It’s official…I have a new idol. No, not Adam Lambert or Kris Allen (although I am a huge fan of both). Nope, my idol doesn’t sing or dance (at least not to my knowledge), and the averge joe schmoe likely wouldn’t know him if they passed him on the street. My idol hangs out in Chicago and runs two restaurants, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, and he’s the founder of Frontera Farmer Foundation, an organization that supports small local farmers. Plus, he’s down to earth and seems like a genuinely all-around nice guy.
Not that I’ve actually met Rick Bayless.
But I did watch him compete on “Top Chef Masters”, and you just know that everything they broadcast on reality television is, in fact, reality…right? <wink>
You really can’t fake enthusiasm and good will, though, and this guy had it in spades. He just seemed like a truly happy guy. Most chefs you see/meet/hear about are pompous and egocentric, so it was refreshing to see someone of his caliber and stature just to be a normal guy. I enjoyed this episode of “Top Chef Masters” immensely, and it was all because watching Mr. Bayless cheerily prepare his delectable dishes made for some seriously great television.
Plus…his specialty is authentic Mexican. How is it than I’m only just discovering him? Me, who enjoys cooking with Mexican flavors over any other?
I immediately checked out his website and surfed his recipe section. Oh, I’ll be buying some of his cookbooks, but I needed to make something now, and a trip to the bookstore was going to take far too long. I wanted to make shrimp since I had ten pounds of it in my freezer, and something with chipotle was just too good to pass up!
This was a fun recipe to make; roasting the garlic and onions in the pan was different and fun. The sauce was delicious – if you can call it a sauce as it really just coats and flavors the shrimp. I served mine with fluffy white rice and a side of homemade corn cake; next time I’ll add a zucchini or other veggie dish to round it out. A nice white wine and dinner was pretty darn perfect! Thanks, Rick!
Rick’s Chipotle Shrimp
- 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 small white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 6 ounces (1 medium-small or 2 to 3 plum) ripe tomatoes
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves, preferably freshly ground
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 2 to 4 tablespoons very finely chopped canned chipotle chiles
- Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon
- 2 pounds (about 50) medium-large shrimp
- 3 cups cooked long-grain white rice, warm
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Roasting the flavorings: On an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet set over medium, roast the garlic cloves, turning occasionally, until soft (they will blacken in spots), about 15 minutes. Cool and peel. While the garlic is roasting, lay the onion out on a small square of foil, set on the griddle and let sear, brown and soften, about 5 minutes on each side. Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet set 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened in spots and soft, about 6 minutes; flip and roast the other side. Cool and peel, collecting all the juices with the tomatoes.
The sauce: Combine all the roasted ingredients in a food processor or blender, along with the pepper, cloves and 1/4 cup water. Process to a medium-smooth puree. In a very large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot enough to make a drip of the puree sizzle noisily, add it all at once. Stir for several minutes as the mixture sears and darkens then reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring regularly, until very thick, about 5 minutes. A tablespoon at a time, stir in the chopped chipotle, tasting until the thick salsa suits your own penchant for spiciness. Taste, season with salt and remove from the heat.
The shrimp: Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the final joint and the tail intact. Return the skillet with the sauce to medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, then slowly stir and turn for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the shrimp are just cooked through. Season with salt if needed. Serve the shrimp with the rice. Garnish with cilantro.
A few things to note…
- I added just one tablespoon of chipotle peppers since I was serving this for my family who has a wide range of heat tolerance. This amount gave a very slight heat, soft enough for my finicky kids yet just enough for the adults. I’d add more if I didn’t have any little ones at the table.
- This is an awesome tip from my friend Angela: Puree your entire can of chipotle peppers in your food proccesor until finely ground. Keep it in a container in your fridge until you’re ready. They’ll keep at least a few weeks!
- Buy your shrimp frozen. Unless you live in an area where you can buy fresh shrimp that’s never been frozen in the first place – and this is rare – then the shrimp and other fish you buy at the fish counter has likely already been frozen and thawed. Buy it frozen and you get to control when it’s thawed and for how long.
If you have a tip to share, please leave a comment below!1