What to Cook This Week

Rick Martínez’s Mexican essentials, albóndigas from the singer Linda Ronstadt and more recipes.

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By Sam Sifton

Good morning. Rick Martínez is in The Times with an overview of his essential Mexican recipes. “In Mexico, people cook the food they love to eat without any fear of getting it wrong,” he writes. “And just like cooks in the United States, Mexicans use food to celebrate individuality, creativity and diversity.”

Rick, who grew up in Texas and is the grandchild of Mexican immigrants, flew to Mexico City in 2019, bought a car and set off on a road trip across Mexico’s 32 states in search of connections to the country and to his family. Today’s recipes emerged from his travels. Try his chiles anchos rellenos de queso, smoky and slightly spicy; a complex, velvety mole negro from the state of Oaxaca; tacos campechanos (above), a meaty, little-bit-of-everything Mexico City standard; and more. It’s a terrific package, well worth cooking through.

In other news of road-trips and cooking, our Kim Severson traveled to Tucson recently to spend some time with the rock star Linda Ronstadt. Ronstadt is 76 and has written a cookbook, although she doesn’t really know how to cook.

“Think of it as a road trip with Linda Ronstadt through the part of the world where she is from and loves the most,” said the journalist Lawrence Downes, who wrote the book with her. That’s southern Arizona, mostly, and the Mexican state of Sonora.

Start with her grandfather’s albóndigas, tender meatballs simmered in a deeply seasoned broth; you can pair them with her cheese crisps, Tucson-style fried tortillas topped with melted cheese.

That’s my dinner tonight, and I’ll eat it while listening to this 1976 live recording of “You’re No Good.” Won’t you join me?

As for the rest of the week …


How about this butternut squash pasta with brown-butter bread crumbs? The butter is infused with garlic and sage, and the sauce is made creamy by the squash, which is boiled with the pasta. Crispy bread crumbs on top for texture. Let’s go!


This skillet chicken with tomatoes, pancetta and mozzarella is a chicken Parm crossed with no-dough chicken pizza, and it’s remarkably complex for that. “This recipe doesn’t just go into the standard repertoire,” one subscriber noted below the recipe, “it goes into the secret-weapon-for-dinner-parties repertoire.” High praise!


A Japanese take on dan dan noodles, this vegan tantanmen with pan-fried tofu is a substantial midweek jam. It’s hardly vegan to do so, but I like to top it with a soft-boiled egg.


Here’s a shrimp Creole built on top of a serious roux, so that the stew is thick and velvety. I’ve cooked it with sausage instead of shrimp, scallops instead of shrimp, with okra in addition to shrimp. It’s a forgiving recipe. It delivers big, big flavor.


And then you can run out the week with ropa vieja, to be served with black beans and, if you want to evoke a New York steam-table restaurant feast, white rice amped up with sazon. (I add MSG to that spice mixture, but you do you.)

There are thousands and thousands more recipes to cook this week waiting for you on New York Times Cooking. You’ll find inspiration on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube as well. Yes, it’s true: You need a subscription to get the recipes. Subscriptions make it possible for us to keep doing this work that we love. If you haven’t done so already, would you please consider subscribing today? Thank you.

We’ll be standing by if you run into problems with our technology. Just write to [email protected]. Someone will get back to you. (If you’re so moved, you can also write to me at [email protected]. I read every letter sent.)

Now, it has as much to do with recipes and deliciousness as Tom Stoppard’s “Leopoldstadt” has to do with light comedy, but I think Jennifer Szalai is going to persuade you to read Hua Hsu’s memoir, “Stay True.”

In The Atlantic, Asher Elbein asks, “Can Invasive Species Ever Be Good?”

And for the Smithsonian magazine, Stacy Schiff delivers an excerpt from her excellent new biography, “Samuel Adams: The Revolutionary.”

Finally, here’s a new track from First Aid Kit, “Turning Onto You.” Enjoy that, and I’ll be back next Friday. Melissa Clark will join you on Monday.

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