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Mexico -- One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless

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Oaxaca has long been known for its seven moles, unparalleled home-cooking and remarkable market fare. Lately, its restaurant reputation has skyrocketed, too. Deservedly so. Rick visits four of the top chef contenders in Oaxaca City, tours their restaurants, cooks in their kitchens and discusses the lively burgeoning scene. For starters, Chef Miguel Jimenez cooks up a batch of red chile beef and fruit stew from the Isthmus to serve inside his crispy plantain mogo mogos. Next, Chef Jose Manuel Banos creates a taco from jelled carrot filled with a chintestle and shrimp ceviche.

Rick brings you out of the plush resorts and into the streets of Playa del Carmen, where street vendors and roadside stands serve real-deal Mexican food. Rick heads to Antojitos Yucateco for cochinita pibil tortas, then to nearby Las Karnitas for tacos of golden, crispy carnitas with spicy salsa. Then Rick follows the smoke to a little roadside cart, where crowds gather for cecina estilo Yecapixtla, thin-cut seared beef with grilled onions and nopales.

People are passionate about their tacos in Tijuana. Ask any local and they'll tell you their favorite - complete with mouthwatering details. Three local Tijuana foodies take Rick on a taco "crawl" starting with arrachera (skirt steak) tacos at El Yaqui. Piled high with beans, creamy avocado salsa and Mexican "candy" (roasted jalapenos). The feast moves on to include suadero tacos at Los Ahumadores, sauteed and fried shrimp tacos at Mariscos El Mazateno, steamed tacos on Tijuana's tourist strip and ends with smoked salmon tacos at Salceados.

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Sun Oct 20th, 7:00pm
Mon Oct 21st, 12:30am

A giant pot of pork and hominy stew simmering over a wood fire (or in our modern kitchens, the stovetop) is a clarion call to a homespun fiesta. But pozole can be found in the abundant pozolerias around Mexico. Rick takes you inside two - Casa Churra in the bustling downtown and El Pozole de Moctezuma, famous for its Guerrero-style pozole and off-the-beaten-path location - before making a traditional pozole in his own kitchen. In Chicago, he steps through a showcase seafood pozole verde, rich and lush with velvety broth.

Cooking in underground pits is an elemental part of Yucatecan cooking. In fact, it's downright sacred, as seen during the preparation of mucbil pollo at an intimate candlelit Hanal Pixan ceremony (think of it as the Yucatan's version of Dias de Los Muertos.) Rick heads to Yaxunah to see the entire process of making cochinita pibil, from the digging of the pit to the garnishing of the tacos. Rick also visits the smoky ovens in Temozon, a village known throughout Yucatan for its purveyors of smoked meats.

Rick and local guide Luis Garduno of REDTours venture out on a skiff to learn about sustainable fishing on Magdalena Bay. They catch up with local lobster fishermen and learn about sizing lobsters. Then they watch as clam divers haul up the local chocolate clams from the bottom of the bay. On the Isla de Magdalena shore, Rick and Chef Hubert turn the spiny lobsters into an impressive stuffed entree and mouthwatering salad. Rick gets to tag and release a protected sea turtle while the stuffed clams roast on the grill.

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