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Pati's Mexican Table

Chicken in Salsa Verde Tamales

Chicken in Green Salsa Tamal
Tamales de Pollo con Salsa Verde

Serves: makes about 18 tamales

Tamales de Pollo con Salsa Verde" alt="Chicken in Green Salsa Tamal
Tamales de Pollo con Salsa Verde" />


For the tamal dough or masa:

3/4 cup lard, vegetable shortening, or seasoned oil (see note at end of recipe)

1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon cold water

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pound (about 3 1/4 cups) instant corn masa for tortillas or tamales

3 1/2 cups Mexican chicken broth (recipe follows), add more if needed

For the filling:

1 batch salsa verde (recipe follows)

2 cups shredded cooked chicken, from Mexican chicken broth

To assemble the tamales:

25 dried corn husks, soaking in hot water

To Prepare

To make the tamal dough or masa: Place lard, vegetable shortening or seasoned oil in an electric mixer and beat until very light, about 1 minute. Add salt and 1 teaspoon of cold water and continue beating until it is white and spongy, a couple more minutes. Add the baking powder and then alternate adding the instant corn masa and the chicken broth a little at a time. Continue beating until dough is homogeneous and as fluffy as can get. You know the tamal masa is ready when you can drop 1/2 teaspoon of the masa in a cup of cold water and it floats.

To make the filling: Combine the salsa verde with the cooked shredded chicken.

To assemble the tamales: Soak the dried corn husks in hot water for a couple minutes, or until they are pliable, and drain. Lay out a corn husk with the tapering end towards you. Spread about 3 tablespoons of masa into about a 2 to 3-inch square, the layer should be about 1/4-inch thick, leaving a border of at least 1/2-inch on the sides. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of the masa square.

Pick up the two long sides of the corn husk and bring them together (you will see how the masa starts to swaddle the filling) and fold the folded sides to one side, rolling them in same direction around tamal. Fold up the empty section of the husk, with the tapering end, from the bottom up. This will form a closed bottom and the top will be left open.

Assemble all the tamales and place them as vertically as you can in a container.

To prepare the tamalera or steamer: Place water in the bottom pan of a steamer (so that water is under the steamer) and bring it to a simmer. Line the steamer with one or two layers of soaked corn husks.

To cook the tamales: When you have all tamales ready, place them, again as vertically as you can, into the prepared steamer with the open end on top. If there is space left in the steamer, tuck in some corn husks, so the tamales won’t dance around. Cover with more corn husks, and steam covered with a lid for 50 minutes to an hour. You know the tamales are ready when they come easily free from the husks. They will still be moist, and as they are released from the husks, you will see the moisture, like when you remove good moist muffins from their paper baking cups.

Finished tamales will stay warm for about 2 hours in the steamer. They can be made ahead several days before and stored in refrigerator, well wrapped. They can also be frozen for months. In either case, reheat in a steamer. For refrigerated tamales, it will take about 20 minutes and about 45 minutes for frozen tamales.

Note: To make seasoned oil, in a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup vegetable oil over medium heat, add a thick slice of onion and 4 garlic cloves. Cook for 15 minutes until completely browned. Remove onion and garlic before using the oil.


Mexican Chicken Broth
Caldo de Pollo

Serves: makes about 8 cups broth and 6 cups shredded chicken


1 3-pound chicken, cut into serving pieces, or 2–3 pounds mixed chicken parts

3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 white onion, halved

3 celery stalks, cut into large chunks

1 garlic clove

5 to 6 black peppercorns

5 to 6 fresh Italian parsley sprigs

1?2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1?2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

3 1?2 quarts water

To Prepare

Place all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, skim off any foam, and simmer, partially covered, for 50 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a bowl. Strain the broth into a container, cool, and refrigerate. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken. Shred or cut the meat into chunks for future use and refrigerate if not using right away.


Salsa Verde

Serves: makes about 4 cups


2 pounds green tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed

2 garlic cloves

2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, or more to taste

1 cup cilantro, leaves and upper stems

1/4 cup roughly chopped white onion

1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

2 tablespoons safflower or corn oil

To Prepare

Place the tomatillos along with the garlic cloves and chiles in a pot and add enough water to cover. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatillos change in color from bright green to a pale green, are cooked through, and are soft but are not coming apart.

