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Fiesta at Ricks

Crispy Shrimp Tacos

Chipotle-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce and Melted Cheese

Crispy Flank Steak Shreds with Golden Onion and Red Chile Salsa

Three kinds of tostadas

Bacon and Tomato Guacamole (recipe below)

Fiesta at Ricks

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Whether you are hosting an intimate get-together for a few friends or an outdoor extravaganza for a crowd, famed chef Rick Bayless shows you the way. Rick presents 150 recipes, from libations and savory nibbles to street food and live-fire grilled meat and fish. Champagne margaritas or bacon-and-tomato guacamole will get a party started, and black bean tamales are perfect for small-dish snacking. For an evening around a grill, the Brava Rib Steak with “Lazy” Salsa will win fans. To go all out, you can end your party with Rick’s Dark Chocolate Chile Ice Cream. More...

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

I grew up in a party family. Big family parties presided over by my red-headed, gown-wearing, pie-baking southern grandmother, who understood that great food on the table was a beacon that drew our family closer. And I grew up with big parties thrown by other folks, too--Oklahoma barbeques mostly, for which my family’s catering business made the ribs, baked beans, deviled eggs and slaw. Though they were joyous events, at least for the most part, I didn’t understand the full potential of “party” until I moved to Mexico and discovered “fiesta...”

...I got a hint of real fiesta in my early twenties when I made my first climb up the stair-etched hill to Restaurante Arroyo in the southern Mexico City suburb of Tlalpan. It was a Sunday--the place truly comes alive on Sunday--and the only entrance was through the dirt-floor kitchen. On one side, I could see the huge central Mexican-style barbacoa pits packed with roasting lambs in maguey leaves. On the other, cistern-size copper cauldrons of meaty-smelling pork lard stood ready to slow-cook whole hog carnitas or flash-fry crunchy sheets of chicharrón as big as a fourth grader. Gallon-size lava rock mortars held chunky guacamole, tangy tomatillo salsa and robust salsa borracha. Over the next several hours, that kitchen would welcome several thousand folks, big groups of friends or family or family friends, all celebrating, all commemorating something.

The aroma of fresh-baking corn tortillas mixed with the earthy barbacoa. And with the pork and fresh cilantro, the stinging dried chiles and blasting mariachis and bougainvillea-colored tissue paper cutouts that adorned the rafters by the tens of thousands. There’s no ramp up at Arroyo: Even before your first sip of tequila or cerveza, you’ve become part of a joyous, comfortable, wacky-fun fiesta.

That’s because Restaurante Arroyo offers more than just a great meal. Having been welcomed into the kitchen--brought face-to-face with all those aromatic celebration specialties--you’re launched toward a mouthwatering experience that’s comfortable and clearly out of the ordinary. By the time you’ve reached one of the rustic dining rooms, saturated with classic Mexican color and song and dance, you’ve opened yourself up to yet-undiscovered possibilities. And the first mouthful of barbacoa or carnitas, wrapped in a warm tortilla and daubed with guacamole or drizzled with salsa, cinches it for you. Those flavors eaten in this place with these people provide the conduit to a perfect moment that transcends all that is everyday.

That is fiesta. And what comes from the kitchen is instrumental in creating it...

Mojito Fruit Ice Pops

“Mojito” Fruit Ice Pops
Paletas de Frutas, Sabor a “Mojito”

All summer long in Chicago, just as in Mexico and other U.S. cities, the jangle of paleteros’ jingle-bell carts ricochets through parks and neighborhood streets. My favorite flavor of the Mexican frozen fruit pops they sell is sweet cucumber-lime, either with spicy red chile or without. Unless it’s the mango (sweet or spicy) or the guanabana or fresh coconut. Or guava--did I mention guava?

A few summers ago I was hosting our restaurant staff for a huge party--150 co-workers and their families in my backyard--and I contracted a local paletero to bring his fully loaded cart into the yard, where he jingled those bells and delighted the kids and their parents for hours with sweet, cooling delight.

They’re easy to make in big quantities, too. Two ten-pop molds turn out dessert for a crowd in no time. And you can customize them, since basically you’re making a limeade base, which can embrace practically any berries or cubed fruit. A little sparkling water and some fresh mint gives your pops a sophisticated “mojito” flair.

