Courtesy of Rick Bayliss of Frontera

As a soft taco filling appetizer!

3/4 oz (~1/2 cup) dried porcini (or other wild mushrooms)
Hot green chile(s) to taste (rough 1 lg jalapeno or 2 serranos), stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 medium white onion, cute into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large ripe tomato, cored, seeded (if you wish) and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3 TBSP beer (preferably a full flavored Mexican)
8 oz Mexican melting cheese (Chihuahua, quesadilla) or monterey jack, mild cheddar or brick, shredded ~ 2 cups
corn or flour tortillas

Rehydrate the mushrooms. Scoop the mushrooms into a small bowl, cover with boiling water, weight with a plate to keep the mushrooms submerged and let rehydrate for 20 minutes. Drain off the liquid, pressing on the mushrooms to remove all the water. Chop into 1/4-inch pieces.

Prepare the flavorings. Finely chop the chiles (seed them first if you wish), then chop the onion and tomato into 1/4-inch pieces. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chiles, onion, tomato and mushrooms and cook, stirring nearly constantly, until the onion begins to soften and brown, 7 or 8 minutes. Add the beer and stir until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is once again dry looking.

Finish the queso fundido. Reduce the heat to medium-low, sprinkle the cheese evenly over the vegetables and stir slowly and constantly until just melted – too long over the heat and the cheese will become tough, oily and stringy. Immediately scoop into a warm serving dish and serve with warm tortillas for making soft tacos.


1 pound (6 to 8) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 medium white onion, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (2 or 3 serranos, 1 or 2 jalapeños), stemmed
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for roasting the vegetables and brushing or spraying the tortillas
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus a little extra if needed
1/2 cup Mexican crema (see below), crème fraîche or heavy (whipping) cream
8 cups cubed vegetables (about 1/2-inch cubes are good) — delicious choices are chayote, carrots, white or red onions, small turnips, kohlrabi, mushrooms and peeled butternut squash
12 corn tortillas
2/3 cup shredded Mexican melting cheese (like Chihuahua, quesadilla) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar
A few sliced rounds of white onion, separated into rings, for garnish
Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish.

Make the sauce. Roast the tomatillos, sliced onion, peeled garlic and chiles on a rimmed baking sheet 4 inches below a hot broiler until the tomatillos are soft and blotchy black on one side, 4 or 5 minutes. Turn everything over and roast the other side. Remove and reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Scrape the tomatillo mixture into a blender or food processor. Process to a smooth puree. Heat the 1 tablespoons of oil in a medium-large (4- or 5-quart) pot over medium high. When the oil is hot enough to make a drop of the puree sizzle, add the puree all at once. Stir nearly constantly for several minutes until darker and thicker. Add the broth and the crema, reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

2. Roast the vegetables. Spread the cubed vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle or spritz with oil, sprinkle with salt and stir to coat evenly. Roast, stirring regularly, until the carrots are crunchy-tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Finish the sauce, heat the tortillas. If the sauce has thickened beyond the consistency of a light cream soup, stir in a little more broth (or water). Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. Lightly brush or spray both sides of each tortilla with oil. Slide into a plastic bag and microwave on high (100%) for 1 minute to warm and soften.

4. Finish the enchiladas. Smear a few tablespoons of the sauce over the bottom of four to six 9-inch individual ovenproof baking/serving dishes or smear about 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Working quickly so the tortillas stay hot and pliable, roll a portion of the roasted vegetables into each tortilla, then line them all up in the baking dish(es). Douse evenly with the remaining sauce, then sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the enchiladas are heated through (the cheese will have begun to brown), about 10 minutes. Garnish with onion rings and cilantro sprigs. These are best served piping hot from the oven.

Mexican Crema:

A tub of crème fraîche will provide you the closest thing to real Mexican crema. Or make your crème fraîche with the sour cream alternative: Mix equal parts of very good quality sour cream and heavy cream, let stand at warm room temperature until noticeably thicker (about 6 hours), then refrigerate for several hours until very thick.

Southwestern Pulled Brisket
Adapted from The Food Network, and Smitten Kitchen

Serves 6-8 tacos
3 pounds beef brisket
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
1 – 2 whole individual chipotle chiles en adobo
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup molasses

Season the beef generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat just until beginning to smoke. Add the meat and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker; leave the skillet on the heat.

Add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander, and cumin to drippings in the skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add vinegar and boil until it’s almost gone, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in water and pour the mixture over the brisket. Crush the tomatoes into the slow cooker; add the tomato juices, chipotles, bay leaves, and molasses. Cover the cooker, set it on LOW, and cook the brisket until it pulls apart easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 hours.

To serve, you’ve got two options:
1.Leave the meat in the slow cooker and use two forks to pull it apart and stir it evenly into the sauce; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove and discard bay leaves. This is obviously the simplest route.

2.Strain the sauce (to remove the vegetables and bay leaves), chill it so the fat is easy to remove, then reheat and reseason it well, simmering it down (to about 2/3 the volume) to thicken it a bit. Pour it back over the brisket and pull it, and then, reheat the whole pan on low. (You could also thicken the sauce without skimming the excess fat – there’s very little).

Assemble with small soft tacos, cole slaw, pickled jalapeno peppers and enjoy! You could also serve with rolls.

And HOW about this dessert? TO DIE FOR…


Note – this recipe serves 24. Easily it can be halved.
6 bananas
3 loaves plain baguettes
1 quart heavy cream
1/2 gallon whole milk
15 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
2 TBSP vanilla

Cut bread into 1 inch squares and mix all ingredients together except for the bananas. Let soak for 15 minutes. Butter 2 deep glass baking pans (or 24 ramekins) with bread pudding mix and another layer of bananas. Top with more bread pudding until the pan is 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Top with sliced bananas and rum sauce.

Rum sauce:
1/2 lb butter
1 lb brown sugar
4 oz spiced rum
1 cup heavy cream

Melt butter and sugar until sugar dissolves, carefully adding rum til mixed. Remove from heat and add cream.

Since it’s a Southwestern Tex-Mex theme for this tailgate, I’m going with a theme drink that’s got tequila. Hope you enjoy!


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

2 to 2 1/2 oz Tequila (good quality gold or silver)
1 oz Simple Syrup (or a tad less if you prefer)
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Blood Orange Juice

Sugar In the Raw

To Rim the glass with sugar: Pour a few TBS of Raw Sugar onto a small plate. Rub a wedge of lime around the rim of an old fashioned glass, and then dip into the sugar and twist to coat.

Combine 1 1/2 cups ice with ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds

Fill glass with ice and pour margarita over ice. Garnish with an orange and enjoy.