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      RECIPE TITLE "Essential Simmered Tomato-Habanero Suce (Jemate Frito) "
    Recipe from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant flavors of a World-Class Cuisine  by Rick Bayless

    ... more great recipes by Rick Bayless on our GREAT CHEFS page!

    yields Makes about 2 cups  time--- difficultyeasy

    How the mettle of roasted tomatoes changes when simmered with habanero! Sure, the hot chile gives them some piquancy (though the chile in this recipe is just cut in half in traditional Yucatecan style, so it won't impart much), but they also take on that flavor so many of us have grown to love -- fruity, herby, complex. In short, deliciously, unusually habanero.

    This is a cooked mixture (hence the name sauce), but it's thought of more as a salsa in Yucatan, set out at room temperature to spoon on another preparation. That's mostly how we've used it throughout the book, but feel free to add 1 cup of chicken broth to it once it's reduced and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. You'll have an all-purpose habanero sauce to use on enchiladas or eggs.

    Yucatecans roast lots of their vegetables, usually on a griddle since ovens with broilers are not common. I've described the traditional method for the tomatoes, then given you the simpler, more controlled broiler method. Replacing fresh tomatoes with good-quality canned is an option (you'll need a 28-ounce can); you'll miss the toasty flavor, but the sauce will certainly be worth making.


    1 1/2 pounds (3 medium-large or 9 to 12 plum) ripe tomatoes
    1 1/2 tablespoons rich-tasting lard or olive or vegetable oil
    1 small (4-ounce) white onion, thinly sliced
    1 fresh habanero chile, halved
    Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon


    1. Roasting the tomatoes. The griddle method: Line a griddle or heavy skillet with aluminum foil and heat over medium. Lay the tomatoes on the foil and roast, turning several times, until blistered, blackened and softened, about 10 minutes. Don't worry if some of the skin sticks to the foil. The broiler method: Lay the tomatoes on a baking sheet and place about 4 inches below a very hot broiler. Roast until blistered and blackened on one side, about 6 minutes; flip the tomatoes and roast the other side.

    Cool, then peel, collecting any juices with the tomatoes. Coarsely puree tomatoes and juices in a food processor or blender.

    2. The sauce. In a medium-size (2- to 3-quart) saucepan, heat the lard or oil over medium. Add the onion and fry until deep golden, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chile halves and simmer 15 minutes or so, stirring often, until nicely reduced but not dry (it should be an easily spoonable consistency). Taste (it will be wonderfully picante and nicely perfumed), season with salt, remove the chile if you want and it's ready to use.

    Advance Preparation -- Covered and refrigerated, the sauce will keep for several days; it also freezes well.

    Other Chiles You Can Use -- Jalapeños and serranos (3 to 5) and manzanos (1 to 2) can replace the habaneros.

    Traditional Dishes that Use this Essential as a Starting Point Motul-Style Eggs: Yucatecan Tamales; Campeche Baked Fish Fillets

    Simple Ideas from My American Home

    Spicy Stuffed Zucchini -- Slice 2 large zucchinis in haft lengthwise and scoop out the center with a small spoon to make 4 "boats." Warm 1/2 cup cream cheese in a microwave, then mix in 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels and 1/3 cup soft bread crumbs; salt. Stuff into the zucchini boats and bake at 350 degrees on an oiled baking sheet until the zucchini is crisp-tender, about 20 minutes. Spoon warm salsa over the boats and sprinkle with cilantro.

    Simple Black Bean Dinner -- If you have a pot of seasoned, cooked black beans on hand, simmer it for 20 or 30 minutes with 1/2 cup chorizo sausage or with cubed smoked sausage. Serve topped with big dollops of this sauce and chopped cilantro.

    Where to Buy Chiles

    These days, I'm glad to say, you can find a variety of chiles in most grocery stores, especially in areas with large Mexican populations or in stores that offer specialty items. You'll find fresh chiles in the produce section, of course, dried chiles with ethnic ingredients or spices. In grocery stores and specialty food shops, dried chiles are often sold in small packages; you'll need to go there with an idea of what you're looking for (they're sometimes mislabeled) and be prepared to pay the specialty-store price. Mexican groceries are the best places to buy your chiles, since a greater demand usually translates into freshness. There, too, you'll need to know what you're looking for, since the chiles may not be labeled at all.

