Before he was an Iron Chef, before challenging other cooks to a Throwdown, before planning an upscale burger joint, Bobby Flay was a cook with a passion for the flavors of the Southwest--smoky, spicy, fruity. He translated this love of chiles, honey, and mesquite into the menu for his first restaurant, Mesa Grill.
In the 16 years since it opened, the menu has evolved, but the core ideas and the Mesa classics that bring the color and energy of the "contemporary Southwest" to diners in New York and Las Vegas year after year are still present.
Today Flay is everywhere, including on the bookshelves (he's written six previous cookbooks). This is his first restaurant-related cookbook, but the translation of food created in the professional kitchen into recipes useful to the home cook is pretty successful.
Foremost, the book is a great gift idea for fans of Flay. Cooks looking for projects using a variety of chiles might also enjoy it. Nothing within is too difficult (the recipes are simple to follow with clear steps), and a good many of the rub, sauce and salsa recipes are reusable across different kinds of fish and meats. But over time, Flay's persona - brash, boastful, almost boorish - in the recipe introductions becomes repetitive (all the dishes herein are popular with diners, all are bursting with flavor).
Still, most the recipes do sound flavorful (although thankfully, not explosively so, as his terrible subtitle suggests), and the selections I've cooked have been easy to execute. So today I'll be posting a recipes for dishes from the Mesa Grill menu that have been pleasing crowds for more than a decade, starting with a tart, tangerine influenced margarita and moving on to queso fundido, grilled steak and corn muffins. All you need is a green salad to flesh it out into a Mesa menu of your own.
Although Flay suggests using tangerine concentrate, I'm looking forward to trying this with fresh tangerine juice squeezed from the tangerines I know I'll find in the toe of my Christmas stocking.
- 8 ounces silver tequila
- 4 ounces orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Triple Sec
- 4 ounces fresh lime juice
- 4 ounces frozen tangerine concentrate, thawed
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Grated zest of 1 tangerine
- Ice cubes
- 4 tangerine slices
- 4 mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Combine the tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, tangerine concentrate, honey, and zest in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour over ice in rocks glasses and garnish each with a tangerine slice and a mint sprig.