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May 1, 2013 01:11 AM

Cookbook of the Month May 2013: MEXICAN EVERYDAY Quick Meals from the Grill, Soft Tacos, Enchiladas, Tostadas and Tortas, Seafood, Poultry and Meat, Desserts

Welcome once again to Cookbook of the Month. May's selection is MEXICAN EVERYDAY by Rick Bayless.

This is the reporting thread for the final four chapters of the book, as follows:

Quick Meals from the Grill: Seasonings, Salsas and Skills, p 134-182

Soft Tacos, Enchiladas, Tostadas and Tortas, p 186-230

Seafood, Poultry and Meat Main Dishes, p 232-294

Desserts, p 298-312

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

Arriba! Etc.

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  1. Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas with Spinach and Mushrooms, p. 215

    Bayless has really streamlined enchilada-making in this recipe, without doing anything to sacrifice flavor or texture.

    For the sauce, you simply put garlic, tomatillos, serrano or jalapeño peppers (I used serrano), and cilantro into a blender and process until smooth. Heat some oil or bacon grease in a saucepan, then add the puree from the blender and simmer until reduced to "the consistency of thick tomato sauce". He says this should take about 7 minutes. I'm not sure mine got as thick as that. He then has you add 2 cups chicken broth. I felt this was going to make too thin a sauce, so I only used one cup. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Right before assembling the enchiladas, he has your stir some crema (I used creme fraiche) into the sauce and adjust the salt to taste.

    For the filling, you heat some oil or bacon grease in a skillet, and sauté mushrooms, until they start to brown. Then you add some sliced red onion, cook that, and finally the spinach, and cook until just wilted (there is the option of also adding some cooked chicken or ham, which I did not do). Season with salt.

    To soften the tortillas, he does something a bit different. Instead of passing them through hot oil, he has you brush them with oil (or bacon grease), and bake them in the oven for about 3 minutes at 350 degrees.

    To assemble, he has you dip the tortilla in the sauce, lay on a plate, top with the filling, and roll. The instructions have you assembly 3 enchiladas on each plate (although the photos only show 2), then sauce. Garnish with crumbled queso fresco, some more sliced red onion (I omitted this), and some cilantro.

    This is extremely similar to enchiladas I have made in the past, right down to the filling, so I knew from the get go that I would like these, and sure enough I did. The differences in Bayless' preparation are the crema in the tomatillo sauce and the method for softening the tortillas. I don't have strong feelings one way or the other about the crema. I might use it again, but I wouldn't hesitate to omit it if I didn't have it around. I thought the tortilla method was excellent, and really streamlined the preparation because it is hands-off. All in all, this is great enchilada recipe, which can easily be adapted to be vegetarian, if you use oil instead of pork fat water or veg stock instead of chicken broth, and even vegan if you omit the cheese (which would be fine to do, as it is not a big part of the dish).

    I served this with refried beans (his recipe, on p. 84), and red rice (my own recipe).

    29 Replies
    1. re: MelMM

      These sound great and are on my list for next week. I was planning to streamline even further by making the sauce ahead - do you think it would hold up?

      1. re: Westminstress

        Yes, it will certainly hold. If you wanted to be extra careful, you could withhold the crema until you reheat.

        1. re: Westminstress

          Tomatillo sauces in general hold up really well if made ahead, with the added bonus that their flavor improves as well.

          It also has a tendency to thicken when held. Heat it up and if it's too thick add some extra liquid. I've had it go both ways with tomatillo sauce I've had in the fridge. Sometimes it's been just fine once heated, other times I've had to add some extra liquid.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Yep, tomatillos have a lot of pectin in them, so they can set up just like a jam.

            1. re: MelMM

              If you do jam, try the recipe for Tomatillo Jam on the Pati's Table web site, it's really, really good.

        2. re: MelMM

          I made this recipe several years ago for a college going away dinner for my niece, along with Robb Walsh's classic cheese enchiladas. Both were received very well--the huge dish of cheese enchiladas disappeared as did the Bayliss recipe. ITA about making this one vegetarian--or adding chicken to go in a different direction.

          1. re: tvchick

            When you mention Robb Walsh, do you mean from his Tex-Mex book? There are a few different cheese enchiladas in there. Whichever, that is a very well-done book on Tex-Mex.

            1. re: MelMM

              Yes, it's his Tex-Mex Cookbook and the recipe is Larry's Cheese Enchiladas. I loved the way that they complemented the very different dish from Bayless. I made them again for a group of co-workers, who very quietly devoured them--I guess that they liked them!

