SABOR: Chef Aarón Sánchez Shares Super Bowl 2015 Recipes, Says 'Deflate-Gate' Can Happen in the Kitchen, Too
"SABOR" is a food & wine and lifestyle series that savors Latinos' zest for life and passion for home and family.
Chef Aarón Sánchez has scored many touchdowns when it comes to his inventive spins on classic Latin cuisine that up the ante on high-quality flavor. He's back in the endzone again -- but this time it's for Super Bowl 2015.
Sánchez has partnered with Tabasco to create three intense flavor-packed recipes, including his "Super Grilled Shrimp with Habanero Butter," "Aarón's Albóndigas (Meatball) Sliders with Jalapeño Aioli" and "Touchdown Tacos with Mezcal-Lime Coleslaw."
Is your mouth watering yet?
Sánchez's three delicious recipes will be served at Maxim's Super Bowl party held in Phoenix, Arizona, where celebrities such as "America's Got Talent" host Nick Cannon are expected to attend, among many others.
"I am really excited to share them," he told Latin Post in an exclusive interview. "I am looking forward to everybody embracing what we're doing and getting psyched for the game."
In particular, "Aarón's Albóndigas (Meatball) Sliders with Jalapeño Aioli" are a favorite of his. "They have a meatball preparation with a tomato-based sauce that has Tabasco Original Red in it," he explained. "I just love them because the tomatoes tend to be sweet and acidic and then you add the Tabasco Original and it compliments it so beautifully and really brings it out the inherent flavor of the meat, so I think that is super important."
While he points out that the idea of Super Bowl recipes can be "kind of cliché in a lot of ways for people," you can add variety and tasty Latin twists.
"We tend to make the same things like wings and ribs and all of that," Sánchez added. "For me, [at] a Super Bowl party you use your hands and you aren't fooling around with cutlery, so in this case I made some dishes that you can make very simply and prep the day before and not spend so much time in the kitchen."
From "Chopped," and "Iron Chef America" to his latest endeavor, Cooking Channel's new series "Taco Trip," Sánchez's palette is always evolving and looking to entertain new flavors. However, there is one constant that remains: his love of heat, hence his use of Tabasco in his recipes.
Tabasco's bold flavors include Tabasco's Original Red Sauce to Green Jalapeño Sauce, Chipotle Sauce, Buffalo Style Hot Sauce, Habanero Sauce, Garlic Pepper Sauce and SWEET & Spicy Sauce.
Tabasco, which was founded in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny, continues to be a family-owned and operated business to this day. According to the company, Tabasco is "a word of Mexican Indian origin believed to mean 'place where the soil is humid' or "place of the coral or oyster shell."
"Once you cook with Tabasco sauce, it completely transforms and it intensifies the flavor," he said, adding that Tabasco and Chipotle sauce are his two favorite sauces to work with. In addition to the traditional uses of these sauces, Sánchez even adds Tabasco to mangoes with a "squirt" of lime. "It's also great to make into butter, like if you make a compound butter," he said.
"You can take some shallots and lemon juice and put it into some soft butter and add whichever Tabasco sauce that you like, whether it's the Habanero, the Chipotle or the Original, and put it in the butter and kind of mix that down and you come up with a beautiful Tabasco butter that you can put on steak or chicken," he added.
Super Bowl 2015 "Deflate-Gate" in the Kitchen
Deflate-Gate has dominated the headlines surrounding the upcoming Super Bowl, and speculation has continued to mount over whether or not the Patriots cheated with deliberately under-inflated game balls in the playoffs. Not surprisingly, however, the idea of getting ahead of the competition is not just limited to football or other sports. When the stakes are high, people will do whatever it takes -- even in the kitchen.
"I have seen it on 'Chopped,'" Sánchez said. "I have seen instances where someone takes all of the parsley, for instance, and they are not going to share it and they are only going to use a little bit," he explained.
"It's very un-sportsman-like. Like in a professional sport, in the kitchen you have to have decorum."
Cooking Channel's "Taco Trip"
As mentioned, Sánchez is also the star of Cooking Channel's new series, "Taco Trip," where he travels around the country to find the tastiest taco joints -- from restaurants to food trucks.
Sánchez kicked off his journey in Chicago on Dec. 16, followed by visits to Portland, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Nashville and New Orleans, where he has his restaurant, Johnny Sánchez.
"The show is fun," he said. "Basically, I am just the guy that people are always living vicariously through, which is always fun. I mean, to be honest, some of the best tacos that I have had have been in Mexico, obviously, but I was really surprised to see how much Tabasco was used in Mexico. People use it a lot more than some of the other bland salsas that are generic, so that was really fun to see people cooking with it."
Although tacos are known for being a traditional staple south of the border, Sánchez still enjoys flocking to Mexican restaurants across the United States. His favorite city for tacos, however, isn't anywhere near the border -- it's in the midwest.
"I thought Chicago had some really good tacos; there is a huge Mexican community there," he said. "Chicago has the fifth largest Mexican community in the United States, so it's a really big chunk of what makes Chicago tick."
New York also offers some delicious tacos, he said, with his favorite spots being in Corona, Queens, and Spanish Harlem.
To try out Sánchez's "Touchdown Tacos" and his other delicious dishes, see the list of recipes below.
