You’ve heard of take-n-bake pizza, right? How about take-n-bake Mexican? Never heard of it? I hadn’t either until I received a coupon offer in the mail thru work for half off my order (there was recently a Groupon for here also). Even though it is in Plymouth, about 25 miles from my house, the concept seemed so original that I had to try it. Coupon purchased! Now, clearly I am a procrastinator… Not only did the coupon expire today, but you can only place orders until noon for pick up the same day (pick up between 4 – 7 pm). What time did this chica place her order? 11:48 am! Whew!
La Cocina de Ana - Ana's Kitchen - is a unique twist on the pizza-dominated Take-N-Bake scene
La Cocina de Ana (Ana’s Kitchen), which opened in December 2010, is located in a small strip mall on Hwy 101, just south if Hwy 6 in Plymouth. It is tiny inside, but it doesn’t need to be any bigger. There are a row of refrigerators where the day’s orders are kept, a check out counter, small office area, and a little kitchen with a window so you can see Ana and Luis preparing the food. There are tortilla chips for sale, and bags of Mexican Almond cookies, but otherwise it is strictly pre-ordered food.
Small, simple interior. Door in the back leads to small kitchen with a window, allowing people to see food being prepared.
I wanted to stick as close to $20 as possible, since that is the amount I pre-paid with my coupon. There are a number of soups, appetizers, entrees, side dishes and desserts available, though not everything is available every day. The food comes packaged in containers with directions on how to reheat or prepare at home, either in the oven or microwave.
Prepackaged and ready to either heat in the microwave or oven.
My husband and I decided on pozole blanco (soup) because it was the only pozole version listed on the website as only chicken (rojo and verde listed pork which Mex doesn’t eat). When I stopped to pick up the food, Ana asked if I knew that was very mild and considered her “kid” dish. When I told her I chose that version because it was the only one listed as chicken, she told me I could request chicken only with the other versions as well (there IS a spot on the online order form where you can put in special requests). She offered to “fix” it for me and magically turned it in to green pozole. It was FABULOUS!
Our white "kid's menu" pozole transformed in to rich, flavorful green in a matter of minutes
The core ingredients of pozole are hominy and chicken (or pork) and the soup was loaded with both. The broth was rich, and full of flavor, just the right amount of lime, finely ground oregano… It was just as good as the version my sister-in-law in Mexico makes for us, which I guess is our definition of “authentic.” The difference in Mexico would be little dishes of chopped onion, oregano, and lime wedges that are set out to “customize
The best tostadas are made by frying fresh corn tortillas - but the store bought crisps are simple and no mess
your soup. When ordering posole, she suggests tostadas. I would definitely agree the soup needs an accompaniment. We had tostadas on hand so we just sprinkled them with cheese, melted it in the oven for about three minutes and spread a little Mexican sour cream (slightly thinner than regular MN version). She has them available in store but it would be cheaper to make your own.
My least favorite of the three dishes - Chiles Anchos
For the main course we tried Chiles Anchos en Salsa Verde and Chilaquiles Verdes. The Chiles Anchos were not my favorite. Anchos are dried poblano peppers (confusing since anchos are red and poblanos are green) so can be spicy or mild. This Minnesotan thought ours were spicy, while my Mexican thought they were mild. I was skeptical about the texture of Anchos since they start out dried, however, stuffed with cheese and drenched in smooth, creamy green salsa (it did not have the tartness of typical tomatillo salsa) they rehydrated perfectly. The skins were too bitter for my liking, but Mex found the dish ok. Not one we would order again.
Green Chilaquiles - my 15-month-old son LOVED these!
As easy as a Papa Murphy's pizza!
Chilaquiles are a Mexican version of a casserole (and, yes, I should say Hot Dish since I’m a Minnesotan, but you can see from the pictures that it really leans towards casserole). These were not exactly what I was expecting, since I’ve only had chilaquiles on their own. Basically fried pieces or tortilla, soaked in some kind of salsa until they get soft again. Sounds simple but they are amazingly good. Ana’s version of chilaquiles layers corn tortillas (not fried), shredded chicken breast, tangy tomatillo salsa and sprinkled creamy white cheese. Put in oven to bake for 25 minutes and it is all melded together and delicious.
Total spent on the three dishes (all small versions) was a little less than $22. Although, the small size is listed as 1-2 on website, ordering three dishes, it could easily feed three people. Add a tossed salad of your own if you want to bulk up the meal. Overall, a great option, flavorful and more economical than eating in a restaurant.
Rating: Repeat Eat (if only I lived closer!)
1400 County Rd 101 N (same strip mall as Caribou), Plymouth