Chef: Ashley Sayre de Rivas
Position: Executive Chef, Lavery Brewing Company, Erie, Pennsylvania
How did you get started?
I never intended to become a chef, it kind of just happened. I'd always loved cooking shows on PBS and enjoyed helping out in the kitchen. I used to try to recreate things I saw, which over time taught me semi-decent knife skills... for a child. Following high school I went to University to study to become a translator in Spanish, Russian, and Japanese. It was through studying these languages and cultures I was also introduced to their rich culinary histories. Working in the cafeteria to pay my tuition also was an interesting intro to the world of a commercial kitchen.
What was your first position?
The first true restaurant I worked in was 1201 Kitchen. Ironically enough, it was a mere stone's throw away from my current home base at Lavery Brewing Company. I started as a grill cook and worked my way to sushi chef, bouncing around wherever needed. It was there that I really decided that this is what I wanted my life to be.
The story behind the dish:
The components of this dish bring up memories from all over, over the past 15 or so years. It's a simple, humble riff on the cuisine I fell in love with in the Yucatan. In the puebla, they would make these ridiculously velvety black beans, served only with fresh tortillas, a couple pickled accompaniments, and maybe some hot sauce. "Borracho" beans (borracho translates to "drunk" in Spanish) was one of the first recipes I developed as a chef running my own digs, a little taco stand in a local music venue. Cook the beans from scratch - it's so worth it!
Borracho Bean Tacos with Tequila Pickled Red Onions
What you need:
Mason jar or other suitable container
Cast iron pan
Hard cooked egg
Ingredients for beans:
1 large red onion, 1/4" dice
1 head of garlic/8-ish cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
12 oz Lavery Lager or a Mexican style lager like Tecate
4 Roma tomatoes, 1/4" dice
1/4 c Ancho chile powder
1/4 c Mexican oregano, dried
3 T smoked paprika
2T cumin seeds, toasted, ground
1 T ground achiote seed or 2 packets Sazon Goya
6 c cooked black beans
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions for beans:
In a 6-quart pot over medium heat, add olive oil.
When oil shimmers, add the onions, cooking until translucent.
Add garlic and jalapeno, season with salt and pepper.
Cook until garlic is fragrant and begins to brown.
Add the spices and cook a little longer to toast, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Toss tomatoes in, season, continue sautéing until softened.
Add beer a little bit at a time, scraping the fond as you go.
Put the beans in, fill the pot the rest of the way with water if the beans are not submerged.
Bring pot to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or so.
Check seasonings and adjust if necessary.
Ingredients for pickled onions:
1 red onion, very thinly sliced
3 T sugar
2 T salt
1/4 c lime juice
1 bay leaf
3 oz blanco tequila, divided
Directions for pickled onions:
In a large bowl, toss sliced onion, sugar, salt, and lime juice.
Massage onions until softened and begin to turn bright magenta.
Pack onions, peppercorns, and bay leaf into a mason jar or other suitable container and pour 1.5 oz tequila over top. Drink the other 1.5 oz 😉
Then fill with rice vinegar until onions are covered.
Cover with lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours.
In a hot cast iron pan, cook off tortillas, about 1 min per side until they puff up slightly.
Place 2 tortillas down and fill with borracho beans, top with pickled onions, and other desired accoutrements.
It's very easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of negativity and uncertainty in the world right now. One thing that has helped me, even when things are going really well, is maintaining a grateful attitude and a positive outlook.
Please comment, like, or share! Let's hear your story!
Story on the Pass