Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Meal for All Seasons: Chipotle Shrimp

This past summer I was fortunate enough to attend a dinner hosted by Rick Bayless, the man behind Chicago's Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. I wish I could say this was just an average night for me, but it was an all too rare event to get to hear firsthand what drives one of the best Mexican-inspired chefs in the country.

I also received his cookbook Everyday Mexican that evening, but having never prepared Mexican food at home, and frankly, being quite intimidated by this style cuisine as a home cook, I read it more as a novel than a cookbook. But in looking a bit closer, I realized that many of Bayless's recipes actually seemed manageable, the ingredients for which could be found at non-speciality grocery stores.

This is the backstory to a flavorful, reliable weeknight recipe, Chipotle Shrimp. Please note the recipe available online is slightly different (and a lot less saucy) than the one in the book, but the recipe is easily modified and expanded upon. I add a sprinkling of goat cheese on top and plate over basmati rice with avocados to make a one-dish meal that tastes like it took hours, but is easily prepared in less than 30 minutes. The spice and heat of the chipotles are offset by the sweetness of the tomatoes. The shrimp turn out succulent and tender. This is one of those rare dishes that crosses over seasons and can either warm you up in the winter or deliver a burst of flavor in the summer.

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