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February 10

Saint of the day:

St. José Sánchez del Río 

Patron Saint of Persecuted Christians Children, Adolescents, and Sahuayo, Mexico

St. José Sánchez del Río

Mexican child-saint José Sánchez del Río “is not only a martyr of the Christian faith, but is a martyr of the fundamental rights of the person.”

In an interview with the Register at the Vatican on Saturday, the newly proclaimed saint’s postulator, Father Fidel Gonzáles, stressed this as he spoke about St. José Sánchez del Río.

Born in 1913, José Sánchez del Río was a Mexican Cristero who was put to death by government officials because he refused to renounce his Catholic faith. During the Cristero War, the Mexican government was determined to eliminate the Christian roots of the country, in the process killing some 50,000 people.

In 2004, Pope John Paul II declared the young Mexican a martyr; in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI beatified him; and, yesterday, Oct. 16, Pope Francis proclaimed him a canonized saint.








Guadalajara, Mexico

Church of Saint James the Apostle in Sahuayo, Mexico






Tacos de Birria

or Tacos de Pancita (pork belly) would be amazing to have on this day!


  • 6 dried guajillo chile peppers, seeded

  • 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded

  • 4 dried chile de arbol peppers, stemmed and seeded

  • 4 pounds beef chuck roast

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, or as needed

  • 4 Roma tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

  • 4 whole cloves

  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon

  • 1 pinch ground cumin

  • 1 pinch ground thyme

  • 1 pinch dried marjoram

  • 1 pinch dried oregano

  • 18 corn tortillas

  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped

  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. ​Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Add guajillo, ancho, and arbol chile peppers; boil for 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow peppers to soak until cool. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the water.

  2. ​Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

  3. ​Rinse meat and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. ​Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add meat and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.​

  5. Line a heavy cast-iron grill pan or griddle with aluminum foil and place over high heat. Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on top. Grill until tomato skin is burned on all sides and begins to peel, 3 to 5 minutes.​

  6. Combine soaked chile peppers, cooked tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, 2 teaspoons black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, thyme, marjoram, oregano, and salt to taste in a blender. Pour in reserved 1/4 cup of chile water; blend until smooth.

  7. ​Strain chile sauce through a mesh strainer and pour over the browned meat in the Dutch oven, turning roast so it is completely covered with sauce. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven.

  8. ​Bake, basting meat every 45 minutes with the sauce, until birria begins to fall apart, 3 to 4 hours. Remove lid and bake uncovered until birria is crispy on top, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with 2 layers of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes.

  9. ​Meanwhile, warm tortillas on a griddle. Fill each tortilla with birria and top with chopped onion and cilantro.

Cook's Note:

You can prepare this dish in a slow cooker as well, but you will be sacrificing a little bit of flavor. Prepare the birria the same way, but place in a slow cooker instead of a Dutch oven and cook on High for 4 to 6 hours or on Low for 6 to 8 hours.



Corn Tortillas


  • 1-1/2 cups masa-harina I use the "Maseca" brand

  • 1-¼ cups of warm water this may vary depending on air humidity
    and other wheatear conditions. Have some extra tablespoons of water to add as needed.


  • 2 pieces of round plastic cut out from a bag. freezer bags are ideal for this purpose.

  • Tortilla press or a Glass pie dish


  1. Use a large bowl to combine the masa-harina (corn flour) and water. Mix well until the water is absorbed evenly and the dough forms a ball.

  2. Preheat a griddle or heavy skillet on medium flame. This has to be ready when you start pressing the tortillas.

  3. After kneading the dough, form a small ball the size of a golf ball. Using a tortilla press or a heavy dish, (pie dish as I do), place the ball of the dough about 1 ½ inch in diameter between the two plastic pieces and press to form a 6 inch round tortilla.

  4. Open the tortilla press or remove the heavy dish if using to press the tortillas, peel the top plastic off. Lift the tortilla from the tortilla press holding it from the bottom part. If the dough is too dry, the edges of your tortilla will look cracked and you will need to add a little water.

  5. Somehow when using the tortilla press my tortillas come out very thin. Some people in the South of Mexico eat thicker tortillas and some grandmas still make them by hand.

