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Nov 1, 2006 04:11 PM

Mexico, One Plate at a Time: Entrees

November 2006 Cookbook of the Month: Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the entrees chapter of Rick Bayless' Mexico One Plate at a Time here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed

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  1. Quick-Fried Shrimp with Sweet Toasty Garlic

    Eh. I was disappointed. I had really high hopes for this. But unless someone convinces me I did something wrong, which is entirely possible, I don’t think I’ll bother with it again. Not that it was any bother.

    I followed directions, but cooked the garlic ten minutes longer than the 30 recommended because they didn’t look “toasty” at 30. Truth to tell, they didn’t look very toasty at 40 either. I cooked the shrimp in a wok rather than in a skillet because he said they’d be crisper that way. I wonder. They weren’t very crisp. Maybe I should have cooked them longer; but they were definitely done—just not crisp. And my wok was really hot.

    The garlic was soft and sweet, but not toasty. And my finished dish didn’t look anything at all like the photo in the book. The recipe calls for you to scoop out all the garlic and chiles and scatter them over the shrimp. But there’s LOTS of garlic. And that’s not what the photo shows. The garlic in the photo, which is shown as a side not atop the shrimp as the directions specify, doesn’t look anything like what my garlic looked like. It’s dry and dark, almost crispy looking; mine was wet and golden.

    I saved the garlic oil as he suggests and am looking forward to using it to roast the cauliflower I have in the fridge. I’m guessing it will be terrific. But I’m not going to make this recipe again just for the resulting garlic oil. At least, I don’t think I will.

    I’ll be eager to read others’ experiences with this. But for now my go-to shrimp recipe for guests will continue to be the Cilantro Lime Shrimp from the new Gourmet Cookbook. Now that’s a great recipe.

    Sorry about the photo. It’s out of focus. My battery was dead and dinner was getting cold. This was the best I could do. Oh. And I served the shrimp in a rice ring. Thought it would be perfect with all that garlic sauce. Eh.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      At the risk of being hearlded a heretic(this is a legitimate question though) I looked at a recipe for this that called for 3/4 a cup of garlic. Is this too much? Seems like an awful lot, though I have never made anything like this.

      1. re: Spencer

        No, it only seems like a lot of garlic. As it slowly cooks it mellows out and becomes very mild, sweet and almost creamy. You'll still smell like garlic, but not that pungent, raw garlic aroma.

      2. re: JoanN

        Quick follow-up to say that I used the garlic oil from the Quck-Fried Shrimp recipe to roast cauliflower last night and it was outstanding! I may or may not make the shrimp again, but I'll definitely make the garlic oil. Heavenly thing to have on hand in the fridge.

      3. Joan, I've made this dish many times, in fact we often make it as part of a seafood feast on Xmas Eve, tho' we haven't made if for the last 2 or 3 because we haven't had seafood. We don't have a problem getting the garlic nice and toasty and mellow with a deep golden color. We do add a little more lime juice than the recipe calls for and the chipotle chiles really do add some smokey heat.

        You're right, this does make a TON of garlic; I'm pretty sure the photo in the book is probably the result of great food styling ;-). We've threaded the shrimps on two parallel bamboo skewers and grilled them brushed with oil, we've sir-fried them and we've simply just boiled them and used the garlic as a dip. We like the last option best.

        I was going to look through the book tonight and decide what I want to do next week. Let me take a look at this recipe again and see if I can remember if we did something different than what the directions say. Generally, his instructions are really good.

        1. JoanN, We've also had this dish a couple of times at our house, and it's always turned out well. But now that I think about it, I don't remember the garlic being toasty-- I remember it being soft and sweet, like you've described. We had this with his Mexican white rice, and it was a yummy meal. I think you might just be more discerning than we are at my house!

          2 Replies
          1. re: redwood2bay

            "I think you might just be more discerning than we are at my house!"

            I sincerely doubt that! I suspect, as with your experience with the braised cabbage, that expectation simply overshadowed the result.

            I must say, I liked the leftovers better the next night. Once the rice, garlic, and shrimp were all smooshed together and nuked, the flavors melded in a way I found much more pleasing.

            Maybe I will try it again. I was thinking all day yesterday that's there's got to be an easy way to get the shrimp crispier and the garlic nuttier. If I do try it again, I'll cook the shrimp in a single layer in a cast iron skillet and cook the garlic longer and at a higher temperature. I may even try "toasting" the cooked garlic a bit in the skillet once the shrimp are done.

            1. re: JoanN

              LOL high expectations are sometimes a problem, aren't they? I'd be curious to see, if you make the dish again, if the changes you make bring about a better dish. I think Bayless would be pleased, because you're making the dish your own, like a true Mexican family cook. Please let us know if you try it again!

