Cinco de Mayo Tips c/o Aarón Sánchez & Serendipity Magazine

CTbites Team

c/o Serendipty Magazine

Chef Aarón Sánchez, Executive Chef of Paloma in Stamford, and well-known TV personality with appearances on Chopped and Taco Trip, is the guest editor of Serendipity Magazine's recent issue. His  gourmet take on tacos and Cinco de Mayo party tips will leave you inspired to celebrate this Mexican holiday with his signature contemporary Latin approach.

On Party Prep

Try to have as many things done ahead of time as possible, and display food in cool bowls. I have dishes with different compartments where you can put little things like pickles in my line at Target.com. Pre-make your drinks in pitchers so you just have to add ice. The key is being proactive with the prep. You don’t want to be working hard while your guests are there.

On Using Whole Meats

I’m a big fan of cooking whole meats and fish. Roast a 10- to 15-pound snapper and people can grab it with tortillas and make fish tacos with salsa and garnishes. Or do the same thing with a whole pig or chicken. Part of it’s the novelty of seeing it, and it’s primal – people can have fun with it.

Grilled Chicken Taco Recipe

1 pound chicken breast

Tajín seasoning

Tortillas (6 inch is preferable)

Rajas

Chipotle remoulade

½ teaspoon tomatillo, julienned

Pickled onions, garnish

Cilantro leaves, garnish

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Lightly season the chicken with Tajín and salt. Grill the chicken until completely cooked through. Let cool, then slice into strips approximately ½-inch thick.

2. To assemble your tacos: Warm the tortillas in the microwave (be sure to cover with a damp cloth so they stay moist). Pile on the chicken, top with the chipotle remoulade and rajas. Garnish with tomatillo, pickled onions and cilantro leaves.

RAJAS

Mexican olive oil

2 poblano peppers

1 medium white onion, julienned

3 tablespoons garlic, minced

½ bunch asparagus

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. On a burner or under the broiler,

roast the peppers until the skin becomes charred and blackened, then transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for a few minutes, allowing the steam to loosen the skin. Remove the skin, seeds and stems, and julienne.

2. Heat approximately 1 ounce of olive oil in a sauté pan on medium-high. Add the onion and garlic and cook the onions until caramelized and brown. Lightly season with salt and pepper and take off heat. Keep to the side.

3. Toss the asparagus with 1-2 ounces of olive oil and cook on medium-high heat, until cooked through, crisp and tender. Let cool, then cut on a bias.

4. Once the peppers, onions and asparagus are cooked, toss together and add salt and pepper to taste.

CHIPOTLE REMOULADE

1 cup mayonnaise

2 ounces whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon garlic chipotle love

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

3 chive sprigs, finely diced

Zest of ½ lemon

Zest of ½ lime

Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.

GARLIC CHIPOTLE LOVE

1 cup canola oil

12 garlic cloves, peeled

3 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle

chiles in adobo sauce

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Grated zest of 1 lime

1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

2. Pour the oil into a heavy ovenproof medium saucepan and add the garlic. Cover the pot with foil, put it in the oven, and cook until the garlic turns a nutty brown and is soft (think cream cheese), about 45 minutes. Remove the pot from oven and let the garlic and oil cool.

3. Put the garlic and the oil in a food processor. Add the chipotles and sauce, cilantro, lime zest and salt, and puree until smooth.

4. Store tightly covered for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to a month.



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