Today is September 15 and marks the official start of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs until October 15. And, for me, the perfect way to celebrate Latino culture is with our delicious, incredible food. 

Lucky for us, today we're actually celebrating 5 different Latin American countries' independence days: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. And what's a better way to celebrate your country's independence than with a great meal? Check out these 5 Latin American recipes to help you celebrate your culture today, and every day during Hispanic Heritage Month. Plus, come back every day this month for MORE great recipes from all of our nations!

Read more ¿Qué Más? National Papaya Month: 5 Recipes to enjoy!

Costa Rica: Arroz Guacho 1

Costa Rica: Arroz Guacho

Image via schlymay/flickr

Ingredients: 1 lb. lean short pork ribs (cut into 1-inch cubes), 1 lb. uncooked long grain rice (rinsed and dried), 3 teaspoons vegetable oil, 1 roll cilantro (chopped), 1 clove garlic (crushed), 1/2 cup red bell pepper (chopped), 1/2 cup onion (chopped), Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add pork ribs and stir for three minutes. Add water to cover 2 inches above pork ribs. Bring it to a boil until pork is tender. Add cilantro, garlic, red bell pepper, onions, salt and pepper, and stir. Add uncooked rice and more water so that there is one 1 above pork level, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching until rice is cooked. 

Recipe courtesy of CostaRica.com

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El Salvador: Curtido 2

El Salvador: Curtido

Image via gtrwndr87/flickr

Ingredients: 1 medium head cabbage (chopped), 2 small carrots (grated), 1 small onion (sliced), 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper (optional), 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup water

Directions:
Blanch the cabbage with boiling water for 1 minute. Discard the water. Place the cabbage in a large bowl and add grated carrots, sliced onion, red pepper, oregano, olive oil, salt, brown sugar, vinegar, and water. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with pupusas revueltas (or with any meat). 

Recipe courtesy of CD Kitchen

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Guatemala: Hilachas 3

Guatemala: Hilachas

Image via Rudy A. Girón/flickr

Ingredients: 2 lb. Beef (flank or skirt steak) cubed, 5 cups water, 2-3 tbsp. oil, 1 onion (chopped), 1 tomato (chopped), 1 cup chopped tomatillo, 1 cup Guajillo chiles (2-3, warmed over a flame, deseeded and chopped), Salt and pepper to taste, 1 lb. potatoes (peeled and chopped), 2-3 carrots (peeled and chopped), 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 1 bunch cilantro (chopped)

Directions:
1. Place the beef, water, and a big pinch of salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender. Remove the beef to a bowl, reserving the broth, and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, shred the beef with your fingers and set aside.

2.  While the beef is simmering, place the onion, tomatoes, tomatillos and chiles in a food processor or blender and puree, adding a little water if necessary.

3. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium flame. Add the onion-tomato puree and simmer until the puree is cooked down and darkens somewhat in color, about 10 minutes. Do not burn.

4. Add the shredded beef and about 3 cups of the broth to the onion-tomato puree and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

5. Stir in the potatoes, onions and a little more broth or water if necessary. Simmer until the potatoes and carrots are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.

6. Stir in the breadcrumbs to thicken the sauce. Then stir in the chopped cilantro, adjust seasoning and serve hot with corn tortillas or rice.

Recipe courtesy of Whats4Eats.com.

Honduras: Ticucos 4

Honduras: Ticucos

Image via CFA USA

Ingredients: 2 lbs. corn flour or “masa”, 1 lb. cooked, small white or red beans (frijoles), 1/2 lb. cooked kidney beans (habichuelas), About 2 cups vegetable oil, Salt to taste, Dry bouillon or seasoning to taste, Dry leaves to wrap the corn dough (corn leaves or “hojas de tuzas”) or aluminum foil, 1/2 cup of finely chopped chipilin leaves or cilantro, A large cooking pot

Directions:
In a bowl, combine the oil, salt, bouillon or seasoning and flour until the dough is soft and uniform in texture. Then add the beans and dried chipilin or cilantro and mix together well. Have the leaves ready. Drop a small quantity of the dough in a leaf, leaving enough room to be able to wrap the leaf around it. Then, fold over the leaf and tie the ends together with string or another piece of leaf. Or wrap the balls of dough in aluminum foil. Cook ticucos in boiling water over low heat for one hour. Serve ticucos with homemade tomato sauce or, if you prefer, with cream or butter.

Recipe courtesy of Around the World with CFCA

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Nicaragua: Nacatamales 5

Nicaragua: Nacatamales

Image via mahr/flickr

Ingredients: 2 cups cornmeal, 1/4 cup lard, 1 onion (chopped), 2 teaspoons sour orange juice or lime juice, 2 cups chicken broth (or other broth you prefer), 2 garlic cloves (minced), 1 green pepper (chopped), 1 red pepper (chopped), 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, Fresh mint to taste, Paprika to taste, 1 pound pork (cooked and cubed), 2 tomatoes (cubed), 2 cups potatoes (mashed), 1/2 cup cooked rice, Ground pepper to taste, Salt to taste, 10 banana Leaves

Directions:
1. Just cover the cornmeal with water, adding the orange juice and then cooking it at a low heat so that the hulls begin to separate. Then rinse with cold water, placing it in a pot and again covering it with water. Allow it to sit for 3 days, being sure to change the water every day. Once it has stood for 3 days, drain the corn and mash it. Now add half of the lard, plus some salt. Knead the mixture whilst slowly adding the broth until the dough is soft.

2. In a pan, place the rest of the lard, along with the peppers, onion, garlic, tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper, mint and parsley. Then add the pork and other ingredients. Wash the banana leaves and cut into 16-inch squares. Place a spoonful of dough in the center of each leaf square, then top with pork mixture. Carefully wrap and tie with string. Place the nacatamales in boiling water for about 30 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Nicaragua Channel