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Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Freezer-Friendly Picadillo Enchiladas

February 15, 2017
Freezer-Friendly Picadillo Enchiladas Recipe

If there is an easier way to get a homemade, hand-rolled, red-sauced enchilada in my mouth I would want to know what that is. Homemade enchiladas are so good! But also so time-consuming, which is why I rarely make them.

Freezer-Friendly Picadillo Enchiladas Recipe

But then I had an epiphany, one that made me so happy I didn’t even give the lady who is always trying to spread her “strictly homeopathic remedies” advice around at Hiro’s ninja class the stink eye last Tuesday when I thought of it. You know the type, let’s just call her “Annoying Mom” we all know one. By the way, did I tell you Hiro is taking ninja class? It is so stinking cute, he’s all smiles, somersaults, and thumbs-ups.

My epiphany, which is really nothing new—more like a “duh” moment than an “ah-ha”—was that the next time I go to the effort of making enchiladas I should make two pans. One for the freezer and one to eat right away. Why have I not been doing that every single time? I ask you.

Freezer-Friendly Picadillo Enchiladas Recipe

I adore enchiladas of all sorts but these particular enchiladas are the king of comfort food. Stuffed with picadillo (read: ground beef, potatoes, carrots, spices, even a little beer) and covered in homemade red sauce, they are exactly what you want on a chilly, late-winter’s night. Knowing a pan of that is in your freezer is better than a shot of tequila to calm your stressed and tired soul. Which brings me to the freezing part.

Freezer-Friendly Picadillo Enchiladas Recipe

Tips For Freezing the Enchiladas

How you freeze and defrost these picadillo enchiladas is going to depend strictly on your baking dish. If you freeze them in a glass baking dish (like the Princess House one I used) you have to thaw them in the refrigerator or microwave before baking. The temperature change will make the glass shatter and you don’t want that. I’ve exploded glass pans before, it’s not the slightest bit cool. After they are thawed, follow the recipe’s baking instructions as written.

Freezer-Friendly Picadillo Enchiladas Recipe

However, if you have a ceramic or stainless steel pan you can bake the enchiladas straight from the freezer which is pretty darn handy if you forgot to take them out to defrost them and are like, I don’t know, super starving. Bake them for 15 minutes covered, remove the plastic wrap and foil and bake for another 15 uncovered or until hot all the way through and crispy on the edges.

Now On To Storage Containers

As I mentioned above, I have been thoroughly enjoying my new Princess House storage containers. I use recycled dairy-free butter containers as much as the next person, but I know that they are not the best health-wise for heating stuff up in the microwave or using after a few too many runs through the dishwasher which is why I love that these containers from Princess House are made from thermal shock-resistant glass. They can go in the freezer, refrigerator, microwave, and even the oven (up to 450°F) and pretty enough to serve at the table too. Princess House was nice enough to offer a giveaway: All three storage containers shown below (a $99 prize!) which I am hosting over on Instagram from 2/16-2/23 so go check that out!

Freezer Friendly Picadillo Enchiladas Recipe

Freezer-Friendly Picadillo Enchiladas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Making a large-batch of enchiladas means you can make two pans and freeze one for later! The picadillo filling of ground beef and potatoes is pure comfort.
Serves: 12 servings
For the Filling:
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 medium red potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • ½ cup beer
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped epazote (or same amount fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves)
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
For the Sauce:
  • 4 dried pasilla chiles
  • 8 ripe roma tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 4 serrano chiles
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons salt
For the Enchiladas:
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • Crumbled queso fresco or feta, for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Thinly sliced chiles, for serving
To Make the Picadillo Filling:
  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add ground beef, potatoes, and carrots, and season again with salt and pepper. Cook until beef is browned.
  2. Add measured salt, cumin, paprika, beer, chicken broth, and epazote and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until liquid has cooked down and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, stir in the mint leaves. Picadillo can be made up to a day in advance.
To Make the Sauce:
  1. Set a small pan of water over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove stems from the dried chiles and remove as many seeds as possible. Rinse chiles under cold water removing the rest of the seeds.
  3. Heat a large cast iron skillet or comal over medium-high heat. Place chiles on the hot, dry pan and toast until all the water has evaporated off the chiles and they are beginning to smell fragrant (about 4 minutes), turning frequently. Transfer chiles to the pan of boiling water, submerge under the water, and remove from heat. Set aside until very soft, at least 15 minutes.
  4. Place tomatoes, onion quarters, and serrano chiles on the hot cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of the skillet). Char the vegetables until they have blackened on all sides and are slightly softer, about 10 minutes. Remove stems from serrano chiles and remove seeds if you don't want the sauce to be spicy.
  5. Pour chicken broth into blender then add drained dried chiles, and charred vegetables (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender). Add salt and blend on high until smooth. Sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance.
To Make the Enchiladas:
  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Have 2 large plates and 2 (at least 7-x-11in) baking dishes near by.
  2. Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Using tongs, add tortillas, one at a time, and lightly fry each tortilla until slightly soft and a bit crisp on the edges, about 15 seconds per side. Transfer tortillas to one of the plate until all have been fried, adding more oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the pan becomes dry.
  3. Once all the tortillas are fried there should be about 2 tablespoons of oil left in the pan, if not add enough to make 2 tablespoons or pour any extra into a heatproof container. Carefully add enchilada sauce to the pan (it will spatter) and stir until the spattering dies down. Let simmer about 5 minutes then turn the heat to very low.
  4. Spoon enough sauce in the bottom of each dish just to coat.
  5. Using tongs, dip one tortilla into the sauce and flip to coat in sauce. Transfer to the other large plate and place 2 tablespoons of picadillo on one edge. Roll tortilla around the filling then roll up to close. Lay enchilada in the baking dish and repeat with remaining tortillas and filling, coating each tortilla with sauce before filling and rolling it up.
  6. Place twelve enchiladas in each baking dish then divide any remaining sauce over the two dishes, spreading it over the enchiladas.
  7. If you are going to freeze one dish, cover the top tightly with plastic wrap, then cover the plastic wrap with foil. Place in freezer for up to one month. See post for instructions on how to bake from frozen.
  8. To bake the enchiladas, place, uncovered in the hot oven until crispy on the edges and warmed through, about 15 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of cheese and sour cream if you'd like and a few sliced chiles on top.


