Seamlessly blending tradition with forward-thinking cooking styles and unexpected ingredients is a signature style of Chef Jeff Smedstad, owner and chef of Elote Café located in Sedona, Arizona.
Chef Smedstad approaches Mexican food in a never-seen-before way – creating recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation while pairing it with new up-and-coming cooking trends, like farm fresh vegetables and simplified recipes to let the ingredients shine without being masked. The result is a selective menu of unexpected dishes that surprise the most seasoned foodies, including the following, which can also be found on Chef Smedstad’s bestselling cookbook:
Serves 4 to 6
6 ears of corn, husks intact
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Cholula brand hot sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup chicken stock
¼ cup cotija cheese, ground or crumbled, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish
Pure-ground red chile to taste, for garnish
Crispy corn tortillas for scooping
Over a medium-hot grill, roast the corn until the husks are well charred, about 5 minutes. Turn occasionally so as not to burn the side contacting the direct heat. Set the roasted ears aside until cool enough to handle, then shuck them. Cut the kernels off the cobs.
When ready to eat, mix the mayo, hot sauce, lime juice, salt, pepper, sugar and chicken stock in a suate pan over medium heat. Add the corn kernels and warm throughout. Pour into a bowl and garnish with the cheese, cilantro and ground chile. Serve immediately with crispy tortillas.
Homestyle Carnitas with Salsa de Arbol
Serves 4 to 6
For the Carnitas:
4 pounds country-style pork ribs with some fat on them OR 4 pounds Boston butt, cut into four-inch chucks
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 ½ tablespoons fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 cup orange juice
For the Salsa de Arbol:
10 arbol chiles, stems removed
3 garlic cloves
10 medium size tomatillos, husks removed, washed
½ cup reserved pan juice from carnitas
Kosher salt to taste if needed
Season the pork on all sides with the kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and garlic, then place it in a roasting pan. Pour the Coke, milk and orange juice over the pork. Roast uncovered for 2 hours at 350 degrees, turning occasionally until it is fork tender. Allow to cool and cut into serving size chucks.
Meanwhile, make the Salsa de Arbol. In a dry skillet over medium high heat, toast the chiles until slightly browned. Remove to a blender. Next, toast the garlic and tomatillo and put in the blender. Add the pan juice and puree. Pour back into the skillet and simmer for 1 minute. Add salt to taste if needed.
When you are ready to eat, brush the pork chunks with pan juice and slide them under the broiler until crisp and browned. Serve with Salsa de Arbol.
More than 100 unique recipes can be found in “The Elote Cafe Cookbook,” and many are featured on the menu at Elote Cafe. Featuring recipes for appetizers, entrées, side dishes, desserts and drinks, “The Elote Cafe Cookbook” was created with both experienced and novice chefs in mind. The cookbook is available at the restaurant and retail locations throughout Arizona for $29.95.
For more information about Elote Cafe in Sedona visit elotecafe.com.