Super Grilled Shrimp with Habanero Butter
Makes 3-4 servings
FOR THE SHRIMP:
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup Tabasco Chipotle Sauce, or more to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Grated zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
16 extra-large shrimp, tail on
Salt and pepper, to taste
FOR THE HABANERO BUTTER:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Tabasco Habanero Sauce, or more to taste
SHRIMP: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Soak skewers in water to prevent burning.
Pour oil into a heavy, ovenproof medium saucepan and add garlic. Cover pot with foil, transfer to oven, and cook until garlic turns a nutty brown and is very soft, about 45 minutes. Remove pot from the oven and let garlic and oil cool to room temperature.
Transfer garlic and the garlic-infused oil into a food processor or blender. Add the Tabasco Chipotle Sauce, cilantro, lime zest, and salt and puree until the mixture is very smooth.
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium heat.
Clean shrimp and pat dry using a paper towel. Thread shrimp onto skewers, 3 to 4 shrimp per skewer.
Brush a generous amount of sauce onto each side of the shrimp, then lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook on the grill for approximately 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
HABANERO BUTTER: Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and mix until well incorporated.
For additional spice, lightly brush each side of the shrimp with the Habanero Butter while grilling, or serve with shrimp for dipping.
Aarón's Albóndigas (Meatball) Sliders with Jalapeño Aioli
Makes 6 servings, about 18 sliders
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup veal or beef stock, divided
1/4 cup roasted and diced poblano peppers
1/2 cup minced carrots
1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion, divided
6 tablespoons grated Cotija cheese
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
10 tablespoons (or one 5-ounce bottle) Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
18 slider buns, split horizontally
Cotija cheese, for garnish
1 cup mayonnaise
6 tablespoons Tabasco Green Jalapeño Sauce, or more to taste
10 mint leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
MEATBALLS: In a large bowl, mix ground beef, ground pork, breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup stock, poblano peppers, carrots, 1/4 cup oonions, Cotija cheese, egg, egg yolk, cilantro, parsley, salt and pepper. Once mixed, use your hands to form 18, 2-inch balls.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, fry meatballs until brown all over, turning as each side browns. Transfer to plate. Pour out drippings from skillet, and reserve. Reduce heat to medium. In the same skillet, add olive oil and sauté remaining 1/4 cup onions and garlic until onions just begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and remaining 1/4 cup stock. Bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of pan. Add meatballs and Tabasco Chipotle Sauce.
Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through, about 30 minutes.
JALAPEÑO AIOLI: While the meatballs are cooking, place mayonnaise, Tabasco Green Jalapeño Sauce and mint leaves into a food processor and blend until smooth.Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a small bowl.
ASSEMBLY: Lay out the bottoms of slider rolls. Remove meatballs from skillet and place one on each roll, then drizzle with some of the tomato sauce and sprinkle cheese on top. Spread the Jalapeño Aioli on the tops of each bun and cover. Serve immediately.
Touchdown Tacos with Mezcal-Lime Coleslaw
Makes about 20
FOR THE TACOS:
8 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 pounds boneless beef short ribs
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1-1/2 tablespoons cacao powder (or no-sugar-added cocoa powder)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more if needed
1 cup coarsely chopped yellow onion
1 cup coarsely chopped celery
1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup red wine, preferably Madeira
4 cups beef stock
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
10 tablespoons (one 5-ounce bottle) Tabasco Original Red Sauce
Corn tortillas (soft or hard)
Chopped onions, cilantro and lime wedges, for garnish
FOR THE MEZCAL-LIME COLESLAW:
1/4 cup mezcal (or orange liqueur)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 pound (16-ounce package) store-bought coleslaw mix
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
FOR THE TACOS: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly toast the chiles in a dry, heavy skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds on each side, just until they become fragrant, but not blackened. Transfer to a plate.
Season beef with salt and cacao powder. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a dutch oven, or other heavy pot with a lid, over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add meat and sear about 3 minutes on each side, working in batches to avoid crowding if necessary, until the pieces have formed a uniformly brown crust. Add more oil to the pot, as needed, to prevent burning. As the pieces are ready, set aside on a plate.
Reduce heat to medium. To the same pot, add onion, celery and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add tomato paste and cook another 2 minutes.
Pour in wine and stock to deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Add toasted chiles and turn the heat to low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until chiles soften and are pliable.
Add cumin, pepper, oregano, and Tabasco Sauce. Return meat to the pot and cover. Transfer to oven and cook for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
FOR THE COLESLAW: Heat mezcal* in a sauté pan on medium heat until it flames (be careful because the flame can get pretty high!) and the alcohol burns off. Once the flame dies down, add sugar and heat until dissolved. Add lime and orange juices; bring to a boil and reduce by half. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine juice mixture with apple cider vinegar and cilantro, then toss in coleslaw mix and season with salt and pepper to taste.
*If you are using orange liqueur, combine all liquid ingredients and sugar and reduce by half, then follow the remaining steps.
TO ASSEMBLE: Remove meat from sauce with tongs. Using the tongs or forks, shred the meat. Strain sauce. Once meat is shredded, incorporate some sauce back into the meat. Taste and add salt, if necessary.
Build tacos, adding meat first and then coleslaw. Finish with chopped onions and cilantro. Serve with lime wedge.
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