Rick Bayless & Frontera join WGN Morning News to share some great Cinco De Mayo recipes with us!
Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole with Crunchy Chicharron
Yield about 3 cups
3 large avocados
½ cup store-bought roasted tomatillo salsa (preferably the Frontera brand)
½ medium white onion, chopped into pieces no larger than ¼ inch (about 1/3 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3-ounce piece of crispy chicharrón (preferably a freshly made one from a Mexican grocery store)
A couple of tablespoons of Mexican hot sauce such as Tamazula, Valentina or Búfalo
About ¼ cup grated Mexican queso añejo or other garnishing cheese like Romano or Parmesan
Mash the avocado flesh: Cut the avocados in half, running a knife around the pit from top to bottom and back up again. Twist the halves in opposite directions to release the pit from one side. Scoop out the pit, then scoop the flesh from each half into a large bowl. With an old-fashioned potato masher, large fork or back of a large spoon, coarsely mash the avocado and tomatillo salsa together.
Rinse the chopped onion under cold running water, shake off the excess and add to the bowl along with the cilantro. Stir everything to combine, taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. If not serving right away, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate.
To serve, chop the chicharrón into ¼-inch pieces (as a variation I sometimes “shave” the chicharrón into shards by thinly slicing it) and sprinkle it over the guacamole. Sprinkle with the cheese, then drizzle with the hot sauce.
Green Chile Pumpkinseeds with Tequila and Lime
Yield: 3 cups
Cook’s notes: I’ve given you a large recipe for these tasty pumpkinseeds because I like to keep extras in the freezer to have on hand for that perfect little snack before a nice weekend dinner.
3 fresh serrano chiles, stemmed
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups (about ounces) hulled, raw pumpkinseeds
In a small, dry skillet, roast the chiles and garlic over medium heat, turning until they are soft and blotchy-black in places—about 8 minutes for the chiles, 10 to 15 minutes for the garlic. Cool, then slip off the garlic’s papery skin. In a mortar or small food processor, combine the chiles and garlic. Grate the zest (colored part only) of the lime over the chiles, then squeeze in 2 tablespoons of the juice. Add the olive oil, sugar, tequila, cilantro and salt. Process to as smooth a puree as possible.
Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. In a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat, toast the pumpkinseeds, stirring nearly constantly as soon as you hear one pop. When most have popped from flat to oval, about 5 minutes, add the puree, stir to evenly coat, then spread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or a nonstick baking mat. Bake until the flavorings have formed a shiny, dryish coating, about 15 minutes. Cool and they’re ready to serve. The pumpkinseeds can be stored in an airtight container for a week or so at room temperature or for several months in the freezer.
The Best Margarita on a Budget
Making a good margarita is never going to be cheap (it takes 8 to 12 years for agaves to mature before their labor-intensive harvest, roasting, fermentation and distillation—all reflected in the price), but knowing how to use the least expensive ones to their full advantage is a lesson worth learning. I’m suggesting you choose either El Jimador Blanco or Sauza Blue Agave Blanco 100% agave tequila because they are reasonably priced, widely available and have a bright, distinctive agave flavor. Vanilla-infused triple sec gives the delicious illusion that you’re using a tequila of greater age, softness and … expense.
Yield: 1 cocktail
To make 1 cup of Vanilla Triple Sec, cut a whole vanilla bean in half, then split one of the halves in half lengthwise. Pour 1 cup of triple sec into a glass container, add the two split pieces of vanilla bean, cover and let it steep for 24 hours. Remove the vanilla bean pieces and the triple sec is ready to use. The Vanilla Triple Sec will keep a long time, but loses its vibrancy about 3 to 4 months.
Coarse (kosher) salt
1 lime wedge
1 ½ ounces 100% blue agave blanco tequila such as El Jimador Blanco or Sauza Blue Agave Blanco
1 ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce Vanilla Triple Sec (see Bartender’s Notes above)
½ ounce agave syrup (light organic syrup gives the best flavor) or Rich Simple Syrup (page 000)
6 to10 small ice cubes (about ¾ cup)
Spread the salt on a small plate, moisten the rim of a 6-ounce martini glass with the lime wedge, and upend the glass onto the salt to crust the rim.
In a cocktail shaker, combine the tequila, lime juice, Vanilla Triple Sec, agave or simple syrup and ice. Cover and shake vigorously until frothy and cold; tiny ice crystals will appear in the drink after about 15 seconds of shaking. Strain into the salt-crusted glass and serve immediately.
PITCHER RECIPE FOR A PARTY
Yield: 8 cocktails
1 ½ cups 100% blue agave blanco tequila such as El Jimador blanco or Sauza Blue Agave blanco
1 cup fresh lime juice
½ cup Vanilla Triple Sec (see Bartender’s Notes above)
½ cup agave syrup (light organic syrup gives the best flavor) or Rich Simple Syrup (page 000)
Coarse (kosher) salt
1 lime wedge
6 cups ice
In a pitcher, combine the tequila, lime juice, Vanilla Triple Sec and agave or simple syrup. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
Crust the rims of 8 6-ounce martini glasses with salt as described above. Fill a cocktail shaker ¾ full with ice, and pour in 1 ½ cups of the margarita mixture. Shake, strain into 3 of the prepared glasses, and repeat for the remaining margaritas.
Mezcal and Beer Cocktail
Makes one cocktail
3 tablespoons Oaxacan mezcal
2 tablespoons Aperol
1 ½ tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup (see recipe below)
5 drops Peychaud’s bitters
3 tablespoons medium-bodied Mexican beer (Victoria is preferable)
A 2-inch strip of lime zest (removed with a vegetable peeler)
In a cocktail shaker, combine the mezcal, Aperol, lime juice, simple syrup, bitters and ice. Shake gently, and pour contents into a 10-ounce Collins class. Top with the beer and serve with the strip of lime zest.
Makes 8 cocktails
1 ½ cups Oaxacan Mezcal
1 cup Aperol
¾ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
½ cup simple syrup (see recipe below)
40 drops Peychaud’s bitters
1 ½ cups medium-bodied Mexican beer (Victoria is preferable)
8, 2-inch strips of lime zest (removed with a vegetable peeler)
In a pitcher, combine the mezcal, Aperol, lime juice, simple syrup, Peychaud’s bitters and ice. Stir the mixture with a bar spoon to combine, and top with the beer. Fill 10-ounce Collins glasses with ice and strain mixture into each glass. Garnish with a piece of the lime zest.
Recipe for Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine the sugar with 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until sugar is completely dissolved—2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely before using.