Shaking Beef

1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin tips or tri-tip, trimmed, patted dry, cut into 1½-inch pieces
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
5 tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus lime wedges, to serve
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
8 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 bunch watercress, stemmed

In a medium bowl, combine the beef, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and ½ teaspoon pepper. Toss to combine and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together 4 tablespoons of the lime juice, the fish sauce, sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until beginning to smoke. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the beef in a single layer. Cook without stirring until well browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip each piece and cook until the second sides are well browned, about another 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.

To the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook over low, stirring constantly, until fragrant and the garlic is no longer raw, about 30 seconds. Pour in the lime juice mixture and any accumulated meat juices, increase to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is syrupy, and a spoon leaves a trail when dragged across the skillet, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add the beef and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce clings lightly to the meat, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and stir until slightly softened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, toss the watercress with the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Make a bed of the watercress on a serving platter. Top with the beef mixture and its juices. Serve with lime wedges.

Tip: Don’t cut the beef into pieces smaller than 1 1/2 inches or they may overcook. And don’t fo

Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts

Neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed, then peeled
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved or quartered, if large
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Red-pepper flakes, to taste

Heat a large skillet over high for a few minutes. Drops of water should skitter across the surface then evaporate quickly. Set the pan lid and 1/2 cup water next to the stove. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan (3 to 4 tablespoons), then add garlic and sizzle until fragrant and wisps of smoke rise from the oil, about 15 seconds. Add brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir to coat with oil. Spread in an even layer, carefully add water and immediately cover.

Cook without stirring until the water has almost completely evaporated, 4 to 6 minutes. After silent simmering, there will be loud popping sounds that quiet to a crackle.

Uncover, sprinkle with sugar and soy sauce, and stir for 1 minute. Sprinkle with red-pepper flakes and serve.

Crispy Cauliflower with Gochujang

2 lb/910g cauliflower, broken into bite-sized florets
2 Tbsp/30ml extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
1/2 cup/120ml water
2 Tbsp/40g gochujang
2 Tbsp/30ml apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp/5ml light soy sauce
1/2 tsp packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp/20g roasted salted peanuts
1 Tbsp chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.

Place the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, and season with salt. Fold and toss to coat well and when I mean toss, be gentle, the worst part is losing cauliflower to the kitchen floor.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the cauliflower till the florets turn golden brown and crispy, 20 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through during roasting to evenly cook them. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and transfer to a serving bowl.

While the cauliflower roasts, place the water, gochujang, vinegar, ginger, soy sauce, and sugar in a small saucepan. Whisk till smooth, bring to a boil over medium heat, and remove from the stove. Taste and season with salt if needed (you probably won’t need to).

Pour the hot sauce over the roasted cauliflower.

Top the roasted cauliflower with the peanuts and chives. Serve warm.

Note: You can make very good crispy cauliflower in the oven keeping a few points in mind. The goal is to avoid over crowding, so the larger the baking sheet or roasting pan, the better. This will allow the hot air from the oven to circulate and do a better job crisping up those florets. Keep your florets, bite-size, if they’re too big or tiny, they will cook unevenly.

Roasted Tomato Sauce and Miso Spaghetti

1 1/2 lb/680g cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 cup/60ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 tsp red pepper flakes such Aleppo, Maras, or Urfa
2 Tbsp/20g yellow or white miso paste
fine sea salt
1/2 lb/230g dried spaghetti, no 12
12 fresh basil leaves, torn
2 Tbsp/4g lightly packed shredded or grated parmesan
Start with the sauce. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

Swirl to coat the tomatoes with 2 Tbsp/30ml of the olive oil on a baking sheet or a 9 inch by 13 inch /20cm by 23cm roasting pan. Roast the tomatoes in the preheated oven till they start to burst and turn a light golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through during cooking, 25 to 30 minutes. This is where the tomatoes will lose their water content and become concentrated in flavor. Remove the sheet from the oven and transfer the tomatoes and all the drippings from the pan to a blender. Pulse on high speed for a few seconds till it turns into a smooth purée.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp/30ml of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the hot oil, swirl, and cook till fragrant and the oil turns red, 30 to 45 seconds. You always have to watch any type of dried chillies in hot oil, they tend to burn fast and will make everything turn unpleasantly bitter, so be careful. If it does end up burning, clean the saucepan and start again.

