I love watching Chef Pati Jinich, the host of the popular PBS show Pati’s Mexican Table. Not only are her recipes doable but she just seems like she’d be your best friend who has an adorable accent and cooks really well – everyone needs a friend like that! I was honored and really, really excited to be able to meet Pati when she was in Denver, at Johnson & Wales University as a Distinguished Visiting Chef. And I can tell you, she’s even nicer in real life!
Following her presentation and demo, Chef Jinich signed copies of her new book, Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes for Contemporary Kitchens. Her appearance was sponsored by the College of Culinary Arts, the Consulate-General of Mexico in Denver, the Mexican Cultural Center in Denver and the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation.
ABOUT CHEF PATI JINICH
In addition to being the host of the popular PBS show Pati’s Mexican Table, going on its fifth season, Jinich is also resident chef of the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. She appears regularly on NPR’s The Splendid Table, NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s The Chew, and CBS’s The Talk. She hosts live programs for the Smithsonian Institution and has cooked at The White House for President Obama’s Cinco de Mayo celebration. She was recently nominated for two prestigious James Beard Awards and two Daytime Emmys. Jinich lives in Chevy Chase, MD with her husband and three sons.
Jinich, who was a political analyst and historian before exploring her culinary side, explained that in her first book, Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking, she felt she needed to be faithful to her people and her country and to provide recipes based on the food she ate growing up. “I didn’t want to betray my people and wanted to show how much I adored my homeland,” said Jinich. “But at the same time, I didn’t want to do anything too ethnic. I felt more of the traditional food was expected.”
While Jinich said that first book is a great book, her new one is more reflective of the variety that is Mexican cuisine. Jinich told the group at Johnson & Wales that Mexican cuisine has influences from all over the world. “Mexican food has been in the making for centuries,” she said. There are influences from the French (baguettes gave way to bolillo rolls), Asian, Lebanese, African influences and more. In travelling back to Mexico for research and to tape her show, Jinich wanted to show people how multi-faceted Mexican cuisine can be. In the Introduction to her book, she refers to her passion for “my native Mexico and its ancient, modern and evolving foodways.”
Jinich cites cookbook author, Diana Kennedy as one who has done much for Mexican food, but said there are traditionalists and innovators in Mexican cuisine today who sometimes pull in different directions. She said the word “fusion” may pop into our heads as we go through the new book. But she was quick to remind us that with Mexico’s many influences, “fusion is nothing new when it comes to Mexican cuisine.”
Here’s the recipe Pati prepared for the audience at Johnson & Wales. Text is excerpted from Mexican Today, © 2016 by Pati Jinich. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Shrimp, Mango and Avocado Rolls
ROLLOS DE CAMARONES AL AJILLO, MANGO Y AGUACATE
If I ever open a restaurant, this will be one of the top items on my menu! A shrimp roll on a soft bun, with bacon, sweet-tart chunks of mango and creamy bites of avocado tossed in a thick, smoky vinaigrette made with a judicious amount of garlic and shallot fried in the rendered bacon fat. The combination of mango and avocado has to be one of the best-kept secrets in the culinary world.
12 bacon slices
¼ cup finely chopped shallot
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, flesh scooped
out and diced
2 large ripe Champagne or Kent mangoes, peeled, sliced
off the pits, and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1½ pounds fresh or thawed frozen medium shrimp, shells and tails removed
6 hot dog buns or soft rolls
MAKES 6 ROLLS | PREPARATION TIME: 20 minutes | COOKING TIME: 15 minutes
1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until browned and crisp.
Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the skillet, and set aside.
2. Return the pan with the fat to medium heat, add the shallot and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, until fragrant, tender and just beginning to brown. Scrape the garlic and shallot into a medium heatproof bowl, along with the fat. Don’t wash the pan; just set it aside.
3. To prepare the vinaigrette: Add the vinegar, honey, mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste to the bowl with the garlic and shallot. Whisk or mix with a fork until well emulsified. Add the avocados and mangoes, gently toss together and set aside.
4. Heat the oil and butter over high heat in the skillet you used for the bacon until the oil is hot but not smoking and the butter has begun to foam. Add the shrimp, without crowding the pan (cook them in two batches if necessary). Season with ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, and cook, flipping them over once, until seared and browned, no more than 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. 5. Open the buns or rolls, trying not to separate the tops from the bottoms, and arrange a layer of cooked shrimp on the bottom of each one. Top the shrimp with the avocado and mango mix and crown each with a couple of slices of bacon. Close the sandwiches and serve.
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