For nearly a decade, Food Network writer Jackie Alpers has yearned to treat the world to the Old Pueblo's flavors with her new cookbook, Taste of Tucson: Sonoran-Style Recipes Inspired by the Rich Culture of Southern Arizona.
However, the publishing community wasn't biting—until Tucson became designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, that is.
"The Food Network started assigning me articles writing about Tucson food, so I got to know different chefs and started learning from them," Alpers said. "I had written the pitch and sent it to publishers but didn't really get anywhere. After the UNESCO thing happened, there was a much different response."
Taste of Tucson features 16 of Tucson's most creative chefs—from Suzana Davila at recently shuttered Cafe Poca Cosa to Daniel Contreras at El Guero Canelo—sharing their favorite recipes that earned this city's UNESCO designation.
"I'm so happy that I get to give a little bit of Poca Cosa to the rest of the world and I'm just starting to realize the true impact that collecting these recipes would have because I wrote it before the pandemic," Alpers said. "I was just documenting restaurants that I liked. I didn't realize it would be like a tome for restaurants like Poca Cosa, where you wouldn't be able to get that food anywhere else in the world, ever."
Taste of Tucson is available wherever books are sold. Purchase a copy locally at Antigone Books and Why I Love Where I Live.
El Sur Ranchero Sauce
MAKES 4 CUPS
Ranchero is a smooth, tomato-based sauce that is served warm and is the
defining ingredient in Huevos Rancheros and Bistec Rancheros. Isela Mejia, who owns El Sur Restaurant, makes some of the best in town.
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 cups diced white onion
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 Anaheim chiles, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½ -inch pieces
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
¾ cup water
3 tablespoons granulated chicken-flavored bouillon, preferably Knorr brand
1 tablespoon granulated beef-flavored bouillon, preferably Knorr brand
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, tomatoes, and chiles. Sauté. until the vegetables are soft, stirring frequently, 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir in the tomato puree. When it starts to boil, add ¼ cup of water and the chicken-and beef-flavored bouillon. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick for your taste, add a bit of water. Add salt and pepper to taste.