Transfer the tomatillos, garlic, chile (you may want add only 1 chile at first), and 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to a blender and puree until smooth. Incorporate the cilantro leaves, onion and salt and process again. Taste for salt and add more if need be. Also taste for heat, you may add the other chile in pieces until you reach your desired heat level.

In a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, pour the oil. Once hot, pour in the salsa verde, bring to a simmer and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until it thickens a bit and deepens its flavor and color. Turn off the heat.

Allow to cool to room temperature and serve. Or, once it cools down, you may store it in a closed container in the refrigerator for weeks.


An episode dedicated to one of Mexico’s most iconic foods: tamales. Pati will cook a few variations of tamales, both savory and sweet, then her girlfriends stop by for a tamal party – a tamaliza!



Serves: 10 to 12



4 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 stick true or ceylon cinnamon, about 2 1/2-inches long

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

10 egg yolks (use the whites to make an egg white omelet!)

To Prepare

Place the milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it begins to bubble and simmer around the edges, reduce the heat to low, and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it sit until it cools down. Once it has cooled down, remove the cinnamon stick.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork or whisk, until pale yellow and thick, about a minute. Add the sweetened condensed milk in a stream, and beat along with the fork or whisk, incorporating as you do. Add the cooled milk mixture, a ladle at a time, incorporating with the fork or whisk. Try not to make too many bubbles.

Prepare a water bath using a roasting pan, adding about 1/2-inch of already hot water. Place 10 ramekins, or flan or custard molds, in the water bath. With a ladle, pour the mixture into the ramekins, dividing evenly among all 10.

Carefully place into the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the custard has begun to set and the top has created an evident thick layer. It should not be crispy or have browned, if anything just a few spots here and there. Remove the pan from the oven and the ramekins from the water bath.

The jericalla should be creamy and smooth, like pudding. Let cool. Serve at room temperature, or chill in the fridge before serving.


Citrus Chicken with Carrots and Baby Potatoes

Citrus Chicken with Carrots and Baby Potatoes
Pollo con Limón y Naranja, Zanahorias y Papitas

Serves: 4 to 6

Pollo con Limón y Naranja, Zanahorias y Papitas" alt="Citrus Chicken with Carrots and Baby Potatoes
Pollo con Limón y Naranja, Zanahorias y Papitas" />


1 pound roma tomatoes

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 pounds chicken pieces (such as thighs, breasts, drumsticks), patted dry

1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

2 cups chopped white onion

4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/4 teaspoon true or ceylon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, or to taste

1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice

3/4 pound carrots, peeled and diagonally sliced into about 1-inch pieces

1 pound baby red potatoes

To Prepare

Broil, char or roast the roma tomatoes until completely charred, mushy and juicy. If under the broiler, it will take about 9 to 10 minutes, flipping once in between. Once cool enough to handle, chop and place in a bowl, including the seeds and all the juices.

Heat oil in a large casserole or a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces and brown for about 4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken pieces and place them in a bowl.

Add the onion and garlic to the casserole and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until completely soft and the edges begin to brown. Sprinkle with oregano, thyme, marjoram, cinnamon and chile powder, and give it a good stir. Incorporate chopped tomatoes along with their seeds and juices, as well as the orange and lime juice, mix well.

Add the chicken, carrots and potatoes, and gently spoon the chunky sauce all over them. Reduce heat to medium low and cook covered for one hour, flipping the chicken and moving the vegetables around, once in between.


Bell Peppers, Cucumbers and Chickpea Salad

Bell Peppers, Cucumber and Chickpea Salad
Ensalada de Pepino, Pimiento y Garbanzo

Serves: 6 to 8

Ensalada de Pepino, Pimiento y Garbanzo" alt="Bell Peppers, Cucumber and Chickpea Salad
Ensalada de Pepino, Pimiento y Garbanzo" />


1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped, or to taste

1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or about 2 cups home-cooked chickpeas)

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut into “matchstick” slices (2-inches by 1/4 to 1/2-inch)

1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut into “matchstick” slices (2-inches by 1/4 to 1/2-inch)

1 orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut into “matchstick” slices (2-inches by 1/4 to 1/2-inch)

1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut into “matchstick” slices (2-inches by 1/4 to 1/2-inch)

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved and sliced into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces

To Prepare

In a large bowl, beat the lime juice, red wine vinegar and oils with a fork or whisk until emulsified. Toss in the oregano, mint, red onion, jalapeño, and salt and pepper and whisk again until fully incorporated. Add the chickpeas, and let it all marinate while you prepare the rest of the vegetables. You can also cover and refrigerate the marinating chickpeas for up to one day.

