Hola amigos. You know what happened last week? I had my most successful book signing. Ever. I posted about it a lot, so you probably know what I’m talking about, but I’ll tell you more. Two Saturday’s ago at @Artelexia, one of my absolute favorite places in San Diego, we had a book party for the Casa Marcela cookbook. It’s taken a couple of days for me to really wrap my head around what transpired that day. And honestly, forget about the number of people; it’s who those people were that reminded me not only why I do what I do, but also of who I am.
My goal has always been to shed a different light on Mexican cuisine than what most people have been exposed to and to make it easy and accessible to mainstream America… to not just think of it when it comes to Mexican Independence Day or 5 de Mayo, but also as an option for a regular (and even healthy!) weeknight meal. I was so frustrated while growing up, not only with the misconceptions around Mexican food, but with those around EVERYTHING about the country I grew up in. In my mind, I was like: “They wish they had my mom’s chiles rellenos for dinner! And our nightclubs don’t close until the next day after sunrise!” I thought I lived in paradise and I couldn’t understand how the misconceptions were so huge. My immense pride in my Mexican upbringing made me want to share it desperately.
So I was on a mission to debunk myths that my fellow Americans had about Mexican food. I think that I took that journey because I assumed that the Mexicans or Mexican-American cooks/families on this side of the border already had their recipes down. Who needs someone to tell them about enchiladas when they have their abuela’s recipes? In fact, they’d probably think my way is so wrong because that’s not the way they make it at home.
Boy, was I wrong! Being out there promoting this book has showed me that! I’ve connected with God-knows how many of you in person in the last few weeks. You came out with your families. All the kids’ hairstyles were hair-gelled to death, much to my amusement and pride (if my kids had been at any of the signings, hair would have also been gelled). You brought mom and grandma and, to my wonderful surprise, most of you spoke Spanish. Beautiful, gorgeous, fluent Spanish. More than a couple of you told me that, because I’ve been posting videos of my little David speaking Spanish, you’ve been inspired to do the same when it hadn’t been a priority before. Many of you surprised me by saying that you’d long been searching for a way to recapture a taste or even a feeling from back home in Mexico while growing up, and you found it in one of these recipes. But, at the same time, you knew the recipes and the culture and the country already. We have the same life. I guess what I’m trying to say is, we have such a beautiful community of kind, hardworking, loyal people and you made my heart grow a few inches with all you said and did on Saturday and what you reminded me of. It was like talking to my tías at times. And, in a couple of cases, that was ACTUALLY true! Would you believe that a couple of Valladolid family members from the San Diego side of the border that I’d never met showed up? In the words of Salma Hayek, “we’re everywhere.”
My goal now is to speak to you directly and provide you with the recipes that you’ve been asking me about for years. My team and I are working hard on a few different things to get you right back into Casa Marcela and all the way into Mexico… and I just want to tell you that the gratitude I feel for your support is much greater than I could ever express with words. I’m on a mission to go out and speak to you in person more often and I’m more excited and inspired than ever to do so. Gracias por su apoyo incondicional siempre y trataré toditos los días de mi vida de ser una digna representante de nuestra cultura.
Also… an adobo rubbed chicken recipe because, well… why not?
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
10 guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup chicken broth, preferably organic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) whole chicken, backbone removed and flattened slightly
12 corn tortillas, warmed
Lime wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the oil in heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes longer. Add the chiles and cook until darkened on both sides, about 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to boil. Continue boiling until the chiles are soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to blender and puree. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat a grill or large grill pan over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, rub the adobo mixture all over the chicken, using about half of the adobo. Sear the chicken, breast-side down, until grill marks appear, about 6 minutes. Brush some adobo sauce on the other side of the chicken. Turn the chicken breast-side up, place in a baking pan and transfer to the oven. Cook the chicken, basting with the extra adobo sauce every 20 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers an inner temperature of 165 degrees F, about 40 minutes. Serve with corn tortillas to prepare tacos and lime wedges.
Cook's Note When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.