          2. re: MelMM

            I found your notes to be very helpful. I have added this to my list to try. I especially like the idea of brushing the tortillas instead of passing them through hot oil.

            Would you mind sharing your red rice recipe?

            1. re: BigSal

              Well, there isn't a recipe, I just make it. It's one of those things, you know?

              The basic method for one cup of rice is something like this: In a heavy saucepan (I usually use cast iron), I heat some oil, and sauté some finely chopped onion. Then I add the rice, and cook it in the oil, stirring here and there, until it just starts to change color a bit. By change color, I mean it will get some opaque spots, and just a few brown spots. Then I add in some tomato paste. Not a lot, maybe 2 tsp at most. I stir that in with the rice until completely mixed in. And I might add a tiny bit of ground chiles. Not "chili powder", which has cumin and garlic powder and other things you don't want in your rice. Just straight ground New Mexican, Guajillo, or other chile, depending upon my mood. We are talking a small amount, maybe 1/4 tsp, at most 1/2. You don't want a big dried chile flavor in this. That gets stirred around a bit, then I add chicken stock (about 1 3/4 cups) and salt. I'm generally using unsalted stock, so I add quite a bit of salt. If you are using canned broth, you would use much less. That gets a quick stir, and then is brought to a simmer. Lid goes on, heat gets turned down to med-low, and it cooks for about 15 minutes, depending upon the type of rice. The final texture should be fairly dry, with the grains separate. You don't want a paella texture here.

              1. re: MelMM

                Thank you. I'm looking forward to trying this.

                1. re: MelMM

                  Thanks Mel, I'm going to try this. I often want to make red rice but all my recipes call for baking ... this is much faster. Also, I like to cook 1 cup of rice at a time, so the proportions are perfect for me.

              2. re: MelMM

                I also made this today! I agree with you on the crema; I did use "mexican" crema but I don't know if I would have missed it. I also hesitated before adding the full two cups of broth but I went ahead and did. Next time I will cut down on the amount, as you did, because I think it did dilute the flavor of the "base" more than I would have liked (after I cooked the tomatillo base to what I thought was the perfect consistency & flavor..). I did add a cup of shredded chicken breast, which gave it texture, and used shiitake mushrooms. It was wonderful!

                1. re: lesliej

                  The "crema" which I find in groceries around here is heavily processed stuff, with thickeners like xanthan gum in it. That's why I don't buy it, and use creme fraiche instead. I thin it with some cream or half-and-half if needed.

                  1. re: MelMM

                    MMM, where are you located? I'm in SoCal and have found a brand of crema that doesn't have a bunch of fillers. It's clearly labeled as "table cream" but in very small font. I want to say it's Mexicano, but I'm not 100% sure on that. It's got the consistency, but I do find it somewhat bland, blander for sure than the crema in Mex.

                      1. re: MelMM

                        Then I can see why your choices may not be as diverse as mine! ;-)

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          You'd probably be surprised what I can get. There is a pretty large Mexican population here due to jobs in agriculture and construction, and even in my town, which is not large, there is a big supermarket aimed at the hispanic population. So I can get fresh hoja santa leaves, for example. But for some reason, even though I can get about 20 different brands of crema, they are all crappy. Maybe, in one of the smaller markets, I could find a better one, but I haven't come across it yet.

                          Now, I can get something called "table cream", but it is in a shelf-stable can, not fresh in the dairy case.

                          1. re: MelMM

                            I hear you on the variety of crema. We've got so many choices it's sometimes hard to figure out which one to use.

                            Mexican, Salvadoreño, Guatameteco, Central Americano, crema, crema agria, por la mesa...argh, too many choices, then compounded by jarred or from the bulk bins in the deli <sigh>. It's never simple is it.

                            1. re: MelMM

                              Re: Crema - I stumbled upon "Lala" Crema Mexicana today when I ventured out to a small Mexican market to look for Mexican oregano. THIS is what I should have used for the tomatillo sauce...there were 2-3 different varieties of crema in the dairy case but the proprietor recommended this brand for the best flavor (the fine print on the container says "The #1 Brand in Mexico", for what it's worth). Anyway, it has a lovely taste & texture - a milder version of our sour cream.

