Rick Martinez offers approachable advice on cooking Mexican food, interview

Rick Martinez on cooking Mexican food, photo provided by Topo Chico
Rick Martinez on cooking Mexican food, photo provided by Topo Chico /

As a culinary expert on Mexican food, Rick Martinez has a wealth of culinary knowledge. From the depth of flavor in a mole to the use of native ingredients, Martinez is always ready to explore food and culture. While many people open his cookbook to delve into that flavor adventure, both the experienced and newbie can find that path to deliciousness. During a recent interview, Martinez shared his approachable advice to uncovering the nuance of cooking Mexican food.

Although some people are willing to eat anything placed on the plate, others might be more reserved in choosing to take that bite. It isn’t that the promise of a well-executed meal is unfulfilled. Instead, it is the uncertainty of trying something new.

For Rick Martinez, he understands that his approach to getting people to try something different needs to focus on one item. He said, it is about establishing trust. Martinez said, “when I first started cooking professionally, writing and publishing recipes, I learned very quickly that people are only willing to go so far in terms trying new things. So, you have to take baby steps. If I’m going to introduce you to a new dish and maybe that new dish has a technique that is unfamiliar, then everything else about the recipe has to be really simple.”

Recently, Rick Martinez partnered with Topo Chico Hard Seltzer on some recipes. As seen in this recipe for Pollo al Pastor, it is a wonderful example of pushing the cook yet not overstepping those boundaries. Using roasted chicken is the foundation and it is an ingredient that everyone appreciates. Building on that ingredient, Martinez can push the flavors with the chiles.

Rick Martinez on cooking Mexican food for Topo Chico
Rick Martinez on cooking Mexican food, photo provided by Topo Chico /

Here’s how to make Rick Martinez’s Pollo al Pastor.

Pollo al Pastor Recipe by Rick Martínez – Recommended pairing with Topo Chico Hard Seltzer Strawberry Guava

Pollo al Pastor


  • 4 chiles guajillos (42 g), stems and seeds removed; chiles torn into small pieces
  • 3 chiles moritas(13 g), stemmed (for super mild, use half)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled 10g
  • ¾ cup double concentrated chicken stock, pan drippings or chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons achiote (annatto) paste 52 g
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon dark agave syrup or honey
  • 6 g sea salt, plus more for seasoning chicken
  • 1000 g picked/lightly pulled roasted chicken
  • Warm corn tortillas, chopped onion, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, Pineapple Habanero Salsa Cruda (for serving, recipe below)


  • Add guajillos, moritas, garlic, stock, orange juice, achiote paste, cloves, agave and sea salt to a blender and purée until completely smooth, about 1 minute on high.
  • Toss chicken and al pastor purée in a large bowl until completely coated. Season with salt. Keep warm for service.
  • Top each tortilla with a few pieces of chicken a sprinkle of onion and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over and Pineapple Habanero Salsa Cruda.

Pineapple Habanero Salsa Cruda


  • 2 cups finely chopped pineapple (from about ½medium pineapple)
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 habanero chile, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, plus leaves for serving
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 6 g sea salt


  • Stir pineapple, onion, habanero, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a medium bowl. Cover salsa and chill until ready to use.
  • Do Ahead: Pineapple salsa can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled

While some home cooks might stick to the classic taco night, it might be time to venture into a more flavorful experience. One step could start a flavorful food journey. Grab a Topo Chico, open up the recipe book, and let Rick Martinez’s advice guide you. Cooking is a way to express love and that emotion will always be the most profound flavor on the plate.