Talk Food Festival: Aarón Sánchez

Posted on Mar 3, 2014 10:45am

Chef Aarón Sánchez, judge on Food Network's hit series "Chopped" and the chef/owner of Kansas City’s Mestizo, showed the ladies how to make a flavorful modern Latin meal.


Shrimp Mojo de Ajo



8 jumbo shrimp

Kosher salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh garlic, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces chicken stock

1 tablespoon Garlic-Chipotle Love (recipe below)

1 tablespoon butter

1 lemon, cut into wedges

1 teaspoon chives, minced  


  1. Peel and devein shrimp, pat dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

  2. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil with the fresh sliced garlic. Stir and sauté until the garlic is a golden brown, approximately 2 minutes.

  3. Add shrimp to sauté pan with garlic and cook on each side until slightly pink (shrimp will continue to cook, so do not cook all the way through.)

  4. Add chicken stock and reduce to about ¾ volume. Then add Garlic-Chipotle Love to the pan and stir. Add butter and salt and stir thoroughly.

  5. Serve warm and garnish the plate with lemon and chives.


Garlic-Chipotle Love

Makes 1 cup


1 cup canola oil

12 garlic cloves, peeled

3 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Grated zest of 1 lime

1 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.

  2. Pour the oil into a heavy ovenproof medium pan and add the garlic. Cover the pot with foil, put it in the oven, and cook until the garlic turns a nutty brown and is really soft (think cream cheese), about 45 minutes.

  3. Remove the pot from the oven and let the garlic and oil cool to room temperature. Put the garlic and the now garlic-infused oil in a food processor or blender. Add the chipotles and sauce, cilantro, lime zest, and salt and puree until the mixture is very smooth. Store in the fridge in a tightly covered container for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to a month.


Sautéed Corn Con Queso

Serves 4


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, very finely chopped

1 pound shaved fresh corn

1 large tomato, cored, seeded and diced

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon Cilantro-Cotija Pesto (recipe below)

½ cup crumbled queso blanco

Freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet and set it over medium heat. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, cook, stirring for 1 minute so the oil gets some of that garlic flavor. Add the fresh corn kernels and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato and scallion and cook until the tomato begins to break down, about 5 minutes.

  2. Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the Cilantro-Cotjia Pesto and queso blanco until the cheese starts to melt. Season with lime juice, salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Cilantro-Cotija Pesto

Makes 2 cups


1 cup unsalted raw or roasted pumpkin seeds

½ bunch fresh cilantro, stems trimmed 2 inches from the bottom

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup olive oil, plus extra for storage

½ serrano chile or 1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped (include seeds for additional spice)

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

½ crumbled cotija or shredded pecorino or Parmesan

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

  2. Spread the pumpkin seeds in an even layer on a dry baking sheet. Put the sheet in the oven and bake, checking them and shaking the pan every 3 minutes, until they start to dance, puff up and brown lightly, about 10 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, transfer the seeds to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

  3. Put the cilantro, basil and olive oil into a food processor, and puree for 2 minutes. Add the chile, garlic, pumpkin seeds and cotija and pulse until you have a coarse puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. To store, put it into a container with a tight-fitting lid and pour ¼ inch of olive oil over the surface to keep out the air.  Each time you use it, stir that oil in, and replace with another ¼ inch of oil before closing the container, this makes an airtight seal that will keep it tasting fresh for up to 10 days.

Zucchini, Jicama, and Apple Salad

Serves 4 to 6


½ cup Mango-Aji Amarillo Puree (recipe below)

Juice of 2 limes (3 to 4 tablespoons)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

4 tender young zucchini, about 1½ pounds

1 medium jicama

2 Granny Smith apples



  1. In a large bowl, whisk the Mango-Aji Amarillo Puree with the lime juice, olive oil, and cilantro.

  2. Cut the ends off the zucchini and slice them, skin on, into 2-inch-long matchsticks. Add them to the dressing.

  3. Peel the jicama. Slice it and cut into 2-inch-long matchstick and add them to the zucchini.

  4. Scrub and quarter the apples, discarding the seeds and tough cores, and slice the apple into 2-inch-long matchsticks. Add them to the salad and toss gently. Taste and season with salt, if necessary. Divide among plates or bowls and serve.

Mango-Aji Amarillo Puree

Makes 1¼ cups


1 cup mango puree

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste

1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey

Grated zest of 1 lime

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice


  1. Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and whisk well until the mixture is smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Paloma Cocktail



Tequila blanco

Grapefruit soda

Fresh grapefruit juice

Grapefruit Twist, for garnish


  1. Combine equal amounts of grapefruit soda and tequila. Stir in a highball glass with ice, add a splash of fresh grapefruit juice and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Recipes courtesy Aarón Sánchez

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