                              1. re: lesliej

                                I was back at my supermarket today, double checking the selection. They have Lala brand, and I got some, but it still has a lot of additives, particularly gums. They also had Fud brand, which is similar. Then there were about a half dozen brands that came in plastic jars (also full of additives), plus some Salvadoran and Honduran cremas in jars. Then there were the cremas in bags. I think I counted about 15 different ones, some Mexican, some Salvadoran, some Honduran. I also bought a bag of "El Vaquero", which is Mexican. Ingredients are "Pasturized Cream, Milk Solids (Non Fat), Stabilizer, Culture, Salt." They don't say what the stabilizer(s) is(are), so this still is not ideal. I can get creme fraiche at the natural foods market, obviously for a much higher price, and the ingredients are cream and culture. Anyway, right now I have the two cremas and the creme fraiche in the fridge, so I'll report back after some tasting.

                                1. re: MelMM

                                  Have you tried ripening your own? I'm having great success with it thus far--tho it is more out of necessity than anything else. The only brand of crema I ever have available is Cacique, which I can only get if I cross the border, so I guess I can't really compare with all of those varieties you have at your fingertips...but the stuff I've been setting up on my counter is pretty tasty!

                      2. re: MelMM

                        Thanks, MelMM...I'll remember that for next time (or just leave it out), as well as reducing the chicken broth. Too many things diluting my perfectly reduced tomatillo sauce!

                        1. re: MelMM

                          Following up on this a year later (hey, better late than never, right?) to say that I have found a brand without the thickeners. The brand is Supremo Crema Chihuaha, and the ingredients are pasteurized cream and lactic culture. Comes in the standard tall plastic jar with a red cap.

                          At the time of last year's post, I didn't really want to make my own, because I rarely bought milk (I don't like to drink it, and I don't eat cereal), so I didn't want to buy more milk than I needed just for this purpose. Since then, I've taken up cheesemaking, so now I am buying large quantities of raw milk and cream from a local dairy. So now, it makes more sense to culture my own, and I probably will do so. But in the meantime, I'm happy to have a brand I can buy that tastes good, and doesn't have that slimy texture that the gums give.

                        2. re: lesliej

                          Leslie your plate looks picture-perfect...even better than the photo in the book. Bravo!!

                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            Oh my goodness, how nice of you to say that! I'm certainly having a good time with COTM (a first-timer, here).

                            1. re: lesliej

                              Well welcome Leslie, it's great to have you cooking with us!!

                        3. re: MelMM

                          Mel, big thanks for your great write-up on this. I'm serving it tomorrow though I did puree the tomatillo mixture today and will cook it tomorrow. Your review made me crave these!!

                          1. re: MelMM


                            These were a big hit at our house too! Mel and Leslie have done such a remarkable job of detailing how this comes together that all I’m left to do is report on the choices I made.

                            I used 2 serranos and even though they had some bite when sliced, the dish itself was not hot…not even medium heat so next time I’d add more serranos.

                            I reduced the tomatillo mixture considerably before adding the chx stock. RB indicates that more time you spend reducing the mixture, the sweeter and richer it will become. Despite being quite thick, my mixture was a little bitter after 15 mins. That said, I used the full 2 cups of chx stock and then reduced the tomatillo mixture by half. I tasted at that point and it was still a little bitter tasting so I decided I would add the crema. In my case it was a necessity as it served to balance the sauce perfectly and left it with the perfect amount of tang and richness. I added shredded roast chicken to the filling mixture.

                            I did not use RB’s method of heating the tortilla. Instead I warmed them on my Comal. Since they were only 6”, I decided to simply fold them over the filling vs roll.

                            As soon as the tomatillo mixture hit the pan and the incredible garlicky aromas started wafting through the house we knew we were in for a treat. Nevertheless, these still managed to exceed our expectations. This would make a perfect vegetarian dish as I wouldn’t have missed the chicken at all.

                            I found this recipe online and it also has a video of Rick making these w Martha if folks are interested:


                            One final note on these...we found them incredibly filling. We ate 3 each but should have only eaten 2 as we were stuffed!!

                            ETA: I used blue corn tortillas

                          2. Puerco (Pork Tenderloin) a la Mexicana, pg. 282.

                            I had a pork tenderloin and I needed to do something simple and quick with it - this fit the bill!

                            First you flame-roast some poblano peppers, then set them aside, covered. Meanwhile, cut the meat into 1" chunks, pat dry, season well and brown on all sides in a skillet with a bit of vegetable oil. Remove the pork from the skillet and set everything aside while you peel and cut the poblanos into strips.

