Cinco de Mayo, the anniversary of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory during the Franco-Mexican War, has become prime time for Americans to celebrate some of the more festive and tasty elements of Mexican cuisine.
But even if you aren’t into the tequila-fueled parties (and there are plenty; see Going Out Guide’s complete list), consider the May 5 holiday, coupled with warmer weather, as the perfect opportunity to explore traditional Mexican dishes.
You can start the day with chilaquiles , a breakfast classic that combines tortilla chips, a red or green sauce, crema and queso fresco. Top them with a fried egg.
Barbacoa, or slow-cooked meat, is a historic way of cooking meat in Mexico. Versions vary, including goat, pork or sometimes cow’s head, cooked over an open fire in a pit or on a spit.
Home cooks can use their ovens for this Lamb Barbacoa in Adobo recipe, however; a few hours of marinating time and several hours of slow-roasting will do the trick. An optional wrap of avocado or banana leaves lends flavor.
For an additional kick, prepare this Salsa for Barbacoa Tacos , which can be refrigerated for up to a week.
To celebrate with another Mexican favorite, you’ll want to find the fiery, fresh pork sausage known as chorizo. Potato, Scallion and Chorizo Crispy Tacos can be fried or toasted in a skillet.
If you can take the heat, make this Raw Tomatillo and Chipotle Salsa Verde to go with them.
To wash it all down, a classic margarita’s the way to go. Spirits columnist Jason Wilson eschews store-bought mixes, favoring a combination of triple sec or Cointreau, tequila and fresh lime juice .