- 9 ounces (about 2 cups) pecan halves
- One 9-ounce bag pretzel rods
- 1 pound (4 stick) unsalted butter (divided use), plus extra for buttering the pan
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces not larger than 1/4-inch
- 3/4 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) Mexican chocolate, finely chopped, (like the widely available Ibarra brand)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 6 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups corn syrup, preferably dark (or use a mixture of corn syrup and molasses, sorghum, Steens cane syrup or most any of the other rich-flavored syrups that are on the market)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, preferably Mexican vanilla
- Powdered sugar, for garnish
- Toast the pecans and prepare the crumb crust. In a 325 degree oven, toast the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet until noticeably darker and toasty smelling, about 10 minutes. Let the pecans cool to lukewarm (but keep the oven heated), then coarsely chop them by hand—1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces makes luxurious-looking bars. Scrape into a large bowl.
Use a food processor to chop the pretzels into fairly fine crumbs. (You should have 2 cups of crumbs.) In a small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave at 50% power, melt 2 sticks of the butter. Scrape into the processor, along with the 1/2 cup sugar. Pulse until everything is combined. Butter the bottom and sides of two 8 x 8-inch baking pans. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of each pan, then press them firmly in place. Butter the parchment paper. Divide the crumb mixture between the two pans and pat into an even layer covering the bottom completely.
- Make the filling. To the pecans, add the 2 chocolates and the flour. Stir to combine, then divide evenly between the 2 pans. In your small saucepan or microwave, melt the remaining 2 sticks of the butter. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla, and beat at medium-low speed (if your mixer has a choice, use the flat beater). Slowly add the melted butter, mixing until the batter looks smooth. Divide the batter between the two pans, pouring it slowly and evenly over the surface to ensure even distribution of the chocolate and pecans through the batter.
- Bake, cool and serve the bars. Slide into the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the center has just set. Let cool to room temperature.Cover and refrigerate until firm for easy cutting. Cut into 2-inch squares. Keep them stored in the refrigerator until just before serving. Transfer to a serving platter, dust with powdered sugar, carry to your guests and await the ooo’s and aah’s.
Servings: 6 tortas
- 1 1/2 pounds shredded pork from the Smoky Pork and Sweet Potato Boudin
- 2 3/4 cups blended tinga sauce from the Smoky Pork and Sweet Potato Boudin
- 6 Mexican bolillos or mini baguettes
- 1 1/2 cups Mexican melting cheese such as Chihuahua, quesadilla, asadero or Monterey Jack, mild cheddar or brick.
- 2 large avocados, peeled, seeded and cut into thin slices
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Scoop the shredded pork and sauce into a medium pot and heat over medium-low until piping hot and the sauce has thickened.
- Taste and season with additional salt if necessary.
- Slice the bolillos in half lengthwise and using your fingers or a spoon, scrape out some of the soft bread in the center of each half, making a small hollow.
- Place the bottoms on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Divide the shredded pork between the 6 bottom halves, then top each with about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.
- Cap the tortas with the top half of the rolls and slide the baking sheet into the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the bolillos have crisped.
- Once out of the oven, remove the top half of the roll and add the avocado slices.
- Replace the tops and serve immediately.
Arroz Blanco con Plantano Macho Maduro
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups vegetable oil (I like to use oil that’s especially refined for high-heat cooking)
- 4 large (about 2 1/2 pounds total) soft, black-ripe plantains, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 6 cups white rice, preferably medium-grain
- 2 large (1 pound total) white onions, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- About 3/4 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Heat the broth. Turn on the oven to 350°. Measure the broth in a large (4-quart) saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, if you are using salted broth, 2 tablespoons if you’re using unsalted broth. Cover and set over medium-low heat.
- Fry the plantains. In a very large (9-quart) Dutch oven (or comparable soup pot), heat the oil over medium to medium-high. When the oil is quite hot (but not smoking), add the plantains and fry, breaking apart any clumps until the plantains are a rich golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or wire skimmer to remove the plantain cubes to paper towels to drain.
- Fry the rice. Set up a large strainer over a metal bowl; set beside the stove on a heat-resistant surface. With the pan of oil still over the heat, raise the heat to high and add the rice. Stir regularly until the rice has turned from translucent to milky white (but not begun to brown), about 10 minutes. Immediately (and carefully) pour the rice and oil into the strainer, making sure to get all the rice out of the pan. Clean off any drips on the outside of the pan.
