The biggest benefit of cooking your way through various cookbooks is that you get a sense of ingredients that certain cultures use so that you can create or modify a dish in a flash using what you have on hand, while maintaining authenticity to the region, if not to a certain dish. When working with ground meat of any sort, the meat is like the canvas and the spices are like paint. It is the spices that transport you to your region of choice. With a desire for warmer weather and to steep myself further into Latin American cooking, I decided to go South and begin with Mexico.
In this dish the chilis do the heavy lifting, providing a smoky flavor and depth. Add a little coriander for variety. If there were a tell-tale secret ingredient here, it’s the achiote powder, made from annatto seeds, bringing a slightly nutty, peppery taste, with a hint of sweetness to the flavor palette. A few slices of chorizo enhance that flavor. Tomatoes, onions and potato absorb the flavors and provide a hefty foundation upon which to build this dish. Crumble some Mexican cotija cheese over the top and you’ve got yourself one authentic Mexican pollo molido.
- 1 pound ground meat/turkey/chicken
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon achiote
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 red chili pepper chopped and seeds removed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 potato (I used sweet potato because of an allergy), chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 small (6 to 8 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 link chorizo (optional)
- 1/2 cup cotija cheese
In a large mixing bowl combine the first five ingredients and mix with your hands.
Warm a large skillet on medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until they begin to brown (3-4 minutes). Add the potato and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Then add the ingredients from the bowl, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes until brown. Add the tomato sauce then the chorizo, stir. Let simmer for about 10 minutes until all the ingredients are softened and cooked thoroughly. Serve warm. Top with cotija cheese.