One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!





Mains, Recipes

Friends Who Fete: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party

February 9, 2017
Fiesta: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party

Sometime between the holiday’s fading glow and spring’s first warm breezes lies a long, frigid stretch of nights when we huddled in our homes, hunker down from the cold and wind, and heat up leftovers for dinner. There is no better time than now to gather some friends together and throw a party full of cozy comfort food, delicious cocktails, and loads of laughter—An Italian Polenta Party!

Fiesta: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party

When Aida of Salt & Wind suggested the idea to myself and Meg from This Mess Is Ours we answered with an enthusiastic, YES! I mean, I am never one to turn down an opportunity to cook and gather together with my friends, especially over creamy mountains of soft polenta and Aida’s sensational creamy pesto.

Fiesta: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party

Throwing an Italian Polenta Party is a really fun way to entertain. All you have to do is invite some fun-loving friends, make a few appetizers, a simple cocktail, and then pour out the polenta onto a board in the middle of the table and let everyone dig in!

Here’s All You Need To Know To Throw Your Own Polenta Party

Fiesta: How to Throw An Italian Polenta Party

We all gathered on a late Saturday afternoon and Meg mixed up some sparkling Apple Basil and Prosecco Spritzer cocktails while Meredith finished her sweet herb and floral wreaths to line every plate. Aida arranged Fontina and Prosciutto Puff Pastry Squares and Mushroom Ragout Agrodolce Bites on a marbled wood board along with balsamic roasted apples, several types of cheese, and charcuterie. It was all just the beginning to the main event about to come: The Polenta!!

Italian Polenta Party Menu

Fiesta: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party

Here is the rundown of the entire menu. We did one meat topping and one vegetarian topping to go with the polenta but you could always just pick one. It is all the little extras however that make it super fun, so try to have at least three or four different sauces or garnishes that your friends can add to their polenta. Included are the recipes to make these but you could easily make one or two and buy a couple more high-quality versions from the store. Or make the sauces and have toasted pine nuts and grated Parmesan or Pecorino on hand for generous sprinkling.

Fiesta: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party


Apple Basil and Prosecco Spritzer cocktails | This Mess Is Ours

Fiesta: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party


Fontina and Prosciutto Puff Pastry Squares | Salt & Wind

Mushroom Ragout Agrodolce Bites | Salt & Wind

Nuts, Cheese, Sliced Charcuterie, Balsamic Roasted Apples, Crackers, and Fruit

Fiesta: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party

The Polenta Board + A Salad

Escarole, Charred Mandarins, Toasted Almond Salad with Rosemary Balsamic Vinaigrette | Salt & Wind

Basic Creamy Polenta | Salt & Wind

Beer Braised Beef Barbacoa| ¡Hola! Jalapeño

Braised Chickpeas with Porcini and Tuscan Kale | This Mess Is Ours

Creamy Basil Pesto | Salt & Wind

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes | Salt & Wind

Red Pepper Romesco Sauce | Salt & Wind

Blood Orange Tart with Vanilla Mascarpone Recipe

Something Sweet

Blood Orange Tart with Vanilla Mascarpone | ¡Hola! Jalapeño

Serving the Polenta

Fiesta: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party

For our party of 8 people Aida quadrupled this recipe and we had plenty of leftovers to take home (gratefully). The polenta is really nice because you can start it and then let it basically cook on its own, giving it a stir every now and again until it is ready.

To serve the polenta you’ll need a very large food-safe board. Meg had a gorgeous reclaimed wood board that ran the length of the table from Pasadenaville which worked perfectly as everyone had some polenta right in front of them at the table. A large wood cutting board or tray would also work. Just find your biggest food-safe board and pour the polenta out onto the it. Top half of the polenta with the barbacoa and half with the braised chickpeas and place it in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves. Serve all the sauces and garnishes in small dishes scattered about the table so your friends can add what they please. Aida also made a dairy-free version of the polenta with chicken broth and olive oil instead of the butter, milk, and cheese.

The Place Settings

Fiesta: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party

Our very talented friend Meredith created delicate mini wreaths made from fresh (and totally edible) herbs, olive leaves, and straw flowers. They look rustic and pretty on the plates and Louisa turned them into a darling little tiara after the party was over. Get all the details on how to make them here.

Shop The Party

Fiesta: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party

Here are a few party essentials we can’t live without:

W/R/F Lab ceramics

Pasadenaville Polenta Board

Pink Shibori Napkins

Linen Napkins

Vintage Roly Poly Cocktail Glasses

Cheese Knives

Denim Cloth Table Covering

All Produce: Melissa’s Produce

Fiesta: How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party

A humongous thanks goes to Salt & Wind and This Mess Is Ours for all the photos.

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!


Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Beer-Braised Beef Barbacoa

February 8, 2017
Beer-Braised Beef Barbacoa Recipe

Cooked in a mixture of dark beer, and spices this barbacoa is crazy tender. Serve with tortillas or over polenta like we did for our Italian Polenta Party.

Beer-Braised Beef Barbacoa Recipe

What is Barbacoa?

The term barbacoa has always confused me. The first time I heard it was in my early twenties as a sous chef at Mustard’s Grill in the Napa Valley. A few of my fellow cooks were gathered around discussing weekend party plans and announced they were going to do a barbacoa in their yard. Truly a weekend project, they dug a deep hole, filled it with smoldering wood and a baby goat then covered over the hole with agave leaves.

Beer Braised Beef Barbacoa Recipe

The meat roasted very slowly and about 8-10 hours later was shredded and served with an accompanying chile broth with which you’d brush the meat through before piling it into warm corn tortillas. This was a meal reserved for a grand celebration and one that my Mustard’s compadres offered to replicate for our wedding. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the go ahead from the our reception venue to follow through—something about not wanting a huge, gapping, smoking hole on their property—ridiculous.

Beer-Braised Beef Barbacoa Recipe

I was then later told it was only made with cow head and then Chipotle came along serving barbacoa in every nook and cranny of America (did they all have baby goat-sized holes in their parking lots? Were they really serving goat? Or even more interesting, cow’s head?) But now I’ve come to discover that barbacoa means beef to most people, more specifically tender, slow roasted succulent beef.

