tv RTE News Six One PBS July 25, 2013 3:00pm-3:31pm PDT
that's always the word that comes to my mind when i come to this place. it's called san angel inn. and it's an old carmelite monastary turned hacienda turned restaurant, and it's nestled right into the old money san angel neighborhood of mexico city. and to tell you the truth, coming here is like taking a pleasure trip to some long-lost, more genteel time. and the food? well, the food is totally classic. i don't think it's changed all that much since my wife and i used to save up our pesos and come here for a splurgy lunch 20 years ago when we were starving researchers living in mexico city. and everything from the way they serve the margaritas to the decor to the food, it all just adds up to romance-- pure passion. so that's why i ordered these--
chiles rellenos, possibly the most passion-infused dish in the mexican canon. i mean, it starts with chilis, which are already the culinary icon for passion. and then there's the filling and the sauce, and... so it's all about layers of texture and flavor, all revealing themselves. now, in mexico people can get a little obsessed with chiles rellenos. they all have their quintessential favorites. some like them with fresh chilis, others with dried chilis, some like them battered and others not. what i've ordered here is probably the most classic version of chiles rellenos. it's the one that starts with the poblano chili that's stuffed with minced pork picadillo, and then battered with the souffle batter, and fried until golden, and then covered with this beautiful tomato sauce. but here's the deal-- i mean,
the words "chiles rellenos" in spanish just mean "stuffed chilis." so you can imagine that here in mexico, well, the possibilities are endless. well, from the sublime to the spectacular. this is mercado de la merced in downtown mexico city, and it is the largest fresh market in all of latin america. if you're looking for a
total-immersion intensive into the flavors and the foods that mexico's just passionate about, well, this is the place to get it. now, when i said that chilis are a part of everyday life in mexico, well, this is what i was
talking about. i mean, just in a few hours, all of this will be gone. and my guess is that the vast majority of them will turn into stuffed chiles rellenos. now, when you're choosing a poblano chili, i always look for the ones, the shiniest unblemished, no-wrinkle skin. that always indicates that they're kind of old. and if you're going to stuff them, well, choose the ones that don't have very many indentions in them. it just makes them easier to roast and peel. now, you'll notice that the poblano chili is the closest looking thing to our green
bell pepper. and we all know that one of our favorite ways to serve green bell peppers is to stuff them. and here in mexico, or most of the time in the united states, the number one choice for chiles rellenos-- poblano chili. now, the thing about chiles rellenos is that they take some time and care to prepare-- some love, which i would guess is the reason that at our restaurant
they have achieved almost cult status. i mean, people line up on the street for them before we open, which is just about the time that it is. and so i've asked richard james, the chef at frontera, to sort of step us through the process of making them. the first thing he does is to blister the skins, and that's easiest to do if you plunk the chilis into a fryer basket, drop them into the hot oil, and then put another basket on top to keep them submerged. after about a minute or so they'll be completely blistered all the way around. you let them cool a little bit, rub off that skin, cut a slit in the side, and then get all the seeds out from inside. now they're ready to stuff. we use two different fillings-- cheese and a shredded pork picadillo. you'll notice how richard fills them and then flattens them slightly on a baking sheet. we put them into a freezer to firm here while we're preparing the batter.
now, the first thing richard's doing is to beat egg whites with a good pinch of salt until they hold very stiff peaks. then gently fold in-- we just use the same whisk attachement, but do this by hand-- some egg yolks and some flour. and when the chilis are firm, take them out of the freezer, dip them thoroughly through the batter, and then lay them into that hot oil. it's easiest if you dip them in on both sides, so you start to cook the batter on both sides at the same time. baste them gently with a little bit of oil, turn them. after three or four minutes they'll be golden and beautiful. perfect served over a brothy roasted tomato sauce with a fresh garnish like sunflower sprouts.
now, to take our understanding of chiles rellenos to the next level, i thought we'd go to chili university. and for the university part of that, well, i'm taking you to the universidad nacional autonoma de mexico, what most people call unam, or the national autonomous university. and for the chili part, well, i thought we'd go straight to the master-- to ricardo munoz zurita, the guy who's literally written the book on chiles rellenos in mexico. and he's also written another huge volume called the dictionary of mexican gastronomy. and when that came out, time magazine called him "the prophet and preserver of mexican cooking."