When ready to serve, add the bell peppers and cucumbers, mix well, and set on the table.


Cherry Tomato Jam with Red Wine and Scallions

Cherry Tomato & Red Wine Jam
Mermelada de Jitomate

Serves: makes 2 cups

Mermelada de Jitomate" alt="Cherry Tomato & Red Wine Jam
Mermelada de Jitomate" />


8 cups cherry tomatoes

6 scallions, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces, white/light green and green parts separated

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons

Kosher or coarse sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes

1 garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup fruity red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon or malbec

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons capers

3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

To serve:

1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and grilled

12 ounces goat cheese

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, leaves and upper stems

Fine crystal sea salt (optional)

To Prepare

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, white and light green parts of the scallions, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and salt and pepper until the tomatoes are well coated. Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Put the baking sheet in the oven and let the tomatoes wilt, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. They should be wilted but remain intact. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and cool to room temperature.

In a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the crushed chiles and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the red wine, sugar and vinegar and increase the heat to medium. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the wine reduces by more than half and becomes syrupy. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the tomatoes, capers, and pine nuts. Stir all to combine and let simmer for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl for serving.

Spread some goat cheese on the grilled baguette slices, top with some of the tomato jam, and garnish with cilantro and the remaining chopped green parts of the scallions. If desired, sprinkle with sea salt for just before serving.


It’s the end of a great week in San Miguel, so Pati and her family decide to have a summer evening party – the perfect end to a fun family vacation. First, she’ll head to a few places in San Miguel for ingredients, Agropark and a local winery. Back home she’ll cook a big, celebratory family dinner to be enjoyed on their patio, while the sun sets over the city.

Chile de Arbol and Tomatillo Quick Salsita

Tomatillo Salsita

Serves: makes about 3 cups

Tomatillo Salsita


1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed

1 chile de arbol, or more to taste

1 garlic clove

1/4 cup cilantro, leaves and upper part of stems

1 thin slice of white onion (or about 2 tablespoons roughly chopped white onion)

To Prepare

In a medium saucepan, place the tomatillos, chile de arbol and garlic clove. If you are unsure of how much heat you want, add 2 chiles de arbol. Cover generously with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked and tomatillos are mushy, but not coming apart.

Transfer the tomatillos, garlic and 1 chile de arbol to a blender. Add the cilantro, onion and salt. Puree until smooth. Taste for salt and adjust if need be. If you want more heat, add the second chile de arbol.


Tacos al Pastor

Tacos al Pastor

Serves: makes about 12 to 14 tacos

Tacos al Pastor


3 pounds pork shoulder or butt, sirloin cutlets or butterfly chops, cut into 1/2-inch slices

3 cups achiote adobo marinade (recipe follows)

Half of a pineapple, peeled, cut into ½-inch slices

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

Kosher or coarse sea salt, to taste

12 to 14 corn tortillas (use flour tortillas if turning these tacos into “gringas”)

Shredded queso asadero, Mexican Oaxaca or Chihuahua, or mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or any melty cheese of your choice (optional, to be turned into “gringas”)

1 cup roughly chopped cilantro, to garnish

1 cup roughly chopped white onion, to garnish

2 limes, cut into quarters, to garnish

Salsa of your choice

To Prepare

Marinate the meat in the adobo marinade for at least 3 hours, or up to 48 hours, in the refrigerator. Reserve 3/4 cup of marinade to brush on the pineapple before grilling/cooking and to finish off meat.

When ready to make tacos, remove the meat from the refrigerator. Brush some of the reserved marinade on the pineapple slices. Reserve the remaining marinade.

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add a tablespoon of oil. Place as many pineapple slices as will fit on the skillet and sear for about 3 minutes per side, until juicy and lightly charred on both sides. Remove from heat. When cool enough to handle, cut the pineapple into thin slices about 1 to 2-inches long and 1/4-inch wide, removing the core. Place in a bowl and cover.