Stir in the miso paste with a wooden spoon but a spatula will work just fine, as long as it doesn’t bend and flip the paste in your face or go on the wall (it’s happened to me).

Fold in the pureed tomatoes and stir to combine evenly. You might need to whisk it slightly to disperse the miso to ensure there are no lumps present.

Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Taste and season with salt if needed. You can thin the sauce out as needed with a little bit of the pasta/spaghetti cooking water. If the sauce is too thick, I usually add ¼ cup/60ml of the leftover pasta cooking water at a time. Remove from heat.

Cook the spaghetti while the tomatoes roast in the oven.

Prepare the spaghetti while the tomatoes roast in the oven. You don’t need to use my method and can absolutely use the one listed on the box of pasta you purchased or the method you’ve been using forever (cooked pasta textures are very personal).

To cook the spaghetti, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil (3 cups/720ml of water and 1 tsp salt for every ½ lb /230g of pasta). Add the spaghetti and cook for about 12 minutes, till tender. Remove the pasta with a pair of kitchen tongs or sieve and transfer them to a large bowl. Save the pasta cooking water just in case you need to thin out the tomato sauce.

Add the roasted tomato sauce and fold. Serve the pasta warm, divide between 2 bowls. Garnish each bowl of pasta with 1 Tbsp/2g of parmesan and a little basil (yeah, I add a little more than this, I am very generous with cheese and herbs).

Note from author: My sauce to pasta ratio might seem a bit quirky, I tend to fall into the group of people that like it with extra sauce. If you like more pasta, use a whole box (1lb/455g), this recipe makes enough sauce for a thinner coat.

Carne con Chile Rojo (Chuck Braised in Chile)

FOR THE BRAISED MEAT:
2 tablespoons maple or raw sugar
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
2 pounds boneless bison or beef chuck roast
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
2 ripe tomatoes
1/2 medium white onion
10 dried California or New Mexico chiles (2 1/2 ounces)
2 fresh sage sprigs
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

FOR THE CHILE ROJO:
10 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed
4 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 medium white onion
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

To make the bison: Heat oven to 275 degrees.

Sprinkle the sugar and salt all over the roast. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add the roast and sear until dark brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add 1 cup broth (the hot fat will spatter) and scrape up all the browned bits from the pan. Return the roast and any accumulated juices to the Dutch oven and add the tomatoes, onion, chiles, sage, bay leaves, syrup and remaining 3 cups broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and transfer to the center of the oven.

Braise until the meat is very tender, about 3 1/2 hours. A fork should slide through easily. Uncover and cool for 15 minutes, then transfer the roast to a large bowl. Finely shred the meat using your hands if cool enough to handle or with two forks. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve.

To make the chile rojo: Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add all of the dried chiles, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer steadily until softened and lighter in color, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a blender, along with the garlic, onion, salt and 2 cups of the braising liquid. Save any remaining braising liquid for another use (see Tip). Blend until very smooth.
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Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over high heat until shimmering. Carefully add the chile sauce (it will splatter) and immediately reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, stirring often, until thickened and brick red, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the shredded meat and any accumulated juices and stir to evenly coat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature to use as a filling for tamales. The sauced braised meat can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

One-Hour Texas Chili

6 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 dried chipotle chiles, or substitute canned chipotle chiles and forgo soaking them
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or rendered bacon fat
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pounds ground beef chuck, preferably coarsely ground passed through the large holes of a grinder only once
4 dried pequin chiles or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt
pepper
2 teaspoons masa harina, or as needed
2 tablespoons lime juice
Grated Cheddar cheese, for garnish
Diced onions, for garnish
Pickled jalapeños, sliced, for garnish
Sour cream, for garnish

In a large heavy skillet, heat the dried ancho and chipotle chiles on medium-high heat about a minute on each side. Turn off the heat, cover the chiles with water and soak them until rehydrated, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or bacon fat. Add the onions and sauté until they start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Transfer to a blender.

