on is: We ask that you bring your own "stuffins" like chicken or steak, but the toppings will be supplied.

So… something to put in tacos or burritos, then? Or not? Do I cook it myself beforehand (meaning tonight, as we're going up right after work tomorrow and the Mexican Potluck is on Friday) or do I bring some raw meat in a cooler to work tomorrow? (I guess I'm bringing a cooler regardless, actually.) If I'm not cooking it, should I at least season it? What the hell kind of meat am I supposed to show up with for this to work? And do you have any specific suggestions for what I should bring?

I am so confused. I can't believe I waited until two hours after close of business on the day when I have to buy this stuff. Google is not helpful at all here. I am at the grocery store right now. Help!
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would bring whatever you like to put in tacos, burritos, and fajitas. Cubed steak or chicken, ground meat, maybe even refried beans. You could also maybe do some grilled sliced peppers and onions. I'd cook it before you leave - if you're going rafting during the day, you most likely won't have time to cook the food in time for dinner. Just to be on the safe side, you could also cook some white rice and bring a package of tortillas.
posted by Everydayville at 4:35 PM on August 22, 2018

I'd go to a taqueria and buy some carnitas, or whatever taco meat you enjoy, on its own in a tub. If you're good at making "stuffins" then ignore the taqueria idea; instead cook and take whatever.

"Toppings" probably means mexican rice, beans, salsa, etc., but if you're dubious about the supply of any of those which you'd miss then you could also bring a tub of salsa, can of beans, etc.
posted by anadem at 4:47 PM on August 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you eat meat, fajita-style is probably the way to go here. Thin strips of chicken or steak. If you're near a Trader Joe's, they sell marinated meat that would do nicely here -- go for the Pollo Asada or the Carne Asada. If your options are slim at a regular grocery, go with thin-sliced chicken cutlets or skirt steak. Shrimp threaded on skewers would also work. If you're vegetarian/vegan, I'd probably go with protein crumbles, or those pre-seasoned strips of seitan or quorn.

Since you're cooking at a campground, I'm guessing you're meant to leave things raw; grilling over a fire would be considerably easier than gently reheating pre-cooked food over a fire without destroying it. If you have the time, you could also whip up this marinade before you leave for work tomorrow, stick the meat in a Ziplock and (depending on timeline) either pour in the marinade before you depart, or take the marinade along in a separate container and just pour it over the meat before you go rafting.
posted by halation at 4:56 PM on August 22, 2018

It sounds like they're trying to avoid the "do we have any vegetarians? vegans? pescatarians?" question by asking you to bring your own protein.

If this were me I would take a portion of frozen chicken thighs (I have them in quart-sized freezer bags), dump in some soy sauce / vinegar / cooking wine / ginger, let it thaw-marinade in the fridge, and bring that in. Asian shredded chicken, there.
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:06 PM on August 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

You could always just make shrimp or tilapia or heart of palm ceviche and bring some tostadas and lime crema sauce, if you wanted to do the potluck thing. Otherwise follow the other folks suggestions.
posted by yueliang at 5:24 PM on August 22, 2018

Bring a sack of avocados.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:51 PM on August 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh man this sounds kinda sketchy from a food safety point of view unless your cooler-on-a-raft skills are better than mine. I'd buy, like, sealed vegetarian chorizo.
posted by salvia at 8:33 PM on August 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

salvia: "Oh man this sounds kinda sketchy from a food safety point of view unless your cooler-on-a-raft skills are better than mine. "

Put your cooked meat in a small or medium ziplock bag; press out as much air as possible. Put the small bag inside a large ziploc with some ice cubes (to keep the bag surfaces separated) then 3/4s fill with water; seal after eliminating air. Freeze the whole shebang (this is why only 3/4s fill; to allow for ice expansion without straining the bag seal). The outer layer of ice will keep the interior at a safe temperature until the ice melts. In my experience at least 8 hours in a soft sided cooler kept out of the sun.

This works for fresh meat too if they have facilities to cook it though I prefer to use solid cuts of meat rather than a ground product (only the exterior of a solid cut of meat is exposed to bacteria).
posted by Mitheral at 10:08 PM on August 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

Air tight bags of freeze dried black beans or refried beans. I get this at the hippy grocery stores. You can also get on Amazon and they may deliver. All you need is hot water and you do not need to freak about raw food transport as raised above. It is light and very portable. Combine the beans with avocados and any other vegetables of your choice and you are good to go with transport and tastiness.
posted by jadepearl at 11:55 PM on August 22, 2018

I'd bring a bunch of sausages and buns. If this thing goes pear-shaped, I want to know that I have a simple way not to starve (as long as there's fire).
posted by rhizome at 12:47 AM on August 23, 2018

So it turned out that the right answer in this case was to bring seasoned, but uncooked, meat—on ice in a cooler. Everybody contributed their meats which were cut into strips, cooked up on a big charcoal grill, and put out for everyone to take whatever looked best to them. Tortillas were provided, along with a wide variety of toppings including rice, cheese, and hot peppers.

Apparently this usage of the term "Mexican Potluck" is specific to my company and everyone else was just already familiar. I had cooked meat, but ate it for lunch and bought uncooked korean barbecue beef at a TJ's on the drive up to Maine (thanks, halation!) which was deemed more than acceptable. Overall the whole party was an awesome time.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:35 PM on August 26, 2018

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