    To find a Mexican grocery, ask around for a Mexican community, then visit its business district, preferably on a Sunday afternoon when the grocery stores tend to be hopping and have special offerings (like carnitas, barbacoa, cactus salad, chicharrón, masa for tortillas or tamales -- all the special stuff for a great Sunday dinner). If there's no Mexican grocery nearby and no specialty food shop that is Mexican-friendly, refer to Sources, where I've listed a few mail-order companies that offer good variety of high-quality dried chiles and other ingredients.

    Onions in Mexican Cooking

    Onions (and garlic) form the warp in a Mexican sauce, into which more assertive flavors are woven. They add texture and brightness when stirred in raw (see notes on Deflaming Onions, for the Mexican way to tame their bite); they enrich with a delicate sweetness when cooked.

    North of the Río Grande, we think of onions as yellow; south they are white. Yet despite the similarity of the two, they really are not interchangeable. Yellows have a more complex, herbal, sweeter flavor; whites are tangy and sharp with a clean, crisp flavor and texture. In Mexican food, that yellow-onion complexity translates as a muddy taste, I feel, especially when used raw.

    Thankfully, white onions are readily available in most grocery stores throughout the United States. The green-tops-on variety that Mexicans love to slice raw over finished dishes can be found in Mexican groceries and farmer's markets.

    Red onions are used extensively in Yucatan and regularly throughout the rest of the country (though, to my understanding, they're thought of as a specialty onion -- one used for pickling). Supersweet types like Vidalia are not part of the general offerings in Mexico, and I doubt they ever will be. Their pure sugariness seems inappropriate for the role of onions in the cuisine.

    Stats: All the recipes in this book were cooked using an exact weight of onion that corresponds to whole white onions as follows: a small onion weighs 4 ounces, a medium 6 ounces and a large 8 ounces. A medium red onion weighs 8 ounces.

