Cacique and I are once again honoring Hispanic Heritage Month by spotlighting What’s Next in Mexican Cuisine. We’re celebrating the profound impact Mexican cuisine has in America by shining a light on the trends to expect in the coming year and I’ve developed a recipe that embodies my top trend predictions.
What I’m seeing is that plant-based cooking has extended into Mexican cuisine and chefs are swapping meat for vegetables in traditional dishes. Additionally, people are really starting to appreciate nixtamalization, which is an ancient Mexican process for transforming corn into masa for delicious homemade tortillas or tamales. And finally, people are beginning to get more comfortable and even embrace insects as ingredients, especially when incorporated into sauces. All of this inspired my recipe for Tamales with Jackfruit “Carnitas.”
I love jackfruit because it feels substantial and is a great replacement for protein, so I’ve created a tamale that incorporates it in a “carnitas” preparation. It’s incredible to see how this exotic fruit transforms when treated right and really can resemble traditional pork carnitas. Of course, the tamale seemed like the perfect vehicle for the jackfruit “carnitas” as it’s such a classic example of the nixtamalization process in action. Also stuffed in the tamales, there’s a generous helping of Cacique Queso Fresco, which adds a delicious creaminess that counteracts the robust, perfectly seasoned jackfruit.
To round out this dish, I designed a Creamy Salsa Verde de Chapulines. Starting with the freshest ingredients, of course, is paramount, and that’s why I’ve used Cacique Crema Mexicana for the base of this salsa. Mixed into the sauce, there are chapulines (grasshoppers), which feels very authentic to me, but I’ve given it a modern twist. I’m using all the classic techniques that my abuela taught me, but it's meant to be just a little more exciting and approachable for the modern world. I really love the creaminess of the salsa with the crunch of the chapulines.
This trend-inspired dish is packed with flavor from all the spices to ensure that just because, in essence, it’s vegetarian, does not mean it has to be bland. It’s got all the things I love: acid, layers of flavor and, while still relatively healthy, feels like such a comfort food.