“Recado” (or “Recaudo” in some areas) is the name given to the different seasoning mixes used to add flavor to stews, meats, poultry, and fish. In the southern states of Mexico, like in the State of Yucatan, the recados are usually sold at the markets, with some of them made for specific purposes. “Recado Rojo”, for example, is used to make the famous “Cochinita Pibil”, and includes (among other things) Achiote/Annatto seeds, cloves, allspice, cumin, oregano (from Yucatan), and garlic, all diluted with Seville orange juice. Here are some of the many seasonings that can also be found in that part of the country:
- Recado Blanco (White Seasoning): White Seasoning is used for dishes like beef stew.
- Recado de Bistec: A standard steak seasoning.
- Recado the Toda Clase: This is a mix that is used as a base for making other seasonings, although it can be used as a seasoning by itself.
- Recado Negro (Black Seasoning): Some of the ingredients in this mix have been roasted until they’re completely black to give this seasoning it’s dark color.
All of these seasonings are diluted in either water, orange juice, or vinegar, depending on the use. In other parts of the country, “recado” is the name cooks give to the mix they prepare with tomato, garlic, and onion. They mix them with some water in a mortar or blender, and can use red tomatoes or green tomatillos. The amount of water will depend on the use; it can be used for seasoning rice, stews, salsas, etc.
Today’s recado recipe is a simple and easy way to season a steak, ground beef or pork chop. This method is used by many cooks in Mexico, including my mother. It’s a humble combination of black pepper and garlic that will totally enhance the flavors of your meat. I know many of you may already use a mix of powered pepper and garlic, but if you try this simple fresh version, I’m sure you’ll like it.THIS AMOUNT WILL BE ENOUGH TO SEASON 1 1/2 POUNDS OF MEAT
- 2 large garlic cloves or 3 small, peeled
- 10 black pepper corns ( if you like pepper a lot, you can add a few more pepper corns)
- 2 Tablespoons of water
- Salt to season
- I used T-bone steaks about 1/2 thick, the guy at the Latin Store told me they call them “Chuletas”, but they don’t look the same type of cut than in Mexico. Anyway, the seasoning work with any type of beef or pork cut.
- If you don’t have a mortar, use your blender.
1. If using a mortar, grind the peppercorns first until you have a fine powder. Add the garlic one by one and grind until you have a fine paste. Add water to dilute the paste. Season your steak with this mixture along with salt.
If using a blender: place the garlic, pepper corns, and water into the blender and process until you have a fine paste.
2. Season the meat and cook in a large frying pan where you’ve already heated 1 1/2 Tablespoons of oil. Cook for about 4-6 minutes per side, depending of the thickness of the meat.