Who's the Baketard?

Why Baketard? Love to cook, hate to bake. Despite having gone to cooking school and working in some top kitchens, I never learned the baking side of things. I'm building my baking and photography skills, while sharing recipes that rock my world in the mean time.

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Entries in Rick Bayless (2)

Sunday
Jun292014

Presidential Oaxacan Black Mole with Chile-Rubbed Ribeyes and Chile Fried Onions

I love mole. It’s truly one of those tasks that has to be a labor of love, because it takes an entire day to do it properly.  THIS particular recipe for black mole is one I read about a few years ago when Rick Bayless made it at the White House for President Obama. He mentioned how difficult it is to procure the chihuacle chiles and talked about the authenticity of using them.

Challenge accepted!

I scoured the web trying to find them. No luck. We went to Mexico with our lesbii for Christmas and I asked everywhere…nada. They’re native to a very small region in Oaxaca. Back to the internet. Zip. I blamed my husband David, because he’s the reason I can’t have nice things. That didn’t work either.

Finally, I found Michael Beary, the chef at Zocalito Latin Bistro in Aspen. He was mentioned in some articles  online and it turns out he also does mail order for hard to find ingredients. You can find chihuacles at his website, www.zocalito.com.

Here’s the deal with mole. Because it’s a pain in the ass to make, MULTIPLY the recipe. It freezes really well. In this case, I made it according to how many chihuacle chiles I bought. I ordered two packages, unsure how the weight would convert into actual chiles. Turns out two was a LOT so I ended up making a quadruple batch. Boo hoo, right? Too much mole. There are worse things.

As with all Bayless recipes, everything worked without exception. His instruction is always golden for me. The only note I’d add is that when you defrost and reheat the mole, it tends to be a bit on the dry side, so I end up adding chicken stock. I also added a tiny bit more piloncillo to taste.

When I made the large batch of this, I did it exactly as described in the recipe below, which I lifted from an article on Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/20/bayless-black-mole-recipe_n_583397.html ). Last night,we did a tex-mex theme at our place, so I did a chili-rub on some ribeyes, slapped them on the grill and served them over the mole with some chile-fried onions on top.  We served them with the Firecracker cole slaw from Dean Fearing’s new book, “The Texas Food Bible” and some Mexican street corn. For you cookbook hoarders, the inspiration for the chile rub and the onions came from Stephan Pyles' book, "New Tastes From Texas".

If you decide to give this a go, you won’t be sorry. You’ll just be bored. And irritated at the amount of dishes you have to do. And then bored again as you stir that damned pot….but hey, sometimes pot stirring is fun. Mole is also a perfect example of a dish where you can taste the time going into it—those layers of flavor add a depth and nuance making every minute worth it.

OAXACAN BLACK MOLE WITH BRAISED CHICKEN

Serves 8 (with about 10 cups of sauce, which will mean leftovers to make enchiladas or more chicken)

11 medium (about 5 1/2 ounces) dried mulato chiles

6 medium (about 2 ounces) dried chihualces chiles (see note in Variations and Improvisations below)

6 medium (about 2 ounces) dried pasilla chiles

1 dried chipotle chile (preferably the tan-brown chipotle meco)

1 corn tortilla, torn into small pieces

2 1/4-inch-thick slices of white onion

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

About 2 cups rich-tasting lard or vegetable oil (for frying the chiles)

1/2 cup sesame seeds, plus a few extra for garnish

1/4 cup pecan halves

1/4 cup unskinned or Spanish peanuts

1/4 cup unskinned almonds

About 10 cups chicken broth (canned or homemade)

1 pound (2 medium-large or 6 to 8 plum) green tomatoes, roughly chopped

4 ounces (2 to 3 medium) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and roughly chopped

2 slices stale bread, toasted until very dark

1/4 teaspoon cloves, preferably freshly ground

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela

A scant teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 ripe banana

1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) finely chopped Mexican chocolate

2 or 3 avocado leaves (if you have them)

Salt, about 1 tablespoon depending on the saltiness of the broth

Sugar, about 1/4 cup (or a little more)

2 large (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chickens, cut into quarters

1. Getting started. Pull out the stems (and attached seed pods) from the chiles, tear them open and shake or scrape out the seeds, collecting them as you go.

