TREAT YOUR TASTE BUDS WITH MEXICAN MEALS MADE AT HOME

So you’re grounded at home because, well…you know why. You can have a pizza delivered for dinner, but not seven days a week. That just wouldn’t be healthy. If you crave Mexican food, good luck getting that sent to your door unless you order from Taco Bell, which is silly gringo fast food. Most of the good restaurants are hurting due to the pandemic, and offer carry out. But unless you order from a nearby neighborhood establishment, your entree is cold and soggy by the time you get home.

There is a solution, amigos and amigas. You can surprise your family by preparing delicious dishes with a Mexican twist en casa. Don’t be afraid of failure, even if you lack cultural credentials. Get creative and have fun in your kitchen. Here are a few suggestions to consider for your Hispanic crusade.

POLLO A LA PLANCHA

Don’t let the name intimidate you. This is a really easy dish to make, but it requires some time to prepare because the chicken needs to soak in a lime-based marinate overnight. So plan ahead. Here’s what you’ll need.

Four chicken breasts; four limes; four tablespoons of olive oil; one tablespoon of salt; one tablespoon of black pepper; one tablespoon of cumin; four tablespoons of salt and two tablespoons of garlic salt; six tablespoons of canola or olive oil.

Slice each chicken breast horizontally so that they are of equal thickness. Put all the breast slices in a bowl, add about six tablespoons of salt and cover the breasts with water to create a brine. Do this the evening prior to cooking and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, lightly rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Squeeze the limes and mix the juice and olive/canola oil in a large zip lock bag with the breast slices. Shake well and place in fridge for another four hours. Rinse out your bowl and dry. Sprinkle the bottom of the bowl with your salt, cumin and pepper, then remove your chicken from the bag into the bowl. Dress the breasts with the seasoning.

Now your ready to fire up the grill! When hot, cook for about four minutes per side or until they are golden brown. Serve with beans, sliced avocado, pico de gallo and warm flour tortillas. Remember too, that any leftover chicken breasts works well to top off your salad greens the next day!

FIESTA NACHO CASSEROLE

There’s a lot of different variations to this recipe, but the most important things in my opinion are easy preparation and awesome taste. Here’s what you’ll need.

Pick up a small, pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. It’s easy to find at any Latino super market where you can also pick up any other ingredients that might not be in your pantry. In addition, you’ll need one medium can of salsa verde; three cloves of crushed garlic; one tablespoon of chili powder; one half cup of crumbled feta, cheddar and monterey jack cheeses; one can of yellow corn and two diced tomatoes.

In a large bowl, shave off about two cups of chicken, skin included. Toss all of your entire ingredients and mix well. Pour your creation into an oven safe rectangular dish. Top completely with fresh cilantro. Line the edges of the dish with fresh tortilla chips (get those at the market as well, and save plenty in a separate bowl on the serving table. Bake for about 20 minutes (covered) until bubbling hot. Place the remaining chicken in the fridge to make enchiladas or a hearty soup at a later date. Also while at the market, don’t forget to get some fresh churros for dessert.

TACO DOGS

Okay, I’ll admit that there’s a bit of Americana in this Mexican-ish entree. But it’s nourishing fun food that the kids will love. And hey, we all miss baseball, right? Here’s what you’ll need.

One package of Kosher all beef hot dogs (it does make a difference); an eight ounce package of ground sirloin; One tablespoon of chili powder; small can of salsa verde; two cups of cheddar cheese in a bowl; a plate of shredded lettuce; another bowl of those magic tortilla chips; one package of hot dog buns or for better coverage, a fresh bag of Mexican bolillos (birotes). Better taste too.

Grill your dogs, toast your birotes and set aside wrapped in foil. In a medium skillet, heat up some canola oil. Add the ground sirloin and salsa verde, gradually breaking up the hamburger until brown and fully cooked. If desired, season lightly with garlic salt. Drain and place each dog in a bed of sirloin inside the cut birote. Add cheese, lettuce and enjoy!

We will continue to offer home-made Hispanic recipes as long as we are under orders to shelter in place. What happens during the month of April will define how soon we can knockout this virus and get ready for a great, freedom-filled summer. Just remember to plan ahead and limit your visits to the market to once a week. We all need to do our part.

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If you live in the San Diego metro area, there is a neighborhood restaurant you might want to try for prompt carryout service. CHIQUITA’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT, located right off the 805 and/or 94 freeways, has been a family-owned favorite for 53 years. Before COVID-19, this large yet cozy eatery was packed for late lunch or evening dining inside, plus popular patio eating. Everything on the extensive menu is amazing, as is the full service cantina.

Now due to the pandemic, CHIQUITA’S has made some adjustments to continue servicing it’s loyal customers. While delivery is not available, you can call in your order for prompt pickup, including your favorite adult beverage from the bar. That saves you an extra trip to the liquor store! Current hours Tuesday-Wednesday are 11 to 6 pm. Thursday-Saturday, 11 to 7:30 pm. Sunday hours are 12 to 5 pm. Closed Monday.

CHIQUITA’S is always around when you don’t feel like cooking, or simply want to treat yourself to authentic Mexican cuisine. The address is 4110 Home Avenue, or call in your order @ 619 264-2072.

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About Steve Randel

Former amateur baseball scout in Latin America and current high school coach. International sports and current events journalist for 42 years.

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