M. Andrew Gordon

Tostones with Smoky Cranberry Sauce and Goat Cheese…and much more

In Appetizers, Main Dish, Sauces, Side Dishes on October 25, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Tomatillo Shrimp and Chorizo-Black Bean TacosSaturday afternoon I planned to go to my friends Monica and Ryan’s house to hangout, catch up, and more importantly, cook some delicious foods.  We had decided to coordinate a menu around the ingredients and flavors of southwestern and Latin American cuisines and so I arrived with some of my usual staples (agave nectar, dried chiles, chipotle) and some things that I couldn’t pass up at market such as cilantro, plantains, and chorizo.

Once I arrived, we discussed some possible menu options, kicked around what else we might need, and went to the store to get the last of the supplies.  We knew at least one dish was going to center around the chorizo and we were going to buy shrimp for another dish.  Beyond that, we were flying a little bit blind, which for those who don’t know me, is often how I prefer it when it comes to cooking.  The mangoes we planned to purchase were still hard as rocks – we could have shredded the flesh and made a slaw-style salad with it – but the nearby pineapples were $2.99 and perfectly ripe.  The pineapple won the day.  While hunting around, I noticed the small bin of tomatillos and decided that we needed a handful for some as yet-to-be determined use.  The rest of the purchases were straight forward things: onions, jalapenos, limes, oranges, black beans, and avocados, which thankfully the were far more ripe than the mangoes.  For cheeses we grabbed some goat cheese and queso fresco.

Shrimp Cocktail with Pineapple SalsaBack at the ranch, we stood and looked at the goods for a short time before I decided we had to make a cranberry sauce.  Cranberry sauce with a southwestern menu?  You bet.  Using brown sugar instead of the ol’ granulated stuff, adding a dose of orange zest, and then finishing it off with some chipotle puree, we had a smoky cranberry sauce that had a nice, hot finish.  I began slicing the ripe plantains into ¼ inch thick slices and then pressed them with the side of the knife to thin them even more.  Traditional tostones are made with unripe plantains and they are first fried, then pressed, then fried again.  Since the plantains I had on hand were already ripe, I decided to cut down the steps.  A nice side benefit is that instead of ending up with an almost brittle chip, we ended up with something that had a crispy exterior but a creamy interior, almost like toasted bread.  We decided to bake the goat cheese until golden brown to serve with the smoky cranberry sauce and the tostones.

In the meantime I started chopping up the tomatillos and rehydrated several dried poblano chiles.  These were pureed in the food processor with lime juice, cilantro and agave nectar to make a sauce that would be the base of our shrimp dish.  But as I looked at the shrimp, it seemed we had more than we really needed.  Perhaps two different shrimp dishes would be called for: shrimp tacos in the tomatillo sauce and shrimp cocktail.  For the latter we seasoned the water with salt and pepper, added a couple of bay leaves and a dried cascabel chile.  In hindsight, I might try to impart more flavors in the shrimp in this step.  The water is brought to a boil and turned off, adding the shrimp and letting them soak for 10 to 12 minutes.  As a garnish for the shrimp cocktail, I cut into the pineapple and then cut it into halves.  Working with one half, I cut that into two halves as well, removing the core and skin.  One quarter of the pineapple was roughly chopped and moved to the food processor and pureed.  The other quarter was diced and placed in a bowl with the pureed pineapple, half of a seeded and diced jalapeno, and chopped cilantro.

After our two appetizer courses we set to work on the tacos, figuring we would cook the remaining shrimp in the tomatillo sauce and crumble the chorizo and cook that with onions and black beans.  The chorizo that we used had a very subtle, smoky flavor which was in some ways shown up by the shrimp, something I had hardly considered to be a possibility.  We served both tacos with toasted corn tortillas, crumbled queso fresco, guacamole, chopped green onions, and the remaining tomatillo sauce.

I was pleased with all of the dishes but the tostones with baked goat cheese and the smoky cranberry sauce was the favorite of all involved.

