Friday, July 10, 2009

Marinated Bean Salad with Fried Beef Intestines

This is a starter conjured up by Mexicali based chef Guillermo Jose Barreto at "La Piazza". While trying to sway from the traditional authentic Italian cuisine the place is known for, chef Guillermo aims for a more " Baja style " dish using local ingredients for a kind of Mex-Italian groove.

" I want to appeal to the native palate, and use more locally grown products, the whole classic Italian thing was very fun for me but we've been open for close to 8 years now and its time for a change. I think I've grown in both my personal and professional life. We definitely have a better understanding of food and where it comes from. We've learned a lot from Benito Molina´s take on the whole Baja scene and all of it´s virtues. I personally feel truly inspired by Jair Tellez and everything he´s done with Laja. Baja is a great place to live and it's a very exciting time to live here. The dishes we come up with during this period may very well be the dishes that define classic Baja Californian cuisine for generations to come and I feel really lucky to be a part of that.

This is my marinated bean salad with celery and crispy beef intestines. Beef intestines might gross out a lot of people but its something Baja natives love. Before you knock it, try it. The beans are sweet and sour, spicy and tangy, creamy and crispy...we have a lot going on in this plate, and its as delicious to eat as it is fun for me to make."
For the beef intestine

5 pounds of beef intestine, veal if you can get it. Cook in a large pot with well seasoned simmering water and a bay leaf for 20 minutes or until slightly firm, cool and refrigerate for at least four hours. Cut into 2 inch pieces and fry in vegetable oil until nicely browned and crispy. Season immediately and set aside for plating.

For the marinade

2 cups of Wine Vinegar, red or white

1 cone of Mexican Piloncillo or one cup of brown sugar (Piloncillo works so much better)
1 Pasilla chili toasted

1 Chile de Arbol (any dried chili will do so mix it up and find your own take on it) toasted

Just mash up all the ingredients together and season to taste.

For the salad

1 cup Mayocaba or Peru beans cooked

1 cup of Red Kidney beans cooked

1 cup of Pinto beans cooked

1 cup of Fava beans cooked
1 cup Black beans cooked

1 cup Chick peas cooked

1 cup Lemon confit

1 cup Tomato confit

Marinade the beans overnight turning occasionally. Add the confits and store submerged in extra virgin olive oil and store over night.

To plate

Place a nice portion of the marinated beans on a plate with some diced or sliced celery. Place the crispy beef intestines on top and squeeze a few drops of fresh lemon or lime juice. I usually garnish with chiffonade of cilantro cause I love the freshness it brings to the party. Enjoy with some good crusty bread.

Buen provecho!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tomato Confit

One of the great things with summer is the arrival of the most delicious, sweet and intense tomatoes you've had all year. Nothing screams summer like caprese and Greek salads full of sun ripened tomatoes, crispy BLT with a fried egg and even grabbing a slice of crusty day old rustic bread with garlic and smothering it with a piece of juicy summer tomato for a Catalunian style tapa.
One of my favorite things to do with tomatoes is slowly roasting them to intensify its flavor and enhance its sweetness. Again this works great on salads, pannini, baked into bread, but best of all on pasta. The great thing about this is you´ll end up with different products you can use...the tomatoes of course, plus a great savory scented oil that works great for making chimichurri sauce, drizzled over grilled trout or with vinegar for a great vinaigrette that goes absolutely amazing with arugula and prosciutto.

Tomato Confit


12 Roma or Perita tomatoes quartered

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 sprig of thyme, minced

dried oregano or marjoram

olive oil


Any monkey can do this, so put that banana away and lets get started...

Just place the quartered tomatoes on a non reactive baking sheet brushed with oil and season with the rest of the ingredients, drizzle with olive oil and bake at your oven's lowest setting for 2-4 hours; depending on your oven. Tomatoes should look dry and slightly browned, but not burnt, so check occasionally. There is really no point at where I can tell you its done...if you want it really dry, give it more time, if you prefer them a little more juicy take them out sooner (which makes for a killer roasted tomato soup). Once you are done, place them in a sterilized jar or container, drop a fresh thyme sprig, a couple of halved garlic cloves, and cover with a good extra virgin olive oil, we use Rancho Cortes olive oil which is probably the best in Baja, but you can use whatever brand you prefer, store in your fridge and use indiscriminately. And there ya' go.... tomato confit, isn´t it beautiful thing?

Lemon Zest Confit

Lemon zest confit is one of my favorite ingredients to put on salads. Its really very fragrant and has an indescribable intensity. I use these skins in lemon and chicken confit ravioli with artisanal fresh cheese sauced with a spicy chicken veloute... I find that dish sublime, but the sky is the limit when using this versitile ingredient. Its easy, keeps very well and can be used for a whole lot of things, so go ahead and make enough whenever you try this recipe.


5 lemons
1 quart vegetable oil
1 clove garlic
1 thyme sprig(optional)

Peel the zest off the lemons with a vegetable peeler, we only want the yellow skin so be sure to trim the bitter, nasty, white parts off. Blanch and shock it a couple of times, just boil , ice bath, boil, ice bath and set aside; really easy. Proceed to place it in a small pot and cover it with vegetable oil (try corn oil , its safer for people who might be allergic to peanuts), add a garlic clove and thyme sprig. At this stage you could also add the juice of half a lemon, it will brighten up the color and flavor. Simmer at low heat (and I do mean low..please dont fry the damn thing) for 20 to 30 minutes. The idea here is to render it from most of its moisture.

Tadaaaaaa your done, just let it cool and store completely submerged in the oil and you should be fine even at room temp for at least 3 weeks.
.idea. use this oil for dressings, or on steaks, fish, or even roasted chicken . Its really great on any savory dish you would use lemon on, but want to avoid the acidity...