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A real taste of Mexico

For the past 20 years, chef Rick Bayless has been on a crusade, educating the public that Mexican food is more than the nachos, burritos and enchiladas found on this side of the border. With the help of a PBS cooking series, a collection of cookbooks and two restaurants, he’s introduced us to the nuances of real Mexican cuisine “One Plate At a Time.” Chef Bayless shares some of his tricks of
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For the past 20 years, chef Rick Bayless has been on a crusade, educating the public that Mexican food is more than the nachos, burritos and enchiladas found on this side of the border. With the help of a PBS cooking series, a collection of cookbooks and two restaurants, he’s introduced us to the nuances of real Mexican cuisine “One Plate At a Time.” Chef Bayless shares some of his tricks of the trade with “Today.” Sample some of his recipes below.


Makes 2 ½ cups, serving 6 as an appetizer, 8 to 10 as a nibble

1. The poblanos, tomatoes and garlic. Lay the poblanos, tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet and set 4 inches below a very hot broiler. Roast, turning every couple of minutes, until the chiles and tomatoes are soft, blistered and blackened in spots and the garlic is soft — 12 to 13 minutes total. Place the chiles in a bowl, cover with a towel, and let stand 5 minutes, then wipe off the blackened skin. Pull or cut out the stems, seed pods and seeds; rinse quickly to remove any stray seeds and bits of char. When the tomatoes are cool, peel off and discard their skins. Slip the papery skins off the garlic. In a mortar or with a food processor, make a coarse puree of the roasted garlic and poblanos (with both mortar and processor, it’s best to start with the garlic, then add the poblanos); place in a large bowl. Chop the roasted tomatoes (for this recipe it’s best not to use any of the juice from the baking sheet) and add to the poblano mixture along with the parsley.

2. Finishing the guacamole. Cut the avocados in half lengthwise around the pit, twist the halves apart, and remove the pits. Scoop out the flesh into the bowl with the flavorings. Using a potato masher or the back of a large spoon, coarsely mash everything together. Taste and season with salt, usually a scant teaspoon, then add enough lime juice to enliven all the flavors. Cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface, and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat. To serve, scoop into a decorative bowl or Mexican mortar, sprinkle with the queso aòejo and stud with radish slices.

912359960489604906048660492poblano chiles6ounce2 medium (about 6 ounces total) fresh poblano chiles ripe tomatoes6ounce6 ounces (1 medium round or 2 plum) ripe tomatoesgarlic 2clove2 garlic cloves, unpeeledparsley3tablespoon3 tablespoons chopped flatleaf parsley ripe avocados1.25pound3 medium-large (about 1 1/4 pounds total) ripe avocadosSaltSalt lime juice2tablespoon1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice mexican queso aòejo2tablespoon2 tablespoons finely crumbled Mexican queso aòejo or other dry grating cheese like Romano or ParmesanradishA few slices of radish, for garnish


Serves 12

1. The streusel topping. In a food processor, pulse half of the Mexican chocolate until it is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Remove and set aside for the batter. To the processor, add the second half of the chocolate and process it to the consistency of coarse crumbs. Mix the egg yolk and 1/2 teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, omit the salt) in a small bowl to dissolve the salt. Add to the processor along with the 3 1/2 ounces butter, and the 1cup flour. Pulse the machine just until everything is thoroughly combined — it should look crumbly, not having been processed to a paste.

2. The cake. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Sift together the 1 3/4 cups flour and baking powder. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, combine the cream cheese, the 8 ounces butter and the sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. One at a time, add the eggs, beating until one is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next. Add the sifted flour mixture, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for 1 minute, just until the flour is incorporated. Lastly, use a large spoon to stir the reserved chopped chocolate into the batter.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth. Crumble the streusel topping evenly over the batter, making sure there are no large lumps — lumps may sink during baking.

Bake in the center of the oven until springy (the edges will have just begun to pull away from the sides of the pan) and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack (in my opinion, this cake tastes best when still slightly warm), cut into squares and serve dusted with powdered sugar. Vanilla, caramel or cinnamon-scented ice cream sure goes well with a bite of this pastel.

912359960491604902777031902chocolate19ounce1 18- or 19-ounce package Mexican chocolate, roughly choppedegg yolk11 large egg yolkSaltSaltbutter3.5ounce3 1/2 ounces (7 tablespoons) butter, at room temperatureflour1cup1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour flour1.75cup1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flourbaking powder1.25teaspoon1 1/4 teaspoons baking powdercream cheese8ounce8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperaturebutter8ounce8 ounces (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperaturegranulated sugar0.6666666666666666cup2/3 cup granulated sugareggs44 large eggs, at room temperaturePowdered sugarPowdered sugar, for dusting the finished cake


Serves 6

1. Browning the pork. In a medium-size (4- or 5-quart) Dutch oven or other heavy pan with tight-fitting lid, heat the lard or oil over medium. When quite hot, lay in the pork loin (if there is more than one piece, don’t crowd them or they’ll stew rather than brown). Brown well on one side, about 5 minutes, turn it over and brown the other side. Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the pork to a plate; set aside the Dutch oven or pan to use for the sauce making.

2. The sauce. Roast the tomatillos and chiles on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, even blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side — 4 or 5 minutes more will give you splotchy-black and blistered tomatillos and chiles that are soft and cooked through. Cool and transfer everything to a food processor or blender, being careful to scrape up all the delicious juice that has run out onto the baking sheet. Process until smoothly pureed.

Set the pork-browning pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook a minute longer.

Raise the heat to medium-high, and, when really sizzling, add the tomatillo puree all at once. Stir until noticeably darker and very thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and the epazote or cilantro. Taste and season with salt, usually 1 teaspoon. Stir everything thoroughly.

3. Braising the pork. Heat the oven to 325. Nestle the browned pork into the warm sauce, cover the pot, and set in the oven. Cook 30 minutes.

While the meat is cooking, simmer the potatoes in heavily salted water to cover until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

When the pork has cooked 30 minutes, nestle the cooked potatoes into the sauce around the meat, re-cover and cook about 10 minutes longer, until the pork registers about 145 on a meat or instant-read thermometer. The meat will feel rather firm (not hard) to the touch, and cutting into the center will reveal only the slightest hint of pink.

4. Serving the dish. With a pair of tongs and a spatula, transfer the pork to a cutting board. Let it rest there for 3 or 4 minutes while you finish the sauce: Spoon off any fat on the top of the sauce, taste the sauce and season it with additional salt if you think necessary. Spoon the sauce and potatoes onto a warm, deep serving platter.

Cut the pork into 1/4-inch slices and arrange them over the sauce. Decorate the platter with epazote or cilantro sprigs and you’re ready for a great meal.

9123599604816049033091pork lard 1.5tablespoon1 1/2 tablespoons rich-tasting pork lard or olive or vegetable oilpork loin 2pound1 2-pound boneless pork loin roast, untied if in two pieces tomatillos1pound1 pound (10 to 12 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsedgreen chiles Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 3 serranos or 1 jalapeòo), stemmedwhite onion11 medium white onion, slicedgarlic 3clove3 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely choppedepazote2sprig1 or 2 large sprigs fresh epazote, plus extra for garnish cilantro,0.3333333333333333cupOR 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnishSaltSalt potatoes1.25pound10 small (about 1 1/4 pounds total) red-skin boiling potatoes, scrubbed and quartered

Recipes excerpted from “Rick Bayless Mexico: One Plate at a Time,” by Rick Bayless. Copyright 2001. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.