- Cook the rice. Without washing the pan, set it over medium heat. If there isn’t a generous coating of oil on the bottom, spoon a little of the strained oil back into the pot. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the rice and broth. Stir several times through all parts of the pan, making sure to scrape down any rice grains that are clinging to the sides above the liquid. Cover and place in the oven. After 30 minutes uncover and test a grain of rice: if it’s still a little chalky in the center and it’s clear that all the liquid has been absorbed, drizzle about 1/4 cup of water over the rice, re-cover and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer.
- Serve the rice. When the rice is ready, sprinkle the fried plantains and chopped parsley over the top and gently fold them in—if you’re careful and stir all the way to the bottom, you’ll release a lot of steam, which will stop the rice from overcooking.
- A half of a long baguette, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds, brushed with olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 6 canned anchovies
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg yolk
- 3/4 cup good-quality olive oil
- 4 romaine hearts (36 leaves)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Mexican queso añejo or other garnishing cheese such as Romano or Parmesan,
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Spread the baguette slices on a baking sheet and bake until well browned and crisp, about 10 minutes.
- In a very large bowl, mash the garlic into a paste using either the back of a fork or a wooden spatula.
- Add the anchovies and lime juice and mash them to a paste with the garlic.
- Mix in the mustard, then the Worcestershire and finally the egg yolk.
- Slowly drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream into the base, whisking with the fork as you add it until it comes together as a light dressing.
- Pour half the dressing into a jar, cover and refrigerate.
- Add the romaine leaves to the remaining dressing and toss to coat.
- Arrange 6 romaine leaves on each of the 6 chilled plates.
- Sprinkle with the grated cheese and garnish with toasted croutons.
Servings: 8 12-ounce drinks
- 2 cups Spanish Rioja
- 1 cup Cointreau
- 1/2 cup Gran Torres brandy
- 1 cup Jamaica Cooler
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- lime and orange slices
- 1 bottle soda water
- In a large pitcher, combine the wine, Cointreau, Gran Torres, jamaica, lime juice, and the agave nectar.
- Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
- Add several slices of lime and orange in the bottom of each glass.
- Use a muddler to crush the fruit.
- Fill the glasses halfway up with small ice cubes, then pour in the sangria mixture, leaving room for a splash of soda water.
- Stir to incorporate the soda water.
Servings: 12 to 15
- 5 tablespoons (about 2 ounces) achiote seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper, preferably whole peppercorns
- 1 1/4 teaspoon cumin, preferably whole seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves, preferably whole
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon, preferably Mexican canela, that’s freshly ground or still in stick form (you’ll need about 6 inches of 1/2-inch diameter cinnamon stick)
- 14 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 cups sour orange juice, OR 1 cup fresh lime juice plus 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 bone-in pork shoulder (Boston butt) roasts (about 12 pounds), cut into 3-inch wide cross sections (unless you have a meat saw, you’ll need to get a butcher to do this for you)
- A 1-pound package of banana leaves, defrosted
Pickled Red Onions
- 3 large (about 1 1/2 pounds total) red onions, sliced 1/8 inch thick
- 2 cups fresh sour orange juice OR 1 1/3 cups fresh lime juice plus 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
Roasted Habanero Salsa
- 8 medium (about 3 ounces total) fresh habanero chiles
- 2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- The achiote marinade. Measure the achiote seeds and oregano into a spice grinder, adding the black pepper, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon, and run the grinder until everything’s as powdery as you can get it (you may need to work in batches). In a blender, combine the ground mixture with 1 tablespoon salt, the garlic and sour orange juice (or lime juice plus orange juice). Blend until smooth—there should be very little grittiness when a little is rubbed between your fingers. If you’re working ahead, pour the mixture into a non-aluminum container, cover, refrigerate 6 hours or longer. Before using, blend the mixture again to give it an even smoother texture. (The long steeping and second blending isn’t absolutely essential, though without it the marinade may be a little gritty.)
- Marinating the meat. In a large bowl or large plastic food bag combine meat and marinade, turning the meat to coat it evenly. (Though achiote has tenacious coloring properties, I suggest you do this quickly with your hands.) For the greatest penetration of flavor, let the meat marinate refrigerated (covered if in a bowl) for several hours, or even overnight.
