Tacos de Pepena

I hope you're feeling a little adventurous today, because I'm about to reveal Monday's mystery ingredient.

Locally, we call it Pepena.  It's a combination of cow intestines, heart and lungs.  (Without the heart and lungs, the intestines are called tripas or tripitas.) And it's always a big hit at the taco stands here in town.

Pepena is one of the few taco fillings that has never appealed to me.  (Also on my list: brains and eyes!)  Try as I might to be a somewhat fearless foodie like Andrew Zimmern and live by the motto of "I'll try anything once!", I've never been able to muster up enough courage to try pepena.

But that all changed last month when my suegra (mother-in-law) cooked up a batch for a family gathering in honor of my brother-in-law, who was visiting from the States.  Somewhere between helping my suegra clean the intestines and watching it brown in a little manteca until it was nice and crispy, I had a change of heart.  Suddenly, it didn't seem that bad.  I mean, come on, I've eaten far more exotic things than intestines.  (Hello, criadillas!)   

I don't know what I was expecting the pepena to taste like, but it was far better than I had imagined.  I wasn't too crazy about the texture of the intestines, but the heart and lungs were surprisingly good.  Tasted just like liver.  (Which I love!)

Depending on what part of Mexico you're visiting, you might find pepena served in Salsa Verde or a red chile sauce.  But local pepena enthusiasts (and taqueros) assure me that the salsas take away from the flavor of the pepena, which is best appreciated plain.    

Tacos de Pepena


Wash every piece of pepena, thoroughly, rinsing extremely well.  The fastest and easiest way to clean  the intestines is to slip one end over the kitchen faucet and let the water run through the intestine, while you gently massage it, until the water comes out clear.  Repeat with the remaining intestines.  (Trust me, you don't want to skip this part!)  

Chop everything - heart, lungs and intestines - into 1 or 2-inch pieces.  Place in a large skillet and cover with cold water to rinse just once more.  Drain off the water, but don't squeeze the pepena dry.  You want to retain some of the water to cook the pepena and to soften it.

Season the pepena with salt.  Cover and cook over high heat until the pepena comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed.  (This is when you'll know if you did a good job of cleaning the intestines.  If the cooking water remains clear, you did an excellent job.  But if you see a brown foam start to form on top, you now know that you need to rinse the intestines a little longer next time.  Just remove the foam with a large spoon and you'll be fine.) 

Once all of the water has been absorbed, add a few tablespoons (about 4) of manteca to the skillet.  Fry the pepena until golden and crisp.  (You want them to look almost like Carnitas.)

To serve, spoon a couple of tablespoons of pepena onto warm corn tortillas.  Top with warm Cooked Beans and your favorite salsa.  (I recommend Chile de Molcajete.)  Enjoy!!!


Name That Food

In playing Name That Fruit last week, I realized that it has been far too long since we've featured an exotic food here on La Cocina de Leslie.

So this week, I have yet another round of everyone's game, Name That Food, in which I ask you to identify the ingredient pictured below.   I'll give you a hint: it's one of those meats that adventurous and fearless Andrew Zimmern-types would love.

Leave your guesses in the comments and tune in tomorrow to find out if you were right and how we use this ingredient.


Cheesy Chorizo Bread {She Made/Ella Hace}

I have been in love with chorizo ever since the summer my grandmother sent me to Mexico to learn Spanish when I was 4 years old.  Whether it be served with scrambled eggs for breakfast, mixed with beans or potatoes and wrapped inside a warm flour tortilla for lunch, crumbled on top my favorite Mexican Pizza  for dinner, or grilled at El Rancho during one of our big family cook-outs, chorizo continues to be one of my favorite meats ever.  So, when Heather (Girlichef) suggested that we cook with chorizo for this month's edition of She Made/Ella Hace, I couldn't have been happier!

And I knew just the recipe I wanted to try...The Homesick Texan's Chorizo & Asadero Cheese Bread.  Spicy pieces of chorizo, Asadero & Manchego cheese, and smoky bits of chipotle chilies, all wrapped in a soft, buttery dough...Sigh!  It's everything I love in one savory loaf of bread.   

Cheesy Chorizo Bread
(recipe slightly adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain)

  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound Mexican Chorizo, crumbled and cooked
  • 1 to 2 canned chipotles, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cup grated Asadero cheese
  • 1 cup grated Manchego cheese

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl; set aside.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the milk and the egg; whisk until well combined.  Pour the milk mixture into the yeast mixture; whisk until well combined.  Add the flour and salt to the liquids and stir until all of the flour has been incorporated. 

Knead the dough on a generously floured surface until smooth and elastic.  (About 5 minutes.)  Place the dough in a greased bowl; cover and let the dough proof (rise) for about 90 minutes or until double in size.   

Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface to a 9 x 15-inch rectangle.  Sprinkle the chorizo and chopped chipotles all over the dough.  Top with 1 cup of the grated Asadero cheese and the Manchego cheese.  