Beer-Braised Beef Barbacoa Recipe

A Much Easier Version

This recipe was inspired by my friend and fellow chef Susana who cooks her barbacoa in a beer and spice bath. The addition of molasses adds a subtle sweetness that is undetectable but also very much there if that makes any sense. It is about as easy as a recipe can possibly be—not one single shovel necessary. All you need is a sturdy blender, a large enough roasting dish, and a few hours then leave the oven to do all the work.

Even better, the slow cooking means an inexpensive cut of meat is actually preferable here making it a very budget-friendly way to feed a crowd. I’ve made this recipe using boneless beef brisket, boneless chuck roast, and even a clod roast which I got just because it was the cheapest roast at the market and I wanted to see if it would be as good as the most expensive brisket and guess what? It was! Any tough cut of meat would melt under all that beer and heat.

Beer-Braised Beef Barbacoa Recipe

I made this barbacoa recipe for an Italian Polenta Party I threw with Aida from Salt + Wind and Meg from This Mess is Ours. We piled the meat on top of the polenta straight from the tray with all those beautiful juices. Even though it is Mexican in origin it went beautifully with the sweet roasted tomatoes, grated hard Parmesan, and Aida’s silky romesco sauce. For more polenta party details head here!

Beer-Braised Beef Barbacoa Recipe


Beer-Braised Beef Barbacoa
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cooked in a mixture of dark beer, and spices this barbacoa is crazy tender. Serve with tortillas or over polenta like we did for our Italian Polenta Party.
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 5 pounds boneless beef brisket or chuck roast
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, stemmed and sliced (remove seeds if you'd like it less spicy)
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup Italian parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 9 epazote leaves, or ¼ cup fresh oregano leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  1. Heat oven to 300°F and place roast in a large baking dish or roasting pan.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender starting with the beer (you may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender). Blend on high until all is pureed.
  3. Pour beer mixture over roast and move it around in the mixture to coat all sides. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven.
  4. Slow-roast the beef 3 hours, remove foil and return to the oven and let cook 30-45 minutes more or until the edges are browned and the meat easily pulls apart with a fork.
  5. Shred meat and mix with the sauce in the pan. Serve immediately with a generous sprinkling of Italian parsley leaves or let cool completely, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  6. To reheat; place meat and sauce in a shallow pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Did you love this recipe? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

A huge thanks goes out to Salt + Wind and This Mess Is Ours for the photographs and WRF Lab for all the ceramics.

Comida Latina, Condiments and Salsas, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes, Sandwiches

Chicken Milanesa Sandwiches with Basil-Lime Mayo

February 1, 2017
Chicken Milanesa Sandwich with Lime-Basil Mayo Recipe

One of my husband’s favorite things in the whole entire world (besides me of course, right?) is milanesa. Pork, beef, chicken milanesa, he loves it all. And most of all when we hit up a good torta or Mexican sandwich spot, a milanesa torta is always on order.

Chicken Milanesa Sandwich with Basil-Lime Mayo Recipe

Now a classic torta de milanesa this is not, but that’s okay, that’s not what I really do anyway—you know me. You won’t find the bun slathered with creamy beans and we are using a thin piece of chicken breast, not steak but I guarantee this sandwich is no less terrific and the sentiment of soft bun, creamy spread, crispy, pan-fried meat is all still there.

Chicken Milanesa Sandwich with Basil-Lime Mayo Recipe

Make a Pickle

Instead of a sharp slice of red onion I’ve added crunch in the form of sweet and sour fennel and carrot pickles. This recipe is based on my favorite way to make pickles which is as easy as boiling a few ingredients that I know you already have in your cupboard, pouring it over some vegetables (this recipe can be used to pickle anything from radishes to avocados—yes, really), and sticking the whole shebang in the fridge. Let them sit at least overnight in the refrigerator if you can to help the veggies really soak up the flavors.

Chicken Milanesa Sandwich with Basil-Lime Mayo Recipe

These pickles are so delicious I found myself making a pile of them on my plate so I could eat a salad-like forkful with every bite of chicken milanese sandwich. I am a sucker for crunch so that might have something to do with it, but still, very good. So try it!!

A Couple of Tips

As for breading the chicken (and in my opinion anything that is going to be fried) I am a Panko girl til I die. Armando makes fun of me for buying Panko by the case at Costco but it is the far superior in the crispy-crunch department and we’ve already discussed how happy that makes me.

Chicken Milanesa Sandwich with Basil-Lime Mayo Recipe

Sometimes you can find thin chicken breast filets ready to go but if not follow the instructions in the recipe to get them thin and ready for breading. You might only need two chicken breast to make four servings if they are super huge. Cutting them in half horizontally will make it easier to pound out thin, then cut them into 4 pieces trying to make the pieces the same size as your bread rolls so you don’t end up with a dry hunk of chicken-less bread at the end.
Chicken Milanesa Sandwich with Basil-Lime Mayo Recipe

Chicken Milanese Sandwiches with Basil-Lime Mayo
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Crispy Panko-breaded chicken milanesa tucked inside a fluffy roll with pickled fennel and carrots and swathed in a creamy basil and lime mayonnaise.
Serves: 4
For the Fennel-Carrot Pickles
  • 1 large head fennel (about 1 pound), bruised outer pieces removed
  • 3 small carrots (about ½ pound), peeled and trimmed
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
For the Basil-Lime Mayo
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • juice of ½ a lime
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Chicken:
  • 14 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 lime, zested
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup vegetable oil, for frying
For the Sandwich:
  • 4 bolillo or hoagie buns
  • baby spinach
To Make the Fennel-Carrot Pickles:
  1. Slice all the vegetables paper-thin using a mandolin if you have one, or sharp knife. Place in a large bowl.
  2. Place cumin seeds in a small saucepan and toast over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally until they are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar, sugar, water, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Pour over vegetables and let cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Transfer to a container with a tight-sealing lid and refrigerate overnight. Pickles will keep refrigerated for 2 months.
For the Basil-Lime Mayo:
  1. Combine basil leaves, mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.
For the Chicken:
  1. Heat oven to 300°F.
  2. Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally. Place one half on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Pound chicken until it is ½-inch thick using a meat mallet or anything else heavy (rolling pin or wine bottle would also work). Repeat with remaining chicken.
  3. Cut the pounded chicken into 4 equal pieces if you do not have 4 already.
  4. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  5. Place Panko in a shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper and add lime zest. Mix seasoning into Panko.
  6. Crack egg into a separate shallow dish. Add 1 tablespoon of water, season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.
  7. Place flour in a third shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Place one or two chicken pieces in the flour mixture and coat on all sides.
  8. Transfer floured chicken to the egg wash and turn to coat. Now place in the Panko mixture and press to coat with Panko on all sides. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
  9. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
  10. Heat ¼ cup vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, test with a pinch of Panko. If the oil is hot enough the Panko should sizzle immediately.
  11. Slide 1 or 2 Panko-coated chicken breast into the hot oil (don't crowd) and let cook, undisturbed until deep golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for 3 minutes more.
  12. Transfer chicken to the baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while you cook the rest of the chicken. You can place the rolls in the oven too if you want them toasted a little bit.
  13. If most of the oil has been used in the pan add a couple more tablespoons of oil to cook the rest of the chicken pieces.
To Make the Sandwiches:
  1. Slice each roll in half and spread some basil-lime mayo on the top and bottom of the rolls. Put a bit of baby spinach on the bottom half then top with a piece of chicken. Pile some pickles on top and cover with the top bun.

