Monday, August 3, 2009

Dining Out: Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill

My current job requires a lot of travel and unfortunately, most of the places I visit aren't particularly exotic (i.e. small, midwestern towns with not much around other than industrial manufacturing plants) and, as a result, the dining selections are usually less than desirable. For example, I'm currently traveling to Reno, Nevada. And if it gives you any idea of the restaurant situation out here, my Local Eats iPhone App only lists 5 restaurants for the entire city! Yes, the outlook for fine dining is not pretty.

Luckily, last week, I traveled to Las Vegas to speak with one of my client's customers. Since it's a rareity for me to have great food while on the road, in the spirit of food-sharing, I'm forgoing the mantra "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," and posting all the recipes for a delicious meal I had at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. How awesome is it I was able to find every single recipe on the web?!?

At Mesa, I started the evening with a bowl of the Tomato Tortilla Soup and a delicious jalapeno, onion, cornbread muffin from the bread basket. The soup was warm, spicy and flavorful - and I think it'll be a perfect recipe for using up excess of steaky tomatoes I'll have in my garden in a few weeks. The muffin was a great compliment - hot and flavorful with just the right amount of kick. After this starter, I enjoyed a mouth-watering main dish of New Mexican Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Tamale and Pecan Butter and washed it down with a cool glass of Duvel (Belgian blonde ale). Although I really enjoyed everything I ate, the Sweet Potato Tamale stole the show. It was slightly sweet, hearty and warm and had a great texture.

Since thinking about the four recipes together is quite overwhelming, I suggest you split what I enjoyed into two meals: Soup and Muffins and Pork and Tamales. You could make the soup and muffins for a relaxed summer dinner one evening and then try the pork with the tamale on a more special occasion (this recipe would probably really impress company). Also, although the Bourbon-Ancho sauce with the pork was nice, if I were making this dish at home, I'd probably only prepare the pork with a similar version of the spice rub (the sauce and rub are both super spicy and I didn't feel like the sauce added any new flavors to the dish). If you try anything, however, make sure to put the tamale first on the recipes-to-try list. It was fantastic! Just thinking about it makes me hungry.

Bobby Flay, Mesa Grill, Tenderloin, New Mexico, Sweet Potato Tamale, Tomato Soup, Tortilla, Corn Muffin
Bobby Flay, Mesa Grill, Tenderloin, New Mexico, Sweet Potato Tamale, Tomato Soup, Tortilla, Corn Muffin

Tomato Tortilla Soup
Recipe by: Bobby Flay
CBS News
Fried Tortillas
  • Canola oil or peanut oil
  • 2 flour tortillas, cut into long, thin strips
  • 2 blue corn tortillas, cut into long, thin strips
  • Salt


  1. Heat 1-inch of oil in a high sided medium sauté pan over medium high heat until it reaches a temperature of 350 degrees.
  2. Add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until just crisp, 20-30 seconds.
  3. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels and season immediately with salt.

Tomato-Tortilla Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 8 overly ripe beef steak tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced avocado
  • Grated White Cheddar Cheese
  • Fried Tortillas


  1. Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over high heat.
  2. Add onions and cook until soft, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and enough water to cover the tomatoes by 1-inch.
  4. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer until tomatoes are very soft and start to break down, approximately 30 minutes.
  5. Carefully transfer the mixture to a food processor and process (in batches if needed) until smooth.
  6. Return to the saucepan, season with cayenne, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheese, cilantro and a few fried tortillas

Blue Corn Muffins

Recipe by: Bobby Flay; Source: Food Network


  • 2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno peppers, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 3/4 cup blue cornmeal (can substitute yellow)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar


  1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Grease a 6 slot muffin pan with non-stick vegetable spray.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, bell pepper, jalapeno, corn and cilantro. Whisk in the butter mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar. Mix into the liquid mixture.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffins slots and bake for 16 minutes or until set, turning the pan once for even baking.

New Mexican Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
(Serve with Sweet Potato Tamale and Pecan Butter)

Recipe by: Bobby Flay
Food Network


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin
  • Salt
  • New Mexican Spice Rub, recipe follows
  • Bourbon-Ancho Sauce, recipe follows
  • Sweet Potato Tamale with Pecan Butter, recipe follows


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Heat olive oil in a medium saute pan, over high heat.
  • Season pork with salt on both sides. Dredge pork in the spice rub and tap off any excess.
  • Sear the pork on both sides until golden brown. Cook in the oven to medium doneness, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Let pork rest for 5 minutes before slicing into 12 slices. Plate 3 slices per plate.
  • Drizzle with the Bourbon-Ancho Sauce. Place a Sweet Potato Tamale, topped with Pecan Butter next to the slices of pork.

New Mexican Rub

  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pasilla chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons chile de arbol
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons allspice


  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Bourbon-Ancho Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 3 ancho chiles, soaked, seeded, stems removed and pureed
  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple juice concentrate, thawed
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar


  1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook until soft.
  3. Add the bourbon and cook until completely reduced.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until reduced by half. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, return mixture to the pan, and cook to sauce consistency, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of bourbon and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt.

Sweet Potato Tamales

  • 20 dried corn husks
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, preferable fresh
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head roasted garlic, cloves removed
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large or 2 medium sweet potato, roasted at 375 degrees for about 1 hour or until soft, then peeled and flesh mashed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Pecan Butter, recipe follows


  1. About 2 hours before you plan to form the tamales, clean the husks under running water. Soak them in warm water for 2 hours, or until softened.
  2. Puree the corn, onion, roasted garlic, and stock in a food processor. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and cut in the butter and shortening.
  3. Using your fingers, mix in the cornmeal, honey, and salt and pepper until there are no visible lumps of fat. Fold in the sweet potato puree, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and maple syrup. The mixture will be a lot looser than you think it should be, but when the tamales are steamed it will dry out.
  4. Remove the cornhusks from the water and set aside the best 20 husks. Drain and pat dry. Tear the remaining husks into 1-inch wide strips to be used for tying. Lay 2 husks flat on a work surface, with the tapered ends facing out and the broad bases overlapping by about 3 inches.
    Place about 1/3 cup of masa mixture in the center. Bring the long sides up over the masa, slightly overlapping, and pat down to close. (If the masa drips out a little at the seam, that is no problem.) Tie each end of the bundle with a strip of cornhusk, pushing the filling toward the middle as you tie. Trim the ends to about 1/2-inch beyond the tie.
  5. Arrange the tamales in a single layer on a steaming rack, cover tightly with foil, and steam over boiling water for 45 minutes.
  6. To Serve: slice a slit on top of each tamale and push both ends of the tamale toward the middle to expose the masa. Top each with 1 tablespoon of Pecan Butter.
  7. Pecan Butter: 1 stick unsalted butter, softened 1/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped 3 tablespoons maple syrup Pinch cinnamon Salt and freshly ground pepper. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Scrape into a ramekin and refrigerate until solid, about 2 hours.

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