                            Put the skillet back on the heat and add a sliced white onion. Saute for 4-5 minutes, until golden but still crisp. Add some chopped garlic and your poblanos, saute a moment, then add a (drained) can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes in juice, some broth and epazote (if using - cilantro is a suggested substitute but it waits until later). Bring it to a boil and let it cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the meat back to the pan (and the cilantro, if using) and simmer another 5 mins or until the meat is cooked to your liking. Season with salt (remove epazote, if using) and serve.

                            I served this with black refried beans (which I had cooked in the slow-cooker - they were WONDERFUL and I will always use the slow-cooker for beans in the future!) and tortillas. Unfortunately, the beans were really the highlight of the meal - the pork was just meh, which I sort of expected given the ingredients, but I was hoping for one of those "greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts" experiences. I added hot sauce to my serving, which helped a lot, but basically this tasted like lean pork in tomato sauce with poblano peppers. Boring.

                            I found the pork chunks to be an inconvenient size, too - too large for a single mouthful, yet given the saucy quality of the dish, I wanted just to scoop it up with tortillas, instead of having to cut meat with a knife and fork. I might use the basic idea of the recipe again, but I'd cut the meat smaller and add some type of seasonings to perk it up - hot chiles, to be sure, but also cumin and maybe ancho chile powder as well.

                            One additional thing to note: there was a LOT of sauce for a relatively small amount of meat in this recipe. In reading the book, I notice this to be the case with many recipes. While I understand that eating smaller portions of meat is one of Rick Bayless' little diet tricks, anyone who eats a low-carb diet may want to double the meat (or halve the sauce) in many of these recipes, to get a more protein-heavy balance.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: biondanonima

                              Thanks Bio, this recipe is on my list and your notes have given me cause to reconsider. I like that pork tenderloin is a lean meat, but I rarely enjoy the results when I use it in a recipe. I was hoping this one would be different, but it looks like that might not be the case.

                              1. re: delys77

                                I actually like pork tenderloin pretty well, but I prefer it with assertive sauces or marinades because it is naturally a bit bland. This one just didn't have enough oomph for me. Just as an off-topic suggestion, you might try slicing the raw tenderloin into rounds and then pounding them into thin paillards, then marinating and grilling (hot and fast). I love pork tenderloin this way and I find it is a great alternative to chicken breasts - it cooks even quicker since it can stay pink in the middle, and is usually juicier and more tender.

                                1. re: biondanonima

                                  Thanks very much, that sounds like a great suggestion. I grew up with pork medallions with a pan gravy and sometimes repeat my mother's dish for nostalgia, but I usually find it ho hum. A good marinate on a pounded paillards and a quick searing would likely yield a much better result.

                                  1. re: delys77

                                    Some of the rubs from the book would be great on pork tenderloin :)

                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                      Very true, I love the sound of the garlicky ancho chile rub.

                              2. re: biondanonima

                                I made this dish last week and was also underwhelmed. I felt like the pork should have cooked longer to soften up a bit. The chunks were cooked through but still kind of tough which created a strange texture. I liked the flavors of the sauce. If I didn't need to get dinner on the table immediately, I probably would have let it keep simmering on the stove or put it in a crock pot on low the next day to break down the pork a bit.

                                It was easy enough to prepare. I would probably make it again (maybe add some spices to the sauce) with chicken. I am always looking for new things to do with chicken because I dislike it so much.

                              3. Chipotle Shrimp Pg. 251

                                I must admit I first made this from the online recipe link I found in EYB, and it has since become a house favourite. In our quest to add more seafood to our diet Shrimp are often a great addition to the menu at our house.

                                This dish is definitely a weeknight winner as it involves very few ingredients and comes together very quickly. Essentially you blitz some chipotles along with their sauce and some canned tomatoes before adding them to a skillet in which you have sauteed some garlic. You simmer this for about 5 minutes then add some water to thin to a regular tomato sauce consistency. Taste for salt, he calls for a full tsp, but I went with about 3/4 of a tsp and we were good. Lastly, toss in the shrimp and simmer till done, about 3 minutes in my case.

                                The resulting dish has a good punch of heat, but not so much that you can't still taste the tangy smokey sauce. The shrimp paired perfectly with the other flavours and the whole things looks very nice. I served with just some steamed rice and a green salad and we were good to go.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: delys77

                                  Thanks for the review -- I was planning on making this tomorrow. Good to hear that it's good enough to be a standard!

                                  I have more shrimp than we'll eat and was thinking about just cooking all of it. Reheating shrimp can be touchy, though I could pull it out of the sauce, I guess, and heat them separately. Still, since uou're familiar with it, I was wondering if you thought this might be good cold, sort of like a cocktail.

