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Grilling Recipes with a Mexican Twist

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Rick Bayless mug in Blue T-Shirt Picmonkey

 

Editor's note: Many of our readers may be familiar with Chef Rick Bayless from his cookbooks and long-running PBS television program, Mexico: One Plate at a Time. He and his wife Deann lived in Mexico from 1980-86 and opened their first restaurant, the Frontera Grill, on North Clark Street in Chicago in 1987.

In town for the National Restaurant Association convention some years ago, we met Rick after enjoying a wonderful meal at his recently-opened companion restaurant, Topolobampo. He seemed as genuine and friendly then as he does on his television shows.

An acknowledged authority on cuisines of Mexico, his background also includes growing up around the Oklahoma barbecue restaurant run by his parents. Two of Rick's recipes include salsas made by his company, Frontera Foods. Avocados from Mexico provided TASTE News Service with the copy for this article.

 

by Rick Bayless

Grilled Chicken with Tomatillo-Avocado Sauce - This grilled chicken is so simple, easy and delicious. The subtle tartness of tomatillo salsa cooked down with buttery avocados makes the perfect addition to tender grilled chicken.

Grilled Corn and Poblano Guacamole - Smoky corn, charred poblano chile and fresh tomatillos add delicious flavor to creamy avocados. This is a fantastic way to turn your everyday guac into the ultimate barbecue dip.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Avocado Apricot Salsa - The sweet concentrated flavor of dried apricots paired with tangy balsamic, fiery salsa and fresh herbs creates a well-balanced and delicious complement to juicy grilled pork tenderloin.

Rick Bayless Grilled Chicken pix Picmonkey

 Grilled Chicken with Tomatillo-Avocado Sauce

1 jar (16-ounces) Frontera Tomatillo Salsa

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each pounded to about 1-inch thick

1/3 cup chicken broth

1 avocado from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced

1/4 teaspoon salt

Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

In a baking dish, mix together 1/4 cup of the salsa with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, if time permits. Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-hot. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the remaining salsa; stir 5 minutes to concentrate slightly. Add broth; boil gently until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; add avocado. Remove chicken from marinade; sprinkle with salt; grill 8 inches from medium-hot coals, turning once, until seared and cooked through, about 8 minutes. To serve, spoon sauce onto 4 plates; top with chicken; garnish with cilantro.

Yield: 4 portions

Rick Bayless Corn and Poblano Guac Pix Picmonkey

Grilled Corn and Poblano Guacamole

2 small ears fresh corn, shucked

1 small poblano chile

8 ounces tomatillos, husked (about 4 large)

3 avocados from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and roughly chopped

3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion, rinsed

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat gas grill to medium or prepare a charcoal grill. Grill corn, turning occasionally, until golden on all sides, about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut kernels from the cob; remove to a large bowl. Grill the chile and tomatillos, turning until skins are nicely charred, about 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel the charred skin from the peppers with your fingers. Remove stem, core and seeds; chop chile and remove to the bowl. Finely chop tomatillos, capturing juices, and add to the bowl. Add avocado, onion, cilantro and salt. Coarsely mash avocado and gently stir to combine all ingredients.

 

Rick Bayless Pork Tenderloin pix Picmonkey

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Avocado Apricot Salsa

3 large pork tenderloins (about 2-1/4 pounds total)

1 jar (16-ounces) Frontera Roasted Tomato Salsa

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 medium-large red onion, cut into 1/3-inch thick slices

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, tossed with a little hot water to soften

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 teaspoons finely chopped lemon zest

1 firm-ripe avocado from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced

Salt to taste

Trim fat and whitish “silverskin” from pork tenderloins. Cut each in half, making six 6-ounce portions. Mix together 1 cup of the salsa with the Worcestershire and vinegar. Place the pork in a large dish, smear all sides with salsa mixture, cover and refrigerate for several hours or as long as overnight. Preheat a gas grill to medium or light a charcoal fire and let burn until charcoal is covered with a thin layer of gray ash. Use tongs to arrange the pork in the center of the grill; reserve the marinade. Lay the onion slices on the cooler section of the grill. Cover and cook until the pork is nicely browned underneath and onions are softening, about 10 minutes. Turn pork and onions over. Baste pork and onions liberally with reserved marinade. Re-cover the grill and cook until the pork feels nearly firm* when touched or reads 150° on a meat thermometer, about 5 minutes more. Remove pork to cutting board and tent with foil. Chop the onion slices and remove to a bowl. Add remaining salsa, apricots, parsley, lemon zest and avocado; season with salt and stir gently. To serve, thinly slice pork and generously spoon salsa over slices.

Yield: 8 portions

* To learn to test the doneness of pork by touching, fold your thumb into the center of your palm, then wrap your fingers around your thumb, grasping it firmly. With the forefinger of your other hand, press lightly and repeatedly on that bulging nugget of muscle on the back of your hand at the base of your thumb. When you clench your fist with as much strength as you can muster, that little bit of muscle will become very firm, feeling like overcooked pork. Relax a little bit (but keeping the first clenched) and you’ll feel what deliciously cooked pork should feel like. Relax your fist completely while keeping it in the same position and you’ll feel what raw pork feels like.