Did you love this recipe? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

All ceramics by W/R/F Lab

Comida Latina, Condiments and Salsas, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes, Salads

Chili-Lime Broiled Salmon Salad

January 25, 2017
Chili-Lime Salmon Salad @holajalapeno

Hello dear hearts! What’s for dinner? Oh, that again. Here’s a constant dinner companion that I have up my sleeve for when I do not want to think about dinner but I must because I decided about 9 years ago to feed and protect. Salmon salad.

It sounds simple enough, and it is, but is also a genius solution because it can be basically anything you want. Follow along below if you’d like to make this exact recipe but you really only need a fillet of salmon, some lettuce, and dressing to make salmon salad for dinner.

Chili-Lime Salmon Salad @holajalapeno

This is a standard at Casa Ramos because there are only a handful of dinner options that all four of us get excited about and salmon salad is one of them.

Spaghetti and meatballs is another although Louisa only eats the meatballs and Hiro only eats the pasta. Roasted chicken is another, but honestly Louisa’s not a huge fan. But salmon salad that’s a winner. Both kids love the salmon, lettuce, and if I add tomatoes, or cucumbers well they REALLY love that but even more of a bonus is I can add roasted butternut squash or potatoes and just put them on the plates that want them. I can also try something new, like these fresh garbanzo beans, and the kids will be so happy about the other stuff happening on their plates that they don’t complain one iota.

chili-lime salmon salad recipe @holajalapeno

Speaking of these garbanzo beans they are delicate and delicious raw versions of the dried or canned chick peas you are familiar with.

I picked some up last weekend at the Mexican market even though I had no idea what to do with them. There was a scrum of overzealous women hoarding the pile of fuzzy green pods and shoveling them into bags with such fervor that I knew they were something not be missed.

Chili-Lime Salmon Salad @holajalapeno

After asking around on Instagram I realized they are best eaten charred, skin and all, on the comal with a little butter and salt and then the beans are finagled out with your teeth edamame style—a street snack eaten in Mexico AND Israel!

For the salad, I removed the beans from the shell and roasted them along with the salmon to get the same toasty effect but one you could eat with a fork. If you can’t find fresh garbanzo beans you can substitute canned beans, drained and rinsed, tossed with a little olive oil, salt and some of the chili-lime mixture you use for the salmon. Cook them the same as the fresh beans, broiled with the salmon fillet.

Chili-Lime Salmon Salad Recipe

Chili-Lime Broiled Salmon Salad Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A main-course salmon salad with roasted butternut squash, pepitas, crunchy Romaine lettuce, broiled chili-lime salmon and fresh garbanzo beans.
Serves: 4
For the Vinaigrette:
  • Zest and juice of 1 medium orange
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced scallions (green part only)
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Chili-Lime Mixture
  • 3 limes zested
  • 2 teaspoons ground chili powder
For the Butternut Squash:
  • 2 pounds peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into ½-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Salmon:
  • 1½ pounds salmon fillet, rinsed, patted dry, and pin bones removed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Salad:
  • 1 pound fresh garbanzo beans, peeled
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, washed, dried thoroughly, and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • ¼ cup pepitas (roasted, salted pumpkin seeds)
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
To Make the Vinaigrette:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth.
To Make the Chili-Lime Mixture:
  1. Combine lime zest and chili powder in a small bowl.
To Make the Butternut Squash:
  1. Heat oven to 450°F and arrange rack in the upper third.
  2. Toss squash slices with oil, salt, and 3 teaspoons of the chili-lime mixture. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast until just tender when poked with a fork, about 20 minutes.
To Make the Salmon:
  1. Heat broiler to high.
  2. Lay salmon on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and remaining chili-lime mixture. Rub everything over the salmon so the flesh is seasoned all over.
  3. Toss fresh garbanzos with a teaspoon or so of oil and a pinch of salt and arrange around the salmon. Cut one of the limes you zested in half and squeeze the lime halves over everything.
  4. Broil salmon and beans until salmon is done to your likeness. This is going to depend on the thickness of your salmon, start checking after 4 minutes. Salmon should feel firm to the touch, but not hard and opaque. This could take anywhere from 4-10 minutes.
For the salad:
  1. Toss Romaine, pepitas, squash, cilantro leaves, and garbanzo beans with about half of the vinaigrette. Arrange on plates and divide the salmon on top of the salad. Pass remaining dressing on the table.

Did you love this recipe? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes, Soups and Stews

A #1 Kitchen Mistake + A Caldo de Res Recipe

January 17, 2017
Caldo de Res Recipe from @holajalpeno

Thanks to JORD for sponsoring this post. All ideas and opinions are my own.

Winter cooking means long-simmering stews (like this Caldo de Res recipe), braises that require the meat to be browned first, and soups whose vegetables must caramelize to perfection. What do all these things have in common? Patience…no time….no waiting…err patience.

