Cooking with gas (and chilis)

Written by 



FOOD, glorious food.

There really is nothing quite like it. Especially here in the land of tacos.

I realise that the vast majority of these blogs have been about food but hey, my tastes, habits and self-inflicted ridicule are a constant source of amusement and entertainment.

So why not write about it? If it looks good enough to eat, you might as well tell people about it. That's what I say anyway.

Besides, Mexicans talk about food a lot. Like all the time.

"Como esta?"

"Muy bien, mi quesadilla es incredible".

Or something like that. Or is that just me?!

On the whole Mexican cuisine is amazing. One of my favourite Spanish-Mexican phrases is actually now 'queso con todo' (cheese with everything!).

So with food for thought, and with so many people from back home asking me for traditional Mexican recipes, I thought I'd give you one.

Breaking with the blogging norm, here is an easy recipe for 'Bistec al chili guajillo' (basically meat with guajillo chili).

Believe me, if I can make it anyone with two hands and a pair of eyes can.

And no, it is NOTHING like the fajita packs you get in British supermarkets. Honestly when I told Jacks and her mum and dad about them they laughed, and then pulled faces of disgust.

I'm ashamed to say before now those fajita packs were my only brush with Mexican cuisine.

So here goes... Bistec al chili guajillo.


Ingredients (in no particular order of appearance, importance or preference):


- three medium-sized potatoes

- four garlic cloves

- 12 (yes TWELVE) dried guajillos

- one big ass tomato

- two pints of water

- three chicken breasts or some pork or beef (stewing beef I imagine would be pretty good)

- quarter of an onion

- level teaspoon of powdered cinnamon

- one stock cube (chicken)

- 10 or so cubed pieces of pineapple, and roughly three tablespoons of pineapple juice

- rice

- a little oil

- salt and pepper


Grab the chilis and LIGHTLY burn them on the stove.

(Yes, that's right... we're lightly torching the buggers so we can release some of the flavour).


Pay back!


Make sure you don't over-burn them, simply toast them for a few seconds on each side.

Pull out stalks and place them in a pan containing a pint-and-a-half of water, the four cloves of garlic and the whole tomato.


Simmer until the tomato skin begins to peel off


Bring water to the boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for five to 10 minutes - or until you can easily peel the skin off the tomato.

When you can, take the skin off the tomato - we don't need it. Why? Not sure, but Mexican mum knows best.

Now transfer contents of the pan to a liquidizer adding the quarter of an onion.

Blend it baby!


Yes, my fingernails appear to have grown a tad...


Okay, now gently fry the meat (chicken, pork or beef) in a little oil adding salt and pepper.

Chop up the three potatoes into cubes and add them to the frying pan. Fry for a few minutes.

Once everything is nicely browned, add the blended chili sauce using a strainer.


Use strainer to avoid chili stalk bits etc


Add a tiny bit (maybe a level teaspoon) of cinnamon powder to the sauce, meat and potatoes.

Then scrunch up the chicken stock cube and to the pan, along with about half a pint of water.

Simmer and season more to taste.

Now add three tablespoons of pineapple juice and the pineapple cubes.


Don't add all the juice seen in this picture - only three tablespoons!


Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or so, until it looks like this:




Boil up some rice and add the meat and chili sauce to it.

And there you have it: Bistec al chili guajillo.




Now I know what you're all thinking... jeez TWELVE chilis?! Believe me, if they were that hot I wouldn't add one!

They're pretty weak in terms of heat, but they do add some amazing colour and rich texture to the dish.

Try it! Go on, you know you want to...

Oh, by the way you should be able to pick the guajillo chilis up in most supermarkets or markets, either fresh or bagged. We got ours bagged in a local supermarket.




On a side note, massive huge thank yous to one of my besties, Claire (Fulton) Ray, for steering me in the direction of the Scoville heat chart.

It turns out she too co-habitated with a chili fiend, and it made sense to check the 'scale' to see what was potentially painful at mealtimes.

As you can see the 'pretty weak' (according to Jacks' dad) habanero chili is one of the hottest chilis in the world!

And there I was thinking I was a wimp.


The new addition to the fridge door - the Scoville chili heat chart


Tristan Nichols

Tristan is a multi award-winning journalist from England.

In his professional capacity he spent nearly a decade-and-a-half travelling the world covering breaking stories for the UK-based newspaper, 'The Herald'.

During this time he spent approximately four-and-a-half months on Afghanistan's frontline working as a writer/blogger/photographer and broadcaster for The British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS).

In his career he has worked in countries including Iraq, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Norway, The Falkland Islands, Bahrain, Brunei, and of course Afghanistan.

In his personal life he's travelled far and wide lapping up the atmosphere of some of the world's most beautiful, and undoutedly most unbeautiful places imaginable.

Having quit and boxed up the life he knew, he's relocated to Tijuana in Mexico to learn Spanish and be a fiance to the beautiful Jacky.

His popular travel blog 'Once Upon A Time In Mexico...' is regularly updated with unusual and humorous observations on his new life across the pond in the land of tacos and banda music.

Oh, and of course he's going to bullsh*t on about writing a book or a solo album for years to come.

For full details and biog, photographs, travel features and stories, and other interesting bits and bobs visit

Alternatively find him on Twitter by searching for: tristan_nichols


Social Profiles


0 # Derek Freal 2013-04-09 04:19
¡Queso con todo! I'm a cheese and chili pepper addict, it's impossible to go wrong with those two. Plus this sounds really good, I'll have to test out your recipe. Oh and props on the proper technical terminology "one big ass tomato" LOL
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote

Add comment

Security code

Login to The HoliDaze to submit articles and comments or register your blog.