Christmas Dinner Puerto Vallarta: Mexican BBQ

This Christmas dinner was as far away from traditional as it gets.  I bought a bunch of dried and fresh Mexican peppers and used them as a springboard to create what I call a Mexican BBQ Menu.  There is an upscale group of 4 stores that has opened this year called Los Mercados:  a produce shop, a wine store, a bakery and fancy food shop/butcher.  At the latter I found some excellent looking pork ribs.  I bought a little over 2 pounds and it cost me around $17 USD – Puerto Vallarta isn’t cheap, particularly when you shop at fancy gringo stores!

Once home I set upon making a dry rub and a BBQ sauce for my lovely looking ribs.


This isn’t so much a recipe as a narrative of my process.  Here goes…

The first step was to de-stem and de-seed my dried peppers and grind them up into a powder.  Then I used them in my dry rub (along with cumin, salt, brown sugar, black pepper…).

For the BBQ sauce I hunted down some Molasses which to me is the key ingredient in any BBQ sauce.  Never buy the stuff in a jar, since homemade is easy to make and so much better.  I sauteed an onion and  lots of garlic, then added some tomato paste and ground tomatoes, along with ginger, brown and white sugar, oregano, cumin,  tequila, molasses, cider vinegar and cooked it down for an hour or so, tasting and seasoning with salt and pepper as I went.  I pureed the finished product in a blender.

I rubbed the ribs with the dry spices and let them sit in the fridge for an hour then cooked them at 500 for 20 minutes then reduced the heat to 325 F and cooked them until very tender, about 90 minutes, then generously coated them with the BBQ sauce and put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

I used the same pepper mixture in my black and pinto bean ragout, along with a little tomato sauce, oregano, lots of cumin and 2 roasted, peeled seeded and finely chopped Poblano peppers.  I served the beans on brown rice with organic local yogurt and lots of fresh cilantro.

Miraculously the organic arugula and red leaf lettuce I had bought the previous week at the farmers market was still good so I tossed up a salad with some pomegranate seeds and a black pepper, honey and mustard vinaigrette. 

For dessert I made Molasses Ginger Cookies, giving the finish of the meal a little taste of Christmas back home.  My hosts for Christmas splurged and rented a fabulous penthouse overlooking the ocean so it was truly a once in a life time experience.  I return home on Tuesday and after seeing pictures of the snow storm today in NYC I am crossing my fingers that my flight is cancelled I have to stay here longer.

And to all my Canadian readers: Happy Boxing Day!

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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