"I first ate this dish at Azul Condesa in Mexico City; it's originally from the Tabasco region in the south. I thought it was brilliant, so I put it on the menu and it's our biggest seller," says Ward.
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 kg piece beef brisket, cut into 3cm cubes
- 2 onions, halved
- 4 garlic cloves, bruised
- 2 each pasilla and chipotle chillies (see note)
- 1.5 litres beef stock (see note) (6 cups)
- For deep-frying: vegetable oil
- 100 gm white masa harina (see note)
- To serve: coriander leaves
- 60 ml canola oil (¼ cup)
- 2 golden shallots, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ½ tsp each ground cumin, ground allspice and ground coriander
- 5 dried guajillo chillies (see note)
- 2 chipotle chillies (see note)
- 1 pasilla chilli (see note)
- 120 gm almond meal (1 cup)
- 80 gm sultanas
- 5 chipotle chillies (see note)
- 1 dried ancho chilli (see note)
- 60 ml white malt vinegar (¼ cup)
- 35 gm brown sugar
- 100 gm crème fraîche
- 200 gm banana (about 2)
- 80 gm white masa harina (see note)
- 1Preheat oven to 170C. Heat canola oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Season brisket generously with salt and pepper, add to pan in batches and cook, turning occasionally, until evenly browned (4-5 minutes), then transfer to a casserole dish and set aside. Add onion and garlic to pan and cook until lightly browned (2-3 minutes). Add chillies, toss to combine, then transfer mixture to casserole. Add beef stock, cover with a lid and braise in oven until tender (2½-3 hours). Remove brisket from braising liquid and chop with a meat cleaver or large knife into small strands, discarding any sinew (or finely shred the meat with your fingers) and set aside. Discard chilies and vegetables from braising liquid and set aside.
- 2For chilli-almond paste, heat oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat, add shallot, garlic and ground spices and cook until soft but only partly cooked (6-8 minutes). Remove seeds and stalks from chillies, chop and add to shallot mixture, then reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Add almond meal and sultanas, mix to combine, then add beef braising liquid and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer for 5 minutes, remove pan from heat and blend with a hand-held blender until smooth.
- 3Combine beef with chilli-almond paste, stir to combine and season to taste (the mixture should be wet but still hold its shape). Refrigerate until set enough to roll into balls (1¼-1½ hours), then form balls of 2 heaped tablespoons of beef mixture each, set on a tray and refrigerate until set (1 hour).
- 4For chipotle crema, remove stalks and seeds from chillies, combine with vinegar, sugar and 125ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until chillies are soft (10 minutes), transfer to a blender, process until smooth, then refrigerate to cool (30-40 minutes). Stir in crème fraîche just before serving.
- 5For banana batter, blend banana in a blender until smooth, transfer to a bowl, add masa harina and mix until a dough forms. Slowly add 280ml water or enough water until the batter is the consistency of thickened cream. Set batter aside until slightly discoloured (5 minutes).
- 6Heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer to 180C. Roll beef balls in masa harina, then dip in banana batter until lightly coated (see note). Transfer balls with a slotted spoon to oil and deep-fry in batches until deep golden (5-6 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). They will stick to the bottom of the fryer; after frying for 2 minutes, release them with a flexible metal spatula. Drain on absorbent paper, season to taste and keep warm. Serve topped with coriander and with chipotle crema alongside.
Note Pasilla, chipotle, guajillo and ancho chillies are available from Monterey Mexican Foods. A good homemade stock or butcher's stock with a high gelatine content is essential to the success of this dish. The batter will thicken the longer it is left, so you may need to add a little water to thin it out as you work. White masa harina (also known as masa flour or harina de maíz) is a white nixtamalised corn flour; it's available from Monterey Mexican Foods and Fireworks Foods.
Drink Suggestion: Michelada with Arbol cocktails. Rim highballs with coriander-and-ancho-chilli salt. Fill highballs with ice, 10ml Arbol chilli sauce, the juice of 2 lime wedges and top with Tecate beer. Drink suggestion by Paul Aron