Baco Flatbread


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How could you not want something described as a “gyro-pizza-taco”?

When I read the LA Times piece about the baco last year, I made a mental note and a digital bookmark to come back to it. Since then, the chef who invented the baco, Josef Centeno,  has opened another restaurant in LA, and the baco is back in the press. Though I haven't made it yet to the Lazy Ox Canteen for an official baco, I baked up some of Centeno's signature flatbread and created some sandwiches of my own. (For something fun to do, read the Lazy Ox menu.)

From what I've read, there are two things that make a baco a baco. First is the bread. Like my naan recipe, this flatbread calls for plain yogurt. What's different is the addition of lime juice, ginger, garlic and dried lavender. Second is the mix of sauces and international influences:

  • In addition to the original baco, now made with pork belly and red wine-braised paleron (pot roast), Centeno makes four variations. The vegetarian baco centers on crisp Japanese eggplant; lamb sausage baco has croquettes made from potato and morcilla (a Spanish blood sausage) and caraway-pepper sauce; the el pollo baco features chicken escabeche (marinated chicken) radicchio and zhoug, a spicy chile sauce from Yemen; and the pesco baco is a tasty composition of panko-crusted albacore, pickled onion, and four (count them) different sauces. (From the LA Times)

After I made the bread, we did a Mexican-spiced chicken with fresh tomato-avocado salsa, the ginger-lime-lavender yogurt mixture, and a smoky homemade chili sauce. Another afternoon I filled one with a mixture of chicken, pork and sausage in a sweet Vietnamese sauce, along with lettuce, cucumber and tomato in a Persian yogurt-based dressing, and the spicy chili sauce — basically whatever leftovers I found in the fridge.

So now that you have the flatbread recipe, what will you put in your baco?

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North Indian Style Spinach Chicken

I love Indian food, but sometimes those curries can be heavy. This dish, on the other hand, is more brothy than saucy, and still has that flavor I love. It has tomatoes, spinach and chicken breast, but it would be good with garbanzo beans instead, if you wanted to make it vegetarian.

I saw this in Sunset Magazine, which has been full of good recipes lately (See: Ginger Pear Crisp). My mom and I loved how light it felt while still filling us up.

Of course we changed it up a bit. Instead of serving with plain yogurt on top and cucumber salad on the side, I combined the two in a raita. I liked the cool crunch of cucumbers mixed in with the cooked vegetables. It’s all about layering flavors, textures and temperatures.

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Sweet Cardamom Yogurt with Pistachios and Pomegranate Seeds

indian-yogurt-pistachio-pomegranate

Saffron, cardamom, honey, pistachios and pomegranate seeds mixed with yogurt? Yoplait is a long way from ever putting out this flavor. As I ate this for breakfast, I thought of how rarely I, and other Americans, eat sweets so…floral.

sweet-indian-yogurt2

In the Middle East and South Asia, saffron and rosewater are common in desserts. Orange blossom and lavender are also less familiar here as they are in other countries. These ingredients, along with spices like cardamom, are so much more aromatic than anything popular in the U.S. (Mashti Malone's Iranian ice cream shop in Los Angeles, aside.)

But if you'd like to taste something deliciously different, try this yogurt. It's an example of harmony in flavors you might not find often.

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Recipes from Iron Chef Competition: Indian Rice Fritter and Shrimp Curry

Back in February, Michael, my friend Gwen and I competed in the university Iron Chef competition, where we had a few days to plan a two course menu involving various rices. We all love Indian food so that’s the route we went. Then we had one hour and two burners to prepare the dishes for four judges with the help of campus chef Jeremy Elmore. We wished we placed better than third, but we were very proud of the food we made and think you’d like it, too. The menu:

  • Vegetable and Brown Basmati Fritter with Three Sauces: Curry-Lime Yogurt, Coconut-Mango Chutney and Chili-Garlic Tomato Paste
  • Gulf Shrimp in Coconut-Tamarind Curry Sauce with Red Himalayan Rice Pilaf and Cucumber Raita

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