                                  1. re: juster

                                    Hi Juster
                                    We had some left overs and I did reheat very gently in the mircrowave. I usually do shrimp in 20-30 second spurts and stir in between. Temperature wise, I didn't try it cold, that said the sauce is flavourful enough that it will likely translate well at room temperature or slightly chilled. Best of luck.

                                  2. re: delys77

                                    I haven't got the book, so made this from the link and it was absolutely delicious. I thought I had masa to make a few tortillas, but I didn't, so I ended up making a pot of polenta and serving the shrimp atop that and it was perfect. Thanks for the heads-up on this one!

                                    1. re: delys77

                                      Chipotle Shrimp (Camarones Enchipotlados) p. 251


                                      Thanks to delys77 for highlighting this recipe. This made for an easy and healthy dinner tonight. The only change I made was to add diced zucchini after sautéing the garlic (the zucchini needed to be used up before it went bad).

                                      This dish was flavorful and really packed a punch with so few ingredients. My mouth is still reveling in the slow burn from the smoky, spicy chipotle sauce.

                                      1. re: BigSal

                                        I made this last night and while there was nothing wrong with it at all, it didn't bowl us over. Maybe because this was our third dinner in a row from this book and we may just have OD'd on chipotles in adobo. Served it with the rice which I really did like and leftover swiss chard taco filling. I think I may head over to Italian tonight :)

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          The shrimp were pretty large so we had a few leftover. I just made a shrimp salad with them and IT'S quite tasty. I wiped off a good bit of the sauce, chopped the shrimp, added s&p, lime juice and mayo. I also had a snack of the very last of the rice with some of the sauce and some crema. Also good.

                                      2. re: delys77

                                        CHIPOTLE SHRIMP, p. 252.

                                        As everyone says above, a healthy and quick shrimp dinner with no fuss but lots of flavor. The only change I made was to use a can of whole fire-roasted Muir Glen tomatoes (all I had on hand) instead of the recommended diced ones suggested in the recipe. Though I drained them before processing until smooth, they still exuded a lot of juice and I didn't think the resultant sauce needed any thinning out with chicken broth or water. In fact, I liked the flavor a lot--just tomatoes, canned chipotles and their sauce, garlic and s & p.
                                        Two canned chipotles en adobo (Goya brand) provided a satisfactory if not incendiary amount of heat. Served with the recommended white rice pilaf, which sopped up everything nicely.

                                        1. re: delys77

                                          Chipotle Shrimp - p. 252

                                          I made this last night. Process has already been described, so I won't go into details. What could be easier? Like Goblin, I didn't think it needed added liquid. I added just a bit of fish stock, but nowhere near the amount called for. I served this as tacos, so I ended up with a lot of leftover sauce. This morning, I used the sauce, with a little more fish stock added to poach my morning eggs, and put the eggs plus sauce over grits. The sauce being so easy to make, it might be worthwhile to make it just for that purpose. Kind of a mexican riff on eggs in purgatory.

                                          1. re: delys77

                                            I finally, finally got around to trying the Chipotle Shrimp. I did the zucchini addition (hey, one less pan or bowl to clean!). We liked this a lot. That said, I think next time I might add just a smidgen of dark/unsweetened chocolate, to give it a bit of a mole sauce taste. I felt it could have a bit more depth, and that would help.

                                          2. Chipotle Meatballs, page 287

                                            The dish was successful, and was happily consumed by the household. I don't usually use the food processor when I make meatballs, but it's necessary to incorporate the bacon into the mix for this recipe. I liked the light texture of the meatballs that resulted from using the processor.

                                            I picked this recipe because I had some ground turkey in the fridge that needed to be used and I was looking for something different than a spaghetti and meatballs type dish. This delivered on flavor. I used two chipotle peppers, plus 2 tbls of the can sauce as per the recipe for the sauce. Next time I might just use one, it was quite spicy.

                                            The mint seemed like an odd herb to use, and I may have used a bit less than the 1/2 cup called for, but it's flavor was not really noticeable in the finished dish.

                                            One of the things that I like about this book, is the "riffs" or variations on many of the recipes. Bayless does mention that other herbs can be substituted for the mint. Also that other ground meats can be used, rather than the ground pork that is in the main recipe. So, I went with turkey because that's what I had, but I would like to try the recipe with pork sometime. I also used mint because it grows like a weed here and I always have some in the backyard. I could see using parsley just as easily.