Starting from the short end, roll up the dough tightly, like you would with cinnamon rolls.  Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.  Cover and let rise again for about an hour, or until the dough has passed a little over the top of the pan. 

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Brush the top of the loaf with melted butter, then top with the remaining Asadero cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the dough has turned a golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.  Enjoy!!!    

Be sure to visit Girlichef's Blog to check out her Chorizo Verde AND Chorizo Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers.  


Also sharing this recipe with BYOB
BYOB 125 x 125

Agua de Ciruela Amarilla {Yellow Plum Cooler}

Have you ever made something to eat or drink, not because you loved it, but because someone you really care about loves it?  Such has been the case with me and yesterday's mystery ingredient... Ciruelas Amarillas (Yellow Plums).  My hubby is crazy about them, especially in Agua de Ciruela Amarilla, but for years, I wanted nothing to do with them or the agua fresca.  (Gasp!)

Agua Fresca de Ciruela Amarilla (Yellow Plum Cooler) - lacocinadeleslie.com

Name That Fruit: Father's Day Edition

 Gather round boys and girls, because it's time once again, to play everyone's favorite game....Name.  That.  Fruit!  (Applause!)   

Because we'll be celebrating Father's Day this weekend, I thought I would share one of Hubby's favorite summertime fruits.

The first time I saw our mystery ingredient at the market here in Mexico, I thought the green, unripened fruits were tiny green tomatoes.  But after a few days of sitting on my kitchen counter, they transformed into these bright golden gems.  

Do you have any idea what they are?  Leave your answer(s) in the comments and check back tomorrow to see if you are right, and to see one of my favorite ways to use them.


Food of the Month Club: June

I know I'm a little late in making this month's announcement for Food of the Month Club, and for that I apologize.

June is the last month of school for all of my kiddies, and with my oldest two graduating from elementary school and junior high next month, my life has been nothing but end-of-the-school-year class meetings and graduation planning committees.  Not to mention that I've already had to attend a couple of PTA meeting at the high school my daughter Hope will be attending starting in August.

But things are finally starting to settle down a little, at least for a week or two.  Plenty of time to host another Food of the Month Club party.

With summer just around the corner and June being the beginning of grilling season, I thought it appropriate that we feature an ingredient we can have some fun with on the grill.  That's why June's Food of the Month is....

Ground Beef! 

Whether you'll be grilling hamburgers, or rolling meatballs for spaghetti or Caldo de Albondigas, after this month's edition of the Food of the Month Club, we'll all be able to answer the age old question of "Where's the beef?"

And because I know some of my foodie friends are vegetarians and because I don't want anyone to feel left out, I'll also accept recipes using texturized soy.   I use it often in my kitchen for recipes like Ceviche de Soya.  (A big thank you to Malice from Malice in Dunderland for the suggestion.)  

As always, I'm looking forward to what everyone will be making.

 How to participate:
  1. Cook up something delicious using Ground Beef as one of the main ingredients.  
  2. Post the recipe(s) on your blog, making sure to link to this page in your blog post(s).  You can also add the Food of the Month Club badge to your post and/or sidebar.  (Grab the code for the badge here.) 
  3. Email your entries to me at leslielimon@lacocinadeleslie.com by June 29th.  (Current recipes only.) Be sure to  include:
*Your name 
*Your blog name 
*Permalink to your blog post 
*Photo of your recipe or permission to pull one from your post

       4.  Visit La Cocina de Leslie at the end of this month for the Ground Beef recipe round-up.  


Mango Madness {Food of the Month Club Round-Up; May}

From spicy Mango Salsa to cool Mango paletas we have a great collection of Mango Recipes for this month's Food of the Month Club Round-Up.

To start things off,  we have this bright and colorful Mango Salsa, that is one of my favorite ways to enjoy this fruit of the gods, from Sarah at Kitchen Procrastination.

My newest foodie friend Heather, whom I affectionately call Malice, from Malice in Dunderland brings us a creamy and absolutely dreamy Mango Flan.

Girlichef treats us once again to two mangolicious recipes.  First up is this stunning Avocado Mango Salad with Gorgonzola, Bacon & Toasted Pepitas.

Followed by these Carrot, Mango & Raspberry Popsicles that would be a great start to a hot summer day.

Elizabeth from The Law Student's Cookbook cooked up these delicious Brie and Brisket Tacos with a Mango Barbecue Sauce.  She had me at Brie!

Ckay at Sweet and That's it offers us another cool treat with these Mango Ice Pops that also have apple and Greek yogurt.

And as a final note, I made this Mango Stuffed French Toast that had me falling head over heels in love with Rick Bayless.

What's your favorite mango recipe???

If you would like to be included in the next Food of the Month Club Round-Up, stay tuned to find out what ingredients we'll be cooking with this month.