  6. Lift the plastic with the pressed tortilla, place the dough in your hand closer to your fingers and carefully peel the plastic off the dough. If the dough doesn’t come out so easily then the dough could be a little too wet. Add some more masa-harina to the dough mix again until it becomes easy to handle.

  7. Place the tortilla on the griddle and cook for about 30 -40 seconds. The edge will begin to dry out. Turn over and continue to cook for about 40-45 seconds until brown patches form. This time will vary depending on how thick is your tortilla and the temperature of your griddle.

  8. Turn over again and cook for another 15 seconds. The cooking time is about 1:45 minute’s total. Cook until the tortilla begins to puff. Tap lightly with your fingertips to allow even puffing. Wrap with a napkin or clean towel, and serve. Tortillas keep warm when placed in a basket made of natural fibers.


• You do not need a tortilla press to make tortillas, many women in Mexico and other Central America countries shape the tortillas by hand. But, here is a little trick I often use, a glass pie dish. Like in the picture below.• Traditionally, salt is not added to the dough for making tortillas. That will be your personal choice.We are looking for a soft dough consistency; it should not stick to your hands. If it does, add a little more of masa-harina. If it looks dry, breakable or crumbly, add more water. Cover with a moistened towel to prevent the dough from drying.



Fried Corn Masa Empanadas with cheese

Easy and delicious Queso Fresco stuffed corn empanadas. Masa harina is used to make these golden and crispy turnovers, serve topped with shredded lettuce or cabbage and a fresh homemade salsa.


  • 1-1/2 cups of masa harina

  • 1¼ cups of warm water*

  • ¼ teaspoon of salt

  • 2 cups of queso fresco crumbled**

  • 4 teaspoons of sugar

  • ½ cup of vegetable oil to cook the empanadas

  • 2 cups of shredded cabbage

  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice

  • 4 tablespoons of Cotija cheese or Queso Fresco crumbled (for topping)

  • Salsa of your choice


  1. Mix the masa harina, salt, and water in a bowl. Knead well until the dough is soft. Add more water as needed (see note above). Divide the dough into 12 equal-sized balls, and cover with a wet kitchen napkin.

  2. Heat the oil in a medium-size frying pan. In a bowl, mix the Queso fresco with the sugar.

  3. Place one ball of masa between 2 plastic sheets in your tortilla press. Press down on the tortilla press to form a circle and then remove the top plastic.

  4. Place 2 tablespoons of the queso-sugar mix in the center of the dough circle. With the help of the bottom plastic sheet, fold the circle in half and seal the edges very well. If you don’t seal the edges well, the filling can ooze out when frying, and cause the oil to splatter.

  5. Place the formed empanadas into the hot oil and cook, turning them once they have a golden-brown finish. Cook for about 2 minutes per side. When done, remove from the oil and place on a plate that’s covered with paper napkins (to absorb any excess oil).

  6. Right before serving, mix the shredded cabbage with the lime juice. Serve the empanadas topped with a portion of the cabbage, a drizzle of your favorite salsa, and a sprinkle of some Cotija cheese.


  • After adding the water, you will need to add a couple more tablespoons of extra water until the dough gets a nice soft texture. The amount needed will depend on the area where you live and the humidity or dryness of the environment.

  • Make sure the queso fresco is cold. This will keep it from melting too easily and oozing out of the empanadas.



Tamale Rojos

makes 35-40 tamales



  • 6 cups Instant corn masa for tamales

  • 6 cups beef or pork broth (reserved)

  • 1 1/2 -2 cups pork lard

  • Tablespoon baking powder

  • Tablespoon salt

Red chile filling:

  • 4-20 New Mexico Chile pods or guajillo New Mexico red bag is my favorite !!!!

  • 3-4 chile ancho

  • *12 tomatillos

  • 4-7 garlic cloves

  • 1 small onion

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin

  • 1 Tablespoon Salt  


  • 5 lbs boneless chuck roast, pork shoulder (trimmed and cut into large chunks)

  • 1 onion

  • 1 head of garlic

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 teaspoon whole black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoons allspice

  • 1 Tablespoon cumin

  • 2 Tablespoons salt

  • 5 whole cloves

  • 1 cube chicken bouillon (crushed)

  • 2 cups water



Prepare Corn Husks

  • Rinse the corn husks to remove any dirt, hairs, or dust (and sometimes bugs, yuk!).