well, the university asked him to open a restaurant right in the cultural center of the university, and it's become this incredible place, a destination for four-star dining. you know, i came here last fall during the independence day celebrations, and he was making the most famous chile rellenos dish mexico knows. it's called chiles en nogada. it's a stuffed chili with this beautiful filling that's sort of pork and fruit, covered with a creamy walnut sauce. it was totally unforgettable. ricardo, nice to be with you in your kitchen here. >> well, nice to have you here. >> thank you very much. okay, so in the united states, we're always thinking about chiles rellenos as being either stuffed poblanos, fresh poblano
chilis, or sometimes the long, skinny anaheims. you've got something completely different for us. >> yes, i have the chili ancho one. >> the dried chili ancho. and that's the... this chili here, right? >> right. >> and it's the one that's the dried form of a poblano chili, >> right, yes. and to juice them we need to soak them in a special water made out of piloncillo, which is this. >> okay, this is, like, the unrefined sugar, raw sugar. so you've dissolved some of that in some water, and that's what we have here. no salt. >> no, no salt at all. >> okay, and then you just soak them. this is hot, now. >> yes. >> this is hot. and you're just going to put them right down into that. and then how long do they have to soak? >> about five minutes. >> about five minutes. not very long at all. >> no, not very long at all. >> okay. >> because otherwise they get too soft. they're just going to fall apart. >> they're going to fall apart. okay. so this next step here is these are already soaked for their five minutes. >> yes. you see how soft they are now? >> yes.
>> now, the next thing that you need to do, which is very important, is to devein them and seed them. so you want to break them just like that. >> open them up, slit down the side. >> and then you will find all the seeds and all the veins. >> and you just take all of that out. >> yeah, we just want to remove them, okay? >> okay, yeah. >> just like that, yeah. >> beautiful, beautiful. >> and they should be very clean, just like the one... >> like this other one that we've got here. >> yeah, the one i showed you. >> okay, so we're going to fill them with plantains, okay? now, so that everybody knows, these plantains... >> they have to be very ripe, just... >> they have to be very ripe. >> just like you're seeing it here. >> and if this was a regular banana that people just eat, they would think this was overripe. but these are really, really dark. >> no, but that's what you really want, because this particular banana develops a particular kind of sweetness when it's ripe like that. otherwise, a little bit too unripe, it's not eatable.
>> okay, and it won't taste sweet, right? >> right. >> okay. >> that's what we want. >> so you let them ripen until they're what i call black ripe, like that, and then what do you do with it? >> then we bake it. >> bake it? okay. >> into the oven. >> like a medium... >> yeah, a medium. >> and how long does it take? >> about 20 minutes. >> about 20 minutes. and what do you want to... how should it feel? what do you want to look for? >> just like that. they should be really soft. >> uh-huh. >> and it has a really nice... >> ah, and it's soft like that. >> right. see? >> beautiful. and then we want to make cubes out of it. >> okay, so we've got the soaked chilis, and we've got the baked plantain that's been all cut up. what else goes into the filling? >> oh, that i have to show you here. >> okay. >> we're going to heat the oil, and then we're going to sautee the onion. and right after we're going to
add the garlic really quick. >> yeah. >> keep stirring. just a few seconds, again. >> yep. >> and then we're going to add the red tomato. it's chopped. and here we're going to wait about five minutes, until the red tomato is cooked. >> okay. >> we're going to add the plantains that we already baked. >> yep. >> and then... >> now, how long do you want to cook this? >> about ten minutes. you want to make sure that the plaintain is cooked all the way through. >> all the way through, okay. >> yes. okay, and now one of the secret ingredients of this recipe is to use the piloncillo again. but you notice that this is powder. >> yeah. so how did you do that? did you grate it? >> yes. >> okay, so grated piloncillo... >> exactly. >> ...goes into it. >> a little salt. you don't need too much salt, because this is a sweet recipe. >> okay.
>> and a little pepper. >> all right. >> mix well, and wait until everything is very well combined and cooked. >> okay. >> now you want to remove it from the heat. let it get cold a little bit, and then, as a final step, we will add panela. >> okay, good. okay, so we've got the filling of the cooked plantains with the panela cheese ready to stuff the chilis, right? okay, show us how to do it. >> okay, well, this is quite simple now that we have have the chili. we're going to have, like, two to three full spoons of the filling, and we want to push them a little bit, and then now here is a little trick. by sealing with... with the fingers, push down, and then you want to overlap a little bit the edge. >> overlap them with just a little bit. >> right. and that way it's going to be...
it's going to have the cone shape. >> oh, beautiful. beautiful, beautiful. >> so we're going to place that here. to finish the presentation of the chili we want to use fresh cream. >> looks pretty good right now. >> and then just as a final decor, a big, nice parsley. >> i can't wait to dig into it. >> okay. >> mmm. now, i'll tell you what i love about that, is that there's that sort of gentle spiciness of the chili that plays beautifully against the sweetness of the plantain, onions and garlic, and then of course the gorgeous cream. oh, how i love the cream here in mexico. it's the reason that i love being here. i wish we had cream like that. ricardo, thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful recipe with us. >> thank you. >> thanks.
