Here is something so unique, delicious and exotic in the Mexican Grill. Originally, cooked over open fires using mesquite wood (native to Mexico), the Mexican grill is a popular dish known for its flavors and simplicity. The Mexican Grill is a communal sharing of food. According to Mexican chef, Reed Hearon, there are four components to a Mexican Grill.
Recardos – spice mixtures from the Yucatan peninsula to use as a rub for meats, fish and poultry.
Salsas – made of fresh ingredients that are spicy. There are many kinds of salsa.
Tortillas – made from corn, not flour. They must be freshly made.
Grill – to cook the food. You can use mesquite charcoal (not briquettes) to provide the food the original mesquite flavor.
Recardos is not known outside of Mexico. It is considered the “soul” of Yucatecan cuisine. One of the reasons it is not found outside of Mexico is because it has to be fresh. It becomes stale quite easily. There are many recardo recipes, but the following is the basic one used most frequently. The spices need to be ground exceedingly fine. A particular hand grinder, metate y mano, is a concave stone or lava rock, in which spices are ground by hand. You can buy the following spices if you would rather not grind the spices: 1 cinnamon stick (ground cinnamon), 1 tsp. cloves, 1 tsp. pepper, 2 tsp. oregano, ¼ tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. allspice. Now comes the achiote paste. This is the part that has to be fresh. Bring achiote seeds to a boil in water. Drain and soak overnight in vinegar (alternatives to vinegar: bitter orange juice or lime juice). Place the seeds in a blender to break them down. You can use a molcajete y tejolote (mortar and pestle), which is a lot of work. Add spices, seeds and enough of the liquid to make a thick paste.
The salsa (sauce) is the second component of the Mexican grill. It originated from the Inca people. It began as a combination of chilies, tomatoes and spices. Salsa originally was used as a condiment on turkey, venison, lobster and fish.
The third component is the tortilla. Maize is the main grain of Mexico and corn tortillas are the original ingredient. Flour tortillas are a recent development. The method of making the tortilla has not changed in over hundreds years. The corn kernels are cooked, using lime, to remove the husk. When cooked, the kernels are ground on the mestete y mano. The dough is rolled into little round balls and patted out by hand (not rolled) into thin round cakes. The tortilla serves many purposes. The tortilla, wrapped in a corn husk, is a tamale. They can also be used as a taco (taco means sandwich), and of course the enchilada.
The fourth component is the grill. It always uses wood charcoal. In the north, it is mesquite. In central and southern Mexico, pine is used. The grill is used all year round.
This is what constitutes a “Mexican Grill” in historical perspective. It is still considered a communal activity a way for friends and family to get together.