  • Place in the sink or a large pot and cover with warm water. Lay something heavy on top of the corn husks to keep them submerged. (I use a large pan.)

  • Soak corn husks overnight or for at least 2 hours, until they are soft and pliable.

  • Pat them dry or lay on a towel to air dry for 30 minutes before using. (Don't air dry for longer than 30 minutes or they will start to dry out.)

Cook the Meat

  • Give your pork a good rinse in the sink. Trim the fat off and discard. Cut into large chunks.

  • Place the pork chunks into the Instant Pot along with water and seasonings (cumin, salt, minced garlic, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and a crushed chicken bouillon cube). Add 3 bay leaves on top (that way you can easily find and remove them when the meat is done cooking).

  • Close the lid on the Instant Pot and lock into place. Move the steam release handle to the "Sealing" position. Set to cook on the manual high setting for 90 minutes. Once down, allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, and then do a quick release by moving the steam release handle to the "Venting" position.

  • Carefully open the lid after all pressure has been released. Remove the bay leaves and discard.

  • Using a slotted spoon, remove pork (reserving the broth) and place in a heat-proof bowl. Shred with 2 forks. Stir in ½ cup of reserved pork broth and salt to taste, if needed. Cover and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to assemble the tamales.

  • Lay a mesh strainer on top of a heat-proof bowl. Pour the remaining (reserved) pork broth from the Instant Pot liner through the strainer and into the bowl. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to make the masa.

Make the Red Chili Sauce

  • Using scissors, cut the stems off the ancho and quajillo chilies. Cut down the side and remove all seeds. Rinse the chilies to remove dirt and dust.

  • Fill a medium-sized (2.5 quart) pot half-full of water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.

  • Add chilies, onion (cut into 4 chunks), and garlic cloves.

  • Cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes.

  • Once cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

  • Using a slotted spoon, remove chilies, onion, and garlic and place in a blender along with ½ cup of liquid from the pot. Puree until smooth and then pour through a fine mesh strainer using the back of your spoon to push it through. (This will strain out any pieces of chili skin remaining in your puree.)

  • Add 1 cup of the chili puree into the shredded pork and stir. Place remaining chili sauce and pork into the refrigerator to save for later.

Make the Masa (dough)

  • Masa is easiest to spread when fresh, so try to make it right before you're ready to assemble the tamales.

  • Add lard to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and, using a paddle attachment, beat on speed level "4" for 5 minutes. Lard should look creamy and fluffy when done.

  • Turn mixer off and scrape the sides of the mixing bowl down with a spatula. Add pork broth, red chili sauce, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup of Maseca Tamal. Turn mixer on speed level "2" and mix until incorporated. Slowly add 4 ½ more cups of Maseca Tamal, 1 cup at a time, until completely incorporated (scrape sides down with a spatula as needed). Masa should have the consistency of smooth peanut butter.

  • Test to make sure the masa is ready by dropping a dallop of dough into a glass of water. If it floats, your masa is ready. If it sinks, add ¼ cup more broth or water, mix for 2 more minutes, and then retest. Repeat until dough floats.

Tip: make sure your masa floats, that’s how you know you have the best masa for tamales  

Another tip: try to build a pyramid with the tamales rather than standing them up I learned when you do the the filling goes down making the top of the tamal skinny with no masa or filling You can use any cut of beef or pork but keep in mind the more fat the meat has the more oil your broth will have!


  • Sort corn husks into 2 separate piles: a "usable pile" and an "unusable pile". Place husks that have large tears, holes, or are too narrow (less than 5 inches wide) into the "unusable pile". These will be used for tearing into narrow strips for ties. Place all other husks that are at least 5-6 inches wide into the "usable pile". These will be used for assembling your tamales. You will need at least 36 of these. Very wide husks can be tore in half or trimmed to about 5-6 inches wide (if you're slightly OCD like me).