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    book coverRick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant flavors of a World-Class Cuisine
    BURSTING WITH BOLD, COMPLEX FLAVORS, Mexican cooking has the kind of gusto we want in food today. Until now, American home cooks have had few authorities to translate the heart of this world-class cuisine to everyday cooking.
    In this book of more than 150 recipes, award-winning chef, author and teacher Rick bayless provides the inspiration and guidance that home cooks have needed. With a blend of passion, patience, clarity and humor, he unerringly finds his way into the very soul of Mexican cuisine, from essential recipes and explorations of Mexico's many chiles to quick-to-prepare everyday dishes and pull-out-the-stops celebration fare.
    Bayless begins the journey by introducing us to the building blocks of Mexican cooking. With infectious enthusiasm and an entertaining voice, he outlines 16 essential preparations-deeply flavored tomato sauces and tangy tomatillo salsas, rich chile pastes and indispensable handmade tortillas.
    Fascinating cultural background and practical cooking tips help readers to understand these preparations and make them their own. Each recipe explains which steps can be completed in advance to make final preparation easier, and each provides a list of the dishes in later chapters that are built around these basics. And with each essential recipe, Bayless includes several "Simple Ideas from My American Home"-quick, familiar recipes with innovative Mexican accents, such as Baked Ham with Yucatecan Flavors, Spicy Chicken Salad, Ancho-Broiled Salmon and Very, Very Good Chili.
    Throughout, the intrepid Bayless brings chiles into focus, revealing that Mexican cooks use these pods for flavor, richness, color and, yes, sometimes for heat. He details the simple techniques for getting the best out of every chile-from the rich, smoky chipotle to the incendiary but fruity habanero.
    Then, in more than 135 recipes that follow, Bayless guides us through a wide range of richly flavored regional Mexican dishes, combining down-home appeal and convivial informality with simple culinary elegance. It's all here: starters like Classic Seviche Tostadas or Chorizo-Stuffed Ancho Chiles; soups like Slow-Simmered Fava Bean Soup or Rustic Ranch-Style Soup; casual tortilla-based preparations like Achiote-Roasted Pork Tacos or Street-Style Red Chile Enchiladas; vegetable delights like Smoky Braised Mexican Pumpkin, or Green Poblano Rice; even a whole chapter on classic fiesta food (from Oaxacan Black Mole with Braised Chicken, Smoky Peanut Mole with Grilled Quail and Great Big Tamal Roll with Chard with the incomparable Juchitan-Style Black Bean Tamales); and ending with a selection of luscious desserts like Modern Mexican Chocolate Flan with KahIua and Yucatecan-Style Fresh Coconut Pie. To quickly expand your Mexican repertoire even further, each of these recipes is accompanied by suggestions for variations and improvisations.
    There is no greater authority on Mexican cooking than Rick Bayless, and no one can teach it better. In his skillful hands, the wonderful flavors of Mexico will enter your kitchen and your daily cooking routine without losing any of their depth or timeless appeal. More info
    book cover Mexico One Plate At A Time
    Rick Bayless has been acclaimed widely as America's foremost proponent of Mexico's thrillingly diverse cuisine. In this companion book to his 26-part Public Television series, he takes us, with boyish enthusiasm, through Mexican markets, street stalls and home kitchens to bring us the great dishes of Mexico, one "plate" at a time. And each "plate" Rick presents here is a Mexican classic. Take guacamole, for instance. After teaching us the essentials for a perfect, classic guacamole, Rick shows how to spin contemporary interpretations, like his Roasted Poblano Guacamole with garlic and parsley. Rick's cuisine is always lively, but rooted in strong traditions.
    Always the teacher, Rick begins each "plate" with some never-before-found features: traditional benchmarks (Rick's idea of the best guacamole), when to think of the recipes (weeknight dinners or casual party food), and advice for American cooks (Rick's insight into the ingredients that make the dish). He rounds out each "plate" with suggestions for working ahead.
    To complete the journey into the Mexican mindset, Rick, with help from his testers, ends each "plate" with a question-and-answer section detailing just about everything a home cook might want to know: What are the best cuts of beef for grilled tacos? The best cheeses for quesadillas? Is one grill better than another? Rick draws from his years of living in Mexico, pulling us into the Mexican kitchen, to teach us how to create authentic Mexican dishes in our American kitchens.
    Rick is an Indiana Jones of the stove, a Julia Child of Mexican cuisine in black jeans and a T-shirt. Rick's goal: to enable folks all across the United States to create dishes that weave in the rich tapestry of Mexican flavor with ingredients that are widely available. He always provides ingredients that make the dish authentic, but he also delivers with the right substitute if an ingredient is hard to find.
    Experience food you can't wait to make in a new and user-friendly cookbook that contains the full range of dishes -- Starters, Snacks and Light Meals; Soups, Stews and Sides; Entrées; Desserts and Drinks. Rick serves up such classic Mexican plates as Tomatillo-Braised Pork Loin, Quick-Fried Shrimp with Sweet Toasty Garlic, Chiles Rellenos, Cheesy Enchiladas Suizas, and Mexican Vanilla-Scented Flan.