Caldo de Res Recipe from @holajalapeno

The biggest mistake you are probably making in the kitchen is more about what you are NOT doing, and that mis amigos, is waiting. Waiting for the pan to get hot, or waiting for the oil to get hot, or giving the chicken a bit more time to brown is a major factor in how the final dish will turn out. Therefore, it is worth taking your time and I think the easiest way to do this is by watching the clock. Just when you think something is done it is best to give yourself just one more minute before taking any action. Unless something is on fire, it probably needs a minute to really get crisp or hot or caramelized, you get the picture.

Caldo de Res Recipe from @holajalapeno

Wearing my JORD watch in the kitchen is very helpful. That way I can set a time for say, when I need to stir my onions that are caramelizing, and then walk away. When I’m just standing there watching the pot is when I get impatient. It is easier for me to look at my watch, set a time, and go wash a few dishes or tidy up the kitchen while I wait.


I’m never in the kitchen without my JORD Frankie 35 in Zebrawood and Champagne. It’s scratch-resistant crystal face means I don’t have to worry about it holding up to my busy cooking schedule and it is completely made out of wood (97% of which is reused from old furniture remnants). If you know an impatient cook you should check out the giveaway and gift code at the end of this post and gift a JORD watch for Valentine’s Day.


This Caldo de Res recipe is a perfect place to practice your kitchen zen. First of all it doesn’t require mere minutes of waiting but a few hours, which in some ways is much easier. The longer the beef and bones simmer the richer the broth will become but if you skimp on the time the flavor of the soup will sacrifice. Secondly, the cut of beef (the shank or leg) is pretty tough which means it needs a whole heck of a lot of time to gently simmer, softening up those tough fibers.

Caldo de Res Recipe from @holajalapeno

If you live near a Mexican market you will not have trouble finding center-cut beef shank which is what I use to make my Caldo de Res. They should also sell a mixture of beef and bones and chunks of flavorful fat called, carne para caldo de res, or beef for soup which is another way to go. It is more traditional but a little too fatty for my tastes. If you can’t find either one use beef stew meat and see if you can find an oxtail or beef bone to throw in for flavor.

Caldo de Res {Mexican Vegetable Beef Soup}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Mexican comfort food at its best. This Caldo de Res or Mexican Vegetable Beef Soup takes 15 minutes to put together and is the best way to warm up in winter.
Serves: 6-8 Servings
  • 2 pounds center-cut beef shank (with the bone) or beef stew meat
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 tomatillos, husks removed and chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt + more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
For Garnish:
  • lime wedges
  • minced red onion
  • cilantro leaves
  • dried oregano
  • sliced jalapeños
  1. Rinse beef and place in a large soup pot. Add onion, tomatoes, garlic, salt, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, black pepper and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover.
  2. Let gently simmer for 2 hours or until beef is falling off the bone. Add carrot and potatoes and let cook until they are just tender, about 30-45 minutes more.
  3. Taste and add more salt if needed (I ended up adding 2 more tablespoons).
  4. You can either remove the meat from the bones or serve as is with lots of chopped onion and lime wedges and warm tortillas.


Want to score one of these beautiful watches for yourself? Thanks to the wonderful JORD family they are offering a giveaway for all my readers! Enter to win a $100 Gift code to use towards your very own JORD watch in Men’s or Women’s styles.

To enter follow this link: 

And get this: everyone will automatically receive a $25 code just for entering! The contest will close on 02/19/17 at 11:59pm. Both the $100 and the $25 codes will expire on 04/30/17. Best of luck everyone!!

Did you love this recipe? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!


Luxury Wooden Watch

Apps, Comida Latina, Condiments and Salsas, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Piñata Chicken Wings Recipe

January 10, 2017
Piñata Chicken Wings from @holajalapeno

Thanks to Gourmesso Coffee for sponsoring this post. All ideas and opinions are my own.

We had our week of healthy right? (Not like I participated.) And I’m pretty sure we are ready to head full swing into America’s great winter pastime—watching stuff on TV and eating finger food! With the Super Bowl, award season, and many other very important television events coming up (does the inauguration count?) it is time to get our chicken wings on.

Piñata Chicken Wings from @holajalapeno

I’m going to go ahead and admit now that I am not a chicken wings person, not really, not until now. I made these for Armando who is most definitely a chicken wings person. A person who regularly will order only chicken wings when we go out. A person who’s terrible wife never makes chicken wings at home, except that this time I did and they are really, really, really good! So good I had to stop myself from eating the whole lot of them after I shot the photographs so there would be some leftover when he got home and realized I’d finally, after all these years, made chicken wings.

Piñata Chicken Wings from @holajalapeno

I really don’t know what my hangup was, not only are chicken wings excellent party snacks but they also make the ultimate weeknight dinner. In the time it takes to bake the wings the sauce will be ready and then all you have to do is toss them with the sauce, bake them a few minutes more, and watch your five-year old and husband fight over who gets the last one.

Piñata Chicken Wings from @holajalapeno

Kitchen Tip

The most complicated part is cutting the chicken wings into three pieces, which if you have a sharp knife and take a gander at the picture below, is not really complicated at all. Cut off the pointy tip and save for chicken stock, then cut into two pieces at the second joint.

Piñata Chicken Wings from @holajalapeno

One More Kitchen Tip

Coffee makes a lot of things taste better. I know it sounds crazy but I’m not going out on a limb to say adding coffee to anything chocolaty, smoky, spicy, or sweet will inevitably boost the flavor. Try it! I’ve been loving these Fair Trade Gourmesso coffee capsules to get my morning coffee fix and for adding a little something-something to recipes. They work in any Nespresso machine and are 30% cheaper than the Nespresso capsules—I believe that’s what you call a win-win.

Piñata Chicken Wings from @holajalapeno

Case in my coffee-point is this sauce; caramelized sweet onions, dark undertones from coffee, smoky heat from chipotle chiles, with just the right amount of sweet fruitiness from raspberry jam. They’re Piñata Wings!! Absolutely full of surprises.

