Modern Culinary Masters-- Rick Bayless

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rick Bayless, you are a genius. I enjoyed the food today more than any other day. Obviously, the theme was "Mexican", a cuisine that I am not very comfortable cooking. I'm not talking about the tacos and fajitas you get at your local Mexican restaurant on 99 cent margarita night. I'm talking REAL Mexican. I love how all of the ingredients that we used were very cheap, but had a lot of flavor and were stretched out because of the fillers or toppers.

Kim and I were paired up to work on the Chilied Chicken Steamed with Avacodo Leaves. Chef changed the recipe considerably, so we ended up searing and baking the chicken in the marinade instead of steaming it. The avocado leaves were similar to dried bay leaves, so we simply wrapped them in cheesecloth and added them to the marinade to add some extra earthiness and flavor.

I worked on the marinade while Kim seared off the bone-in, skin-on chicken breast (keeping the bone in and the skin on keeps the chicken moist and flavorful). I toasted and rehydrated some dried guajilos chiles (very spicy!). I also toasted some other spices and ground them up in a spice grinder. I blended up the spices, chiles, onion, garlic, cider vinegar, and water. Next, I sauteed the mixture with some canola oil in a skillet until it thickened to the consistency tomato paste. We spread the mixture over the chicken and let it marinate before we put it in the oven to finish cooking. Here was our finished product that we plated with some red tomato rice that every group had to prepare.
Once our chicken was marinating and ready for the oven, I started helping out with other tasks that needed to get done in our group. I helped Matt and Allison prepare the gorditas for the Bacon-Flavored Gorditas Corn Masa Pockets with Roasted Poblano Guacamole:

Next, I helped assemble the chicken tamales with Kim, Henry, and Nora. These were my favorite!!!!Nora and Rob prepared this delicious chicken in Oaxacan yellow mole with green beans and chayote. I tried chayote for the first time today. Chef told us it is similar to an apple, but it's a vegetable. I would describe the taste as a cross between a cucumber and jicama. It was very fresh tasting, with little flavor. It went well with this flavorful sauce!
Here is the Red Tomato Rice prepared by another group (every group prepared this same recipes, but they all looked different.. our group eliminated peas because one team member is allergic)
Here are the rest of the recipes prepared by the other teams. Like I said, everything was incredible!!

(Crispy Potato Sopes with Salsa, Goat Cheese, and Herb Salad)

(Chicken in Green Pumpkin Seed Sauce)
(Classic Shredded Beef & Tomatoes served with Corn Masa Pockets)

(Slow-Cooked Achiote Chicken)

(Classic Red Mole with Turkey)

Tomorrow I am group leader, so I definitely have to be on my game! The next couple of days are only going to get harder, but I'm excited for the challenge!


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