Okay, it's Sunday, not Friday, I know, I know. But I think you'll cut me some slack when you see what a behemoth this recipe was. Lordy!
I suppose I could have just picked one sauce, but I love sauces and once I got started, well, as other food obsessed souls will understand, I couldn't stop. I'll keep the intro brief since there is much cooking to be read about, many recipes to go over and many pictures to see...
This Wednesday Amy Scattergood, of the LA Times, wrote a great piece on Chef Jose Centeno, his restaurant Lot 1, and his Baco creation. Read all about Chef Centeno and the baco and get the recipes online here....
Anyway, this dish is right up my alley, a mix between a gyro and a taco, lots of sauces, easy to improvise with, just your basic messy, gooey goodness. It's perfect. Here's my take on the creation, notes on the cooking process and of course my critique of the fabulous Baco!
I won't list the exact amounts of each ingredients here since it's simpler just to click on the link and print them out. Let's start with...
Pickled Red Onion
This one was pretty easy to make, one of those satisfying dishes that's great to have in the fridge, for this dish and others.
To begin you simply put the sherry vinegar, olive oil, sugar, mint, jalapeno and bay leaf in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil (Note: this boils quick so keep an eye on it.)
While the marinade heats up, slice the onions and put them in a bowl...
Then simply pour the piping hot mixture over the onions, let it sit for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
The Results: This was simple to put together and tasted fantastic. It was sweet and tangy with just a hint of a spicy kick. I had some bread sitting out and couldn't help but rip off little chunks to dip in the sauce. This is a definite keeper.
Next, I dove into the Garlic-Chive Cream
I don't know why but I couldn't find creme fraiche at 2 stores that I went to. I had all the other ingredients except this and so I settled for Crema Fresca Natural, which in hind site was a mistake. I'd never used it before and as you can see the bottle is not see through, so it was sort of a crap shoot as to what I would get when I opened it. Anyway, the consistency is more of a really heavy whipping and less of a cream cheese kind of feel.
Anyway, this too is quite easy to make. Simply beat the creme fraiche with a hand mixer until it's light and airy. Then mix in the buttermilk, chopped garlic and chives, lemon juice and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.
The Results: As you can see the consistency of this sauce is super thin - a mistake fixed by using what the recipe called for and not a last minute substitute. Oh well, chalk it up to a "live and learn" moment. Other then that, it tasted quite delicious. Creamy, sweet and tangy all at the same time. Since there is quite a bit of heat in some of the other sauces, I think this is just the right bit of coolness the Baco needs.
From there I tried the Ancho-pomegranate Sauce
There was a little more prep to this baby. Roasting the peppers and the chili, toasting the bread and the nuts. But after that, all you do is pop all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and bada-bing, bada-bang, you've got sauce! The recipe calls for you to push this sauce through a medium mesh strainer, and as I was doing it, I couldn't understand why. In my opinion, it didn't need it at all. But upon reading the recipe further, I realize that it doesn't call for you to seed the peppers or the chilies before blending everything together. I removed the skin and seeds from all of them after they were roasted and cooled. Perhaps I'll do it again the other way and see if it changes the taste, but if not, I think it's much easier to remove seeds ahead of time rather then sit there with a strainer.
The Results: As you can see in the photo, this sauce doesn't look as pretty as I'd hoped. Anyone with kids can perhaps imagine what I was thinking it looked like. Maybe this is because I used a yellow pepper and not a red one? Regardless of how it looks, it tasted phenomenal, it really did. It was smoky with a great smooth texture. There was also a little bit of fire in the after taste... this one is a real keeper.
The last sauce (are you exhausted yet?) was the Salbitxada Sauce
There was a bit of dicing going on with this sauce (which isn't really a sauce), but other than that, again, pretty easy to create. It called for whole almonds. Two things: first , I only had sliced almonds, second, I just couldn't imagine biting into a whole almond in the middle of my baco. So, I toasted the slivers instead. After cutting up the parsley, tomatoes, garlic and serrano, you simply mix it all together with the vinegar and oil, lemon zest and salt and pepper.
The Results: I loved this, I was surprised at how much I loved this. The crunch of the nuts (still glad I chose not to use the whole ones) and the garlic were fabulous. Oh yeah, the garlic, Holy Cow! It called for 6 cloves - this is not a first date kinda sauce. My research found that Salbitxada (pronounced: Sahl-bee-tcha-dah) is a Catalonian kind of Romesco. Other recipes I saw called for blending all the ingredients up. I enjoyed this chunky version quite a bit, but would like to try it blended together as well.
Next, it was time to cook the fish.
Ahi is pretty pricey, luckily a little fish goes quite a long way in this dish.
You basically mix minced shallot, chives, parsley and lemon zest. Then beat some eggs and put in a bit of the herb mixture into the eggs, reserving the rest. Also, set out some panko (fancy bread crumbs.) Cut up the fish, dredge it in the egg mixture then pop it in the panko.
It looks pretty already. Then heat your vegetable oil up and cook the fish very quickly in the oil - only for about a minute.
Once cooked, remove the fish and set it to drain on a paper towel.
The Results: I think I was supposed to cook larger chunks of the ahi and cut them after cooking. If I had done this I think the results would have been better. By cooking the pieces so small, it was very easy to overcook them, and over cooked ahi is a yucky no-no. The panko coating gives the fish a very satisfying crunch! I salted them a bit right as they came out of the oil and I think it was a good touch.
Now, finally, all the elements are ready to come together. I heated the flat bread up on the grill and then began to assemble the Baco. This was the fun part!!
The Results: I'd definitely give this dish a thumbs up, although next time I think I'd do it with some braised pork or some grilled chicken. Since all the sauces do well in the refrigerator for a couple of days, this is certainly a good dish to do for a bbq. You could make everything a day or so before. I actually transported all the fixins over to my "BFF" Vanessa's house and we at it there.
Which brings me to Vanna's contribution to the meal, a delicious white sangria. Ain't it pretty?
This is a combo of Chardonnay, fruit, a splash of Vodka and some Welche's Light Grape-Peach Juice (my girl likes to keep it light, don't cha know.) She let the fruit, liquor and juice combo sit in the freezer for about an hour. Then, when it was time to make the drink, she poured it over ice and added a splash Tangerine-Lime Sparkling Water (if you like it less sweet just use regular soda water.)
It was very flavorful and altogether it was a perfect summer meal/drink combo.
I'm looking forward to going to Lot 1 for lunch and trying one of Chef Centeno's Bacos and see how they compare to the ones I made.
If you try the Baco's, please leave a comment or shoot me an email!! I'd love to know what you think of the recipe and how your Bacos turned out.