Now, do something that will seem very odd: scoop the seeds into an ungreased medium-size (8- to 9-inch) skillet along with the torn-up tortilla, set over medium heat, turn on an exhaust fan, open a window and toast your seeds and tortilla, shaking the pan regularly, until thoroughly burned to charcoal black, about 15 minutes. (This is very important to the flavor and color of the mole.) Now, scrape them into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse for 30 seconds or so, then transfer to a blender.

Set an ungreased skillet or griddle over medium heat, lay on a piece of aluminum foil, and lay the onion slices and garlic cloves on that. Roast until soft and very dark (about 5 minutes on each side of the onion slices – peel it off the foil to turn it; about 15 minutes for the garlic – turn it frequently as it roasts). Cool the garlic a bit, peel it and combine with the onion in a large bowl.

While the onion and garlic are roasting, turn on the oven to 350 degrees (for toasting nuts), return the skillet to medium heat, measure in a scant 2 cups of the lard or oil (you'll need about 1/2-inch depth), and, when hot, begin frying the chiles a couple at a time: They'll unfurl quickly, then release their aroma and piquancy (keep that exhaust on and window open) and, after about 30 seconds, have lightened in color and be well toasted (they should be crisp when cool, but not burnt smelling). Drain them well, gather them into a large bowl, cover with hot tap water, and let rehydrate for 30 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure even soaking. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid.

While the chiles are soaking, toast the seeds and nuts. Spread the sesame seeds onto a baking sheet or ovenproof skillet, spread the pecans, peanuts and almonds onto another baking sheet or skillet, then set both into the oven. In about 12 minutes the sesame seeds will have toasted to a dark brown; the nuts will take slightly longer. Add all of them to the blender (reserving a few sesame seeds for garnish), along with 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth and blend to as smooth a puree as you can. Transfer to a small bowl.

Without rinsing the blender, combine the green tomatoes and tomatillos with another 1/2 cup of the broth and puree. Pour into another bowl. Again, without rinsing the blender, combine the roasted onion and garlic with the toasted bread, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, banana and 3/4 cup broth. Blend to a smooth puree and pour into a small bowl.

Finally, without rinsing the blender, scoop in half of the chiles, measure in 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid, blend to a smooth puree, then pour into another bowl. Repeat with the remaining chiles and another 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid.

2. From four purees to mole. In a very large (8- to 9-quart) pot (preferably a Dutch oven or Mexican cazuela), heat 3 tablespoons of the lard or oil (some of what you used for the chiles is fine) and set over medium-high heat. When very hot, add the tomato puree and stir and scrape (a flat-sided wooden spatula works well here) for 15 to 20 minutes until reduced, thick as tomato paste, and very dark (it'll be the color of cinnamon stick and may be sticking to the pot in places). Add the nut puree and continue the stirring and scraping until reduced, thick and dark again (this time it'll be the color of black olive paste), about 8 minutes. Then, as you guessed it, add the banana-spice puree and stir and scrape for another 7 or 8 minutes as the whole thing simmers back down to a thick mass about the same color it was before you added this one.

Add the chile puree, stir well and let reduce over medium-low heat until very thick and almost black, about 30 minutes, stirring regularly (but, thankfully, not constantly). Stir in the remaining 7 cups of broth, the chocolate and avocado leaves (if you have them), partially cover and simmer gently for about an hour, for all the flavors to come together. Season with salt and sugar (remembering that this is quite a sweet mole and that sugar helps balance the dark, toasty flavors). Remove the avocado leaves.

In batches in a loosely covered blender, puree the sauce until as smooth as possible, then pass through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl.