Form the ground beef into balls the size of marbles. Return the Dutch oven to medium heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or bacon fat and, when it is hot, add the meatballs. Stir occasionally until lightly browned, about 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Drain the chiles well, and remove and discard stems and seeds. Add the chiles to the blender. Add the canned chipotles, if using, pequin chiles or cayenne, cumin, oregano, cloves, cinnamon and 1 cup water. Blend until smooth. Add to the Dutch oven with the browned meatballs along with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Adjust salt and pepper to taste. If the chili looks too thin, slowly stir in the masa harina. Add the lime juice, and simmer for 15 minutes more. Serve topped with grated cheese, diced onions, pickled jalapeños and sour cream.

Or serve as Frito pie: For each serving, mound 1 cup Fritos in a bowl and top with 1 cup chili, 1/4 cup grated cheese, 1 tablespoon diced onions, sliced jalapeños and sour cream.

Classic Chili Con Carne

FOR THE CHILE POWDER
3 medium dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed, spread flat
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

FOR THE CHILI
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
8 ounces bacon
3 pounds boneless beef chuck, buffalo or venison, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 pound (2 medium) white onions, chopped
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 3/4 cups beef broth
1 28-ounce can puréed tomatoes
2 ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed

For the chile powder: Place the chiles flat in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and cook, turning as needed, until lightly toasted. Transfer to a plate to cool. Put the cumin seeds in the hot pan and stir until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Using scissors, cut the chiles into small strips. Using a spice grinder or a clean coffee grinder, grind in batches into a powder. Pour into a bowl. Grind the cumin seeds into a powder and add to the bowl. Add the oregano and garlic powder. If the mixture is still coarse, grind again until fine. Reserve 3 1/2 tablespoons for the chili; save the rest in a jar.

For the chili: In a Dutch oven over medium heat, stir the cumin seeds until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour onto a work surface and using a small, heavy skillet, crush them coarsely. Set aside.
Return the pot to medium-high heat, add the bacon and fry until crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Increase the heat to high. Working in small batches, add the beef cubes to the pot and cook, stirring, until well browned on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions to the remaining bacon drippings and sauté until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

Add the crushed cumin, reserved chili powder, paprika, oregano, black pepper, thyme, salt and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Crumble in the bacon and add the broth, tomatoes, 1 cup water, anchos and the browned beef. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to low, cover partly and simmer for 2 hours, until the meat is very tender. Add water as needed to maintain a good chili consistency.

Remove the anchos, purée them in a food processor or blender and return the purée to the pot. Stir well, simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors and serve.

Hearty Bean Nachos With Spicy Salsa

FOR THE SALSA:
1 1/2 pounds ripe Roma tomatoes (about 5 or 6)
1/2 pound tomatillos (about 3 or 4), husked and rinsed
1 to 2 jalapeños, destemmed
1 to 2 chiles de árbol, destemmed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, leaves and upper stems, plus 1 cup reserved for garnish
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

FOR THE BEANS AND VEGETABLES:
3 cups (1/2-inch) diced peeled carrot or sweet potato (or a combination)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped white onion, plus 1/2 cup reserved for garnish
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 1/2 cups cooked, drained pinto beans (from about 3/4 cup dried beans or a 15-ounce can)

FOR ASSEMBLY:
1 to 1 1/2 pounds store-bought or Homemade Tortilla Chips (see recipe)
1 pound shredded cheese (any combination of Oaxaca, Monterey Jack and Cheddar)
1 cup Mexican crema

Prepare the salsa: Place the tomatoes, tomatillos, jalapeños, chiles de árbol and garlic in a medium saucepan. Cover with at least 6 cups water and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the tomatoes and tomatillos are cooked through and mushy, the jalapeños have softened and the chiles de árbol have plumped up, about 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked vegetables to a blender, setting aside the cooking liquid. Add the cilantro, cumin and 3/4 teaspoon salt to the blender; purée until smooth.
Prepare the vegetables: Bring the reserved vegetable cooking liquid back to a simmer over medium-high heat and season generously with salt. Once it comes to a boil, add the carrots or sweet potatoes, or both, and cook until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Pour the cooked vegetables into a colander, discarding liquid, and set aside.

