The Pantry Items Pati Jinich Always Has In Her Mexican Kitchen - Exclusive

When "Pati's Mexican Table" and "La Frontera" host Pati Jinich isn't traveling throughout Mexico and around the U.S.-Mexico border, she can be found at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., where she is currently the resident chef. Luckily for home cooks, Jinich's innovative Mexican recipes can be replicated in your own kitchen through the pages of her celebrated cookbooks, "Mexican Today," "Pati's Mexican Table," and "Treasures of the Mexican Table." In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, she not only told us some of her favorite recipes for conjuring the flavors of the Yucatán, but she also shared where to source the best Mexican ingredients and which ones she likes to keep on hand in her own kitchen.

One of the wonders of the modern age is that online shopping allows consumers to find authentic ingredients from across the globe and have them delivered right to their doorsteps. "The tamales in Yucatán are typically wrapped in banana leaves ... and there's a lot of use of recado rojo or achiote paste," Jinich explained. "All of these ingredients you can now get in the U.S. or anywhere in the world online. You can start making meals in your kitchen that suddenly magically bring in the Yucatán to your home wherever you may be living." 

Jinich ensures that her pantry is always stocked so that she can prepare fast and flavorful meals for her family. "I don't always make [tortillas] from scratch — only when I have the extra time," she said. "Goya has fabulous corn tortillas. I always have packs of tortillas at the ready, because I'm not going to have time every day to make 20 tortillas from scratch."

Where to find Pati Jinich's go-to ingredients

In addition to tortillas, the core ingredients Pati Jinich told us she always has on hand include "chipotles in adobo and salsas from La Costena," as well as "bitter orange marinade and adobo from Goya." Goya is a brand Jinich returns to specifically for its "incredible olive oil ... fabulous corn tortillas, [and] dried black beans." When making beans from scratch, she noted, "I always go for the Goya ones. For the canned chiles and salsa, I go for La Costena." 

But when it comes to an everyday ingredient that you likely already have in your pantry, Jinich prefers salt from Mexico: "Whenever I go to Yucatán, I bring back bags of [flor de sal] salt, which is salt harvested in Yucatán. You can find it online too." Fortunately for those of us who prefer grocery shopping in person, there are plenty of local major supermarkets where you can source Mexican-produced staples. "Kroger has a new Mercado brand where they have queso fresco, Oaxaca, corn and flour tortillas, and crema. They even have already cooked and shredded carnitas," Jinich said.

Outside of the pantry, Jinich told us she makes sure to always have avocados on her countertop, and she has begun growing her own fresh herbs inside. "I'm growing chaya, and fresh peppers, and cilantro, and parsley. I use an indoor garden system ... You can grow 30 things at the same time indoors, which is great."

To experience new episodes of "Pati's Mexican Table," check your local PBS station's listings.