Chef Rick Bayless joins us on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm in studio, sharing recipes from his signature restaurant, Frontera Grill. View two recipes from Bayless's cookbook, Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles, and Snacks.
Guacamole with Bacon, Grilled Ramps (or Green Onions) and Roasted Tomatillo
Yield: about 3 cups
Cook’s notes: Ramps are only available in the spring and only in certain parts of the United States; if yours is the area, you’ll probably only find them at farmer’s markets or specialty shops. Garlic chives (they look like chives but are flat, with a definite garlic aroma) are typically in abundance in Asian markets; they’re perennial and easy to grow, which is what I do. I love them sautéed or grilled for their sweet, green garlicky flavor. Green onions are easy to find everywhere, every day.
Ideas for serving: When I’ve got my grill going, I like to make my almost-Oaxacan-tlayudas: I spread out commercially made tortillas (I buy them from a local tortillería and let them cool off completely) into a single layer, brush both sides of each tortilla lightly but thoroughly with oil, then grill them until they’re crisp. When they cool, I break them into big rustic pieces for dipping. Wedges of grilled pita make a delicious and unexpected vehicle for dipping this guacamole. For a pass-around appetizer, slices of crispy grilled baguette topped with a dollop of bacony guacamole are always a hit.
- 4 medium (about 8 ounces total) tomatillos, husked, washed and cut in half crosswise
- 4 fresh ramps (spring wild leeks) or large green onions or a 1-inch diameter bunch of garlic chives
- A little olive or vegetable oil
- 1 large fresh serrano or 1 small fresh jalapeño, stemmed
- 4 thick slices (about 4 ounces) bacon
- 3 ripe, medium-large avocados
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- About 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra leaves for garnish
Heat a gas grill to medium or light a charcoal grill and let it burn until the coals are medium hot and covered with gray ash. Lay the halved tomatillos (cut-side down) on a rimmed baking sheet or metal baking pan and slide onto the grill. Brush the ramps (or green onions or garlic chives) with oil. Lay them directly on the grill, along with the chile. Grill the ramps (or their stand-ins) and the chile until soft and richly browned, turning occasionally—the ramps will take 4 or 5 minutes, the chile about 10. Cook the tomatillos about 3 to 4 minutes, until soft and browned on one side, then flip them over and cook the other side. Cool everything. Finely chop the ramps (etc.) and chile, then scrape into a large bowl. Chop the tomatillo into small pieces, scrape them in with the ramps, then scrape in any juice that remains on the baking sheet.
While the grilled vegetables are cooling, cook the bacon in a single layer in a large skillet over medium heat, turning every once in a while, until browned and crispy, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels, then chop into small pieces.
Mash the avocado flesh with the tomatillo mixture: 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. With an old-fashioned potato masher, large fork or back of a large spoon, coarsely mash the avocado with the tomatillo mixture.
Stir in the lime, cilantro and half of the bacon. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. When that time comes, scrape the guacamole into a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining bacon. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if you wish.
Oaxacan Gold Margarita
Yield: 1 cocktail
Bartender’s Notes: Though this drink celebrates pineapple’s natural sweetness, the fresh lime keeps it from drifting toward cloying. And the fragrant vanilla underscores mezcal’s smoke beautifully. (Vanilla and pineapple—especially grilled, broiled or caramelized pineapple—is a match made in heaven.) I find that a little spice is welcome here, too, so I often crust the rim of the glass with Chipotle Salt.
- 1 ounce Oaxacan mezcal
- ½ ounce fresh lime juice
- 2 ½ ounces Grilled Pineapple-Vanilla Puree (see recipe below)
- 6 to 10 small ice cubes (about ¾ cup)
In a cocktail shaker, combine the mezcal, lime juice, Grilled Pineapple-Vanilla Puree 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 a 6-ounce martini glass and serve immediately.
PITCHER RECIPE FOR A PARTY
Yield: 8 cocktails
- 1 cup Oaxcan mezcal
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 ½ cups Pineapple-Vanilla Puree (see recipe below)
- 6 cups ice
In a pitcher, combine the mezcal, lime juice, and Grilled Pineapple-Vanilla Puree. Stir well to combine, then cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Fill a cocktail shaker ¾ full with ice, and pour in 1 ½ cups of the margarita mixture. Shake, strain into 3 6-ounce martini glasses, and repeat for the remaining margaritas.
Grilled Pineapple-Vanilla Puree
Yield: 2 cups
- ½ large ripe pineapple (the half should weigh about 1 pound), peeled and cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick pieces (no need to core)
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably Mexican which is the most flowery of all the vanillas
Prepare a charcoal or wood-fired grill and let burn until you have hot ash-covered coals (a gas grill or grill pan can also be used, though you’ll sacrifice some of that intoxicating smoky flavor). Grill the pineapple pieces until they have developed grill marks and softened considerably, about 2 minutes per side on a hot grill. Roughly chop.
In a blender, combine the still-hot grilled pineapple with the sugar, vanilla extract, and 1 cup water. Cover and pulse until roughly chopped, then blend on high until smooth and foamy, usually a full minute. Strain into a storage container, cool, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use, up to 3 days.