I’m so honored to once again celebrate Hispanic Heritage with Cacique in a way that shines a spotlight on the significant role Mexican food has on American culture by helping curate the third annual “What’s Next in Mexican Cuisine” trends forecast! Hispanic Heritage Month is always a time of reflection and celebration for me and my family. I love to take a trip down memory lane, pulling out old photo albums to teach my son about his ancestors and all about where we come from in Northern Mexico. I always think of this time of year as a great time to reconnect with your roots and make dishes that remind you of home while spending time listening to music, reading books and watching movies that keep you connected to your culture. For me, having a dish simmering on the stove that makes the house feel welcoming and warm kicks off the celebrations, which is why I’m loving that the top trends I’m predicting for Mexican food in the coming year are Mexican comfort food and people gravitating toward deep, complex sauces.
I’ve created this Mexican ragu dish that feels so comforting during these uncertain times as a way for us all to spend time at home with our loved ones and create an atmosphere that is soothing. This dish goes to show that even if you’re not making something that’s classically Mexican, using high quality staples from Mexican cuisine like Cacique Pork Chorizo, Crema Mexicana and Ranchero Queso Fresco can help take some of your favorite recipes up a notch. Here, adding in Pork Chorizo with the beef gives this a slow-cooked taste and complexity, even though it’s a 30-minute meal. Then, giving it a generous swirl of Crema Mexicana at the end balances the robust flavors of the Pork Chorizo and the acidity of the tomato sauce perfectly. And my favorite way to serve ragu is by pairing it with Cheesy Toasts. You simply whip together butter, Crema Mexicana and garlic, spread that on your favorite bread, add some crumbles of deliciously salty Ranchero Queso Fresco, and toast it all until nice and bubbly. You can either dunk the cheesy toasts, or pour some ragu right on top!
I know many of us are in our houses more than ever before and are spending more time cooking and relaxing with our families. I’ve seen so many people getting really into dishes they’ve never tried before while learning new skills and techniques now that we all have a little more times on our hands than we used to. I love to see how folks are getting creative and getting their kids involved in the cooking process, so this is a perfect new project for the whole family! I know my son loves to sprinkle the Ranchero Queso Fresco and watch through the oven door as it gets melted, gooey and delicious. I’m so happy to be creating these memories with him because I know I have so many fond recollections of time spent with my Mom and Abuela in the kitchen when I was younger. I like to look at this time as a blessing for us all to slow down, spend time with our families and remember to stop and smell the queso.
WHAT YOU NEED
- 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 lbs ground beef
- 1 (9-ounce) package Cacique Pork Chorizo
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed or pureed tomatoes
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 9 Tablespoons Cacique Crema Mexicana, plus more for serving
- 1 1⁄2 cups crumbled Cacique Ranchero Queso Fresco
HOW TO MAKE IT
- 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 Cacique Pork 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 Cacique Crema Mexicana 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 Cacique Ranchero 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 Cacique Crema Mexicana, then serve the ragu in bowls with cheesy toasts on the side or ladle it right over the toasts.