Makes 20 pops

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fesh mint leaves
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • Two 10-ounce bags frozen fruit pieces (choose raspberries, blueberries or diced mango or melon--or practically any fruit that suits your fancy)

Measure the sugar into a food processor. Add the mint and pulse until the mint is finely chopped. Scrape the sugar into a large bowl and add the lime juice and sparkling water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

Divide the frozen fruit pieces among 20 ice pop molds, then fill with the lime mixture, leaving about 1/4-inch head space for expansion. Secure the lids, insert the sticks through the holes, making sure that they’re straight and that 1 to 2 inches remains exposed (for easy grasping). Slide the molds into the freezer.

When the ice pops are firmly set--this will take a couple of hours in most freezers--they’re ready to serve. Remove the lids from the molds, then either squeeze the sides of each mold to free the pops or run the mold under warm water to release them.

Copyright © 2010 by Rick Bayless and Deann Groen. Reprinted from Fiesta at Rick's: Fabulous Food, Luscious Libations, Great Times with Friends with permission from W.W. Norton & Company.

Bacon-and-Tomato Guacamole

Bacon-and-Tomato Guacamole
Guacamole de Tocino y Jitomate

This is kind of a no-brainer, bacon, lettuce and tomato being such a beloved sandwich combo, especially when there’s a good smear of mayo. This guacamole is in the same vein, except that the tangy, creamy mayo is replaced by avocado and lime. Come to think of it, the avocado, along with a little cilantro, brings the lettuce-green to the picture as well. It’s a perfect Mexican-American fusion of smoky, bright, creamy, fresh and satisfying.

If the tomato is really ripe and juicy, I’d cut it in half widthwise (across its “equator”), then gently squeeze out the jelly-like seeds from each half. That’ll keep the guacamole from becoming runny. And to ensure crisp bacon texture, don’t stir it in until just before serving.

Makes about 3 cups, serving 8 to 10 as a nibble

  • 5 strips medium-thick bacon (full-flavored smoky bacon is great here)
  • 3 medium-large (about 1 1/4 pounds) ripe avocados
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 or 3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo to taste, removed from the canning sauce, stemmed, slit open, seeds scraped out and finely chopped
  • 1 medium-large round, ripe tomato, cored and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off), plus a little extra for garnish
  • Salt
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

In a large (10-inch) skillet, cook the slices of bacon in a single layer over medium heat, turning them occasionally, until crispy and browned, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels, then coarsely crumble.

Cut around each avocado, from stem to blossom end and back again, then twist the two halves apart. Dislodge the pit. Scoop the flesh from the skin into a large bowl. Using an old-fashioned potato masher or a large fork or spoon, mash the avocados into a coarse puree.

Scoop the onion into a small strainer and rinse under cold water. Shake off the excess water and transfer to the bowl, along with the chipotle chiles, tomatoes, cilantro (save out a little for garnish if you wish) and about 2/3 of the bacon. Gently stir to combine all of the ingredients. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon, and enough lime juice to add a little sparkle.

Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Scoop the guacamole into a serving dish, sprinkle with the remaining bacon (and cilantro if you have it), and you’re ready to serve.

Copyright © 2010 by Rick Bayless and Deann Groen. Reprinted from Fiesta at Rick's: Fabulous Food, Luscious Libations, Great Times with Friends with permission from W.W. Norton & Company.

Author Photograph of Rick Bayless About Rick Bayless

Rick Bayless (pictured) has written six cookbooks, including Mexican Everyday and Fiesta at Rick's. His product line of prepared foods is sold coast to coast. With his wife Deann he owns and operates Chicago’s casual Frontera Grill, named “Outstanding Restaurant” by the James Beard Foundation, and the four-star fine-dining Topolobampo. XOCO, a Leed-certified quick-serve restaurant, opened in 2009. He is the host of the public television series Mexico--One Plate at a Time.


  • Bravo TV's Top Chef Master
  • James Beard Award, Mexican Everyday
  • Gourmand World Cookbook Award, Mexican Everyday

Also by Rick Bayless:

Rick & Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures Recipes And Stories Mexican Everyday Easy, Full-Flavored, Tradition-Packed Mexico One Plate At A Time Authentic Mexican, 20th Anniversary Edition: Regional Cooking From the Heart of Mexico Rick Bayless Mexican Kitchen Salsas That Cook Using Classic Salsas To Enliven Our Favorite Dishes

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