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Friday, 17 May 2013 13:55

Grilling Recipes with a Mexican Twist

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.

by Dan Clarke

Robert T and Plate of ducks PicmonkeyRobert's ducks, ready for the grill.

Robert Tabarez' project of the year was the construction of a covered backyard kitchen at his home in Davis. He did most of the work himself and on completion invited a few friends over to celebrate. We had talked food and wine often enough for me to know that Robert knew his way around a kitchen—be it indoors or outdoors. Barbecued ribs and duck? I'm in! That our friend Les Lederer was bringing wines from his cellar made the invitation even more appealing.

Open-air, but with a roof for sun (and, occasionally, rain) protection, the outdoor kitchen might even be called a pavilion or something grander as it includes room for seating upwards of a dozen guests. Two overhead fans help cool the environment and create enough air circulation to deter flies and mosquitoes. A Mirage 6-Burner Built-In BBQ Grill provides 95,000 BTUs of cooking power. Adjacent is a separate single burner sometimes used for boiling water for pasta or melting butter for sauces. Of course, there's a sink and running water and a refrigerator, too. In short, it is a complete kitchen.

Robert is a life-long outdoorsman—the kind of guy who bags his own game and even makes his own venison sausage. Growing up in Yolo County northwest of Sacramento, he has the ability and connections to source food locally. The pork ribs he would serve on this evening were purchased from his cousin Fred, who operates Manas Meat Market in nearby Esparto. Our second main course item, the duck breasts, came from birds he had shot on Sacramento Valley refuges last season (Mallards, Gadwalls and Teal).

Robert treats his ribs in a straight-forward manner, first applying a dry rub and letting the pork rest for 4-5 hours. He cooks the ribs over direct heat, turning every 15-minutes or so, during the 45-minutes to one hour cooking time (no par-boiling or pre-cooking before they go on the grill). He brushes on Bulls Eye barbecue sauce just before serving.

Over the years, my friend has prepared duck many ways, but tonight's treatment is one of his favorites. The recipe is from American Game Cookery by John Ashe and Sid Goldstein. For this dinner we are having wild duck, but Robert has used this same method for the more generally available domestic duck breasts. Either way, he assures us, this recipe is a winner.

 

Grilled Duck Breast

with Raspberry-Sweet Onion Relish

 

Ingredients

4-6 duck breasts

Relish

2 cups chopped raspberries

3/4 cup chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion

4 teaspoons raspberry vinegar

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1/2 tablespoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons Crème de Cassis or more to taste

Marinade

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon ground sage

 

Method

Robt T at Grill PicmonkeyTime to pay attention.In a nonreactive bowl, combine all ingredients for relish and mix thoroughly. In a separate nonreactive bowl, mix all ingredients fo marinade together; add 1/3 cup of the relish and stir well. Place duck in marinade for 2 to 4 hours, refrigerated, turning occasionally. Refrigerate remaining relish.

Prepare grill. Grill duck breast, skin down over hot temperature for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn and continue grilling until done, 3 to 4 minutes. Duck should be medium-rare. To serve, slick duck breast on bias and arrange on individual serving plates. Garnish each serving with 2 raspberries and a sprig of mint. Dollop relish over the duck.

Served with the duck were green beans and a wild rice mixture, which had been augmented by crimini mushrooms, celery and red onions sautéed in butter and a little soy sauce.

All the wines Les brought were well-received. With appetizers before dinner, our options included Six Hands Viognier from the Sacramento River Delta just south of us and Walter Hansel Carneros Chardonnay, both good wines, but most elected to try the André Vatan Sancerre. For those of us used to California and New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, it was a treat to revisit what this grape can produce in France's Loire Valley.Robt T plated duck PicmonkeyGarnished with relish, raspberries and mint.

The dinner itself called for red wine and we had a selection from which to choose; vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs from Marimar Estate and a Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Pinot, Côtes du Rhônes Villages from Féraud-Brunel, and a Zinfandel. As it happened we didn't get around to drinking the Zin, which likely would have been good with the ribs. Pinot Noir was an excellent match with the duck, given its raspberry treatment. The Rhône was surprisingly well-suited to the duck, also, and its Grenache and Syrah characteristics worked well with the ribs.

Leza Cobbler PicmonkeyFresh peach cobbler, a perfect ending.While Robert did a great job with the preparation and grilling of our main course, he had a little help with the rest of the meal. His wife Leza and daughter Hailey prepared a beautiful salad of arugula, beets, glazed walnuts and goat cheese and Leza made a fresh peach cobbler for the dessert (with the peaches coming from the fruit and vegetable stand at cousin Fred Manas' ranch.