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Cooking Class This Week with Memelitas

By Jane Butel  January 23, 2024

Have you ever had Memelitas?  They are yummy,  very attractive and fun to make--and yes, a bit time consuming.  We are making them this Thursday in our cooking class, plus tried and true recipes for Flour and Corn Tortillas, Chimichangas, the Original Burrito and Sauce and Fish Tacos with that yummy Nine Day Cole Slaw and Salsa.

Just for the record, Memelitas are a popular appetizer in Oaxaca and various versions can be found here in the US under different names, such as Chalupas.  Memelitas are an appetizer or light meal dish and are baby open faced thick corn tortillas with  any of a variety of fillings and artfully decorated.  They are as pretty as they are yummy. Note my picture taken from a  cooking class in Oaxaca.  (We have already started taking reservations for our Oaxaca trip in June.  And, I am really enthusiastic about going as I missed last year.)

Did you know the history of the original burrito?  It goes like this.  When the Conquistadores first came over and were riding their horses around Mexico, looking for lands they could claim for the Crown of Spain, they were often very hungry.  When they saw the young boys tending their Father's flocks, they would often have burritos in their knapsacks.  If the Conquistadores saw that they did, they would frequently snatch them from the little boys, who they called Burritos ,named for the little floppy eared burros  they rode.  Hence, the name stuck.  The food they ate became called burritos, also.  

We are going to make these original Burritos--homemade flour tortillas stuffed with refried beans fragrant with bacon drippings and sauced.  (I am sure the young boys did not have a sauce for theirs. 

Chimichangos have a history also.  They became incredibly popular in the '70's and early '80's.  The history is shared between El Paso, TX and Tucson, AZ with both taking credit.  Literally translated, the word means a "bite for my loved one".  Or "monkey bite".  They can have several different fillings, garni's and sauces.  We will be making the original, very tasty beef with green Chile and seasonings in a flour tortilla that can be baked or fried and simply or elaborately garnished.

We have room for a few more in the class, if you can get away.  We are also taking reservations for the weekend class, February 23-25, the week long class April 15-19 and our wonderful Oaxaca tour June 11-17.

Here's a couple of recipes to try--



 Chicken breast is perfect with the traditional fajita marinade.  I have always preferred the fresh pure flavors of lime and garlic to the “foreign flavors” such as soy sauce and monosodium glutamate.  My favorite way to serve these chicken fajitas is with grilled rather than sauteed vegetables.  Select large red onions and the biggest bell peppers you can find.

 Yield:  6 to 8 servings

 2 pounds lean boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Juice of 2 limes

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 large red onions, halved crosswise

1 each large red, green and yellow bell pepper, cut into strips

Pico de Gallo,

Dairy sour cream

Guacamole, optional

6 inch diameter flour tortillas, warmed


  1. Cut each breast in half, following the natural division of the cartilage and removing any fat. Pound between sheets of plastic wrap to uniform thickness. 
  1. To prepare the marinade: Combine lime juice, garlic, salt, black pepper, and oil in a bowl.  Dip each side of the chicken breast into the mixture and marinate 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 1 hour in the refrigerator.

 Preheat the grill, allowing enough time to get hot. Use mesquite wood or chips to flavor the to give a real authentic flavor. Lightly brush onion halves and bell pepper strips with oil. Start vegetables 20 25 minutes before starting the chicken. When they are done, cut into ½ inch wide strips and mix together. Keep warm. 

  1. Grill chicken about 3 inches from coals for about 4 minutes to the side. Cut into strips about 1 inch wide when done. 
  1. Serve the grilled chicken over the grilled onions and peppers. Serve with bowl of Pico de gallo and sour cream and guacamole if desired. Pass napkin-lined basket of hot tortillas. 

VARIATIONS:          Pan-saute the onions and peppers, cutting them into strips before cooking using minimal oil, cooking only until slightly crisps.


 More highly flavored than ordinary beans, these can be served as is as a side dish or as a main course with sliced ham on the side.  In any case, top them with chopped onions and pickled jalapeno chiles.  Corn bread is a must. 

Yield:  2 quarts or 4 to 6 servings

1 pound dried pinto or other bean

1 ham hick or ham bone 

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup coarsely chopped Spanish onion (1 medium to large onion)

3 or 4 cups rich chicken stock or as needed 

  1. Rinse and sort beans, picking out any foreign objects. Place beans and ham hock in a heavy 5-quart pot.  Add enough water to come about 3 inches above the level of the beans and meat.  Boil 10 minutes, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, uncovered.  
  1. Add the garlic and onion and simmer 2 hours or until a bean will mash easily against the side of the pot. Add chicken stock as needed to keep the liquid level about 1 inch above the level of the bean mixtureuntil the beans are very tender and soft.  When beans are done, cook to reduce the liquid to the desired consistency.






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