Luis Guevara Salgado is a busy man. He is the current Executive Chef of Aziza, an Israeli restaurant in Atlanta, and he is transitioning into an executive chef role at the soon-to-open Carmel — also run by the Atlanta-based Oliva restaurant group. His dishes with harissa, hummus, and lamb pack the house each night with diners who have come to expect the best Israeli and middle eastern food in the city.
The demands on Guevara are high, and they don’t lend him much time for his second job: home cook. Guevara usually takes Sunday off to spend with his wife and kids, Isabella (8), Ayla (6), and Luca (4). No one pressures him to cook at home, but he wants to.
“I love to do it,” he says. “It’s easy for me, and it gives my wife a day off.”
Notably, Guevara is home every morning, so he’s in charge of breakfast, packing lunches, and school drop-off.
Guevara was born in Acapulco, Mexico, but grew up in Atlanta. He loves cooking Israeli food, and says that the dried chiles, warm spices, and sauces aren’t far from the ingredients he used growing up. However, on Sundays and weekday mornings, he cooks the Mexican dishes he learned from his mother and tasted at his father’s restaurant as a child.
For breakfast, Guevara’s kids like burritos with leftover beans and a chorizo from Acapulco that's heavy on the vinegar, red pepper, and guajillo. Aside from those burrito fillings, Guevara says his kids all have different preferences (what parent of multiple kids doesn’t relate?). ”My oldest child loves avocado, the younger one doesn’t do any cheese, my middle child loves corn tortillas, and the older child likes flour.”
However, there is one dish that is essential for the household to function: caldo tlalpeño.
Caldo tlalpeño in the Guevara family style is a simple chicken soup served with sofrito rice. According to Larousse Cocina it originates from the old town of Tlalpan in Mexico’s central Distrito Federal. Still, for Guevara’s kids, first generation born in the United States, the dish is a connection to Mexico. Only the oldest has traveled to the country, though Guevara plans to change that soon.
Guevara learned the caldo tlalpeño method from his parents. “They would put a whole chicken in a pot of water, bring it to a boil, essentially making broth simultaneously, and then break the chicken down,” he says.
The ingredients in the stock are straightforward — usually, just onions, garlic, cilantro stems, and sometimes bay leaf — but it is rich with flavor.
Once the stock is complete, the chicken is removed and shredded. Then Guevara makes the sofrito rice with tomato and heavy garlic. Once that is complete, he sets up bowls and the family begins assembly. They add a melting cheese like Monterey jack to the bottom, followed by the rice, chicken, and finally broth. They serve it with a side of onion, cilantro, chipotle pepper, avocado, limes, and chips.
“The kids liked simple rice with chicken and broth, but now they started eating it with the cheese, and they love it, man,” says Guevara. “If we don’t have it for three or four days, we make it again. It’s easy to eat, and we always have everything; it’s our comfort food.”
And now you can make it yours, too.
Chef Luis Guevara Salgado’s Caldo Tlalpeño Recipe
For The Chicken And Broth
- 1 whole chicken, broken down into 6 pieces
- 2 yellow onion
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 bunch cilantro stems
- 2 carrots
For The Sofrito Rice
- 2 cups jasmine rice
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 vine ripe tomatoes
- 3 cups chicken broth
For Serving The Soup
- Cooked sofrito rice
- Shredded chicken
- Chicken broth
- Monterey jack cheese or other light melting cheese
- Chipotles in adobo
- Diced onion
- Picked cilantro
- Tortilla chips
For The Broth and Chicken
- In a pot, add chicken and vegetables and fill the pot with enough water to cover the chicken and be two-inches higher than the chicken.
- Bring pot to a simmer and cook chicken until it is ready to shred — at least an hour, but up to three.
- Remove the chicken, shred it, and set the shredded meat aside.
- Season the broth to taste with salt and set aside to cool slightly.
For The Rice
- In a blender, mix garlic, tomato, and chicken broth to cover and salt to season aggressively.
- In a braising pan, warm some oil and add rice until rice is pearly white.
- Once rice is ready, strain tomato mixture into pan and the remaining chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
- Once the broth is simmering, cover and bring heat down to a low setting and cook until broth is reduced and rice is cooked. (It should take about 10-15 minutes and be light and fluffy —not grainy.)
To Assemble The Soup
In each bowl add two ounces of cubed cheese, ½ cup of rice, four ounces of shredded chicken, and two cups of the chicken broth. Garnish with cilantro and diced onion and spice with chipotle to desired heat. Add a few slices of avocado to make it even better