I know the name doesn’t make linguistic sense, but it makes meal sense. At least it makes more sense than “Cinco de Mama,” the name coined to describe the mash-up of Mother’s Day and Cinco de Mayo celebrations I used to throw for the family when I lived in Florida. The recipe that would become Mexichili Magic Mix was conceived for the first such celebration.
Mexican cuisine is a year-round affair for me. But when the weather turns colder, I start to think about chili. This mix—which can be made with ground meat or a meat substitute—works well in both: burritos, enchiladas, tacos, chili, taco salad, cornbread casserole and Frito pie, to name a few. We also use this mix to make wraps with a tortilla or lettuce leaf when we need a quick meal.Jump to Recipe
Feed a Family or Freeze and Forget It
When I was raising foster kids, this was a kid-tested staple to cook ahead and save for a variety of meals, although sometimes I had to substitute onion powder to add flavor without freaking out my picky eater who was sure those onion bits were bugs. The mix is easy to scale up and make in bulk and freezes well, too. When there were six of us, there was not much freezing for later use, but as an empty-nester, it’s common to freeze some for later.
Mexichili Meat Mix Options
Low sodium diet? Reduce or omit the salt, use salt substitute or add a salt-free herb mix in lieu of salt.
Vegetarian? You know if a meat substitute is good, not even meat lovers will know the difference. I know from experience back in the late 90s when my stepdaughter became a vegetarian. Many a meatless taco was served at family gatherings and no one suspected that they were made with plant-based protein—not even my most meat-loving brother. There are so many more meat-free options now than there were back then. If you’re using substitutes, I’d love to know what brands you like best: please leave a comment.
Aside from ensuring you have seasonings on hand, this is a beginner basic. The seasonings are staples worth the investment because they are used in many recipes.
Check the links below for recipes that use Mexichili Magic Mix.
“Many cooks and food writers have nothing but negative things to say about people who have dietary restrictions or preferences. Quite often it’s suggested that you just make what you want to make, and everyone can find something to eat, most likely. But if feeding people around your table is about connecting with them more than it is about showing off your menu or skills, isn’t it important to cook in such a way that their preferences or restrictions are honored?”— Shauna Niequist
Mexichili Magic Mix
- 1 ½ lb lean ground beef or plant-based protein
- 1 ½ tsp Sazon Completa / Complete Seasoning *
- ¼ tsp coarse ground sea salt
- ⅛ tsp ground pepper
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cilantro dry, paste, or finely chopped fresh
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves minced (or substitute 1 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 small onion diced (can substitute 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Place meat (or substitute) in pan and heat on medium. Add all except onion, garlic, and olive oil and blend into meat. Turn and chop meat. When browned, remove from heat and drain grease. Reserve pan for next step.
- Dice onion and mince garlic.
- Place about 1 teaspoon olive oil in pan.
- Add vegetables and sauté on medium heat.
- When onions become translucent, add meat back to pan and mix together well.
- Remove from heat.
- Seasoning Substitute: Badia brand Complete Seasoning has MSG. If you cannot tolerate it or locate the seasoning for purchase, substitute with 1/4 tsp sweet basil, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp onion, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 pepper, 1/2 tsp lemon juice.
- When using a meat substitute, you may need to add a little water or vegetable broth to the recipe because the meat subs tend to be a little dry compared to the real deal. I also don’t know how they freeze. My leftovers, if there were any, never lasted long enough to bother freezing. One more note: I’ve not used a ground beef sub in a chili, so I cannot attest to how it might work. I suspect most will turn out well, particularly if slow-cooked.