Tostones with Smoky Cranberry Sauce and Baked Goat CheeseTostones with Smpky Cranberry Sauce and Roasted Goat Cheese

  • 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup well-packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp chipotle puree
  • Fresh orange juice, as needed
  • 2 ripe plantains, skins yellow with patches of black
  • Vegetable oil
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  1. Combine cranberries, water, sugar in small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat and simmer.
  2. Add orange zest and cook until cranberries have burst and sauce has thickened.  Stir in chipotle puree and, if desired, a teaspoon or two of fresh orange juice.  Let cool to room temperature.
  3. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Cut off both ends of the plantain and remove peel.  Slice ¼ inch thick and press each slice with side of knife or bottom of glass to flatten slightly.  Set aside.
  4. Heat ½ inch of vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Fry plantain slices in oil until golden brown on each side, about 2 or 3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels.
  5. Butter a ramekin or small ovenproof dish.  Spread goat cheese in dish and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Broil goat cheese until golden brown.  Serve with smoky cranberry sauce and tostones.

Spicy Shrimp CocktailShrimp and Pineapple Salsa

  • ½ lb shrimp, tails on (ours did not have tail on, but flavor will be more intense with on)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried cascabel pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • Water
  • ½ fresh pineapple, cored and skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, stems removed
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder (or ½ teaspoon chile powder)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Salt
  1. Combine bay leaves, dried pepper, salt and peppercorns in large pan and add several cups of water.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add shrimp.  Let shrimp sit for 10-12 minutes.  Drain and refrigerate.
  2. Puree one half of the pineapple with the cilantro and half the lime juice.  Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Dice remaining pineapple and add to pureed mixture.  Add jalapeno as desired.  Stir in chipotle powder and season with salt and pepper as desired.   Stir in remaining lime juice if desired.  Serve chilled shrimp with salsa.

Sautéed Shrimp in Tomatillo SauceTomatillo Shrimp and Chorizo Black Bean Tacos

  • 2 dried poblano chiles, seeds and stems removed
  • 6-7 medium tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, and roughly chopped.
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Place poblanos in nonreactive dish and pour hot water over them.  Re-hydrate for 15 minutes.
  2. In food processor, puree tomatillos, drained chiles, lime juice, and agave nectar.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. In large skillet, pour ¼ cup oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add remaining oil to shrimp in large bowl and add crushed red pepper.  Spoon 3 or 4 tablespoons of tomatillo sauce over shrimp and toss to coat.
  4. Add shrimp to skillet in one layer, cook for a minute and flip.  Add half remaining tomatillo sauce to skillet and finish cooking shrimp.
  5. Serve with toasted tortillas, remaining sauce, guacamole, and queso fresco.

Chorizo and Black Bean Tacos

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large, white onion
  • 4 links chorizo, cases removed and crumbled
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ c chicken stock or brown ale
  1. Heat oil in large skillet.  Add onion, stir to coat, and cook until translucent.  Add chorizo and cook until nearly cooked through.
  2. Add black beans and cook, stirring frequently, another 5 minutes.  If anything begins to stick to pan, deglaze with stock or beer.
  3. Serve with toasted tortillas, guacamole, and queso fresco.
  1. Matt
    I just have three quick comments, the first is despite the fact that I (for reasons You can imagine)have come to loathe cilantro, I love what you did with it! Nice!
    The second is: Have you ever made your own cranberry chipolte cream cheese, though not incredibly original, it is very delicious and can compliment a variety of dishes. I thought for sure you were heading in that direction with the southwestern theme.

    Third: I’m pretty sure that frozen Brussel sprouts are generally blanched and therefore show very little promise or potential of becoming a worthy slaw by the definition I am familliar with.

  2. Hey,
    I haven’t read all of the recipies, but are there any with pancetta. It’s one of my favorite forms of bacon, The search came up with nothing.

    • Good call on pancetta. I will get on that in the next few weeks.

      Yes, I can imagine your aversion to cilantro has been well-earned. Is the cream cheese just mixed with cranberry sauce and chipotle or is there more to it?

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