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Tomatillo-Braised Port Loin
              Made this dish tonight. It was amazing! Recommend it. I haven't cooked with fresh tomatillo before. Used one jalapeno, I scraped seeds out after roasting (SO doesn't like too much heat). I used 8 small (2" diameter)red-skinned potatoes cut in four but I would have needed to pre-cook for 15 mins instead of 10 mins stated, they were a bit firm. Color contrast was nice. All in all excellent flavor, not hot, & tomatillo sauce complemented the pork. Will make again.

              14 Replies
              1. re: morebubbles

                Further thoughts on the tomatillo braised pork loin -
                Saved the leftovers this way: pork in one container & tomatillo sauce with potatoes in a different container. The potatoes soaked up some sauce so it was a bit dry. The pork was still great. Overall better served and eaten the same day. Instead of 6 servings, I'd say it makes 4 servings.

                1. re: morebubbles

                  I regularly make something like this with a couple of adjustments...

                  > Instead of Loin I use Baby Back Ribs

                  > I cut out the potatoes & use Mexican Greens (Quelite, Verdolaga, Romeritos etc.,) if you can't find those than Spinach, Chard or Collards would be good choices. Depending on the characteristics of the greens you choose you can add in the last 5 to 10 minutes so that they melt into the sauce but aren't completely lost (especially with a good tasting green like Romerito or Verdolaga)

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Eat_Nopal, this sounds very good! My problem is getting Mexican goods, esp. fresh ones. But the spinach etc options are do-able. Thanks for the tip. I thought the potatoes called for were too many, I'd have no trouble replacing them or using half the amount, then adding a green. (Now I'm totally curious about the greens you mentioned.)

                    1. re: morebubbles

                      fyi verdolaga is also called purslane
                      it's a delicious weed that occasionally shows up at my farmer's market

                      1. re: pitu

                        Thanks Pitu! I love Verdolagas, I didn't realize it had an "american" name... I'll keep an eye out for it! :)


                        1. re: pitu

                          I had several containers of purslane in a planter in my front yard, loving the bright flowers, but definitely wouldn't have thought to cook with it.

                          It's a moot point now as (yes, really) one of our neighbors cows learned to jump the fence and preferred grazing in our yard... and completely stripped the purslane down to nubs on her first trip.

                          1. re: shanagain

                            A while back, I bought some verdolagas (purslane) in the Pátzcuaro mercado. (Despite warnings from other expats here.) I cooked it. It was pretty awful.

                            1. re: Anonimo

                              that's strange, anonimo
                              it's a pretty innocuous green with a pretty light flavor

                              awful how? maybe it was old, or you over-cooked it?

                              1. re: pitu

                                Agreed... if it was late in the growing season, you don't know how to trim them, & you just try to cook them like spinach they will be bad.

                                You only want the leaves... no steams, early in the season the leaves are smaller more tender (they can even be used as salad greens)... in either case even bigger, thicker, toughher leaves are great with Pork in Salsa Verde.

                                I like Baby Back Ribs so sear them on a grill, then I braise them in a cooked salsa verde (make sure to have plenty of roasted garlic, browned onions & Mexican oregano) in a clay pot for about 1 hour. Then I add the verdologas for about 10 maybe 15 minutes.

                                My wife hates cooked greens of all kinds (except for really creamed spinach & spanikopita)... so leave them in until they "melt" into the sauce. They will lend a pleasant lemony dimension to the overall dish.

                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                  Yes, that was it: the stems were very stringy, and the taste was sort of unpleasantly sourish.

                    2. re: morebubbles

                      I also made this dish a few nights ago. I've made it twice before, and while I've liked the results, I wanted to improve on the past. Instead of using pork loins, I used cubed pork shoulder (trying for something like chili verde). The tomatillo sauce was wonderful -- I also increased the amount of tomatillos because I had extra-- and better the next day. Having made this before, I knew to store the potatoes separately from the pork/tomatillo mixture to prevent the potatoes from soaking up all the sauce. Also made his Classic Mexican White Rice on the side.

                      The pork was more tender this time. I have to admit that having learned more about braising from Molly Stevens, I applied some of those techniques to this recipe: I lowered the oven heat and used parchment paper. I think next time I might try braising the pork even longer to see if I can get it fork tender!

                      1. re: redwood2bay

                        parchment paper - do you mean you covered the pork with it before putting in the oven? Could you explain the procedure to me please? (didn't do the braising book with all of you...) Thanks!

                        1. re: morebubbles

                          The parchment paper (or heavy foil) helps to seal the pot. The paper itself doesn't touch the meat, but should come close to the meat. Press down on the paper so that it comes close to touching the meat and the ends of the paper will hang over the rim of the pot. Then put the lid on top. The theory behind this is that it will create a closer area for the steam to travel (only to the paper as opposed to the lid) causing a better baster for the food.

                          1. re: beetlebug

                            Thanks, good to know the technique. Will try it, with the heavy foil as you mentioned, next time. Although the meat was tender & delicious the way instructed, I may lower oven temp. a little bit and cover as mentioned & see if that makes it even better. I did find that the meat was well cooked all the way through & I like a bit less done.