Cooking with Aaron Sanchez
Last week, Food Network’s chef Aarón Sanchez (you probably know him from Iron Chef America or Chopped) joined popchips for the ultimate happy hour at The Kitchen NYC. Sanchez is known for keeping things spicy both in the kitchen and on television, so I was eager to watch his food demonstration, steal some of his cooking tips, and sample some food. It turned out to be a blast, as Sanchez was very down-to-earth and kept cracking jokes all night long. And of course, the food was delicious!
Even better, Sanchez gave us a few of his recipes at the end of the night. Now, I’m no expert chef but these look straightforward enough that even I can handle them. One of my personal favorites was the chile, which I was fascinated to learn should not have beans in it. Instead, Sanchez says it’s all about the meat and the chilies. He also kept insisting that a meal must have texture as well as flavor, so that’s why he’s promoting the new tortilla popchips. The flavors perfectly complemented the recipes, and they have half the fat of regular tortilla chips, so that’s why he suggests serving the chile over some nacho cheese tortilla popchips.
Here’s my favorite recipe from the night:
All-Beef Chile Colorado
6 guajillo chilies, stems and seeds removed
1 1/2 cups boiling water
6 fresh tomatillos, papery skins peeled off
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 chipotle chiles in adobo
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 pounds ground beef (preferably chuck)
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
grated sharp cheddar
1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the guajillo chilies on each side for 30 seconds, until just softened. Put them immediately in a glass bowl and pour the boiling water over them to cover. Soak for 15 minutes.
2. In the same dry skillet, toast the tomatillos and garlic, turning several times until the vegetables have softened slightly and the exteriors have brown marks, 3 to 4 minutes. Discard the paper skins on the garlic.
3. Put the guajillo chilies in a blender with the soaking water, the tomatillos, the peeled garlic, and the chipotle chilies in adobo. Pulse to make a smooth puree.
4. In a large stewpot over medium heat, cook the onions until softened and just turning golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook through, breaking it up with a spoon as you cook, about 10 minutes.
5. Add the pureed chiles and tomatillos, the tomatoes, ancho chile powder, cumin, salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour, loosely covered, until the deep orange-red sauce is thick. You may need to add a little more water, but take it easy. The finished chili should not be too wet.
6. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. For each serving, put a handful of nacho cheese tortilla popchips in the bottom of a bowl and ladle a serving of chili on top. Scatter with a handful of cheese and eat at once.
Photos courtesy of popchips.