En route to Oaxaca to film season 9 of Mexico: One Plate at a Time, Chef Rick Bayless popped in to our test kitchen to chat with us about today’s American culinary frontier. A few predictions from the Mexican-cooking mogul:
Overall, Bayless notes a dominant trend of moving away from the processed food world to dishes that are just “really honest“—and consequently, he eschews fast food for slow cooking, heralding the “soul-satisfying” flavor development of braised meats and vegetables. He’s thrilled about kale helping the American palate embrace bitterness, and even is even more excited for it to open the door for other greens. Similarly, ”Chipotle was the darling for a while,” Bayless tells us, “but now the habanero is poised for its closeup.” Most intriguingly, he cites Middle Eastern food as “what we all want to eat—but we just don’t know it yet,” and foresees sumac, za’atar and pomegranate molasses making an appearance on menus across the country.
And the best tip we learned from him? We’ve long known that the heat of the chile pepper lies in its seeds, but Chef Bayless taught us how to extract the flavor of the habanero without the fire: If you slice vertically through the fruit without disturbing the vein—which also traps concentrated heat—you can simply include the whole vegetable in soups, sauces and more to extract its subtle mild citrusy nuances.
—Alexa Weibel, Senior Copy Editor