Wipe the saucepan dry, then add 1 tablespoon oil and heat over medium. Once the oil is hot, pour in the salsa, partly cover it with the lid, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and the color has deepened, 8 to 10 minutes. Set salsa aside.

Prepare the beans: In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium. Once hot, add the onion and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 8 minutes, until completely softened. Raise the heat to high, add the cooked carrots and/or sweet potatoes, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring a couple times, until beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the pinto beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed, another 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt, then remove from the heat.

Assemble the nachos: Set a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 degrees. Place all the tortilla chips in a half sheet pan or large baking sheet. Cover the chips with the bean mixture, ladle the salsa all over the top and cover with shredded cheese. Bake until cheese has completely melted, about 10 minutes.
Spoon the crema over the top and garnish with reserved cilantro and chopped white onion. Serve hot!

Enfrijoladas Pintos

FOR THE PICKLED RED ONION:
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 dried bay leaf
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
Pinch black pepper

FOR THE ENFRIJOLADAS:
1 whole dried chipotle morita or meco chile
1 3/4 to 2 cups drained pinto beans, from 1 (15-ounce) can or homemade
1 1/4 to 3 cups vegetable broth or bean cooking liquid
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil, plus more as needed
12 corn tortillas
4 tablespoons sour cream, vegan if you’d like
4 tablespoons roasted salted pepitas
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
2 ripe medium Hass avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced

Make the pickled onion: Combine the onion, lemon juice, oregano, red-pepper flakes, bay leaf, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and mix. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together and the onion to soften. The onion can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 to 5 days before serving.

Make the enfrijoladas: Place the chipotle in a small bowl and add enough hot water to cover (see Tip). Let stand to rehydrate for 10 minutes. Once rehydrated and pliable, drain and remove the stem. To a blender or food processor, add the beans, 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth or bean cooking liquid, and the softened chipotle. Blend until completely smooth. Add more of the broth, 1/4 cup at a time as needed, to make a smooth bean sauce. Season to taste with salt.

Heat a medium pot over medium-low. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat, then add the bean mixture. Stir to incorporate; the mixture may sizzle and spatter. Allow the mixture to come to a low simmer and reduce heat to low to keep warm. Add additional liquid as needed to thin to a cheese-sauce consistency.

Heat a comal or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil, then add 1 to 2 tortillas and lightly fry until softened and blistered, 30 to 60 seconds per side. Transfer the fried tortillas to a plate, and continue to add more oil to the comal as needed to cook all the tortillas.

Use tongs to slightly submerge each fried tortilla in the hot bean mixture one at a time. Flip the tortilla over to coat the second side, then fold the tortilla in half, pull out of the pot and place on a dinner plate. Continue this process until all the tortillas are coated in the enfrijolada sauce, dividing them among 4 plates. Spoon any remaining bean sauce over the top of the tortillas. Garnish with the sour cream, pickled red onion, pepitas, cilantro and avocado.

Tip:
If making a fresh pot of beans, add the dried chipotle to the simmering bean to soften.

Shortcut Chilaquiles

1 small red or yellow onion, thinly sliced into rings
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more if desired
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cored and sliced into 1-inch wedges
1 small Serrano or jalapeño chile, seeds removed if you like, finely chopped (optional)
6 ounces tortilla chips or tostadas, broken up into chip-size pieces
4 large eggs
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
1 cup cilantro, tender leaves and stems
1/2 cup crema (or sour cream, thinned with a bit of water)(optional)

Place half the onions in a small bowl and cover with lime juice. Season with salt and pepper, toss and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet (12-inch works well) over medium-high heat. Add remaining onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until they are tender and starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and half of chile (if using) and season with salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have started to burst and simmer in their own juices, 5 to 8 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and continue to simmer until tomatoes are totally softened and melted down, another 5 to 8 minutes; larger bits of the skin are O.K., but they should feel mostly broken down into a nice, thick sauce.