                                            Also, I switched the preparation steps. I mixed the sauce ingredients in the processor first and then set them aside in a bowl. Then with just a quick rinse of the processor I mixed the meatball ingredients. If you do it the way it is set out in the book, you would have to completely wash the processor after mixing the meat, before you did the sauce.

                                            16 Replies
                                            1. re: pamf

                                              Ooo I'm glad to see these turned out good with turkey. I have them on my menu plan for next week with turkey. Good tip on switching the sauce/meatball mixing, I'll be sure to keep that in mind. Might do the parsley too since it's considerably cheaper to buy than mint is.

                                              Did you just serve them by themselves? I was thinking of just throwing them in a tortilla, sorta like a meatball taco sorta thing, and having a salad on the side.

                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                I made these Sunday evening as part of a grazing dinner. Where we had cheese and bread and a few other things to nibble on. So they were actually more of an appetizer, but I would probably serve them on soft rolls (bolillos) as tortas if they were the main focus of dinner. Maybe with onion/cilantro or pickeled onion garnish.

                                                1. re: pamf

                                                  This sounds kind of crazy, but I was almost thinking of making naan to go with them. My favorite mexican place where my folks live makes their own tortillas, and they do them "gordita" style... so they're nice and fat, very much like the naan that I make is.... and I love them. I always get the chile colorado there (which I'm also making from this book) and I just love to dip the fat tortilla in the sauce, or tear off pieces and make little mini wraps with the meat.

                                                  But I don't know, the calories are pretty high in stuff like that so I might just have to stick to the regular flour tortillas I buy at the store...they're locally made and only 110 calories each.

                                              2. re: pamf

                                                I made these last night too, and did just as you did, mixing the sauce ingredients in the food processor first and then the meat mixture. I find that cookbook recipes give instructions like that frequently - they clearly test their recipes in kitchens with multiple food processors or where someone else does the dishes for them!

                                                Anyway, this recipe has you first grind some bacon in the food processor, then add garlic, breadcrumbs, eggs and finally mint and ground pork. Shape this mixture into meatballs and put them in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes while you prep the sauce.

                                                To make the sauce, you buzz canned tomatoes, garlic, chipotles and their liquid and some salt and mexican oregano in the food processor. Easy peasy. After the meatballs have been in the oven 10 mins, you pour the sauce over them and cook another 15-20 mins, until the sauce is reduced to "tomato paste consistency." Remove the meatballs, then stir some warmed broth into the sauce until you get a consistency you like.

                                                I made a few changes and would make a few more next time, but overall we LOVED this - my husband ate like 10 meatballs. I used beef instead of pork and subbed pork rinds for the breadcrumbs for low-carb purposes. I also skipped the broth step entirely, as my sauce was a perfectly spoonable consistency after being in the oven and I didn't want to cook the meatballs any further - they were a tad dry as it was, although the sauce fixed that. I used two chipotles, and the sauce tasted quite spicy when cold, but after cooking the heat had faded, so I would use more next time (I have a pretty high tolerance for heat, though).

                                                Next time, I will again make the sauce first, but I'll either put it in the oven right away or let it start reducing on the stovetop while I make the meatballs. I like the oven method for those, but I'll reduce the heat or shorten the cooking time (or both) - maybe 10 mins at 400 to let them release some of their fat, then another 5-10 minutes in the already-reduced sauce to finish cooking through.

                                                Super delicious - destined to become a standard chez moi. I served them with a fennel-orange salad in a Rick Bayless-inspired vinaigrette made of a rehydrated pasilla chile, OJ, mayo, cider vinegar and salt - a refreshing counterpoint.

                                                1. re: pamf

                                                  Love these meatballs. I've made them several times, and often serve with just rice and a salad. I usually decrease the chipotle a little.

                                                  1. re: pamf

                                                    My turn with this recipe, which I made for a Seis de Mayo potluck at work today. I don't have the book and worked from several inconsistent recipes I found on the Web, but they came out great and everyone loved them -- which is saying something as they were up against some stiff competition, we have some very talented cooks around here! Thanks to the guidance here I did the sauce first in the FP and let it simmer stovetop in a large Dutch oven to thicken while I made the meatballs. I am temporarily oven-less so I used my grill as an oven, wrapping a couple of sheet pans in foil and doing 2 batches for a total of 4 dozen walnut or slightly larger sized meatballs. Worked like a charm. Then I finished them in the sauce. I will definitely make these again! In a small batch they would come together very fast.

