Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tico Chop Salad

Serves 8

This is an easy one-bowl recipe. Basically, you can put anything in this salad that “crunches” nicely. I try to keep everything cut into small pieces no bigger than the chickpeas. That way, it mixes well and looks uniform. It’s best eaten the day you make it but will last in the refrigerator for a couple days if you don’t add the dressing (olive oil, lemon juice and optional red wine vinegar) until you are ready to serve it.

1 cup finely shredded spinach
2 large cucumbers, seeded, small dice
3 small tomatoes, small dice
½ cup celery, small dice
½ cup carrot, small dice
½ cup red onion, small dice
1 red bell pepper, small dice
½ cup Jicama, peeled, small dice
1 can or 1½ cups chickpeas / garbanzo beans
½ cup chopped bacon, cooked crispy
1 cup queso blanco, small dice
The juice of one lemon or mandarina
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Dash of cayenne pepper
2 T. chopped fresh dill
Sea salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste

Mix all of the ingredients above and chill for 1/2 hour. Serve in cold bowls with lemon wedges and a sprig of mint.
Arroz con Pollo/Tico Style Chicken ‘N Rice

Servings: about 6-8 large servings

This is the comfort food of Latin America. The people of La Florida will tell you that it not only tastes good, but also makes you feel strong and healthy. If I were to pick one dish to represent the people of Costa Rica, this would be it. The secret is the chicken broth. The stronger, more intense the broth, the better, so I would make a double stock (make one stock and then make another with the liquid from the first, reducing it carefully to pull out as much flavor as you can). If you do not have the time to roast a chicken, get a rotisserie chicken from your local grocer. It is a great way to save time and it works perfectly! The secret to this recipe is the salt. Don’t add any until the end. With all the reducing of liquids in this recipe, you want to make sure it isn’t too salty in the beginning.

8 cups double chicken stock
1 whole roasted chicken, bones included
1 onion, large dice
2 large carrots, peeled, cut into large pieces or whole
3 tomatoes, diced
½ cup chopped celery
4 bay leaves
Cracked black pepper
1 whole jalapeno

1 cup dry white rice
1 cup queso fresco
1 bunch scallions, sliced


Cover the cooked chicken in the strong double broth. Add the carrots, celery, onion, tomatoes and bay leaf to the pot and bring to a boil. Throw away any foam that may form.

As soon as it is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for almost 3 hours, uncovered.

After the second hour of cooking, remove all the bones from the soup or at least as many as you can. Throw the bones away. Stir in 1-cup dry rice and let simmer in the broth until plump. Stir it a few times so that the rice doesn’t clot. Adjust the salt if needed.

When the rice is cooked, ladle portions of the rice and chicken mixture into bowls. Make sure you get lots carrot pieces and liquid in each bowl.

Garnish with crumbled queso fresco and sliced scallions.
Recipe for Grilled Whole Beef Tenderloin with Chipotle Corn Cream Sauce

Serves about 8-12 people depending on serving size

This is a carnivores’ delight. The tenderness of the grilled beef is matched perfectly with the smoky corn sauce. You will be amazed at the variety and depth of flavors packed into this simple dish. I start this recipe on the grill and finish it in the oven to make sure it is cooked perfectly. If you can start a wood fire, do it. A regular gas grill will work fine. You want the grill to be hot enough to burn marks on all sides quickly. As soon as you have achieved a nice char, remove it from the grill and transfer it to a 400-degree oven until medium rare (about 140 degrees Fahrenheit).

After the roast sits for a few minutes, cut into slices and serve with the warm corn sauce.

1 whole beef tenderloin, all fat and silverskin removed
1 T. fresh garlic, minced
1 large onion, minced
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 can of corn or 2 cups roasted fresh corn, taken off the cobb
1 cup strong chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 T. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1½ T. Flour
Sea salt


Chop the garlic and the ½ onion together. Add some salt and pepper and rub all over the cleaned tenderloin. Sprinkle with the smoked paprika and grill on all sides to seal in the natural juices. When you have obtained nice grill marks and the outside of the tenderloin roast has some color from the grill, remove it and transfer the tenderloin to a roasting pan and immediately put it into a preheated 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. You want an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit for a medium rare roast. Don’t forget to let the roast rest a few minutes after it comes out of the oven. It will slice better.

You will need a blender for the sauce. Place all the corn in the blender with the other ½ of the onion, the Chipotle pepper, and the chicken stock. Puree until completely smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and whisk in the flour until it is totally dissolved into the corn mixture and there are no lumps.

Pour thick mixture into a saucepan with the heavy cream and slowly simmer over medium heat. Stir constantly, taking care not to burn the bottom of the pan. If it is too thick, thin with a splash of chicken stock. Serve hot over freshly sliced tenderloin.