Add chips and toss to coat evenly. Simmer a minute or two and remove the pan from the heat while you fry the eggs.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in another large skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggs and season with salt and pepper. Cook, undisturbed, until the whites of the egg are fried and lightly crisped but the yolks are still bright orange and runny, about 2 minutes.

Divide chips among plates and top with fried egg, queso fresco, cilantro, crema, remaining green chile, reserved red onions and a squeeze of lime if you like.

Chilaquiles with Eggs

2 tablespoons bacon fat
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or you can use all bacon fat)
4 to 6 dry tortillas, of the kind described as having ‘‘seen better days, quartered
3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped small
1/2 red or yellow pepper, chopped small
1 to 2 teaspoons coarse salt, to taste
4 to 4 1/2 cups large chopped fresh or canned tomatoes (no juice if from can)
1/2 tablespoon pickled spicy chiles, or a few dashes Tabasco or other hot sauce
4 eggs
1 full cup cilantro or mint, stems removed, left as leaves
2 limes
Grated or crumbled Cheddar or queso blanco (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. In a heavy low-sided casserole, heat the bacon fat and vegetable oil (or just bacon fat) over medium-high heat, until a speck of salt just sizzles if dropped in.

Fry tortilla pieces in 2 batches until just lightly browned, removing to a plate.

Lower heat to low, and add the garlic, onion, chopped pepper and salt. Cook about 3 minutes, until onion has started to become translucent.

Add tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often, for fresh tomatoes. If you’re using canned, add a drizzle of water, and cook 8 minutes, until they have become lightly stewy. Add pickled chiles. Add fried tortillas, and stir. Add a drizzle of water now, to keep them from sticking. Lower heat, and partly cover the pot for about 20 minutes, opening to stir every few minutes.
When the stew has been cooking about 15 minutes, remove a tortilla, and taste a sliver. Cook until the tortillas are completely tender. Make 4 little wells in the stew.

Crack eggs, one by one, into a teacup or ramekin, then tip each into a well. Salt yolks and white lightly.

Put egg-topped stew into oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until whites are set and yolks still very slightly runny.

Remove, top with fresh herbs and serve in a casserole or pot, with wedges of lime for each person to squeeze. Serve cheese alongside, if you want.

Green Chilaquiles With Eggs

1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 to 4 jalapeño or serrano chiles, stemmed, to taste (seeded for a milder salsa)
12 cilantro sprigs, plus 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 small white onion, quartered and thinly sliced (about 1 cup sliced onion)
Salt
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
6 large eggs
12 thick corn tortillas, cut into wedges and deep-fried or microwaved until crisp (see note), or 1/2-pound thick tortilla chips from a Mexican grocery
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta

Heat broiler. Place tomatillos and chiles on a baking sheet and set about 4 inches below broiler. Roast until dark and blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. Flip over and roast on other side until tomatillos are soft and charred in spots and chiles are soft all the way through, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer tomatillos and chiles to a blender along with juices on baking sheet. Add cilantro sprigs, then blend to a coarse purée.
Heat oil over medium heat in a large, wide casserole or saucepan and add onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add a little salt, stir in garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Turn heat to medium-high and add tomatillo purée. Cook, stirring often, until salsa thickens and leaves a canal when you run a wooden spoon down the middle. Add broth, bring to a simmer, and simmer 10 minutes or until salsa coats the back of a spoon.
Beat eggs in a bowl and season with a little salt. Turn heat to low and stir eggs into salsa. Add chopped cilantro and stir until eggs are set. Mixture should be creamy.

Stir in tortilla chips, making sure they are completely submerged, and remove from heat. Sprinkle with crumbled cheese and serve at once.