3. Finishing the dish. Return the mole to the same pot and heat it to a simmer. Nestle the leg-and-thigh quarters of the chicken into the bubbling black liquid, partially cover and time 15 minutes, then nestle in the breast quarters, partially cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

With a slotted spoon, fish out the chicken pieces and transfer them to a large warm platter. Spoon a generous amount of the mole over and around them, sprinkle with the reserved sesame seeds and set triumphantly before your lucky guests.

Advance Preparation: The mole can be completed through Step 2 several days ahead (it gets better, in fact); cover and refrigerate. Completele Step 3 shortly before serving.

VARIATIONS AND IMPROVISATIONS: Chilhuacle chiles are very difficult to find unless you're in Oaxaca (even then they're sometimes hard to obtain). Without them you can make a very respectable black mole with 6 ounces (12 total) dried mulato chiles, 2 1/2 ounces (8 total) dried pasilla chiles and 1 ounce (4 total) dried guajillo chiles.

For the Chile-Rubbed Ribeyes and Red Chile Onion Rings:

(Yields 4 servings)

4 bigassed ribeyes (Bone-in if you want to serve huge, impressive man-steaks)

Spice Blend ( mix 1 cup ground chiles, 1 cup paprika, 1/3 cup sugar, salt and pepper to taste)

Canola Oil for Frying

3 onions, cut into rings

1 quart buttermilk, for soaking

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup paprika

1/2 cup chile powder

2 tbsp ground cumin seeds

salt to taste

cayenne powder to taste

For the steaks: Rub spice blend on both sides of ribeyes, place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate 8-12 hours. Remove an hour before grilling and allow to come to room temperature. Grill to desired doneness. We tend to pull them at about 120 degrees and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving.

For the onion rings: Pour enough canola oil in a large frying pan to come 3 to 4 inches up the side. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F or until lightly smoking. Place the onions in a large bowl and cover with buttermilk; let soak for 20 minutes. Combine the flour, paprika, chile powder and cumin in a medium bowl; mix thoroughly. Shake the excess milk off the onions and toss in the flour mixture until well coated. Fry in the hot canola oil until golden. Drain the rings on paper towels and season with salt and cayenne to taste. 

Ladle mole onto plate, place grilled ribeye on top, and scatter onion rings over that. We served this with margaritas and far, far too many bottles of a big red zinfandel. 

Enjoy!

 

 

Wednesday
Jun062012

First Base Taquitos

“Tongue? GROSS!”

Seriously, this is the reaction some of my friends had when I told them what I was making this weekend. These are people who consider themselves very sophisticated eaters, game for anything. Seriously? Tongue is your line in the sand? Please—I know all of you and I KNOW you’ve had worse things in your mouth. I remember some of the trolls you used to date. Do you?

Besides, tongue is only first base. Wait'll you try my Home Run Sticky Buns.

We just got back to Seattle after a long, indulgent, much-needed vacation.  It was one of those great trips where we both had enough time to recharge our batteries and regain much-needed perspective, away from the daily stresses and frenzy of our lives. I managed to hold onto that vacation glow for about four days. After that, it was back into the whirlwind of work, friends and a catering gig I’d agreed to do months ago. Jetlag, meet two days of cooking.

Our clients wanted Mexican. We did this for them last year, and it was a success. The problem is, my catering partner and I do this as a hobby thing because it’s fun. We’ve both got some restaurant experience, we’re both good home cooks, and we’ve both graduated from culinary school…but we both have day jobs. Cooking is our passion. Catering is a fun thing to do every now and then to remind us why we’re home cooks and not professionals. "Ow, my feet! What do you mean we have to do our own dishes? Get your fat ass out of my counter space". Although we have a blast trashing a kitchen and each other for two days, it really is a lot of work. If you’re not a pro and try to do this, you probably end up like we do: Enjoying yourself but spending too much of your budget on (retail) food costs, making too much quantity, and doing too many complicated, expensive dishes like you would serve at home. Guilty, guilty annnnnnd….guilty.

All that said, we did better this time and the food rocked. At least, they acted like they were thrilled, but to be fair they had asked me to make some mean margaritas and they were REALLY mean. Abusive. My margaritas were hitters, and our diners were drunk.