Drizzle another tablespoon of oil onto the skillet. Lightly sprinkle the meat with salt to taste. Sear as many slices of meat as will fit in the pan, without over crowding, for about 2 minutes per side until browned on both sides. Cook in batches if necessary. Place the meat on a chopping board. Cut it crosswise into thin slices about 1/4-inch thick and 1-inch wide.

Once done with all the meat, reduce the heat to medium, place the meat back in the skillet and pour the rest of the unused marinade on top. Stir and cook for another minute. Cover and set on the table.

On a pre-heated cast iron skillet or comal set over medium heat, heat the corn tortillas 1 to 2 minutes per side until thoroughly cooked, lightly browned and crisp on the outside. Place them in a tortilla warmer and bring to the table along with the meat, pineapple, chopped cilantro, chopped onion, lime wedges, and salsa of your choice. Let everyone assemble their own tacos.

Note: If you want to offer some “gringas,” heat flour tortillas on the comal and, once hot, add the melty cheese, fold, and let it melt as if it were a quesadilla. Once melted, re-open the tortilla, add a generous tablespoon or two of the sliced meat, fold again and serve.


Achiote Adobo Marinade
Adobo de Achiote

Serves: makes about 2 cups


2 guajillo chiles

3 garlic cloves

1/2 cup roughly chopped white onion

2 tablespoons achiote paste

1 cup bitter orange juice (or substitute with 1/3 cup orange juice, 1/3 cup lime juice and 1/3 cup white distilled vinegar)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground true or ceylon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

To Prepare

Stem and seed the guajillo chiles. Toast them on a pre-heated comal or skillet, set over medium heat, for about 1 to 2 minutes per side until they are toasted, but not burnt. Place the chiles in a saucepan, add enough water to cover them, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes until the chiles are plumped up and rehydrated.

In a blender, place the chiles along with 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid and the rest of the ingredients. Puree until smooth. Use as a marinade.


Basket Tacos

Tacos de Canasta

Serves: makes 12 tacos

Tacos de Canasta


Vegetable oil for frying

1/2-inch slice of white onion

3 garlic cloves

12 corn tortillas

1/2 cup finely sliced scallions (or cebollitas de cambray in Mexico)

1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped, more or less to taste

1 pound roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

1/2 cup chopped cilantro or epazote

1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) requesón or farmer’s cheese

To Prepare

Prepare a basket: Line it with large, thick layers of plastic wrap to cover the entire interior of the basket (they should be big enough that they cover the interior of the basket and fold over the top). Place a couple kitchen towels in the bottom of the basket on top of the plastic. Lastly, add butchers’ style paper or parchment paper on top of the kitchen towels and on the side of the basket.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat enough oil to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the pan. Once hot, add the onion slice and garlic cloves, let them brown for at least 10 minutes.

Pass the corn tortillas, one by one with a set of tongs, “through hot oil.” That is, quickly fry for 3 seconds per side, and set on a cooling rack or plate covered with paper towels, until all are done.

In another skillet, set over medium heat, pour 3 tablespoons of the onion and garlic seasoned oil. Once hot, add the scallions or cebollitas and chile, and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Add the tomatoes and salt, and cook stirring occasionally, for about 8 to 10 minutes until completely cooked and mushy. Stir in cilantro or epazote, cook for a couple more minutes and remove from heat. In a mixing bowl, combine the requesón, along with the tomato mixture and season with more salt to taste, if needed.

Pre-heat a comal or skillet over medium heat.

One by one, add a couple tablespoons of the cheese and tomato mix into a fried tortilla and fold into a half-moon shape. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. (You may eat them at this point, but they won’t be “basket” or “sweaty” tacos yet!) Place the filled tortillas on the hot comal or skillet. Heat thoroughly for about a minute per side.

Arrange the heated tacos in layers in the basket as they come off comal. Once you are done, add another layer of paper over the tacos, cover with another kitchen towel, and finally the plastic, which should fold over it all from the interior lining of the basket. Let the tacos rest and sweat (at least 10 minutes) and keep covered until ready to eat.

Serve with your choice of salsa, slices of Mexican avocado or pickled jalapeños.


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