Tip
To make tortilla chips, cut tortillas into wedges and leave out so they dry for an hour or more. Heat 1 to 1 1/2 inches vegetable or canola oil in a wide, deep skillet or wok to 375 degrees. Add tortilla wedges a handful at a time and fry, stirring constantly with a skimmer or heatproof spatula, until dark brown and the bubbling has subsided, 45 seconds to a minute. Remove from the oil with a skimmer and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining tortilla wedges.

Red Chilaquiles With Chicken

1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes
1 jalapeño chile, or 2 serranos, seeded for a milder sauce and chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion, soaked for a few minutes in cold water, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, halved, green shoots removed
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 to 1 cup water, chicken or vegetable stock, as needed
Salt to taste
1 large chicken breast, poached and shredded about 2 cups shredded meat
8 corn tortillas, toasted and coarsely broken up, or 2 cups baked tortilla chips

FOR THE GARNISH
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 small red or white onion, cut into thick rings, soaked for five minutes in cold water, then drained, rinsed and dried on paper towels

Combine the tomatoes, chiles, chopped onion and garlic in a blender, and blend until coarsely pureed.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet or a wide saucepan over medium-high heat, and add a drop of the puree. It should sizzle. Add all of the tomato puree, and cook, stirring, for about five to ten minutes, until the sauce darkens, thickens and begins to stick to the pan. Add water or stock if the mixture seems dry, and season to taste with salt. Turn the heat to low, and simmer, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, until the sauce coats the front and back of a spoon. Taste and adjust salt.

Stir in the chicken and heat through. Stir in the tortilla chips or pieces, stir together for a half minute, and remove from the heat. Spinkle the cheese, cilantro and sliced onion over the top, and serve.

Tip
Advance preparation: The poached, shredded chicken breast will keep for three days in the refrigerator. You can make this dish ahead through step 2 and remove from the heat. Reheat gently and proceed with step 3, then serve right away

Indian-ish Nachos

FOR THE CILANTRO CHUTNEY:
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
1 small Indian green chile or serrano chile, stem removed and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime), plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

FOR THE NACHOS:
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
Kosher salt
1 (8-ounce) bag white corn tortilla chips, preferably unsalted
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 medium Roma tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
4 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup store-bought tamarind sauce (or 1/4 cup date syrup or maple syrup whisked with 1 tablespoon lime juice)

FOR THE CHHONK:
1/4 cup ghee or olive oil
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
Pinch of red chile powder, such as ground cayenne
Greek yogurt, for serving

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Make the chutney: In a blender, combine the cilantro, green chile, lime juice, sugar and salt and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add up to 3 tablespoons water, a tablespoon at a time, to get it going. Taste and adjust the salt and lime juice, if needed. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, lightly mash the beans with a fork (this is so they won’t roll off the chips), and season them with salt. On a foil-lined 13-by-18-inch sheet pan, arrange half the chips, followed by half the beans, onions, tomatoes and cheese (in that order). Repeat to make a second layer.

Bake for 7 to 10 minutes on the highest rack of the oven, until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

While the nachos are in the oven, make the chhonk: In a small pan or a butter warmer over medium-high, heat the ghee. Once the ghee melts (or the oil begins to shimmer), add the cumin seeds and cook until they start to sputter and brown, about 15 seconds. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the red chile powder. Set aside.

Evenly drizzle the cilantro chutney and the tamarind sauce on top of the nachos, followed by the chhonk. Add a few dollops of the Greek yogurt, if using.

Sheet-Pan Chicken Chilaquiles

6 Roma tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds), quartered
1 small yellow onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 jalapeño, stemmed and halved lengthwise
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
5 dried Guajillo chile peppers (1 ounce), stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
1/4 cup safflower or canola oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
8 ounces corn tortilla chips
4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (from 1 whole chicken)
Finely chopped white onion, sliced radishes, chopped avocado, crumbled queso fresco, sour cream, chopped cilantro and pickled jalapeños, for serving

Place a rack 6 inches from the broiler heat source and heat to high. On a sheet pan, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic and jalapeño, and broil until lightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes for the garlic and 15 to 20 minutes for the tomatoes, onion and jalapeño. (They should be lightly charred around the edges, but not all over). Transfer to a blender.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine the broth and dried chiles, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand while the tomatoes and vegetables broil.
To the blender add the rehydrated chiles with broth, oil, salt and coriander, and purée until smooth.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. On the same sheet pan (no need to wash), toss chips with 2 cups of the sauce and spread in an even layer. Toss the chicken with the remaining sauce and arrange on top of the chips. Roast until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Garnish with preferred toppings, and serve warm.

