Celebrity Chef Aaron Sanchez shows us how to use grapes to transform simple meals

NEW ORLEANS, La -
Using simple and inexpensive recipes, Chef Aaron Sánchez will show viewers how to use California grapes to turn everyday dishes into delightful meals. And you don’t have to be a master chef to accomplish it!
 
The most important thing to know is that good food comes from good ingredients, and one of the staple ingredients in the Sánchez kitchen has always been California grapes. Not only great as a go to snack, grapes are more versatile than people realize and can be incorporated into a variety of dishes including salads, entrées and desserts. 
 
Chef Sánchez has tips and tricks for taking your favorite snack food and incorporating it into delicious meals that will make your cooking and dining experience easy and memorable–perfect for family gatherings and the holidays. 
 
 
WHITE GARDEN STYLE TLAYUDA WITH PICKLED GREEN GRAPES AND CHORIZO
Recipe by Chef Aarón Sánchez for California Table Grapes
 
 
Makes 2 Servings (as a snack)
Total Time: 20 Minutes
 
Ingredients:
½ cup chorizo
1 ear corn, husked
1 4-5 ounce package goat cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 10 inch flour tortilla
1½ cups halved green grapes  
1½ tablespoons rice wine vinegar (substitute with apple cider vinegar if rice wine vinegar cannot be found)
½ cup canned, cooked black beans, drained of all excess liquid
1 cup thinly shaved green cabbage
1 lime, halved
 
Directions:
  1. Preheat grill, or grill pan, to medium heat.
  2. Cook chorizo in a pan, according to package directions.  Drain out all liquid from cooked chorizo and set aside.
  3. Grill corn for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until lightly charred on all sides.  Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle.  Once cool, shave kernels off the cob by standing the corn upright and slicing along the cob.  Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine goat cheese and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Using a fork or spatula, combine thoroughly until the cheese is soft and spreadable.
  5. Heat grill, or grill pan, to medium heat.  Using a metal spatula, place tortilla on the grill and cook on one side for approximately 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp.  While cooking, rotate the tortilla clockwise every minute to ensure an even golden brown color.  Remove tortilla from grill to a clean workspace or cutting board, grilled side up, and let rest until cool enough to handle.  Leave the grill on and at medium heat.
  6. While the tortilla cools, in a separate bowl, drizzle the grapes with the vinegar.  Using your hands, lightly toss until the grapes are evenly coated.  Note: do not let the grapes sit in the vinegar for more than 5 minutes.
  7. When the tortilla is cool enough to handle, spread goat cheese mixture in an even layer on the grilled side of the tortilla, then in even layers, top with the cooked chorizo, corn, grapes, black beans and cabbage.  Return the tortilla to the grill, grilled and topping side up, and cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, rotating clockwise every minute or so to ensure even cooking.
  8. Turn the grill off and remove the tortilla from heat.  Cut into 6 even pieces, using a sharp knife or pizza cutter (just like you would a pizza).  Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
  9. Serve immediately.
 
 
PORK CHOPS WITH BALSAMIC ROASTED RED GRAPES AND POBLANO-CHEESE GRITS
Recipe by Chef Aarón Sánchez for California Table Grapes
 
 
Makes 4 Servings
Total Time: 45 Minutes
 
Ingredients:
3 dried ancho chiles
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon picked thyme leaves
2 poblano peppers
1 cup stone ground grits
1 pound red grapes in small bunches
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 1-pound, bone in pork chops, approximately ¾ inch thick
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup half and half
½ cup cotija cheese, crumbled
 
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 475° F.
  2. Using a small knife, slice the ancho chiles in half lengthwise and remove stem and seeds.  Place the chiles in a medium bowl and fully cover with hot water.  Soak for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chiles are soft.  Using a fork or tongs, remove the chiles from water and add to a food processor, along with butter and thyme leaves.  Blend on high until well combined.  Remove the ancho chile butter mixture from food processor and set aside in a small bowl.
  3. Turn one of your stove’s burners to medium high. Place the poblano peppers directly on the burner and roast, turning occasionally using tongs, until they are charred all over and soft, but not mushy, approximately 7 minutes.  Note: if you don’t have a gas stove, put your peppers on a baking sheet and cook them under the broiler until they char, turning several times, about 10 minutes total.  Transfer the roasted poblano peppers to a mixing bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let steam for 10 minutes, then remove from bowl.  Peel the charred skin from the peppers, then slice lengthwise and remove seeds, then finely chop.
  4. Cook the grits according to package instructions.  Once cooked, keep warm and stir every so often.
  5. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Spread grape bunches evenly on the baking sheet and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Using your hands, lightly toss so all bunches are evenly coated.  Roast for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, until the grapes are browned but still plump (note: you should not see a lot of liquid on the baking sheet).  Remove from oven and set aside.
  6. Rub both sides of each pork chop with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  7. Heat a grill or cast iron pan to medium heat.  Using tongs, carefully place each pork chop in the pan, working in batches if necessary.  Sear the pork until golden brown on one side, approximately 6 to 8 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 4 to 6 minutes.  Using an instant read meat thermometer, check the center of each pork chop to check temperature.  When the thermometer reads 140° F, remove pork chops from grill/pan and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
  8. While pork is resting, finish your grits.  Over low-medium heat, slowly add the half and half, cheese and chopped roasted peppers to the grits, stirring constantly to avoid clumping, until the cheese is melted, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.  Season with salt to taste.
  9. Serve the pork chops with a dollop of ancho chile butter on top, and poblano-cheese grits on the side, topped with a bunch (or more) of the roasted red grapes. 
 
 
GRAPE AND FARRO STUFFED ACORN SQUASH
Recipe by Chef Aarón Sánchez for California Table Grapes
 
 
Makes 2 Servings
Total Time: 1½ Hours
 
Ingredients:
1 cup farro
4 cups water
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided into ¼ teaspoon and ½ teaspoon
1 whole acorn squash
1 cup raw pecans, roughly chopped
2 cups halved red grapes
1 sprig fresh sage, chiffonade
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cinnamon or Mexican canela
1 cup honey
1 habanero pepper, halved (with the seeds left in for additional heat)
½ cup queso fresco, crumbled
 
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Rinse farro under cold water for 30 to 45 seconds to remove some of the excess starch.  Combine the water, farro and ¼ teaspoon salt to a small pot and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer (leave uncovered).  Cook for approximately 45 minutes or until farro is tender.  Drain any remaining liquid and set aside to cool.
  3. While the farro is cooking, cut the ends off each side of the squash (approximately 1/8 inch of each side), then cut in half, so that the squash sits upright with the flesh side facing up. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and throw away.  Brush the flesh side of each squash half with the melted butter and season with salt, pepper and cinnamon.  Place both halves, flesh side up, on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
  4. While the squash is roasting, make the stuffing. Combine the cooked farro, chopped pecans, red grapes and sage in a large mixing bowl and stir until well mixed.  Once the squash is roasted but not fully cooked, after approximately 40 minutes, remove from oven (but leave the oven on) and using a spoon, equally distribute the stuffing among the two squash halves.  Return the stuffed squash to the oven and cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until the stuffing is warmed through and the squash is fully cooked.
  5. While the squash finishes cooking, combine the honey and habanero in a small saucepan and heat gradually over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the honey is warmed through and the habanero has infused the honey.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. When the squash is finished cooked, remove from oven and immediately top with the crumbled queso fresco and a drizzle of the habanero honey (omit the seeds if you prefer less spice).
  7. Serve immediately.

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