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Favorite Cookbook: Maricel Presilla’s, Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America is a great one that I go back to time and again. It’s one of the most extensive collections of Latin recipes and a great reference tool.
Favorite Comfort Food: My Tio Mario’s Chile Colorado with Fresh Tortillas. It’s everything you want in comfort food: warm, hearty and delicious; and it’s such a powerful food memory for me. When I smell those chiles and fresh tortillas, it instantly puts a smile on my face. Also, Tio Mario is one of my favorite people; he’s really one of everyone’s favorite people.
Favorite Food Product: Cacique cheeses. Y’all know, I’m a huge Cacique fan! I’ve been working with the family for years now, and it’s inspiring to see how committed they are to making authentic Mexican cheeses, cremas and chorizos, even after all these years. One of my favorite Cacique recipes is Quesadillas. The trick is to add cheese to the pan before you lay down the tortilla, so that the outside of the tortilla gets super crispy and delicious. My son and I love to make them together since you can really dress it up or down. Add chorizo, add some vegetables, go crazy with it. Fun fact: quesadillas were actually one of the first things I learned to cook; my mom taught me so I could make myself afterschool snacks.
Favorite Restaurants in New Orleans: There are way too many to choose from. I love all of John Besh’s restaurants, obviously. Shaya is another home run! I’m also loving Meril, La Petite Grocery and St Roch Market.
4213 Magazine St, New Orleans
+1 504 891 4213
424 Girod St, New Orleans
+1 504 526 3745
LA PETITE GROCERY
4238 Magazine St, New Orleans
+1 504 891 3377
ST ROCH MARKET
2381 St Claude Ave, New Orleans
+1 504 609 3813
2031 St Charles Ave, New Orleans
+1 504 323 1452
914 Union St, New Orleans
+1 504 603 2442
This deceptively unadorned but deeply flavorful roasted chicken is served with a salsa verde of capers, anchovies, garlic, hand-chopped parsley, arugula, basil, tarragon and sage.
WHAT YOU NEED
FOR THE CHICKEN
Free-range organic chicken, 3 1/2 pounds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon (preferably Meyer)
FOR THE SALSA VERDE
1 tablespoon capers
2 anchovy fillets
3 cloves garlic (peeled, green germ removed)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup arugula, chopped
¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt
WHAT YOU DO
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash the chicken in hot water and dry with paper towels. Using kitchen shears, cut out the backbone of the chicken and remove any fat. Then, using a heavy chef's knife, cut out the breastbone. Season the two halves with sea salt and fresh black pepper. Dab an earthenware or metal baking dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place the chicken halves inside it, skin side up. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Cut the lemon in half and place the halves, cut side down, next to the chicken in the baking dish. Roast for 35 minutes, basting every 8 minutes. Rotate the pan during basting to allow for even cooking. The chicken is done when the juices from the thigh run clear (about 155 degrees).
Meanwhile, make the salsa verde. Rinse capers in cold water, then drain. Soak anchovies in cold water for 5 minutes, then pat dry and remove the bones. Using a mortar and pestle (or a small mixer if you are in a hurry), smash the capers, anchovies and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Add all the herbs and remaining olive oil. (The mixture should be chunky, not oily.) Season with sea salt. Serve the chicken topped with the salsa verde, and garnish with the roasted lemon.
AARON SANCHEZ'S BASIC FLOUR TORTILLAS
WHAT YOU NEED
4 cups all-purpose flour (or 3 cups all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup canola oil
1½ cups warm water (or enough to make the dough the right consistency)
WHAT YOU DO
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and ½ of the water. Mix together with your hands and continue adding water into the dough until it forms a solid ball, but is not too sticky. If necessary, add additional flour or water as needed. Knead the dough on a floured board for 5 minutes. Cut the dough in half and then in half again, continuing the process until you have 8 equal portions. Roll each piece into a ball, place them on a lightly floured surface, and cover with a damp towel. Place a single ball at the center of the tortilla press and bring the top down to create an even tortilla.
Heat a griddle or cast iron pan to medium heat. Place one round of dough on the griddle and cook on each side for about 30 seconds. Take care that the griddle is not too hot or the tortillas will scorch. Continue the process with the remaining 7 portions of dough.
COTIJA CRUSTED QUESADILLA
WHAT YOU NEED
½ cup Cacique® Cotija, crumbled
1 cup Cacique® Queso Quesadilla, shredded
2 Flour tortillas
WHAT YOU DO
First spray a skillet with non-stick spray, then sprinkle ½ cup of crumbled Cotija evenly around the skillet and cover with a tortilla. Next sprinkle 1 cup of Cacique Queso Quesadilla–shredded, over the top of the tortilla, and cover with a second tortilla. Press down and let this brown for 1 minute, then flip and let the other side brown for 30 seconds. Now plate it, Cotija-crusted side up, and add whatever garnish you’d like.