Sunday, February 10, 2013

New American Cooking: Southern Twist on Mexican Guacamole and Queso Dip,

Mexican food is for me one of the most enjoyable ethnic cuisines that are out there. I mean lets face it, what other ethnic food is more represented than Mexican in our popular culture. Well actually Italian food is still the number one ethnic food in the US in popularity, but Mexican is a comer, and coming up fast.

Now when I first encountered queso dip it was actually in a restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. Rio Bravo was that restaurant. It was a chain I found out later but who cares. The fresh hot pressed flour tortillas that came out with the bubbling hot cheese dip called "queso" was one of the moments that I had a food revelation. I mean lets face it if it has cheese in it and it's melty I am never going to hate it. But this was fun and tasty.

Years have passed since that first queso experience. And my love for it has not dimmed. During one summer at Seaside Music Theatre, my Liz introduced me to making homemade queso the white trash way with Rotell Tomatoes and Velveta Cheese and Hormel chili no beans! Oh yeah with frito dippers it was good.

Guacamole is a little more of a staple in my culinary memory. I can remember my mother and grandmother making guacamole for many a "Mexican night" in our home kitchen. But the best guacamole I ever had was while spending time in the Pocono Mountains with my friend and director Tony Parise. He made a delicious take on guacamole which was really more of a dip using good old sour cream as an ingredient to add velvety richness to the guacamole.  I also had a guacamole prepared by my friend Fred Tessler ( of the Denver Tessler's) which was from his favorite mexican restaurant in the country, the Pink Adobe Restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which has mayo in it taking the creamy factor over the top.

So what is my take on these classic dishes that would make them remotely interesting you may ask. Well for one thing I decided that queso does not have to be served hot. In fact I decided to make mine as a homage to my favorite Southern cheese preparation Pimento Cheese Dip! Substituting in ingredients which would make it have a Mexican flair and flavor profile. And as far as the guacomole is concerned I thought I'd change up it's flavor profile a little for one reason. That reason is too often the guacamole flavor gets lost in a sea of similar spices and flavors in a big plate of Mexican food. So I thought what could I add that would really make it stand out. Well I took my cue from one of my favorite secret ingredients in many of my other dishes, Pickle juice. Yes Dill pickle juice and relish to change the taste just enough that it stands out and up against the chili and cumin flavors that are so pervasive in the Mexican Kitchen.

So while Rick Bayless may cringe, here are my takes on these two classic Mexican dishes, Enjoy Ya'll!

Forrest's Pimento Cheese Style Queso and Guacamole Dip Duo

Forrest's Pimento Queso

8 oz sharp yellow cheddar cheese, grated

8 oz Monterey jack cheese, grated

4 oz room temperature cream cheese

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce drained and chopped

1 (4 oz) jar pimentos, drained, rinsed, and chopped

1 (4 oz) can mild or hot diced green chilies, drained and chopped

2 tablespoons picked jalapeno peppers drained and chopped

1 fresh jalapeno pepper seeds removed and finely chopped

1/2 tsp cumin, or more to taste

1/2 tsp chili powder, or more to taste

2 green onions finely chopped

Black pepper to taste

Hot sauce to taste

1 1/2 Cups good quality mayonnaise like "Dukes" brand
Stir all ingredients until thoroughly combined. Serve with tortilla chips ( see note).

Forrest's Secret Recipe Guacamole Dip

4 ripe hass avocados chopped and covered with the juice of 2 limes 

1/2 cup fresh salsa fresco from the dairy case in the super market

1/4 cup dairy sour cream

2 tablespoons finely chopped and drained pickled jalapeno

1 1/2 tablespoon dill pickle juice from the jar

1 tablespoon dill pickle relish

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 dash hot sauce

Mash and mix all ingredients until smooth. Serve with tortilla chips ( see note)

* Note about chips, Grocery store chips are fine however, if you want to kick it up a notch get your chips from your nearest mexican grill place like "Chipotle Grill" or the like, they are fresh and better tasting. Just sayin! 

Serve these two together as a great starter to your next Mexican meal at home or party, or use the guacamole as a secret taste weapon with your main course to add flavor depth to your meal.

Enjoy Ya'll!    

No comments:

Post a Comment