- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

To know what drives Diana Kennedy, you have to watch her teach. Not content to limit herself to cooking conversations, the renowned expert on Mexican cuisine in one day combines lessons in ecology, portion control and seasonings.

Each had its place as Miss Kennedy helped students prepare for a special dinner recently at the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in Evanston, Ill.

Miss Kennedy’s recipes aren’t designed for 30-minute cooks or those who stand in the 10-item line in the supermarket. Her newest book, “From My Mexican Kitchen: Techniques and Ingredients” (Clarkson Potter), illustrates how foods, skill and patience come together in Mexican cuisine.

Some of Miss Kennedy’s techniques are involved, so when she finally said, “Take a taste,” everyone was poised, fork in hand. And when she nodded her head in approval, everyone sighed.

For years, chefs have been influenced by Miss Kennedy’s keen sense of flavors — balancing hot, sweet and piquant — and these students were no different. But when the students arranged a generous sample plate, Miss Kennedy urged them to cut the portion by half. “Who eats all that food?” she asked.

For the students training for positions in restaurants in the United States, the answer was, obviously, the American consumer. This was one argument that the students won. When the time came to clean up, though, Miss Kennedy scowled at a student who left the water running.

The following recipe was inspired by Miss Kennedy’s dish. It’s a delicious combination of chicken, cinnamon, capers, olives, raisins and orange juice that serves two.

Chicken with chipotle-tomato sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 small chicken breast halves, skin on

Salt and pepper

1 small red bell pepper, cubed

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup cherry tomato halves (halve, then measure)

¼ teaspoon crushed, dried oregano

Pinch ground cumin

Pinch cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1 teaspoon capers

1 heaping tablespoon green olives, chopped and pitted

1 heaping tablespoon raisins

½ cup orange juice

1 orange, thinly sliced, optional

1 cup cooked rice, optional

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet. Season chicken to taste with salt and pepper. Add, skin side down, to skillet; saute 5 minutes or until golden. Remove. Add red bell pepper, shallot and garlic, and saute 5 minutes or until tender.

Stir in tomatoes, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, chipotle chili powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, capers, olives, raisins and orange juice. Bring to a simmer.

Return chicken to skillet. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Serve garnished with orange slices and with rice on the side, if desired. Makes 2 servings.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES INTERNATIONAL.

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