APRIL 30, 2013

MEET THE SOUS CHEF

SEDESH BOODRAM, SOUS CHEF, HOT AND HOT FISH CLUB

When we asked Sedesh Boodram, sous chef at Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama, for a favorite family recipe, he consulted his most discerning customer, his five-year-old daughter, Delilah. She selected a Trinidadian chicken stew, a staple recipe of the Caribbean island where Boodram grew up and a dish he remembers his mother cooking for him.

Blame Thomas Keller if Boodram’s version is more refined than the one he grew up eating: Boodram’s first job out of culinary school was at Keller’s Per Se, where he worked before relocating to Birmingham three years ago to be closer to his partner’s family while they raised their daughter. The healthy, one-pot braised-chicken dish cooks in 35 minutes; Boodram serves it with brown rice for a complete meal that even a kid would love.

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DAY IN THE LIFE

TIPS & TECHNIQUES

Caramel Goes Savory

This simple, one-pot chicken braise derives much of its flavor from a brown-sugar caramel. Boodram says you shouldn’t be afraid of allowing the caramel to achieve a deep brown color: “Like the dark roux in gumbo, the caramel is what gives the dish its depth of flavor.”

The Kinder Cut

Boodram prefers to use chicken thighs for this recipe rather than breasts, because they’re more flavorful and don’t dry out the way white meat might. If you like your food spicy, add a bit of Sriracha to the stew at the end.

MAKE THE
Trinidad Chicken Stew

YIELD

2 servings (plus leftovers)

INGREDIENTS

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 2 pounds (cut into 2-inch pieces)

Tomato, 1 large (cored and finely chopped)

Yellow onion, 1 medium (finely chopped)

Garlic, 2 medium cloves (peeled and very finely chopped)

Scallions, 12 (green and white parts only, thinly sliced on a bias; about ¾ cup)

Cilantro, ½ of a large bunch (leaves and stems from ¼ bunch finely chopped, about 3 tablespoons; plus the whole leaves from the remaining ¼ bunch, about ¼ cup of leaves)

Fresh thyme, 20 sprigs (leaves picked from stems and finely chopped, about 1 tablespoon)

Fine sea salt, 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons

Freshly ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons

Sweet paprika, ¼ teaspoon

Grapeseed oil, ¼ cup

Light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons (lightly packed)

Chicken broth, 3 cups

Pinto beans, one 15-ounce can (drained and rinsed)

Cooked long-grain brown rice, 4 cups

Sriracha chile sauce, for serving

EQUIPMENT

Cutting board

Chef’s knife

Measuring cups and spoons

Mixing bowls

Colander

Wooden spoon

Large pot

Ladle or slotted spoon

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large mixing bowl, add the:

  • Chopped chicken thighs
  • Chopped tomato
  • Chopped yellow onion
  • Chopped garlic
  • ½ cup of the sliced scallions
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped thyme leaves
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sweet paprika

Combine using a wooden spoon and set aside for 10 minutes.

2. In a large pot set over medium heat, add the:

  • Grapeseed oil

Once the oil begins to shimmer, after about 2 minutes, add the:

  • Light brown sugar

Stir occasionally, until the sugar begins to bubble and turn into a dark brown caramel, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the marinated chicken from the bowl and add it to the pot, stirring occasionally to brown the chicken, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the:

  • Chicken broth

Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the temperature to medium-low. Stir in the:

  • Rinsed pinto beans

Cook until the pinto beans are warmed through, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and use a ladle or slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a plate. Serve the stew over the:

  • Cooked brown rice

Over the top of the stew, sprinkle the:

  • Whole cilantro leaves
  • Remaining ¼ cup of sliced scallions

Serve with the:

  • Sriracha chile sauce
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