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CHEF DU JOUR

Grill's Special? 'Tis the Season

March 25, 1993|MIKE SPENCER | Mike Spencer is a member of The Times Orange County Edition staff.

One would think that to satisfy the hunger of the average sports nut, all that's necessary is a television, a wheelbarrow of potato chips and a bucket of dip.

Not so, says Jorge Sanchez, executive chef of the new National Sports Grill & Bar in Buena Park. The television part he'll concede (National Sports boasts 42 screens), but he says the customers are a lot more discerning in food.

"They want hearty food and lots of it, but they also want it to be good and they want it to be reasonably priced," he says.

Sanchez says he and fellow chef Tony Berra "spent a lot of time experimenting with a lot of dishes" before the menu was settled for the opening of the grill in February.

"We knew the customers would expect certain things, like sandwiches and hamburgers and soups and things, but we wanted to be different also.

"So, what we did was put a little twist on things. For example, we don't just have French fries, we have spicy French fries. We tried to put our mark on every item."

A good example is the barbecued chicken sandwich, called Bird's Best on the menu. The chicken is marinated in a spicy chile mixture before hitting the grill, and even the mayonnaise on the sandwich has a twist (it's spiced with anchote paste before being spread on the bun).

Add bacon, Swiss cheese, tomato, onion and a glop of guacamole, and the meal might even take a little attention away from opening game of the baseball season.

BIRD'S BEST

SANDWICH

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Spicy Chile Marinade (see separate recipe)

4 hamburger buns

4 slices Swiss cheese

8 strips bacon, cooked

1 cup lettuce, shredded

1 large tomato, sliced

1 large red onion, sliced

1/8 cup anchote paste*

3/4 cup mayonnaise

Guacamole

Coat chicken with marinade and let sit for at least 2 hours. Charbroil chicken on each side until cooked through, about 2 minutes each side. Toast buns. Blend anchote paste and mayonnaise and coat each bun with mixture. Top with chicken, bacon, cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce and dollop of guacamole.

Spicy

Chile Marinade

2 New Mexican dry, whole ancho chiles

1/2 cup warm water

3 tablespoons whole cumin seeds

1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds

1/4 cup chipotle chiles in adobo sauce*

1/4 cup fresh garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup ancho chili powder

3 tablespoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

3/4 cup oil

Remove and discard stems of ancho chiles. Soak chiles in warm water until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain water and puree peppers in food processor or blender. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, brown combined cumin and coriander seeds about 3 minutes, stirring often. Finely grind seeds in food processor or coffee grinder. In blender, combine chile puree, the seeds and remaining seasonings. Add chipotle sauce and salad oil and blend until mixture thickens.

Guacamole

2 large avocados

1/8 cup onion, finely diced

1/8 cup tomato, finely diced

1/8 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

Juice of 1 fresh lime

Peel, pit and mash avocado. Add onion, tomato, cilantro, salt, pepper, garlic and lime juice and stir.

*Both these items are available in the Mexican food section of most supermarkets.

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