Mexican and Southwestern USA dishes (in David's UK style) ristra
picture courtesy of and ©
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You will find here my versions of classic Mexican and Southwestern USA dishes. My recipes are all made using ingredients that are readily available from the larger British supermarkets.

The main problem with ingredients is getting the correct varieties of dried chiles which is not so easy in the UK. So my recipes use a combination of good quality paprika and chile powder as a substitute for reconstituted dried chiles. Of course, that means you aren't getting the variety of tastes that come from the different types of dried chile but the end result is still pretty good. Some recipes call for the dried chiles to be roasted first to bring out their flavour. I get round this by frying the paprika and chile powder before adding any liquid. Other substitutions are noted in the recipes.

Fortunately, you can now get a whole host of fresh chiles in the larger British supermarkets. My local Sainsbury's regularly has the fleshy cone-shaped Kenyan (Fresno), Thai Bird's Eye, Habanero and Cayenne types and from time to time Scotch Bonnet, Anaheim, Caribe and others.

My spelling conforms to Chile-Head lore, namely :-

chile - is the hot fruit of the capsicum plant

chili - is the dish traditionally made from meat and chiles

chilli - is the UK spelling of chile

(but often confusingly used for chili as well)

What you won't find here is a recipe for that gloopy mess served in cheap restaurants and pubs as "chilli con carne". Even amongst devotees there's disagreement on whether to put beans in chili but the nicest recipes I've found don't. If you like beans with your chili I'd recommend making some refried beans and serving them on the side.

So there you go amigos try a bit of Mexican cooking at the old hacienda tonight.

Well, hacienda the introduction (groan) so here are the recipes -

Remain Sober Chili

This is my adaptation of Kit Anderson's infamous Bad Attitude Chili. I wanted something that didn't include "cheap ground beef". Remain Sober means REally My Attitude Is Not SO Bad it's Even Respectful. I've been told by Chile-Heads who hail from those parts that mine's now more like a chili from New Mexico than Texas except they would tend to shred the pork in New Mexico and omit the beer and, and.... That's fine by me as I'm not claiming the recipe to be authentic, just tasty!!

Refried Beans

The beans in this recipe are the pretty mottled pink Pinto beans. The "refried" bit refers to the frying of the boiled beans. Traditionally, you would fry the beans and onions in lard. I think a tastier result comes from using butter instead. Serve with a nice chili or as a dip for tortilla chips or as one of the fillings in a burrito (a folded pocket made from a soft tortilla).

Salsa Smithadillo

Making your own salsa is not difficult and the result is miles better than any salsa you can buy in the shops. The tomatoes and chiles in my recipe are roasted first under the grill (broiler) and then blended with the other ingredients to make a rich flavoured, fresh tasting salsa.


Forget the slimy mush you buy in tubs at the supermarket, this guacamole has some texture to it and has a fresh zingy taste from the avocado and lime juice.

Turkey Mole

It's pronounced moh-lay and not as in the burrowing animal! Moles have some unusual ingredients in them like ground up nuts and seeds but the most unlikely is chocolate (yes, chocolate). I made this not long ago for 10 people and no-one could guess the unusual ingredient but all thought it was pretty yummy. So try it and see what you think.

Ranchero Bread

I've been making this recipe for years and it's a spicy version of cornbread. Apart from accompanying a Mexican-style meal this "bread" also goes down a storm at buffets or picnics. I tend to vary the hotness according to who is going to eat it by substituting green sweet (bell) peppers for the chiles.

© copyright David Smith 1996-2002

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