As the Mrs.G and WPST chef series continues, we enjoyed delicious night of Latin cuisine in our Community Kitchen. Throughout the series, I’ve had the pleasure of preparing a variety of food from all different regions of the world–dishes that traditionally require regional-specific appliances to prepare correctly, such as baking naan bread in a tandoori oven or steaming tamales in a large pot. But our Jenn-Air sponsored Community Kitchen equips us with a working wall oven, steam oven, speed oven, coffee maker and an induction cooktop. These appliances turn out great results time and time again as I am able to use my knowledge of different cooking methods to accompany the lack of particular oven needed for that dish. Our most recent event featured Latin fare: tamales stuffed with shredded roasted chicken, black beans and rice, avocado salsa, and flan for dessert. Preparation for the dishes is mostly done by hand with a sharp knife and a cutting board. The real magic happens in the cooking process. For the rice and black beans I used the Jenn Air 30” induction cooktop with downdraft ventilation. This cooking surface really makes cooking anything easy. It takes about 90 seconds for the water to boil and will instantly turn down to a simmer, holding the precise temperature needed to attain the correct textured rice. The cooktop is glass and that allows an easy clea-up. I used Sazon by Goya to season both the rice and the black beans. For the main dish, I prepared all the elements separately and constructed the tamales by hand once everything was ready.
First, I roasted the chicken in the Jenn Air Speed Oven, a combination between a convection oven and a microwave. The microwaves provide heat to the inside of the food while the convection element browns and cooks the food from the outside. These two elements working together will rapidly speed up the time needed to prepare mostly any food. In a conventional oven it takes about 15 minutes per pound to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. For a 5 pound chicken, that would be about 75 minutes. The speed oven while give me equal if not better results in 45 minutes. Once the chicken has reached the proper internal temperature, allow it to cool slightly before removing all the meat from the bones. Shred by hand or with two forks, pulling the meat apart. Reserve the shredded chicken in a bowl and set it aside. To prepare the tamale batter, I followed the recipe on the side of corn meal bag and added a dash of Adobo all-purpose seasoning for extra flavor. Soak the corn husks for about an hour to make them pliable for assembling the tamales. To cook the tamales, I used the Jenn Air Combi-Steam oven, a steam oven with a convection element. The steam oven is a very versatile appliance that gets little recognition in residential kitchens. Much like induction, people fear that switching to new technology will be too difficult to get used to. What people often don’t realize is that these new appliances fill an already-existing need often experienced while cooking. How times has a recipe called for covering something you’re baking in the oven? How often do you sprinkle some water on something before putting it in the microwave? What you’re doing in that process is creating steam to keep the food moist during the cooking process. A steam oven allows for cooking without these less-effective “tricks,” achieving the same results as if you were to cooking with steam on a stove in a pot, or in an oven with a cover on.
Once the tamales were all wrapped and ready to cook I put them into the steam oven on a perforated pan and allowed them to steam for about an hour. Dessert was flan, which I made it in a loaf pan instead of in individual cups. The Jenn Air Convection Wall Oven was a perfect choice for this. The convection fan allows for great circulation of air throughout the oven cavity, giving me an even result throughout the baking process. A water bath is needed when making flan or firm custard-like desserts. This involves using a larger pan and adding water around the dish were preparing. The water heats up in the oven and slowly bakes the flan. If there were no water the flan with bake faster on the top, and will overcook the flan to by the time the middle is finished. The caramel for the flan was made on the induction cooktop.
Yield: About 6 servings
Ingredients: 6 medium Roma tomatoes (medium dice) • 1 cup chopped red onion (small dice) • 1 large or 2 small jalapeños, seeded (small dice) • 3 medium avocados, semi-firm but ripe, peeled, cored (medium diced) • 3 1/2 tbsp coconut oil • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice • 1 clove garlic, finely minced • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (more or less to taste as desired) • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped
Instructions: Place red onion in a strainer or sieve and rinse under cool water to remove harsh bite. Drain well. Add to a mixing bowl along with diced tomatoes, jalapeños and avocados. In a separate small mixing bowl whisk together olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper until mixture is well blended. Pour mixture over avocado mixture, add cilantro then gently toss mixture to evenly coat. Serve with tortilla chips or over Mexican entrees.
Ingredients: 2/3 cup sugar 2 large eggs plus 5 yolks • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk • ½ cup whole milk (half-and-half or 2% milk may be substituted, but do not use skim milk) • 2 tsp vanilla extract• ½ tsp salt • 1 tbsp Bourbon (if needed, substitute Bourbon with an additional 2 tsp of vanilla extract)
Instructions: (This recipe should be made at least one day before serving.) Adjust a rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 300°F. Stir together the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium heavy saucepan until the sugar is completely moistened. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and cook, without stirring, until the mixture begins to turn golden. Gently swirling the pan, continue to cook until sugar is a honey color.
Remove from the heat and swirl the pan until the sugar is reddish-amber and fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds. Carefully swirl in 2 tablespoons of warm tap water until incorporated – be careful as the mixture will bubble and steam. This whole process should take less than 10 minutes. Pour the caramel into an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan; do not scrape out the saucepan. Set the loaf pan aside. (To clean the hardened caramel from the saucepan, fill the pan with water and bring it to a boil.)
Whisk the eggs and yolks in large bowl until combined. Add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, vanilla, Bourbon, and salt and whisk until incorporated. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl to remove any bits of egg; then pour the strained custard into the loaf pan over the caramel.
Place the loaf pan in the center of a 9×13-inch baking or roasting pan (preferably with high sides) to make a water bath. Place the nested pans in the oven; then, using a tea kettle or pitcher, pour hot water around the loaf pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake for 75 – 90 minutes, until the custard is set around the edges but still a bit jiggly in the center. (Don’t worry that it seems undercooked. The custard will continue to cook as it cools, and the center will set completely — I promise!)
Carefully remove the pans from the oven and leave the flan in the water bath for 1 hour to cool. Remove the loaf pan from the water bath and wipe the pan dry. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight or up to 4 days.
To unmold the flan, carefully slide a sharp knife around the edges of the pan. Invert a platter with a raised rim (to contain the liquid caramel) on top of the flan and turn the pan and platter over. If the flan doesn’t release immediately, let it sit inverted for a minute and it should slide out. When the flan is released, remove the loaf pan. Using rubber spatula, scrape the residual caramel onto the platter. You won’t be able to release all of the caramel – that’s okay. Slice the flan and spoon the sauce over individual portions. Leftover flan may be covered loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerated.
Rotisserie Chicken Tamales
From the Spanish aisle in the grocery store buy a bag of masa tamale which is cornmeal specific for tamales. On the bag will be a recipe on how to prepare tamales, USE THIS RECIPE. I add a little Adobo seasoning to the masa mixture for an added flavor profile.
On the other side of the bag will be directions on how to build the tamale and cooking instructions, FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS.
For my filling I used roasted chicken that was made earlier in the Jenn Air Speed Oven. Take all the meat off the bones and shred the chicken and use inside of the tamales. To cook the tamales you will need to steam them for up to 2 hrs. depending on how much you filled your cornhusks. For vegetarian options, substitute the chicken for cheese or diced mixed vegetables.