Recipes: Create a vibrant meal around Mexican-style pork cutlets

Makes 4 servings

For our version, we make a chili-and-garlic-infused oil and use a portion of it to season pork tenderloin cutlets before quickly grilling them. The remaining oil is made into a sauce. Serve with cilantro rice (recipe follows) and refried beans, or slice into strips and offer warmed corn tortillas, chopped white onion, and fresh cilantro for tacos.

The second sides of the pork cutlets only need to be grilled for about 1 minute. Aim to get charring on only the first sides, then serve the pork charred side up.

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons packed brown sugar

4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1¼-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 chipotle chilies in adobo, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce

1/3 cup lime juice

¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, combine the oil, cumin, paprika, coriander, sugar, and garlic. Microwave on high until the garlic is softened, about 1 minute. Measure 3 tablespoons of the seasoned oil, including some of the solids, into a large baking dish.

Cut the tenderloin in half crosswise, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Using a meat pounder, pound each piece to an even ƒ-inch thickness, then place in the baking dish, turning to coat on all sides with the oil mixture. Cover and refrigerate while you make the sauce and prepare the grill.

Into the remaining oil mixture, whisk ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper with the chilies, adobo sauce, lime juice, and cilantro. Set aside.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Cover and heat the grill for 5 to 10 minutes for charcoal or about 15 minutes for gas, then clean and oil the cooking grate.

Place the pork in a single layer on the grill (on the hot side if using charcoal) and cook until well browned, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, flip each piece and cook for 1 minute. Transfer browned side up to a platter. Stir the sauce to recombine, then drizzle 1 tablespoon over each cutlet. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.

Cilantro Rice.Connie Miller of CB Creatives

Cilantro Rice

Makes 4 servings

This colorful side dish can be turned into a light main by topping it with fried eggs.

Don’t fluff the rice immediately after cooking. Covering the pan with a towel and letting the rice rest for 5 minutes prevents the grains from turning mushy when the cilantro puree is folded in.

1½ cups long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained

Kosher salt

2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped

1 jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped

3 scallions, roughly chopped

3 medium garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon lime juice, plus lime wedges, to serve

In a medium saucepan set over high heat, stir together the rice, 2 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, then cover, reduce to low, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender, puree until smooth ¼ cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and the cilantro, jalapeño, scallions, garlic, and oil, about 1 minute. If necessary, add additional water 1 teaspoon at a time to reach a smooth consistency.

When the rice is done, remove the pan from the heat, lift the cover, then drape a kitchen towel over the pan. Replace the cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Using a fork, gently fluff the rice. Add the cilantro puree and lime juice, then gently fold in with a rubber spatula. Serve with lime wedges.

Jicama and Mango Salad With Chili-Lime Vinaigrette
Jicama and Mango Salad With Chili-Lime VinaigretteConnie Miller of CB Creatives

Jicama and Mango Salad With Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Jicama is a root vegetable with a mild, refreshing flavor and a light, crisp texture that shreds nicely. To peel the jicama, use a paring knife to cut into chunks and peel each piece (the skin can be difficult to remove with a vegetable peeler).

For this salad, choose a firm, slightly underripe mango, as a ripe one will be too soft to shred.

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lime juice

½ teaspoon ground allspice

Kosher salt

1 or 2 Fresno or jalapeño chilies, stemmed, halved, and thinly sliced

12 ounces jicama, peeled and halved

1 firm mango (about 12 ounces; see headnote), peeled

½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, allspice and 1 teaspoon salt, then stir in the chili(es). Using the large holes of a box grater, shred the jicama, then the mango, rotating the mango when you reach the pit; discard the pit. Add the jicama, mango, and cilantro to the bowl, then toss. Let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then toss again.

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake.
Mexican Sweet Corn Cake.Connie Miller of CB Creatives

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Makes 8 to 10 servings

This simple baked treat is ubiquitous in Mexican food markets, street stalls, and restaurants. Called panqué de elote, pan de elote, or pastel de elote, its texture lands somewhere between cake and corn bread while hinting at custard. At La Cocina de Mi Mamá in Mexico City, we had it for breakfast, but it also makes a casual, homey dessert when finished with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Cornmeal is not a typical ingredient in panqué de elote; we add a small amount to account for the fact that the fresh Mexican corn used for making this type of cake is starchier and drier than the fresh corn available in the United States. If you have more than 250 grams (1½ cups) of corn after cutting the kernels from the ears, it’s best to save the extra for another use rather than including it in this recipe; the additional moisture may make the cake too wet. Yellow corn yields a cake with a warm golden hue, but white corn also works. Avoid frozen corn — it results in a dense, gummy texture. Made with fresh corn, the cake’s crumb is much lighter and softer.

After adding the flour mixture to the corn puree, go easy with the whisking. Gentle mixing, just until no pockets of flour remain, will minimize gluten development so the cake bakes up tender.

3 medium ears fresh corn, preferably yellow, husked

¼ cup (36 grams) fine yellow cornmeal

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons (165 grams) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon table salt

2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks

½ cup grape-seed or other neutral oil

Powdered sugar, to serve

Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Using a chef’s knife, cut the kernels from the ears of corn. Measure 250 grams (1½ cups) of kernels and add to a blender; if you have extra corn, reserve it for another use. To the blender, add the cornmeal, condensed milk, and yogurt, then puree until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds, scraping down the blender as needed. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.

To the blender, add the whole eggs and yolks, and the oil; blend on low until smooth, 5 to 10 seconds. Pour the puree into a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and whisk just until evenly moistened and no lumps of flour remain. Transfer to the prepared cake pan and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, then invert directly onto the rack and lift off the pan. Re-invert the cake onto a serving platter and cool completely, about 1 hour. Serve dusted with powdered sugar.


Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to [email protected]

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