The Three Dishes Everyone Should Know How To Make, According To Chef Marcela Valladolid - Exclusive

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If you know anything at all about chef Marcela Valladolid, you probably know that she is passionate when it comes to Mexican cooking — and little surprise there, as it's not only her native cuisine, but also the center of much of her professional life: From her years hosting Mexican Made Easy on the Food Network, to her cookbooks such as Fresh Mexico and Mexican Made Easy, to the authentic Mexican meal she remotely cooked up with superstar Selena Gomez on season two of the HBO Max show Selena + Chef

An important ingredient at the center of so many authentic Mexican meals? Rice. "In Mexico, I'm obviously a very feminist independent woman, but we say in Mexico that you can't get married until you know how to make rice," says Valladolid. And (perhaps surprising to some) the chef says "'s actually a really intimidating dish." Given her passion for authentic Mexican cooking, it makes sense that the three foods Valladolid feels everyone needs to know how to cook are staples of the cuisine.

The three things Marcela Valladolid says you should really know how cook

If there are three foods you owe it to yourself to know how to cook, Marcela Valladolid thinks they are rice, beans, and roast chicken. "When I post about rice, I get so many messages about people that are insecure about perfect rice. So, rice is an important one."

The chef next turned to meat: "Roasting a chicken is essential, essential for life. Just any kind — a whole roasted chicken is incredible — but just cooking chicken in general because it's such a versatile dish, especially if you have kids. So, I would say that the roasting of a chicken is super important."

For the third essential food, the chef said "And maybe... because I'm Mexican we're going to lean towards Mexican, is a good pot of beans. Those are hard to get to tender without them bursting. You can't salt them too early, because they get tough and they never really tenderize. There's so many tips and tricks to getting the perfect pot of beans, and they [last well] in a refrigerator. So [beans] are an essential for us as well."

The one dish Marcela Valladolid wishes everyone could try

When we asked chef Valladolid if there was a dish she wished she could share with everyone on earth, she thought about it for a moment, then went with a classic Mexican sauce.

"I think I would say... I would say mole. Mole is the one that truly — it has so many ingredients, it's representative of many different regions. It's so multilayered in terms of flavor, ingredients, texture, and it's multipurpose too. It can be served the traditional way, it can be served over nachos if you want to get a little crazy. You can make enchiladas and that can be your salsa. It can be used for a million different recipes, so I would introduce mole to planet earth, to whoever's not familiar." Yum! Whether mild or spicy, sweetened with chocolate or not, served beside or atop a meal, mole offers a true taste of Mexico, so it's little surprise mole was her pick for everyone to experience.

You can see chef Marcela Valladolid cooking up some authentic Mexican food on season two of Selena + Chef, streaming now on HBO Max.