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      RECIPE TITLE "Essential Quick-Cooked Tomato-Chipotle Sauce (Salsa de Chile Chipotle y Jitomate) "
    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. Toasting and roasting the key ingredients. Set a heavy ungreased skillet or griddle over medium heat. If using dried chiles, break off their stems. Toast the chiles a few at a time: Lay on the hot surface, press flat for a few seconds with a metal spatula (they'll crackle faintly and release their smoky aroma), then flip and press down to toast the other side. Transfer the toasted chiles to a bowl, cover with hot water and let rehydrate for 30 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure even soaking. Pour off all the water and discard.

    If using canned chiles, simply remove them from the adobo they're packed in.

    On a heavy, ungreased skillet or griddle over medium heat (you'll already have it on if you're using dried chiles), roast the unpeeled garlic, turning occasionally, until blackened in spots and soft, about 15 minutes. Cool, slip off the papery skins, and roughly chop.

    Lay the tomatoes on a baking sheet and place about 4 inches below a very hot broiler. When they blister, blacken and soften on one side, about 6 minutes, turn them over and roast on the other side. Cool, then peel, collecting all the juices with the tomatoes.

    2. The sauce. Scrape the tomatoes and their juices into a food processor or blender and add the rehydrated or canned chiles and garlic. Pulse the machine until the mixture is nearly a puree -- it should have a little more texture than canned tomato sauce.

    Heat the lard or oil in a heavy, medium-size (2- to 3-quart) saucepan over medium-high. When hot enough to make a drop of the puree sizzle sharply, add it all at once and stir for about 5 minutes as it sears and concentrates to an earthy, red, thickish sauce -- about the consistency of a medium-thick spaghetti sauce. Taste and season with salt.

    Advance Preparation -- The sauce will keep for several days, covered and refrigerated; it freezes as well, though upon defrosting, boil it briefly to return its great texture.

    Other Chiles You Can Use -- You can replace the chipotles with dried cascabel, árbol or dried serrano (serrano seco) chiles.

    Traditional Dishes that Use this Essential as a Starting Point

    Smoky Shredded Pork Tacos; Layered Tortilla-Tomato Casserole; Scared Zucchini with Roasted Tomato, Chipotle and Chorizo; Browned Vermicelli with Roasted Tomato, Zucchini and Aged Cheese; Smoky Shredded Chicken and Potatoes with Roasted Tomatoes; Smoky Braised Squab

    Simple Ideas from My American Home

    Sweet-and-Smoky Pork Chops -- Lay 4 thick pork chops in a baking dish and pour the sauce over them. Bake in a 325-degree oven until tender but still a little pink inside (allow about 35 to 40 minutes for 1-inch chops and warm sauce). Remove the chops to a baking sheet and increase the oven to 500 degrees. Pour the sauce into a saucepan and simmer briskly until as thick as you like. Mix 3 tablespoons with 3 tablespoons honey and brush over chops. Bake until nicely browned. Serve with the remaining sauce spooned around.

    Simple Chilaquiles -- To feed 4, combine in a large skillet a full recipe of the sauce with 2 cups of broth, 8 cups (8 ounces) of tortilla chips (preferably thick ones), a handful of epazote leaves (or 1 cup or 2 of sliced chard or spinach if that's easier). Cover and simmer over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, until the chips are softening. Uncover, stir well (the chips should be soft but not mushy; the mixture should be a little saucy), then spoon out onto plates and sprinkle generously with crumbled Mexican queso añejo or Parmesan.

    Dried Chipotle Chiles

    These darlings hardly need an introduction these days. We've become enamored with their smoky heat, but few of us understand that there are really two main types of chipotles, a black-red one and a light-brown one. They have different smoky flavors, though both are smoke-dried cultivars of fresh jalapeño. Most of us, I believe, are familiar with and attracted to the dried-fruit fruitiness of the black-red ones, the ones we know from the can that are packed in a vinegary, tomatoey, slightly sweet sauce (adobo).

    Black-Red Chipotle -- This category is called most often, I've found, chile chipotle or chile chipotle colorado in the Gulf region, or chile mora or chile morita, depending on size, in the Central region. A puree of toasted, rehydrated black-red chipotles is a very spicy but near-complete flavor -- it'll remind you of great, sweet smoked ham, if ham were naturally picante. Or smoky dried sweet cherries, or dried orange rind. And its full (and forward) heat is backed up by a flavor that's rich and lingering. The black-red chipotle puree comes out a dark, rosewood red.

    I usually don't distinguish between black-red and light-brown chipotles in the recipes throughout this book; use what you can get, they'll both be good. For any chipotle-based salsa or cooked sauce, I generally prefer the black-red ones; for stuffing with a warm, shredded-pork or smoked fish picadillo, I like the larger light-tan chipotles.

    Stats: An average black-red chipotle is purple-red to black with an intense, sweet smoky aroma; it'll be 1 to 1 1/2 inches long by a good 1/2 inch wide, 8 to 12 to an ounce, wrinkle-skinned (a good one will be slightly flexible), a little twisted and pointed.

    Light-Brown Chipotle (chipotle meco) -- Through the years, I've known these beauties (they look like well-worn suede) to have a variety of flavors, from very hot, grassy smokiness to sugar-and-smoke medium spiciness. In front of me right now is a puree of toasted, rehydrated light-brown chipotle that isn't very hot at all. I'm thinking of brown sugar, ripe pineapple, tobacco and mesquite chips as I taste it -- all in a good way, though the sum isn't as rich, complete and lingering as the flavor I find in black-red chipotles. The puree is mincemeat brown.

    Stats: Typical light-brown chipotles are a jute (or craft-paper) brown, 6 to 8 to an ounce, about 4 inches long by 1 inch wide, their striated, slightly wrinkled body (with rather square shoulders) tapering gently to a point.

    The Whys of Soaking Chiles

    When you taste a bit of dried ancho chile, chewing it and turning it over in your mouth until it softens up, an intense flavor seeps out that's untamed, even brash. But when toasted, then plumped in hot water, that ancho can be worked into a beautifully balanced salsa or sauce.

    Over the years, I've tested different ways of rehydrating chiles and decided I don't think boiling them is a good idea; it takes out too much of their flavor. Instead, I use hot tap water for softening the chiles.

    The chiles should be in enough water to float freely. Stir them now and again to ensure they're plumping evenly (you may find it easier to lay a small plate on top of them to keep them submerged). Soaking longer than half an hour leaches out too much flavor for me, and for salsas where I want a pungent punch, I suggest in the recipes soaking the chiles only Dong enough to make them pliable, usually 15 to 20 minutes.

    I usually discard the soaking liquid (it often adds a bitter edge) and use water or broth to blend the chiles and finish the dish. If pouring out the soaking liquid goes against your grain, taste the liquid, and, if it's not bitter, use it.

    HOT! We recommend:

    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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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