                                                    1. re: pamf

                                                      Chipotle Meatballs p. 287

                                                      These were great! Most has been covered already. I used 93% lean turkey. Also I just used 1 chipotle pepper and just a bit of the sauce since my dinner guest informed me he doesn't like anything too spicy. They weren't very spicy at all, but still had great flavor. Also I thought the mint was a great and unexpected addition. My dinner guest said that if he had these in a restaurant he would sit there wondering what "that flavor" was, in a good way.

                                                      I didn't make my meatballs large enough, I ended up with 20 instead of the listed 16. Also, I totally forgot the broth step at the end, but honestly, I didn't think it needed it. My sauce was thick, but I liked it that way. Also I used 4 slices of center cut bacon since it's a bit smaller and thinner than regular bacon. If anybody cares, each serving of 5 meatballs was 370 calories and was super super filling. I'm excited to eat more for my lunch tomorrow, and I sent home the rest with my dinner guest. I served with the green bean salad from page 73.

                                                      Side note about chipotles... I purchased La Costena brand at my regular store and I don't really like them. The peppers themselves are fine but the adobo sauce has larger pieces of onion in it, so it makes it hard to mix in with other things without having the chunks of onion. But that's all my store has. I've purchased other brands (that I now can't remember) in the past that had a smooth adobo sauce. I'm going to the mexican market this weekend so we'll see if they have something else.

                                                      1. re: pamf

                                                        Little update to these meatballs - I made them again, with a shorter cook time and a stovetop reduction of the sauce. Those changes were good and I'd do them that way again. However, I also subbed cilantro for the mint this time, since I didn't have any mint in the house, and that was a mistake. Even though I didn't really taste "mint" the first time I made them, the flavor was MUCH more interesting with the mint than with the cilantro, IMO.

                                                        1. re: pamf

                                                          I made these last night. I was glad to find the suggestion to make the sauce first in the food processor and then mix the meat.

                                                          I used just pork for the meatballs (had ground beef too but decided to save that for something else) and followed the ingredients listing pretty faithfully. I cooked them in the oven as directed but decided to finish them off in the sauce as it reduced. I can't help it. I'm Italian and meatballs are supposed to be cooked in sauce in my mind.

                                                          I didn't like the idea of just pouring over the sauce as it seemed too liquid-y so I reduced it down quite a bit and then put the meatballs in to cook further.

                                                          I thought that these were easy enough to make but I felt like the actual meatballs themselves needed some more flavor. I would add some cumin and chile powder or steak seasoning or something next time. I used 2 chipotles in the sauce which, for me, was one too many. My husband loved it but he has a better tolerance for heat than I do.

                                                          1. re: pamf

                                                            Chipotle Meatballs - p. 287

                                                            Made these last night. I used all pork, and made them pretty much as written, except that I had more meat than called for, so made a slightly larger batch. I also ground the pork myself, which I often do when making meatballs. Even though I made a somewhat larger batch of meatballs, I made the quantity of sauce called for in the recipe, without scaling up. I also used 3 chipotles instead of two.

                                                            I normally mix my meatballs with my hands, but this time I did the food processor as directed, because of the bacon. I felt that this did not give as good a texture as what I normally get in a meatball, so in the future, I would mince the bacon by hand, and mix the meatballs with my grubby fingers just like I always do. The meatballs come out lighter that way.

                                                            I liked the mint in these very much. It is not overwhelming but adds a nice flavor that compliments the chipotle surprisingly well. Like others, I did not add broth to the sauce.

                                                            We liked these, and I would make them again, but I would not use the food processor again, and I would probably make a few other tweaks.

                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                              If you're grinding the meat for the meatballs anyway, just grind the bacon with it. Saves cleaning a cutting board, a knife and your time to mince it up. It also incorporates into the meat a little better I think.

                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                Agree. I have a Batali sausage recipe that calls for pork shoulder and pancetta. I sub bacon...cause I'm cheap! I feed some pork through and then some bacon. Repeat. Works great.

                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                  Yes, that is what I should have done. I don't know why I didn't think of it.

                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                    Not enough tequila while you were prepping...

                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                      That is absolutely the problem. I won't make that mistake again!!!

                                                              2. re: pamf

                                                                Chipotle Meatballs

                                                                I made these last night, inspired by the COTM weeknight thread. They came together easily and were pretty tasty. I liked the mint. I made them with turkey in an effort to be healthy and I'm sure I would have liked them much better with pork. I didn't love the sauce. I kept it on the mild side for my kids, maybe that's why it fell flat for me.