Piñata Chicken Wings from @holajalapeno

Did you love this recipe? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

Piñata Chicken Wings
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Oven-baked chicken wings tossed in a smoky-sweet barbecue sauce made with caramelized onions, chipotle chiles, raspberry jam, and a jolt of coffee.
Serves: 4 servings
For the sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ large red onion
  • ⅔ cup brewed coffee
  • 2 chipotles en adobo
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ground black pepper, to taste
For the Wings:
  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper, for seasoning
Optional Garnishes:
  • Lemon or lime wedges
  • Sliced scallions and jalapeños
  • Finely chopped parsley and cilantro
For the sauce:
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Adjust the heat so they don’t burn.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions are very tender and sauce has reduced a bit, about 15 minutes more.
  3. Use a stick blender, or transfer sauce to a blender and blend on high until smooth. If you are using a blender hold a dish towel you don’t mind getting stained over the top of the blender instead of the lid. The hot sauce can cause the lid to pop off sending hot liquid all over the place.
  4. Taste sauce and add more salt or vinegar if needed. Set aside.
For the wings:
  1. Heat oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, foil, or a Silpat.
  3. Cut wings into 3 pieces; save the wing tips for stock. Toss wings with oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake wings for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.
  5. Toss wings with half the sauce and bake 10 minutes more. Toss wings with remaining sauce and serve with garnishes and lots of napkins
Depending on your love of chicken wings this recipe could make enough for 2 people or 4. Double the amount of chicken wings and bake on 2 baking sheets if you want to make a larger batch. The recipe makes enough sauce for 4 pounds of wings.


Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Chicken Tamales with Pumpkin & Mole Sauce

December 7, 2016
Chicken Tamales @holajalapeno

What are your Christmas food traditions? Eggnog? Gingerbread? A favorite Christmas cookie perhaps? In our house it’s just not Christmas until we have a freezer full of tamales. I wish I could say there was a one and only tamale that I make every year, but to be honest there are too many versions to pick just one and every year I like to try something different but chicken tamales are usually on the menu in some form or another.

This year I settled on a little combo I’ve been wanting to try for a long time. Chicken tamales with roasted cubes of pumpkin and a sweet and spicy mole made from charred pineapple, spicy chipotle chiles, and ripe plantain called Manchamantel.

Chicken Tamales @holajalapeno

If making tamales seems too overwhelming, host a Tamalada!

A tamalada is a tamale-making party where everyone chips in on the chore of assembling the tamales and gets to take a dozen or so home when it’s all over.

Follow these steps to make the perfect tamale!

First things first, gather all you ingredients. If you are making these chicken tamales, have the chicken cooked and shredded, the mole and masa made, and the pumpkin roasted.

Chicken Tamales with Manchamantel Mole Recipe @holajalapeno

Soak the corn husks.

Dried corn husks can be found at any Mexican market and the ethnic aisle of some grocery stores or you can buy them online here. They will need about 2 hours to soak in hot water.


Chicken Tamales with Manchamantel Mole Recipe

After the husks have soaked wipe each one dry on both sides.

Set aside any that are smaller than a hand-width wide or any that are torn. Don’t throw them away though you can use them to line the tamale pot or tear into smaller strips to tie the tamales together if you’d like.

Chicken Tamales with Manchamantel Mole Sauce Recipe @holajalapeno

The Steamer

Fill your tamale steamer with water up to the rack where the tamales will sit. I use a 15.5-quart tamale pot like this one, but you can also use a large lidded stock pot fitted with a steamer rack on the bottom. Line the rack with a few soaked corn husks and put it on the stove to boil. Spoon about 1/3- 1/2 cup of masa onto a cornhusk. Make your own masa following the directions below or purchase prepared masa (masa preparada para tamales) at your local Mexican market. Masa preparada is made from fresh ground corn instead of dried cornmeal.  

Chicken Tamales with Manchamantel Mole Sauce Recipe @holajalapeno

How to Spread

Using a large spoon or a tamale spreader and spread masa evenly over the bottom half of the cornhusk, leaving about a 1/2 inch border on the sides.

Chicken Tamales with Manchamantel Mole Recipe @holajalapeno

Fill with about 2 tablespoons of pumpkin and 2 tablespoons of chicken in the middle.

I used sugar pie pumpkin, but any winter squash would be delicious. You want enough filling to get a little chicken and pumpkin with each bite.

Chicken Tamales with Manchamantel Mole Recipe @holajalapeno

Spoon about a tablespoon of mole sauce over the chicken. 

Don’t be skimpy with the sauce, not enough and the tamale will be dry. It’s okay if a little drips out the top when you are rolling them.

Chicken Tamales with Manchamantel Mole Sauce Recipe @holajalapeno

How to Roll

Using the clean edges of the corn husk, bring the two sides of the masa together to enclose the filling. Press the two sides of masa together to seal.

Chicken Tamales Recipe with Manchamantel Mole Sauce @holajalapeno

Tuck one side of the cornhusk over the masa and pull back gently to make a snug cylinder.

If you’ve ever rolled sushi you will be familiar with this move.

Chicken Tamales with Manchamantel Mole Sauce Recipe @holajalapeno

Roll the husk up and fold the pointed end down.

Place the tamale with the folded-side down and repeat until you have enough tamales to fill the pot. If you want, you can wrap each tamale individually in parchment or waxed paper at this point, place in a resealable plastic bag and freeze to steam later. They will keep uncooked in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Chicken Tamales with Manchamantel Mole Sauce Recipe @holajalapeno

Now, steam away! 

Place the chicken tamales with the open side up in the tamale steamer, stacked against each other so they don’t fall and become unraveled. You want there to be a lot of steam but not boiling away, adjust the heat accordingly.

Chicken Tamales with Manchamantel Mole Sauce Recipe @holajalapeno

Let the chicken tamales cool

About 10-15 minutes, then unwrap and dig in! If saving for later you can let them cool completely then pack into resealable plastic bags. They will keep for about a week in the refrigerator or 2-3 months in the freezer.

Chicken and Roasted Pumpkin Tamales with Manchamantel Mole Recipe

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: About 3 dozen

Fluffy tamales filled with chicken, roasted pumpkin, and a sweet and spicy Manchamantel mole sauce made from charred pineapple and chipotles.

A time-consuming task but definitely worth the work, plus this recipe makes a few dozen so you can have a freezer stocked with enough tamales for a month!

Chicken, mole sauce, and pumpkin can be prepped a few days in advance.

Make sure to soak the corn husks a couple hours before beginning.