We still made too much. We still spent too much on it. We could probably be more efficient. But that shit was delicious.

Back to the tongue—One of my favorite recipes is Rick Bayless’ Beef Tongue and Chorizo Tacos. He cooked this dish as one of his challenges on Top Chef Masters during the street food challenge in the first season. As someone who likes the taste of tongue (too easy—just don’t) I had to try it. Tongue is delicious, beefy, and tender when braised or boiled long enough. Ok, maybe that last sentence doesn't make it sound appealing, but it is. Really, it is. I find it slightly sweet, which really goes with all of the other flavors going on in this dish. We were blown away the first time we tried it, and since then I’ve adapted it to make my version of taquitos for parties. The tortillas are run through some warm oil to soften them enough to be pliable for rolling ahead of time. Enough oil remains in them to crisp up nicely in a blasting hot oven without being deep fried (as taquitos often are).  It’s a nice thing to have assembled and ready to throw in the oven before people show up. It’s also fun to let your guests eat them and discover how good they are before you tell them what’s inside.

By the way, this is the rest of our catering menu from the weekend. If any of the recipes look appealing, let me know and I’ll post them.

Appetizers

  • Chips, Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Hot Chile Salsa, Mild Jalapeño Salsa
  • Beef Tongue, Potato and Chorizo Taquitos with Tomatillo Guacamole and Pickled Onions
  • Roasted Pepper Sopitos with Smokey Tomato Jalapeno Sauce 

Buffet:

  • Goat Cheese-Almond Chile Rellenos with Apricot Sauce
  • Tacos (2 types) - Al Pastor with Roasted Pineapple-Serrano Salsa, and Butternut squash with Greens and Vegetarian (snore) Mole
  • Caesar Salad
  • Mexican Rice
  • Refried Black Beans with Toasted Avocado Leaves

 Dessert:

Enjoy, and let me know if you decide to give my tongue a ride.

Beef Tongue, Chorizo and Potato Taquitos with Tomatillo Guacamole

Adapted from Rick Bayless

Makes 25 Tacos

INGREDIENTS

TAQUITOS

1 medium cow tongue, rinsed

1 pound bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 pound white onions, diced

1 pound chorizo, casing removed

1.75 pounds creamy boiling potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces

Queso anejo or cotija and cilantro (for garnish)

TOMATILLO GUACAMOLE

1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered

2 Serrano chiles, stemmed

5 avocados, flesh scooped from skins

1 bunches cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish

1 large white onions, finely diced

1 large red onions, thinly sliced

25 4 1/2-inch corn tortillas

DIRECTIONS

TACOS

  1. Simmer tongue in salted water until tender (typically 3-4 hours), then cool, peel and clean cartilage, chop remainder into 1/4 inch cubes.
  2. Fry bacon until crispy, remove from pan and drain. Add onions to fat and caramelize.
  3. Separately, cook chorizo until cooked through and browned.
  4. Separately boil potatoes in salted water, drain and roughly chop into small (1/4 inch) bits. Add potatoes and chorizo to onions and cook until crusty like hash browns.
  5. Separately brown tongue in a little fat until crispy. Combine with potato-chorizo mixture. Season with salt.
  6. This filling can be made a day ahead.

GUACAMOLE

  1. Puree tomatillos and Serranos, mix into avocados, along with cilantro and onions. Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Cover red onion with very cold water. Salt generously. Let stand 10 minutes and drain.
  3. Heat about ½ inch oil in a pan (only until warm. You don’t want it so hot it starts frying) and slide tortilla into oil until softened and bubbling slightly, about 20 seconds..
  4. Remove tortilla and dab one side with paper towels. Fill the dry side with some of the tongue mixture, rolling to make a cigar shape. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down.
  5. When all of your taquitos are assembled, place the baking sheet in a 425 degree oven until golden and crispy, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Top with guacamole, onion, queso anejo or cotija and cilantro.