  • From your "unusable" pile, tear corn husks into 36 strips that are ¼ inch wide. These will be used to tie up tamales to prevent them from opening while cooking.

  • Take one corn husk from your "usable pile". (One side will be smoother than the other. Make sure you spread your masa on the smooth side.)

  • On the wide end of the corn husk, spread a thin layer of masa (about ⅛ to ¼ inch thick) using the back of a spoon or a small icing spatula. Spread masa over half the length of the husk and ½ inch away from the long edges. Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of pork in a line down the middle of the masa.

  • Trifold the long sides of the corn husk over the filling. (Fold one long side in over the meat filling and the other long side in over that.) Then, fold the corn husk in half so that both ends meet together (or close to it).

  • Optional: Lay one corn husk strip perpendicularly under the middle of the tamale and tie together to keep it from opening while cooking.

  • Repeat until all 3 dozen are made (or until you run out of stuff).

Cook Tamales

  • Add 2 cups of water to the bottom of the Instant Pot and insert the steamer basket.

  • Place tamales inside vertically with open ends pointing up. Make sure they are tight enough in there to prevent them from falling over while cooking. (I sometimes use a ball of foil to help keep them upright.) Close the lid and lock into place.

  • Move the steam release handle to the "Sealing" position and pressure cook on manual high for 35 minutes. Once done, allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, and then do a quick release by moving the steam release handle to the "Venting" position.

  • Carefully open the lid at an angle to prevent moisture from dripping inside the tamales. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

  • When ready to eat, simply slide the tie off and unfold the corn husk allowing the filling to slowly roll out onto a plate. Discard the corn husk.

  • Top with leftover red chili sauce, pico de gallo, salsa, sour cream, and cilantro. Serve with Mexican rice, refried beans, and chips and salsa. Now dig in! You've earned it!


How to store cooked tamales:

Place in a ziplock bag, press out all air, and seal. Will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator and 3 months in the freezer. (If freezing, allow to cool completely before placing them in the bag and then into the freezer.)

How to reheat in the Instant Pot:

Follow the recipe cooking instructions listed under "Cook Tamales" except only pressure cook on manual high for 15 minutes and then let pressure "naturally release".

How to reheat on the stove top:

    1. Fill the bottom of a large steamer pot with water (about 2 cups) until it reaches the bottom of the steamer insert without going over it - you don't want your tamales to touch the water! (If you don't have a steamer pot you can use a large stockpot instead and insert a steamer basket inside.)

    2. Place tamales inside the steamer basket vertically with open ends pointing up.

    3. Lay leftover corn husks (soaked and moist) on top of the tamales and close the lid. (If you don't have leftover corn husks, you can lay a moist towel over the top of the pot before closing the lid. Be careful not to let the towel touch the burner!)

    4. Allow the water to come to a boil and then turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until tamales are heated through, about 15-20 minutes. (Add an extra 10-20 minutes if reheating from frozen.)

How to reheat in the oven:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Tightly wrap each tamale individually in foil. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cook for about 20-25 minutes until they are hot in the middle.

How to reheat in the microwave:

Wrap each tamale in a damp paper towel and lay in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. (I usually add 2 Tablespoons of water to the bottom of the plate.) Microwave 1-2 minutes, until heated through. If frozen, microwave on 50% power for about 4 minutes, adding 1 minute at a time until desired temperature is reached.



Avocado and Cucumber Salad

  • 3 large ripe Mexican avocados halved, pitted and cut into chunks

  • 1 large English cucumber cut into chunks

  • 3 to 4 scallions thinly sliced

  • 5 tablespoons Mexican crema

  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt Juice

  • zest of one lime

  • 1 small garlic clove peeled and pressed or minced

  • 1 jalapeño stemmed and minced

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

  • Crumbled cotija cheese for garnish

  1. Combine the avocado, cucumber, and scallion in a large bowl.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the crema, yogurt, lime juice
    and zest, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, and salt.

  3. Pour the crema dressing over the avocado and cucumber salad
    and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning, sprinkle with cotija, and serve immediately.

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