    For the Chicken:
  • 1 (4-5 pound) whole chicken
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • For the Mole:
  • One recipe Manchamantel Mole Sauce
  • For the Pumpkin:
  • 4 cups peeled and diced pumpkin or winter squash
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • For the Tamales:
  • 50 dried corn husks
  • For the Masa:
  • 6 cups Maseca corn flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup lard or vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
  • 5-6 cups chicken cooking liquid or store-bought broth


    To Make the Chicken:
  1. Rinse chicken and remove any neck or giblets (save and freeze for later or discard).
  2. Place in a large stock pot with remaining chicken ingredients and cover by an inch or so with cold water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook until chicken is very tender and falling off the bone, about 1-11/2 hours.
  3. Remove chicken to a baking sheet and let cool. Strain broth into a heat-proof container, discard solids. When broth is cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to use for the mole sauce and masa.
  4. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces removing any bone, skin, or fat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. To Make the Pumpkin:
  6. Heat oven to 450°F. Toss diced pumpkin with oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet. You may need to use 2 baking sheets if they are too crowded on one.
  7. Roast until just tender, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool.
  8. To make the Tamales:
  9. Soak corn husks at least 2 hours in advance in hot water. Use a heavy plate to submerge husks in water.
  10. Combine Maseca, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add cubed lard or shortening rubbing it into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it in very small pieces. Add 5 cups of reserved chicken cooking liquid and mix into a dough making sure all Maseca has been incorporated and there are no dry spots. It is best to mix together with your hands so you can feel any dry Maseca.
  11. Add more liquid if the masa is too dry, you want it to be easily spreadable but not runny, like fluffy mashed potatoes. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
  12. Assemble:
  13. Fill a tamale steamer with water just until it reaches the rack where the tamales will sit. Use a few of the small or ripped soaked corn husks to line the rack. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn heat to medium and keep covered.
  14. Dry a soaked corn husk with a clean kitchen towel. Hold the corn husk with the wide end toward you. Using a large spoon or tamale spreader, evenly spread about 1/2 cup masa from the middle of the husk down leaving about 1/2-inch border on the sides.
  15. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of chicken and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin down the middle, then top with a generous tablespoon of mole.
  16. Fold one side of masa over the filling until the two edges of the corn husk meet, and holding onto one side of corn husk, pull the other side toward the middle to press the two edges of masa together. Fold the pointy end of the corn husk up over the large end, and place on a clean baking sheet. Repeat with remaining corn husks.
  17. Place tamales vertically, open-side up in the tamale steamer, keeping them snug in the pot so they don't unravel during cooking. Make sure water is at a steady simmer and producing lots of steam. Cover tightly and steam until masa is cooked through and not doughy in the middle, about 45 minutes. Check occasionally and add more water if the pot looks dry.
  18. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 5 to 10 minutes before removing from the pot. Tamales can also be left in the pot, covered with a clean towel (and then covered with the steamer lid) for up to an hour before serving. They will stay warm and soft if you want to make them in advance.
  19. Serve with remaining mole.

Did you love this recipe? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram! Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

Besos, Kate

A big thank you to Beard + Bonnet and Salt + Wind for the beautiful photos!

Apps, Comida Latina, Mains, Recipes

Friends Who Fete: How To Throw A Christmas Tamalada Party

December 6, 2016
A Christmas Tamalada @holajalapeno

Tamalada Party @holajalapeno

Shortly after Armando and I first got married we started hosting what has now become our infamous Tamalada Party. The idea was simple, we wanted tamales, but didn’t want to do all the work ourselves, so why not gather friends for an afternoon of chisme and good food, and when it’s over everyone gets a dozen or so tamales to take home!

Tamalada Party @holajalapeno

Tamalada Party @holajalapeno

This being our first Christmas back in California we wanted to keep the tradition going so invited our partners in merry-making crime, Meg and the whole Beard + Bonnet crew and Aida and her Salt + Wind gang over for a tamalada party that, unlike year’s past, could actually happen in our backyard!

Tamalada Party @holajalapeno

Tamalada Party @holajalapeno

Here was the plan:

 Tamalada Party @holajalapeno

Tamalada Party @holajalapeno

Tamalada Party @holajalapeno

To pull off your own tamalada party here’s what you’ll need:

  • About 100 soaked corn husks. This will depend on how many tamales you want to make. Each of our recipes makes about 2 dozen tamales. The husks need to soak a few hours in hot water.
  • About 12 cups of masa. This will make about 4 dozen tamales. You can make it using Maseca (special ground cornflour used for making tamales and tortillas) using this recipe, or buy pre-made masa made from fresh ground corn at a Mexican grocery store.
  • At least one type of filling.
  • A large surface for assembling. We pushed our picnic table and a folding table together and covered them both with a long piece of Mexican oil cloth.
  • A tamale steamer or large lidded pot fitted with a strainer or rack (like a big pasta pot with a strainer liner). This is also a good tamale-making starter kit.
  • Lots of drinks and snacks; tamale-making is hard work! Along with Aida’s delicious cocktail I made my Cranberry Agua Fresca for the kiddos to drink too.

Tamalada Party @holajalapeno

Tamalada Party @holajalapeno

Tamalada Party Menu

Follow the links for all the instructions on how to make and assemble each tamale.

Pomegranate Ginger Apple Cider Punch

Cranberry Agua Fresca with Mint and Lime

Cocoa-Chile Sweet Spicy Snack Mix

Dunk and Slather Board

Avocado Bruschetta

Spicy Black Bean and Cheese Tamales

Chicken and Roasted Pumpkin Tamales with Manchamantel Mole 

Sweet Potato Tamales with Chocolate Sauce

Tamalada Party @holajalapeno

 A big thank you to Salt + Wind and Beard + Bonnet for taking all the beautiful photos!

Comida Latina, Condiments and Salsas, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey with Morita Chile Gravy

November 11, 2016
Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

I meant to send this post out to you all week but then Tuesday happened and it has just seemed ridiculous to talk about turkey in our current state. The disappointment is real as is the confusion, sadness, nausea.

I’ve tried sorting the whole thing out in my head and am trying to understand—clearly the majority—of America’s intentions. As someone who holds liberal values and who has recently moved from very conservative North Dakota back to very liberal California I think I can say with some certainty that there are good, kind people all over our country. I want to believe that these same people didn’t vote for Donald Trump because they agree with his disgraceful behavior but that they just wanted something different and they truly felt like he could change our system for the better. I guess we will see. I hope they are right.