    And for an exciting taste of the unexpected, try Rick's contemporary interpretations of the classics -- Crispy Potato Sopes with Goat Cheese and Fresh Herbs, Grilled Salmon with Lemon-and-Thyme-Scented Salsa Veracruzana, Broiled Flank Steak with Tomato-Poblano Salsa and Rustic Cajeta Apple Tarts with Berry "Salsa."
    Food and friends, food and family. Good cooking, for Rick, is the unspoken animator of friends and family as they gather to share a meal. Rick's recipes lend themselves to weeknight family meals or celebrations. Take part in a tamalada, the tamal-making party before the party, or the ritual of a barbacoa, an earthy experience that Rick has made possible with a kettle grill in the backyard. More info
    book coverMexican Everyday (Recipes Featured on Season 4 of the PBS-TV series In his previous books, Rick Bayless transformed America's understanding of Mexican cuisine, introducing authentic dishes and cooking methods as he walked readers through Mexican markets and street stalls.
    As much as Rick loves the bold flavors of Mexican foods, he understands that preparing many Mexican specialties requires more time than most of us have. Mexican Everyday is written with the time sensitivities of modern life in mind. It is a collection of 90 full-flavored recipes—like Green Chile Chicken Tacos, Shrimp Ceviche Salad, Chipotle Steak with Black Beans—that meet three criteria for "everyday" food: 1) most need less than 30 minutes' involvement; 2) they have the fresh, clean taste of simple, authentic preparations; and 3) they are nutritionally balanced, full-featured meals—no elaborate side dishes required. Companion to a thirteen-part public television series, this book provides dishes you can eat with family and friends, day in and day out. Color throughout. More info
    book cover Salsas That Cook : Using Classic Salsas To Enliven Our Favorite Dishes
    Salsas That Cook is a breakthrough in contemporary American cooking. Here, Mexico's classic salsas get put to work in our kitchens in the same way we use a variety of international condiments, from teriyaki sauce to balsamic vinegar, to enliven and redefine the flavor of many American favorites. While most of us have enjoyed salsas as chip dips, salsas show great versatility when weaving complex flavor into simple dishes, from pasta to potatoes to meats, fish and vegetables.
    Salsas embody the essence of Mexican flavor: the lusciousness of slow-roasted tomatoes, the full-flavored spice of chiles, the fragrance of cilantro and the mellow sweetness of garlic. Rick Bayless, the country's leading progenitor of real Mexican cooking, writes the six salsa recipes with such detail and personality that even beginning cooks will turn out masterful creations.
    The uniqueness of this book, though, is in the way these six salsas are used. Here they give their pizzazz to chile-glazed roast chicken, grilled pork tenderloin and seared sea scallops with jalapeño cream. Familiar Mexican favorites have always used salsas for vitality, and many are here, from tangy guacamole to tortilla soup and grilled chicken tacos. In Salsas That Cook, the magic of Mexico transcends all borders. More info
    book cover Authentic Mexican 20th Anniversary Ed: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico
    Americans have at last discovered Mexico's passion for exciting food. We've fallen in love with the great Mexican combination of rich, earthy flavors and casual, festive dining. But we don't begin to imagine how sumptuous and varied the cooking of Mexico really is.
    After ten years of loving exploration, Rick Bayless, together with his wife, Deann, gave us Authentic Mexican, this now classic, easy-to-use compendium of our southern neighbor's cooking.
    This all-embracing cookbook offers the full range of dishes, from poultry, meat, fish, rice, beans, and vegetables to eggs, snacks made of corn masa, tacos, turnovers, enchiladas and their relatives, tamales, and moles, ending with desserts, sweets, and beverages. There are irresistible finger foods such as Yucatecan marinated shrimp tacos and crispy cheese-filled masa turnovers; spicy corn chowder and chorizo sausage with melted cheese will start off a special dinner; you will find mole poblano, charcoal-grilled pork in red-chile adobo, and marinated fish steamed in banana leaves for those times when you want to celebrate; and exotic ice creams, caramel custards, and pies to top off any meal. There's even a section devoted to refreshing coolers, rich chocolate drinks, and a variety of tequila-laced cocktails.
    The master recipes feature all the pointers you'll need for re-creating genuine Mexican textures and flavors in a North American kitchen. Menu suggestions and timing and advance-preparation tips make these dishes perfectly convenient for today's working families. And traditional and contemporary variations accompany each recipe, allowing the cook to substitute and be creative.
    Rick and Deann Bayless traveled more than thirty-five thousand miles investigating the six distinct regions of Mexico and learning to prepare what they found. From town to town, recipe by recipe, they personally introduce you to Mexico's cooks, their kitchens, their markets, and their feasts.
    If, like the rest of us, you have a growing love for Mexican food, the reliable recipes in this book and the caring, personal presentation by Rick and Deann Bayless will provide meal after meal of pure pleasure for your family and friends. More info

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