Popular Food Network personality, restaurant owner and executive chef Sánchez (La Comida del Barrio, 2003) infuses personal history and big flavors into more than a dozen fiery components of Mexican cuisine.
The author credits his upbringing in Texas, a love of family and apprenticeships with gastronomic luminary Paul Prudhomme and New York chef Douglas Rodriguez with helping to hone the culinary style he brings to both his Tribeca restaurant Centrico and this cookbook. Here Sánchez presents 15 “magical” culturally inspired Mexican sauces, pastes, toppings and salsas. To each, the author adds an explanation of how they are best incorporated into dishes, alongside suggestions for alternate uses that leave home chefs a lot of room to mix, match and substantially shake up the dinner table. He opens with “Garlic-Chipotle Love,” a “dead simple” sauce marrying roasted garlic, cilantro, oil, chipotle chili peppers and lime zest into one of the author’s “favorite flavor memories.” This mixture is the spitfire ingredient igniting recipes for mussels, raw oysters and mashed potatoes. Elsewhere, “lip-tingling” Salsa Verde, bold Adobo, fragrant Cilantro-Cotija Pesto and the author’s signature, 23-ingredient “Mole Sánchez” provide the zesty springboard for pork tenderloin, “Banging Baby’s-Got-Back Ribs,” chicken or crab tostadas and empanadas. While the heat quotient is high, most recipes are accessible and flexible enough for newcomers to Mexican cuisine to dial down the more aggressively spiced ingredients to suit their individual tastes. Tips on how to keep pesto green, choosing the best tomatoes and secrets to making pickled onions are friendly and helpful. The book closes with sweet inspiration from Dulce de Leche–flavored ice cream and a temptingly sophisticated version of Bananas Foster.
For Sánchez fans and those unafraid to fire up their taste buds like a pro.