- Slow-grilling the pork. Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let it burn just until the coals are covered with gray ash and very hot. Using scissors, cut off the hard edge you’ll find on most banana leaves (where the leaf attached to the central rib). Cut 3 sections of banana leaf, each about 1 foot longer than the length of a large roasting pan. Line the bottom and sides of the roasting pan with the leaves, overlapping them generously and letting them hang over the edges of the pan. Lay the meat in the pan, drizzle with all the marinade. Fold in the banana leaf edges over the meat. Cut 3 more sections of banana leaf slightly longer than the pan. Lay them over the top of the meat, again generously overlapping; tuck them in around the sides. When the grill is ready, either turn the burner(s) in the center to medium-low or bank the coals of the grill for indirect cooking. For the charcoal grill, set the grill grate in place. Set the pan on the grill grate and close the grill cover. Grill until the meat is thoroughly tender (work a fork in near the bone—the meat should easily come free), usually about 4 hours. If your grill has a thermometer, aim to keep the temperature between 300 degrees and 350 degrees. To maintain an even temperature with charcoal, add more charcoal regularly (usually a few pieces every half hour or so).
- Simple pickled onions. While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions. Scoop the onions into a non-aluminum bowl. Pour boiling water over them, wait 10 seconds, then pour the onions into a strainer. Return the drained onions to the bowl, pour on the sour orange juice (or the lime-orange combo) and stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cover and set aside until serving time.
- Habanero Salsa. In an ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the chiles and garlic, turning regularly, until they’re soft and darkened in spots, 5 to 10 minutes for the chiles, 15 minutes for the garlic. When cool, slip the skins off the garlic. In a blender or small food processor, add the garlic and roasted chiles plus the lime juice and enough water to give it a spoonable consistency, usually 2 to 4 tablespoons. Blend until smooth. Taste (gingerly) and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. This salsa will last several days.
- Serving. Remove the top banana leaves. Tip the pan to accumulate the juices in one end and spoon off the fat. Season with more salt if necessary. You may want to remove the bones and cut the large pieces of meat into manageable serving sizes, but I suggest you leave everything right in the roasting pan for serving. Set out your cochinita pibil with a large fork and spoon (for spooning up all those juices). Drain the red onions and set out in a serving bowl to top each portion, along with the salsa to cautiously dab on each portion. Working Ahead: If you’re the plan-ahead type, make the marinade on Day 1, reblend it and marinate the meat on Day 2 and then slow-roast the meat for serving on Day 3. The marinade will hold for a week or more in the refrigerator. Once the pork is marinated, cook it within 24 hours. The finished dish will keep for a couple of days, covered and refrigerated (meat and juice only—no banana leaves), though the texture of the meat won’t be quite as nice as fresh-from-the-oven. Warm refrigerated cooked meat slowly (a 300-degree oven) in the juice, covered. Pickled onions will keep for a week or so in the refrigerator, well covered. Variation: The pork can be baked in a 325-degree oven instead of on the grill; cover the meat rather loosely with foil before baking.
Carnitas de Puerco
- 4 pounds bone-in pork shoulder roast, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch slabs
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut each slab of pork in half and lay the pieces in a baking dish (they should fit into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish without being crowded).
- Liberally sprinkle with salt (about 1 teaspoon) on all sides.
- Pour 1/3 cup water around the meat, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 1 hour.
- Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees.
- Uncover the meat and cook until the liquid has completely reduced and only the rendered fat remains, about 30 minutes.
- Now, roast, carefully turning the meat every 7 or 8 minutes, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes longer.
- Break the meat into large pieces and serve on a warm platter, sprinkled with salt.
Margarita de Naranja Rosa
Servings: 9 12-ounce cocktails
- 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup 100% agave silver tequila
- 1/2 cup Cointreau
- 2 cups fresh blood orange juice (you’ll need about 6 juicy blood oranges)
- A lime half for moistening the glass rims
- Kosher (coarse) salt
- Ice cubes (you’ll need about 6 cups—small ones are best)
- In a large pitcher, stir together the lime juice, sugar and 3/4 cup water until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the tequila, Cointreau and blood orange juice.
- Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
- Moisten the rims of three 6-ounce martini glasses with the cut side of a lime half.
- Spread coarse salt on a small plate, then upend the glasses into the salt to crust the rims.
- Fill a cocktail shaker about 3/4 full of ice and measure in 1 1/2 cups of the margarita for 3 drinks.
- Cover and shake for about 15 seconds to thoroughly chill the mixture.
- Strain into the prepared glasses and hand to your guests.
- When you’re ready, finish the remaining margaritas in the same way.
Tampa Bay Times’ food critic Laura Reiley sat down with Chef Bayless and discussed his latest Frontera restaurant, the Chicago food scene and of course, yoga. Read the interview here.
“With a menu created by famed chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Cocina promises gourmet fresh Mexican food with a modern twist.”
“Chef Bayless has teamed up with one of Disney’s long-serving partners, Vista Springs, to operate the restaurant. The same company also operates the Mexican restaurants at Epcot and Coronado Springs.”