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

I know eating your feelings is not the best coping mechanism but its the one I turn to the most and so if I’m going to get through the next four years it’s probably going to be with food. And margaritas. I also think a good way to temporarily lift your mood is to dive headfirst into an intensive project. So why not take 4 hours this Thanksgiving and make a smoked turkey?

Now smoking a turkey is not like popping it in the oven, walking away, and coming back a few hours later to the perfectly roasted bird. It does take some finesse, some timing, a certain comfort level with your grill, but it’s not rocket science either.

The first step to a smoked Thanksgiving turkey is the brine

The turkey starts the same as you would if roasting, which is to say, with a dry brine. A dry brine is just a fancy way of saying rub the turkey all over with salt (plus I also used minced dried Morita chiles and garlic). Then letting it sit overnight uncovered in your refrigerator.

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Make an aromatic broth for the smoked Thanksgiving turkey to cook in

You then place it in a disposable aluminum pan with some stuff that will make it taste really good and will give you the base for your gravy, so we’re talking onions, carrots, celery, herbs, and chicken broth.

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

You also want to soak two large handfuls of hickory chips for at least 30 minutes. Soaking them will keep them from burning up too quickly on the hot charcoals and infusing the turkey with delicious, hickory flavor. Side note: you can use other types of wood chips for slightly different flavor; apple wood, mesquite, cherry are all good.

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

The trickiest part is maintaining an even temperature on your grill. This is pretty easy to do if you are using a gas grill but with charcoal you will have to keep monitoring the temperature with a grill thermometer (you can go fancy or cheap) and adding more charcoal so it stays hot enough. Once you light the coals, let them get good and hot and covered with gray ash. Arrange them on one half of the grill and put a medium disposable aluminum pan in the middle filled with water. This will help keep the bird moist, maintain the temperature, and be a drip pan.

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Start with the turkey breast-side down so it doesn’t dry out the breast meat then, halfway through, flip it breast-side up and cook the rest of the way until the internal temperature reads 170°F.

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

The gravy is made from the smoky juices of the smoked Thanksgiving turkey plus extra minced dried Morita chiles, fresh thyme leaves, and white wine. I use the fatty pan drippings and make up for any necessary fat with olive oil so it is a dairy-free gravy, feel free to substitute butter if you’d like.

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

What more would you like to know about cooking a turkey? I want you to give it a try so if you need help I am here for you. I have cooked so many turkeys in so many ways so shoot….what you got? Here are a few other ideas to mull over:

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey with Morita Chile Gravy Recipe

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: 10-12 Servings

The ins and outs of how to smoke your Thanksgiving turkey using your grill, some charcoal, and a few handfuls of hickory chips, plus a spicy, smokey dried morita chile gravy. This is the way to do Thanksgiving.

If using a frozen turkey, give yourself plenty of time for it to thaw. A completely frozen 12-pound turkey could take 4-5 days to thaw in the refrigerator.


    For the Turkey:
  • 12 pound turkey, fresh or thawed completely if frozen
  • 3 dried morita chiles
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • For the Gravy:
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 dried morita chile
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • For the Grill:
  • 2 handfuls hickory chips, soaked for 30 minutes
  • 1 large bag charcoal
  • 1 medium-sized aluminum roasting pan
  • grill thermometer and meat thermometer
  • 2 large aluminum roasting pans


    Starting the Day Before:
  1. Remove giblets and neck from the turkey and save for another use, or discard. Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water and shake dry. Place on a large baking sheet.
  2. Remove stem from chiles and mince them with a sharp knife into very small pieces, removing as many seeds as you'd like to make it less spicy. Combine chiles with garlic and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Season turkey inside and out on all sides with the chile mixture then refrigerate turkey, uncovered, for at least 12 hours.
  4. The Next Day:
  5. Remove turkey from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Don't rinse, brush breast, legs, and thighs with oil.
  6. For a charcoal grill, light charcoal and wait until the briquets are all lit and well ashened then arrange in a half circle on one side of the grill. Fill the medium-sized pan with warm water and place in the middle of the coals as a drip pan. You want to maintain a grill temperature of between 350°F-400°F, attaching a grill thermometer to the vent holes is helpful.
  7. Place one large foil pan inside another then combine celery, onion, and carrot, marjoram, and bay leaves in the top pan. Add 2 cups of broth. Place turkey, breast-side down in the pan.
  8. Sprinkle one handful of the drained, soaked chips directly over the hot coals or to the smoker box of a gas grill. Place the cooking grate one the coals and place the pan with the turkey directly over the pan of water on the bottom with the legs facing the hottest part of the grill.
  9. Cover grill and monitor the temperature, adding more charcoal as needed.
  10. Smoke turkey 1 hour, then flip so it is breast-side up. Add 12-15 briquettes to the coals and sprinkle remaining wood chips over charcoal. Continue smoke-roasting until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 170°F.
  11. To fully cook the turkey can take anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on the size of the bird and how hot you maintain the grill, figure roughly about 15-20 minutes per pound if the grill stays between 350°F-400°F. After 1 1/2 hours check to see if any parts are getting to dark, like the wing tips or the ends of the drumsticks, if so, cover them with foil.
  12. Once completely cooked, remove roasting pans with turkey from the grill. Transfer turkey to a cutting board and let rest 30 minutes. Save pan with veggies and drippings for the gravy.
  13. To Make the Gravy:
  14. Strain contents of the pan into a bowl, pressing on the veggies to extract as much juice as possible. Pour the drippings into a fat-separator if you have one, if not just leave it in the bowl and let it sit a few minutes to allow the fat to rise to the top.
  15. Spoon fat into a measuring cup, you should have 1/2 cup; add olive oil, or melted butter to make up the difference if you don't have enough. Measure remaining liquid, you should have 3 cups, add more chicken broth as needed. Remove stem from chile and mince as you did above.
  16. Pour fat into a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk in flour and let cook, whisking constantly until toasted and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Whisk in minced chile and thyme and let toast 1 minute more.
  17. Slowly whisk in wine then measured broth, pouring in a little at a time, whisking continuously, until all is added. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and let cook a couple minutes, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  18. Carve turkey and serve immediately with hot gravy.