Among the five course festival menu Chef Luis Noriega created for Coco Tropical, the Angus short ribs marinated in a fragrant mixture of sautéed dried peppers, herbs and spices then wrapped in banana leaves and slow braised was something I never tasted north of the Rio Grande.
Chef Luis Noriega’s illustrious international career has taken him from Acapulco, European capitals to Chef/Professor at leading Mexico culinary collages. He is chef/owner of Restaurant La Guia in the south central Mexican Pacific coast city of Zihuatanejo. Recently Chef Noriega conducted an in-depth daytime cooking workshop and lunch at Puerto Vallarta’s Coco Tropical for the 22nd Festival Gourmet International.
Unlike many culinary festivals, Festival Gourmet International in Puerto Vallarta stretches over eleven days with dozens of events among one-time theme dinners and brunches, wine and tequila tastings to daytime cooking classes and lunches with guest chefs throughout the city. Additional participating restaurants offered nightly festival menus created by their sponsored guest chefs.
More than one first time visitor to both Puerto Vallarta and the festival commented how they had “no idea” cuisine in Mexico was so varied. The name of one popular American icon of Tex-Mex food was often cited. The breadth of the 22nd annual Festival Gourmet International ranged from Pakistani to Austrian fusion menus.
Yet the festival’s hallmark was highlighting Mexico’s ever evolving New World cuisine.
Chef Heinz Reize has owned the beautiful oceanfront Restaurant Coco Tropical on Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon for years and is a founder of Puerto Vallarta’s Festival Gourmet International. This is not the first time Chef Noriega has teamed with his old friend.
Barbecued Beef Guerrero Style – 4 servings
- 1 to 1-½ pounds Angus beef short ribs
- 2 dry Guajillo chili peppers
- 2 dry Ancho chili peppers
- 1/2 medium white onion diced
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes diced
- 2 garlic cloves diced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground clove
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon – preferably fresh ground stick
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 pinch dry thyme
- 1 pinch dry marjoram
- zest from one medium naval orange
- 2 each hojas de (leaves of) aquacate & guayaba (at Latino food markets)
- 1/4th cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 each large fresh banana leaves (at Latino food markets)
- 1 12” X 18” sheet of parchment paper
- 24 ounces diced fresh yellow sweet potatoes (not yams)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 7 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
- 7 tablespoons sour cream
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Wearing gloves, remove the veins from the chilies and as many of the seeds you wish – they contain much heat – and sauté in a hot cast iron pan with one tablespoon oil for 5+ minutes. Add the onions and saute 5 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook additional 2 minutes.
- Remove pan from the heat and add one cup boiling water – slowly or else it’ll splatter on you. Add the leaves, if available, and soak for 20 minutes.
- In a dry small hot cast iron pan quickly toast the ground spices and orange zest stirring constantly for a minutes or until fragrant. Remove from heat.
- In a blender add the vinegar, chilies, soaking water, toasted spices and dry herbs. Blend until liquefied. Transfer to a small saucepan and, over medium-low heat, simmer until reduced to a sauce.
- In a very hot cast iron pan brushed with just a touch of olive oil sear the Angus beef on both sides for two minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and brush both sides liberally with the chili sauce.
- Line a baking dish large enough for the beef with the banana leaves or parchment paper and fold the leaves over encasing the short ribs.
- Cover and bake in a pre-heated 240° Fahrenheit oven for 4 hours.
- During the last hour gently simmer the diced sweet potatoes with the orange juice, sugar and 1 cup cold water in a sauce pan for 30 to 40 minutes until fork tender. Mash along with the sour cream. Serve with slices of beef.
The dish was superbly paired with a Spanish petit verdot imported by Va de Vinos. This new import company is quickly adding to Mexico’s reputation for embracing fine wines. The deep berries of the petit verdot melded with the rich natural sauce of the braised beef.
Keep in mind, this was a major international festival, but Puerto Vallarta’s culinary scene is smoking every day.
When you go:
Puerto Vallarta is served by many international airlines.
For the 23rd Festival Gourmet International in November 2017 check the web site: http://www.festivalgourmet.com/en/
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