The highlight of my days at Gourmet Magazine was when the Bat Phone would ring—that would be the direct line from the test kitchen, where one of the insanely talented cooks would have something to for us editors to taste. Invariably, what I tasted would blow my mind, and often change the way I cooked. So many have stuck in my memory, from Gina Marie Miraglia-Eriquez‘s cakes, to Lillian Chou‘s Asian-inspired Thanksgiving dishes, to Paul Grimes‘s crab bisque to Ruth Cousineau‘s strudel.*
But if I had a favorite dish from that time, it was this—a beef dish from Mexico via Shelley Wiseman, where the beef simmered in a sauce made from dried peppers, inside packets fashioned from banana leaves. Truth be told, it was tested with lamb first, which I preferred, and have since recreated at home, but it’s excellent with beef too. I brought the lamb version to a Mexican-themed pot luck once, and it was oohed and aahed over in just the way that I oohed and aahed the first time I ate it.
Seriously, friends, LOOK at that sauce. You will want to have plenty of rice on hand to soak up every last drop. It sure was luxurious to be served these kinds of dishes all day at work, but the best I can do now is to try to recapture the glory days by making them myself at home.