Reader comments include: If you can find them, Chilaca chilis are probably the signiture chilis for this dish. They are also great in green pipian. The skin doesn’t require peeling, have low to medium heat, great flavor. Also nice in shakshuka, or fritata.

Also: This dish is not made with tortilla chips but with corn tortillas. It’s what you do with your old tortillas after they’ve started falling apart. Tortilla chips might add crunch but also too much salt and oil.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Garlic-Cucumber Yogurt

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely grated, minced or passed through a press
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme or oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano
Large pinch of red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 lemon, cut lengthwise into thin wedges
1/2 cup plain Greek or other strained, thick yogurt (or substitute labneh or sour cream)
1/2 cup grated seedless cucumber, such as Persian or hothouse cucumbers (see Tip)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (or use parsley or cilantro), for serving

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Season chicken generously with the salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine 3 of the grated garlic cloves, thyme or oregano, red-pepper flakes and olive oil. Add chicken and lemon wedges, and toss until well coated. (If you want to work ahead, you can refrigerate the chicken for up to 12 hours before roasting.)

Arrange chicken and lemons on a sheet pan in a single layer. Drizzle with a little more oil and roast until chicken is cooked through, 27 to 35 minutes. If you’d like more color on your chicken, run the pan under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes until chicken is lightly charred in places.

As the chicken roasts, stir together yogurt, grated cucumber and remaining minced garlic clove in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

To serve, squeeze roasted lemon wedges all over chicken, and sprinkle with mint and more red-pepper flakes, if you like. Serve chicken accompanied by cucumber-yogurt sauce and a drizzle of olive oil over everything.

Tip
If you are starting with seeded cucumbers, halve them lengthwise, then use a spoon to scrape out the seeds before grating.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

FOR THE POT ROAST:
4 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 3 chunks
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
7 ounces frozen pearl onions (or 1 yellow or red onion, peeled and cut into wedges)
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
5 fresh woody herb sprigs, such as thyme, sage or rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, sage or rosemary)
1 to 1 1/2 pounds peeled root vegetables, such as a mix of carrots and parsnips, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (optional)
2 tablespoons flour (optional)

FOR THE PICKLED ONIONS (OPTIONAL):
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
7 ounces frozen pearl onions (or 1 yellow or red onion, peeled and thinly sliced)
Kosher salt

Season the beef generously all over with about 1 heaping tablespoon salt. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add one chunk of the beef and sear on one side, undisturbed, until deeply browned, 5 minutes. Using tongs, remove the first chunk and place it in a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker.

Repeat with the second and third pieces, searing one side and then placing the beef in the slow cooker. (You can certainly brown more than one side of each chunk, but one side is enough to build flavor without spending too much time on this step.)

Add the pearl onions and garlic to the skillet. Season lightly with salt and generously with pepper and cook, stirring, until just softened, 3 minutes. Pour in the red wine, vinegar and 1/2 cup water. Scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spoon or spatula and let the mixture come to a bubble. Tip the mixture into the slow cooker, and add the herbs. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.

Make the pickled onions, if desired: Bring the vinegar and the sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over high. Add the pearl onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, to dissolve the sugar and warm the onions through, about 1 minute, then remove from heat. Set aside at room temperature to pickle until ready to serve, at least 1 hour. (Ideally, make the pickled onions in the morning, when you prep the dish. You could even make them up to 5 days ahead and store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator.)

Uncover the slow cooker, flip the pieces of beef with tongs, and add the root vegetables, pushing them under the liquid. Cover and cook on low until the beef and vegetables are both very tender, an additional 4 to 5 hours. Check to see if the meat is tender by testing it with a fork; it should be juicy and flavorful, and pull apart easily. If the meat is not yet tender, cover and cook another 1 to 2 hours. (The amount of time can depend upon the leanness or fattiness of your cut, or how hot your slow cooker runs.)