                                                              3. Salmon in Luxurious Green Sesame Pipian - p 235

                                                                Puree 2 cups tomatillo salsa (store-bought, or make your own from p 154 - I opted to do this) then heat some oil in a large skillet and pour the salsa puree in. Allow to reduce for about 5 minutes, then add 1c chicken broth & 3 tbsp tahini paste. Simmer this mixture for 10 min, and season with salt and a bit of sugar (I omitted the sugar). At this point you can slip your salmon fillets or steaks - about 1.25 lbs total - into the skillet, covering them completely with the sauce and continuing to simmer to cook the fish. Cook 1 heaping cup of fresh or frozen peas while the sauce is simmering - RB suggests microwaving these. Once the salmon is flaky, serve it out with a generous amount of sauce, sprinkled with the peas, some sesame seeds and fresh cilantro.

                                                                Served as part of a meal which included a simple green salad, homemade corn tortillas and the sweet potato salad on p 75, this was our first introduction to this cookbook, and we were truly delighted with the results. The sauce really is luxuriant - it's tart, rich and flavourful and it goes wonderfully with the salmon. Our only complaint was that there wasn't more of it -- my fish took longer to cook than it should have, because my daughter turned on the fan above the stove while she was cooking the tortillas, and it didn't occur to me to put a cover on the fish pan (duh!!) so the sauce reduced down quite a bit. Oops. I'll know better next time!

                                                                I can't wait to make this again. It was so yummy! I especially like how, similar to many other recipes in this book, there are alternative suggestions after the recipe with other ideas for how to cook the dish. I'd love to try it with chicken, or grilled vegetables.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: geekmom

                                                                  Just made this last night, it was terrific! I too made my own salsa, which is pretty easy. And no peas - I'm not a fan. But we served it with rice, which is great for that delicious sauce.

                                                                  1. re: Splendid Spatula

                                                                    I'm so glad someone else tried this -- it's really yummy and it seemed the dish might have been overlooked. I have been thinking that asparagus might go very nicely in place of the peas.

                                                                    1. re: geekmom

                                                                      I don't think you need any extra veg in it, honestly. A green salad on the side, and it's good. Still thinking about how tasty this was, and how soon I can make it again!

                                                                      1. re: Splendid Spatula

                                                                        You're right, of course - what it really needed was MORE SAUCE :-)

                                                                  2. re: geekmom

                                                                    Salmon in Luxurious Green Sesame Pipian, p. 235

                                                                    I made this tonight, using the roasted tomatillo salsa on p. 154, which I made yesterday. It would have been impossible to cover the salmon fillets in the sauce in the wide skillet - it came only halfway up their thickest part - so I just flipped them after a while. I also skipped the peas.

                                                                    I liked it very, very much, too. My salsa was super-mild (on account of serving a heat-averse friend), but the sauce was very flavorful, and there was plenty for us to enjoy. I served it with the Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf and salad of arugula and roasted asparagus.

                                                                    1. re: geekmom

                                                                      Salmon in Luxurious Green Sesame Pipian - p 235

                                                                      I made this salmon last night and was a bit underwhelmed. It could have been because I used commercially prepared salsa as the base instead of homemade. It could have been that I completely forgot the garnishes in the heat of the moment. Or it could have been the fact that dinner was late and rushed which led to everyone being somewhat cranky. Not really sure. I did think the sauce was tasty enough but it could have used some tinkering and I didn't have time for that. I wasn't wowed about the combination with the salmon. I had wonderful copper river salmon, which I generally prefer in a simpler preparation that really allows the flavor of the salmon to shine. I do have quite a bit of pipian sauce leftover as it was too spicy for my kids. I plan to add a bit more tahini and serve it with pan-fried tofu, which I actually think I will prefer as a match.

                                                                      1. re: geekmom

                                                                        I dipped back into this book to make this dish - I kept meaning to last month, but never got around to it. Anyway, I just made the sauce, sans peas, and served it with roasted pork tenderloin. Delicious and unique - I would never have thought to combine tomatillos with tahini but it really worked well. I omitted the cilantro both from the salsa and the garnish because my stepdaughter is one of those unfortunate souls who get the "soap" taste, but it was just fine without. I also omitted the sugar as I thought it unnecessary. I served sauteed Brussels sprouts with it, and their slight bitterness actually went really well with the tangy sauce. Full of win!