Chicago chef/most interesting man in the world Rick Bayless (of Topolobampo and Frontera Grill, among others) returns to familiar territory with his upcoming cookbook More Mexican Everyday, a sequel to his 2005 book of the similar name and theme. "Since we first published Mexican Everyday, we've seen an explosion of farmers' markets, and everyday grocery stores seem to be offering more produce than ever," Bayless says of the decade that has passed between Everydays. With the new volume, "I wanted to answer the question, 'What the heck do we do with all of this stuff?'"
"In America, the concept of Mexican food as a distinct ethnic cuisine has all but evaporated." — Rick Bayless
Bayless is a prolific cookbook author — his oeuvre ranges from the recent, restaurant-branded Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles, and Snacks (2012) to Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking From the Heart of Mexico (published way back in 1987). And in his decades of running restaurants and publishing books, Bayless says the country's collective palate has grown to fully embrace more Mexican flavors. "In America, the concept of Mexican food as a distinct ethnic cuisine has all but evaporated," he says, noting that "it's not uncommon to find cilantro in refrigerators or dried chiles in the pantry" of American homes. "Those are no longer 'Mexican' ingredients. They're just part of how we cook now. That's a beautiful thing."
But in his newest book, subtitled Simple, Seasonal, Celebratory, the chef stresses simplicity. "All of these recipes are geared toward home cooks, but they use a trained chef's approach to the kitchen," Bayless says. "They focus on simplicity, use the right kitchen equipment, and understand flavor and texture." Among them, Bayless promises "weeknight" dishes like arroz con pollo, slow-cooked pork and black beans, and red chile and chard omelets. "I want people to realize that cooking well at home doesn't require dependency on recipes and cookbooks," he says. "Developing an instinct in the kitchen takes practice, sure, but it's the best of kind of practice. The payoff is enormous."
More Mexican Everyday (co-written by Deann Groen Bayless) will be released by W. W. Norton & Company on April 27 (pre-order here). For now, take a sneak peek at some of its pages below.