Using tongs and a slotted spoon, remove the beef and vegetables to a serving platter. Break the beef into large chunks to serve. Drizzle some cooking liquid over the top of the beef and vegetables, and top with drained pickled onions to serve. Discard the remaining cooking liquid or strain it, refrigerate it, discard the fat and freeze the remaining liquid as beef stock.

If you’d prefer a thicker gravy, strain the cooking liquid into a medium pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, combine the butter and flour in a small bowl and knead it together with your fingers until it is uniform, almost like a dough. Once the liquid is boiling, drop the butter-flour mixture into the pot, whisking well to combine. Let it bubble until it is lightly thickened, about 5 minutes, then drizzle some gravy over the pot roast and vegetables, and top with the drained, pickled onions. Serve extra gravy on the side.

Mississippi Roast

This is the original recipe:

Get a tender chuck pot roast and place it in a crock pot on low.
Add one packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix. Sprinkle it over the roast.

Add one packet of McCormick Aux jus gravy mix or any brown gravy mix. Sprinkle that packet over the roast as well.
Then, place a stick of butter on top of the roast.

Put 4 or 5 peperoncini peppers on top of the roast. Do not add water!!! Let the roast cook at least 8 hours.

This is the update:

1 boneless chuck roast or top or bottom round roast, 3 to 4 pounds
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 to 12 pepperoncini
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon buttermilk, optional
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Place roast on a cutting board and rub the salt and pepper all over it. Sprinkle the flour all over the seasoned meat and massage it into the flesh.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan set over high heat until it is shimmering and about to smoke. Place the roast in the pan and brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes a side, to create a crust. Remove roast from pan and place it in the bowl of a slow cooker. Add the butter and the pepperoncini to the meat. Put the lid on the slow cooker, and set the machine to low.

As the roast heats, make a ranch dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, dill and paprika in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify. Add the buttermilk if using, then whisk again.

Remove the lid from the slow cooker and add the dressing. Replace the top and allow to continue cooking, undisturbed, for 6 to 8 hours, or until you can shred the meat easily using 2 forks. Mix the meat with the gravy surrounding it. Garnish with parsley, and serve with egg noodles or roast potatoes, or pile on sandwich rolls, however you like.

30-Minute Mole

3 cups unsalted vegetable broth or water
3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola
3 dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
4 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons unsalted roasted natural peanut butter or almond butter
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons turbinado or raw sugar
2 tablespoons cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 6-inch corn tortilla, toasted, or 1 tostada
Salt and pepper
Seared cauliflower or other vegetables or proteins, for serving

Heat broth in a small saucepan over medium-high until steaming; remove from heat. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium pot over medium. Add all the dried chiles and sear until darkened, turning constantly so they don’t burn and become bitter, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer chiles to the hot broth to rehydrate for 10 minutes. Set a bowl over the chiles to keep them submerged.

Add the remaining tablespoon oil and the onion to the same medium pot (no need to wash). Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until browned and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Transfer to a blender, along with the chiles and their soaking liquid, the peanut butter, tahini, sugar, cacao, chocolate, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and toasted tortilla. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the mole back into the same medium pot and set over high heat. Once the mole starts to bubble, lower heat to medium and simmer, stirring every couple of minutes to make sure the mole isn’t burning or sticking to the pot, until the flavors marry, at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Serve with cauliflower or vegetable or protein of your choice.

Pressure Cooker Mashed Potatoes With Sour Cream and Chives

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Put 1 cup of warm water and the 1 tablespoon salt in the pressure cooker and stir until the salt dissolves. Insert the steamer basket and place the potatoes in the basket.

Cover, and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Release the pressure manually.

Transfer the potatoes to a bowl. Add the butter, sour cream, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper and use a potato masher or fork to mash everything together. Add the chives and mix well. Adjust the seasoning to taste, if necessary. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese just before serving.