Anthony Rose is on a cleanse, but he won’t let me drink alone. We’re sitting in a booth at Rose & Sons, the chef’s Toronto gastro-diner, spiking our morning coffees with a shot of Buffalo Trace bourbon. His is the kind of warmth that takes the chill off and it’s one of the reasons he’s been so successful. After attending the California Culinary Academy, he worked in San Francisco before heading to New York to meet the chef who would become his mentor. “I was very lucky,” Rose says of his time with Jonathan Waxman at the revered restaurant Washington Park. “As soon as Jonathan figures out you’ve got the passion and the love, he takes you under his wing.” And Rose has passion to spare. In addition to his namesake place, he operates Big Crow, a BBQ joint that’s open all winter despite being little more than a heated tent. Rose takes a similarly relaxed approach to entertaining at home. “I do things very simply,” he says of his taco nights. Often, he buys the chicken already cooked and focuses on preparing killer mole, salsa and guacamole.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
7 garlic cloves, 5 smashed, 2 thinly sliced
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
1 tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
5 tortilla chips
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 red onions, 1 in small dice, 1 sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
2 radishes, diced into small pieces
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 limes, juiced
2 poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded and sliced
2 roasted or grilled whole chickens, meat removed from bones and chopped
3 avocados, peeled and pitted
16 small corn tortillas
Lime wedges, crumbled queso fresco, hot sauce to taste
To make the mole sauce, heat 1 tbsp oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and 4 cloves smashed garlic and sauté until golden. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Carefully transfer to a blender, adding peanuts, chipotle and chips. Purée until smooth. Return mole to pan and simmer gently until thickened. Mix in cinnamon, allspice, salt, pepper and sugar. Set aside.
For the salsa, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan. Sauté sliced garlic and half of the diced onion over medium heat until fragrant. Add whole tomatoes and cook, stirring infrequently, until they blister and release their juices. Transfer to a bowl and add 1 jalapeno, radishes, ¼ cup cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
To prepare the taco filling, heat remaining olive oil in a large saucepan on medium high. Sauté poblano peppers and sliced onion, stirring very little to promote a good char. Add chopped chicken, salt and pepper and toss until heated through.
Make the guacamole by combining avocados and remaining jalapeno, cilantro, red onion and garlic in a bowl. Mash with clean hands for a chunky texture. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Assemble tacos on warm tortillas and serve with lime wedges, crumbled queso fresco and hot sauce.