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Celebrating International Chef’s Day with Enfrijoladas

Oct 06, 2022

Perhaps you’ve caught an episode of Top Chef or Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, or Chef’s Table. Perhaps you’ve watched the person making your meal. No matter where they work, chefs are running kitchens. But what does that mean exactly? How is a chef different from a cook, a linecook, a soux chef, or prep chef? At Pueblo Bonito and all of our restaurants, cafes, bars, and marketplaces, chefs are at the heart of every meal that leaves the kitchen. But to most, chefs go unseen, unheard, and unsung. So, this month, on October 20th, we celebrate them—their dedication and their gift to all of us—on International Chef’s Day.

As visionaries, creatives, artists, and managers, chefs are the pinnacle of the culinary profession. Many will have risen through the ranks, earning their chops as dishwashers, bussers, and runners, to eventually lead Michelin starred international destinations. But their journeys are what define them and makes them the passionate innovators they are. And by having seen all sides of the industry, they’re able to appreciate the role they play—not just to feed people responsibly, but to provide a thoughtful link between field and fork. Yet, while impacting individuals and communities significantly with every meal plated, chefs remain the dark horse. So, let’s take a look behind the curtain!

Seated somewhere in the back of a kitchen, pacing behind the fire escape or hiding in cold storage, a chef brainstorms the menu: How will the season’s harvest be best highlighted? How will we balance color and texture, flavors, and nutrition? Can we accommodate vegans, gluten-free diners, and children? How can we maintain the restaurant’s reputation for simple, quality food with a flair for the fantastic? Can we bring a breath of the unimaginable to the familiar? The more experience a chef has in a given restaurant and community, the more likely she or he can satisfy the diners served. But it’s always a bit of a gamble and a tremendous amount of responsibility entrusted to the supporting kitchen staff that helps realize the vision to taste. See, chef’s must be teachers, too. They cannot act alone in a restaurant serving hundreds or thousands of meals a night. Throughout his or her career, a chef will have invested considerable time training her cooks’ palates to be able to discern on their own when a dish is just right, or what it needs to get there.

Cooking—as the average chef observes—is much more than a process of assembling ingredients and following a recipe. Good cooking, remarkable cooking, is intuitive, flexible, and based more on problem-solving than anything else. The variables to effective cooking are countless. There are so many factors that come into play from ingredient maturity, point of origin, how the ingredients were stored, cooking process, time, and so on, leaving any recipe as a mere guidepost to reality. Creating something truly special without a real understanding of what impacts flavor is almost an impossibility.

With these factors in mind, a chef returns to planning the menu; in this case, fall. Yet, even with the breadth of Mexico’s warming root vegetables like beets, parsnips and carrots, local heirloom potatoes, and onions, a chef still must incorporate the day’s fresh catch, prime cuts, spices, and herbs. The flavor of everything together will make or break a meal and determine whether a guest will finish what’s on his or her plate and whether they will come back the next night. A reputation for consistency is what our chefs pride themselves on at Pueblo Bonito. Guests do come back night after night and year after year to celebrate this balance of ingredients and local flavors, and our chefs are the ones tipping the scale to satisfaction.

To ensure success in the kitchen, a chef will cook for his or her staff, demonstrating how the finished product should be developed, embedding flavors along the way so that her cooks can begin to understand the way forward. A chef’s notes and dedicated training will help them navigate the bumps and burns along the way. Through time and tremendous effort, chefs take joy in watching their kitchen mature and grow in confidence until a select few hone the skills to teach the teacher. But this month, we’re keen the turn the spotlight on the creative minds and hands who craft the first menu and who feed us meals with vigor and a side of patience. And to do that, we’re sharing a recipe from our kitchen that you can try at home. It’s called Enfrijolados, and our very own Chef Sergio jotted down what you’ll need. In a few words, Enfrijolados are corn tortillas draped in pureed beans, topped with cheese or meat, then folded or quartered to be eaten warm.

To make Chef Sergio’s Enfrijoladas you’ll need:
- 3 corn tortillas
- ½ a chicken breast, pre-cooked and shredded
- 1 cup cooked black or bay beans
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 100g/1 cup chorizo, cubed
- ½ avocado
- 1 pinch ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste

• Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add the oil, and working one or two at a time, fry the tortillas until lightly browned and and barely starting to crisp, about 1 minute per side. Set aside.
• In the same pan, add the chorizo and sauté until browned and cooked through, 7–9 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a medium bowl; reserve pan.
• Pour the beans, chicken broth, cumin, salt and pepper into a blender or food processor and purée until smooth; it should be the consistency of yogurt.
• Transfer bean mixture into reserved pan and heat to a simmer. Working one at a time and using tongs, dip tortillas in bean purée, turning to coat completely and leaving until softened, about 3 seconds per side. Transfer each to a baking sheet as you go. Spoon ⅓ of the chicken inside and fold over like a taco.
• Top enfrijoladas with more of the bean sauce, then add chorizo, Cotija cheese, sour cream, and sliced avocado over the top.

Fillings can be swapped to please the chef, to suit vegetarians and those who like it hot! This recipe serves one (or a lite bite for two) so double the amounts depending on many you feed or how hungry you are. Watch our video to get eyes on the process and final presentation. Tag us in your photos and then make plans to visit Pueblo Bonito to try Chef Sergio’s cuisine.

Book your stay and celebrate our chefs!