well, yes, the whole idea of chiles rellenos does tend to be synonymous with "spend a half a day in the kitchen," and it usually involves battering and frying. but like i said, the name really does just mean "stuffed chili," and stuffing a chili doesn't have to be all that hard. in fact, i've come up with a new recipe, a great recipe if you're going to grill in the summer, that sort of streamlines the whole process. now, i'm going to throw these chilis on the grill. these are some beautiful looking anaheim chilis that are so popular in the southern part of the united states. i'm going to turn all of these chilis until they're blackened and blistered. and while i'm doing that, i'm going to slide a sliced red onion alongside them here. be sure to brush it with a
little oil, let it brown and soften, and then when all of the chilis are thoroughly blackened, rub that blackened skin off, cut a little slit in the side of them, then reach a finger in there to dislodge all of the seeds, and then give them a quick rinse to get all the seeds out. okay, we've got all of the chilis roasted and peeled, and now on to the filling. i'm going to combine here some grated jack cheese, and you could use cheddar cheese, you could use the chihuahua cheese, with some cooked shrimp. easy combination. use anything that you want to flavor this, or just do it straight cheese. i'm using a sort of luxurious thing here, because i want to make these kind of special. now i'm going to season it with a little bit of mexican oregano, crumbling it between my palms to
release all of its beautiful aromatic goodness. a little salt over the top of the whole thing. remember, the cheese already is seasoned, so you don't want to go too heavy on that seasoning. some fresh ground black pepper. and then i'm just going to dive in with my hand and mix all of this together. okay, one last thing to get into our filling there, and that's that grilled onion. i'm going to slide it here onto the cutting board and chop it into about quarter-inch pieces. give that another little mix, and we're ready to stuff a
portion of this filling into each of those chilis. now, if you want to use the grill to finish your chiles rellenos dish, you can't just slide them on there, of course. all the cheese would melt and drip right down through the grill grates. so i'm going to borrow an ancient technique from mexico and wrap them in corn husks. these are just the standard issue corn husks that you can find dried in many places. soak them in water for 30 or 40 minutes until they're pliable, and and then lay one of the stuffed chilis in there, and then put another one alongside it. that makes a nice portion. like that.
and then bring the husk up around to cover it. grab another husk and open that one out flat, but facing in the opposite direction. then bring the husk up over to cover it nicely in that direction, and then choose a very large husk here, or a long one, i should say, and tear it into strips. i'll tear a couple of them here that we can use to tie and secure this package. up and over, knot it. and then the second one. and in mexico when they wrap food to cook on a griddle or grill, they use the ancient aztec name for it, mextlapique.
now, once we get all of those packages made, we'll slide them onto the grill. so i've been turning these on the grill for about ten minutes or so. i moved them from the hotter part of the grill to a cooler spot to just let that cheese melt more slowly. and now they're ready to serve. now, you could serve these very rustic corn husk-wrapped packages just as they are and let the guests dive into them and unwrap their own little packages, or you can pull off the wrappers here to expose that
beautiful gooey goodness. this is one of the things that i just love about mexico. i wasn't thinking just about the mescal that i've got here, though i do love the mescal as well. no, i was thinking about the way that people in mexico understand what's modern. i mean, this place is a perfect example of it. it's called o mayahuel, and it's in the coyoacan section of mexico city. o mayahuel, by the way, is the aztec name for the goddess of maguey, the plant that you distill to make mescal, or its
cousin, tequila. but the owners of this place, well, they're dedicated to taking mexican classics and giving them a contemporary twist. now, i'm not talking here about fusion, or about becoming international. no, i'm just talking about a sort of generation next take on beloved mexican classics. well, i mean, the mescal is a perfect example of that. i mean, now, i'm sure you're probably thinking about mescal as that poor relative, rustic and robust, of tequila, right? well, i'll tell you, when you put it into a bottle like this, sort of dress it up and then serve tastes of it beautifully in the little earthenware casuelitas like we've got in front of us here, well, you start seeing mescal from a completely different point of
view. i mean, this one is from zacatecas, and it's beautifully balanced. this one's from oaxaca and it's smoky and rich. from guerrero, it's almost like a meal in a cup there. and of course in michoacan it's the same kind of mescal, but a little bit more balanced and beautiful and dry on the finish. well, and in a place like this, food is interpreted in the same way. so i've got here a chile relleno, a chile relleno that takes off from what ricardo munoz showed us with the dried ancho chili, but here it's stuffed with caramelized onions and skirt steak, sort of like a taco filling. and then the whole thing is doused with a kind of vinaigrette-like escabeche. it's time to get a little taste of this.
it's just right. and that's what i love so much about many of the new restaurants here in this capital of cool. >> okay, so i've fired up your appetite with some of my favorite dishes, entertaining tips, and mexican travel inspirations. well, now i want to hear what you have to say. visit us at rickbayless.com/tv for recipes and a whole lot more. captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
to sunday, july 28. two fine constellations are side-by-side in the south -- hook-tailed scorpius on the right, and sagittarius to its left. modern star charts usually show sagittarius as a teapot. it's an eye-catching pattern, even though none of its stars is super bright. but sagittarius means "archer," and the bow and arrow are easy to picture if you visualize the stars that way. according to ancient greek tradition, the bowman was either the centaur chiron, or the satyr crotus. this is tony flanders from "sky & telescope" magazine, wishing you clear skies and great views. >> brought to you by... manufacturers of telescopes and binoculars.
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