When we lived in Southern California, one of our favorite Mexican restaurants was La Paloma. Tom and I visited often; sometimes for dinner, sometimes for lunch, sometimes just to share a big plate of chicken nachos and a margarita. The atmosphere was charming. The wait staff was friendly and helpful. They were always busy, and with good reason. The food was delicious, the servings were plentiful and the prices were reasonable. La Paloma was, in fact, our choice for the wedding rehearsal dinner when our youngest son married.
After we moved to Arkansas in 1993, my son, Mike, was able to get the recipes for two of our favorite items: The creamy avocado salad dressing and the Camarones con Pollo Cilantro (Chicken and Shrimp Cilantro).
I am providing the recipe that I use. The original recipe produced a dish that is way too hot for my taste. My sons would call me wimp, but I just don't like heat for heat's sake. If an ingredient doesn't add flavor as well as heat, I just don't see the point. So the following recipe is primarily the final revision from the original recipe Mike gave me. The original called for cayenne pepper (which I omitted completely) and larger quantities of the spices and salsa but, over the years I have reduced the amount of spices and salsa I use, which produces a dish that I think is much closer to the one I enjoyed at the restaurant. However, if you would like the more spicy and hot version, please feel free to email me and I will send you the original recipe.
La Paloma served this dish with black beans and Mexican rice. I made Roasted Poblano grits instead. This dish finishes very quickly, so have your sides prepared in advance.
Terri's Adaptation of the recipe from La Paloma Restaurant, Vista, California
4 Tablespoon butter
1 Cup salsa (the original recipe calls for La Victoria brand salsa, but it is not available in Arkansas, so I use Pace)
1 pound raw shrimp (26 - 30 count), cleaned and shelled
1 pound chicken, cut into strips about the same size as the shrimp
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup grated monterey jack cheese
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced.
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Mix the seasonings together in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large frying pan, melt the butter. Add the salsa and stir to combine. Add the chicken to the salsa mixture and cook 2 - 3 minutes and medium high heat. Add the shrimp to the chicken and cook about 2 minutes longer. Sprinkle the seasonings over the shrimp and chicken and mix well. Sprinkle the cheeses over the shrimp and chicken, cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the cheese just melts, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from heat and gently plate the mixture immediately, dividing into 4 portions. Sprinkle each portion with fresh cilantro and serve the avocado slices on the side.
This dish is wonderful with an ice cold Corona or margarita! Enjoy!