Chef Aarón Sánchez is one of the most beloved celebrity chefs, and one of the biggest names in Mexican cuisine in the country. For Hispanic Heritage Month the chef shares with us the three most common mistakes people make when attempting to cook Mexican food, and a recipe for a comforting Mexican chorizo and beef ragu.
Follow along as a way to embrace, respect, and honor real ingredients, and the profound impact of Latin cultures in North America.
Food is an incredible way to learn about, and to understand and connect with other cultures, but it is important that people read and educate themselves beyond just eating deliciously. Chef Sánchez is not just an award-winning chef and a staple of food TV, he is also the author of a great memoir in which he gets very real about his experience as a Mexican-American, and his start working in kitchens as a Latino:
Where I Come From: Life Lessons from a Latino Chef by Aaron Sanchez, $15.49 from Amazon
Giving back to the Latinx community is important to the chef. He is an active philanthropist, and in 2016 founded the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund, an initiative empowering aspiring chefs from the Latin community to follow their dreams and attend culinary school.
According to the chef, the best way to celebrate this month beyond reading, learning, and otherwise discovering all the great contributions Latinx and Hispanic people have made to the world, is to cook some Latino food (in his case Mexican) and honor and celebrate your ingredients as well—sometimes cooking outside of your own experience and culture goes beyond authenticity, it’s really about respect.
Common Mexican Cooking Mistakes
To that end, he gives you tips for ripening avocados to perfection; using traditional ingredients (cheddar is not always better, especially for your quesadillas, tacos, and enchiladas); and honoring everyday ingredients by doing all you can to reduce food waste—and get the most flavor from every last bit (use those cilantro stems and zest your limes before you juice them!).
Watch our video to learn more about the most common mistakes people make when trying to cook Mexican food:
Need additional inspo? Chef Sánchez also shared with us an amazing recipe that proves you can try something new while still honoring traditional ingredients.
Chorizo Ragu and Cheesy Toasts Recipe
Courtesy of Aarón Sánchez
- 3 bolillo-style rolls or 1 long baguette
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow or white onion, chopped 2 to 3 carrots, chopped
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 6 cloves garlic
- 8 ounces white or baby bella mushrooms, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1⁄4 pounds ground beef
- 1 (10-ounce) package pork chorizo
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed or pureed tomatoes
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 9 tablespoons crema, plus more for serving
- 1 1⁄2 cups crumbled queso fresco
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Halve the bread lengthwise.
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and salt, then cook stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and add them to the pot with the mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes more.
- Use your spoon to push the vegetables to the edges of the pan, then add the tomato paste, oregano, and cumin to the center of the pan and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Increase the heat to high and add the beef and the chorizo. Break the meat up with your spoon but don’t over stir. When the beef is no longer pink, pour in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Decrease the heat to medium-high and let simmer, stirring occasionally.
- While the ragu simmers, use a fork to mash or whip the butter with the crema until smooth. Mince the remaining 4 cloves garlic or use a Microplane to finely grate them, then stir the garlic into the crema mixture.
- Spread the crema mixture evenly over the bread, trying to cover as much area as possible. Sprinkle the crumbled queso fresco all over and place on a rimmed baking sheet, cheese side up. Toast for 4 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. If you’d like, finish it under the broiler for 30 to 60 seconds for deeper browning. Cut the bread into individual portions.
- After about 20 minutes of simmering, the ragu should have thickened up a bit and its flavors melded. Swirl in a splash of crema, then serve the ragu in bowls with cheesy toasts on the side or ladle it right over the toasts.
For more delicious dishes and words of wisdom, be sure to check out his cookbook written with JJ Goode:
Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours, $17.45 from Amazon
Header image courtesy of Cacique