Tarahumara Barbecued ‘Mice’

Post by Christine Frazier

Thank you for the overwhelmingly receptive response to the announcement of the first No Meat Athlete cookbook!  Creating the recipes for Fuel Your Run the Tarahumara Way was by the far the biggest culinary project I’ve ever taken on, and it’s so exciting to finally share our work with you all.

Behind the scenes, there was plenty of trial and error and a lot of discussion on what pinole and chia recipes would make the final cut to be included in the book.  I had to giggle yesterday when K from Weight in Vain tweeted “What about the beer and the mice they also consume?”

She’s got a point; though the Tarahumara diet consists mainly of pinole, chia, pinto beans, squash and leafy greens, Born to Run did mention crazy all-night corn-beer ragers and the occasional barbecued mouse.

Of course, neither of these are described as miracle foods for endurance running.  (Unless you count running away from plate full of mice.)

Tarahu-Mar-B-Cue, Anyone?

Still, after working on a project so intensely for a long time, I have to admit that I started to get a little brain-fried and silly.  As a joke for Matt, I decided to recreate the Tarahumara party experience with my own vegetarian barbecued “mice,” complete with beer and all.

Well, my joke backfired because these little nuggets, now affectionately referred to in the NMA household as Tarahu-Mar-B-Cue, turned out so freakin’ delicious.  What a shame, since there’s no place in a running-fuel cookbook for a faux-bbq-mice-and-beer-nugget, even if they are made with good stuff like pinole and pinto beans.

I couldn’t stand to see something this yummy hit the cutting room floor, so even though it’s not technically running-fuel I’m sharing the recipe with you all now as a way of celebrating the release of our cookbook.

Barbecued Pinole Nuggets


  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups pinole
  • 1 cup beer or vegetable broth
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained,rinsed, and lightly mashed
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and fry the onion for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another 3 minutes.  Stir in the chili powder, smoked paprika, and salt and fry a minute until fragrant.  Stir in the tomato paste, dijon mustard, and maple syrup.

    Add one cup of the pinole (reserving half a cup) to the pan and stir to coat.  Slowly pour in the beer.  Add beans and chia seeds.  Keep stirring for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the alcohol cooks off and the mixture thickens.  The mixture should be thick enough that when you fold it over itself, you can easily see the bottom of the pan.

    Allow the mixture to come to room temperature, then form with your hands into nugget shapes or oblong patties.  Coat nuggets in remaining 1/2 cup of pinole.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and fry the nuggets for about 3-4 minutes each, turning to brown on all sides.  Remove from pan and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Makes 2 dozen nuggets.

Try stuffing a few of these in a big pita with coleslaw and smothered in tangy barbecue sauce.  Or these are really great served croquette-style with a few dipping sauces like sweet mustard, garlic nayonaise, and hot wing sauce…just don’t let on to your guests what inspired these nuggets!

Thanks again for all the support for our new book.  I can’t tell you how proud I am of what we created.  Don’t forget, if you’d like to download a copy of Fuel Your Run The Tarahumara Way, do it this weekend before the price goes up on Monday.  I promise, no more mice.  I can’t wait to hear your feedback about the recipes!



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  1. Holy crap those look incredible!!!!

    Such a clever name too. I giggled for quite a while after reading that.

  2. I made these for my book club’s Born to Run discussion! They were a hit… after I reassured them that I did not use real mice. Everyone wanted the recipe. They referred to them as pinole kofta balls. Also people felt that if I didn’t have tails, I should have served them on sticks to keep with the bona fide BBQ mouse theme.
    I did wonder about how to coat them in the pinole though. Was I supposed to keep it dry or moist? I tried them three ways.
    1) Dry – this was easy to coat, but the nugget was very delicate serving.
    2) Oatmeal consistency – difficult to coat, but made a nice firm outer coating for serving/dipping.
    3) Liquid-y – I added more water and dunked the roll before frying it. Easy method and the nuggets held their shape with this method.

    Thanks for the yummy idea!

  3. Those sound absolutely delicious. I have to make them!

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