Men's Journal - - FOOD & DRINK -

Cel­e­brated Hous­ton chef and restau­ra­teur Hugo Ortega re­mem­bers his first Thanksgiving, in the 1980s, with his then girl­friend, Tracy Vaught. “The sweet pota­toes had marsh­mal­lows on them,” he says. “I thought, ‘Weird.’ ” Three decades later, Ortega and Vaught are mar­ried, and their ta­ble still in­cludes that clas­sic casse­role,

along­side this tra­di­tional prepa­ra­tion from Ortega’s na­tive Mex­ico City. In­stead of sweet-on-sweet, the nat­u­ral sug­ars are bal­anced by salt, tang, and umami.

Serves 6

Salsa Macha

3 medium toma­toes, halved 2 tsp corn oil

16 dried chile de ár­bol pep­pers,


3 gar­lic cloves, minced

1 small can chipo­tle pep­pers in

adobo, seeded and de­veined 1 cup roasted peanuts

⅓ cup ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp lard (or olive oil)

1½ tsp kosher salt 1. Toss the toma­toes with 1 tsp corn oil and roast in a 400°F oven un­til caramelized, about 40 min­utes, and re­serve. Toast the ár­bol chilies in a dry skil­let over medium heat un­til fra­grant, about 5 min­utes, and re­serve.

2. Add re­main­ing corn oil to a skil­let and cook over low heat for 2 min­utes. Add gar­lic and sim­mer for 15 min­utes. Re­move from heat and add chipo­tles to soften in the oil-gar­lic mix­ture as it cools.

3. Crush peanuts in a food pro­ces­sor and trans­fer to a bowl. Add ár­bol chilies, toma­toes, and gar­lic- chipo­tle mix­ture to the food pro­ces­sor and puree, slowly adding ½ cup wa­ter in a steady stream as the pro­ces­sor runs. Add olive oil us­ing the same method. Add oregano and peanuts and pulse to a chunky tex­ture.

4. Melt lard in a saucepan over medium heat. Add salsa and cook un­til it thick­ens, about 10 min­utes. Add salt. Cool com­pletely be­fore serv­ing. Camotes

3 large sweet pota­toes, peeled and

halved length­wise

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp kosher salt

Crema fresca, for serv­ing

Salsa macha, for serv­ing

Blue cheese, for serv­ing 1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Toss the sweet pota­toes, olive oil, and salt in a bowl to coat, then trans­fer to an oiled sheet pan. Roast in oven un­til a knife slides eas­ily through, 30 to 40 min­utes.

3. Re­move sweet pota­toes from oven, and when cool enough to han­dle, cut into ½-inch slices. Ar­range the slices on a serv­ing plat­ter, driz­zle with crema and

salsa macha, and sprin­kle with blue cheese. Serve warm.

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