Themes - Gracious and Good, Just Good Food
Food/Tech Tie In – Basic Cooking Techniques
Homage: Elise Gonzales, Chef Chayil Johnson, Chef Jess Cochran CPCC Culinary School
Ok, everyone has their favorite version of Rice and Peas, Peas and Rice, Rice and Beans, etc... My current fav is a blend of a few different recipes and techniques that I have found to be uber flavorful and dare I say...“full proof”. Important when it comes to a well presented and plated “celebration meal”...queue the Oxtails, Mac & Cheese, Collards and Sweet Potato Pie. Don’t even try it with the pumpkin today!!!
Full proof is a bold statement, but one that can be delivered on because the peas are cooked separately from the rice. They are combined at the end in their most magnificent state of done-ness according to “you/me”. For clarity, I like both ingredients soft but with a little bit of bite still left in them. Don’t get it twisted, no al dente here, but definitely not mushy or gummy. There are other recipes where mushy and gummy are a win...not here. If that is what gets delivered....SHADE for real!
Now for my foodie purest, indeed, it is a badge of honor to be able to cook both ingredients together. Your GURL...has done that with great results 95% of the time, but that other 5% said...lean into another way.
My go to recipe and method for YEARS was published in a magazine, circa 2008, It was called “Elsie’s Arroz Con Gandules” and was tied to an article featuring Elsie Rodriguez’s recipe (if you want a copy email me. I still have it...its that good).
Then I met a young chef by the name of Chayil Johnson. Chayil was/is the Chef de Cuisine at the Community Matters Café here in Charlotte, NC, where I interned/volunteered whilst in Culinary School. Ours is a connection made for life and his influence on me (imagine that as I’m in his parent’s age group) is immeasurable. Cooking since he was 12, Chayil was 22 when I met him and full of fire, seriousness around culinary, but more importantly, seriousness around how he wanted to show up in this world. I totally fan out whenever I see him do his thing in the culinary arena, and y’all shld check him out too @chef_of_valor_25. Just sayin’
As Chayil and I worked together from “the time before” through “the time that is still now”, we shared, I listened, so did he. We both learned, we both we laughed, I heard him swear once and only once. It was with vigor when one of the last few eggs that he cracked landed on the kitchen floor vs the flat top...It was fabulous! Through it all...we got the job done EH-VAH-RY DAY (minus that egg). To Chayil’s Parents...job well done! (I actually met his Mom. Spectacular!!! Queens recognize Queens). Of the many things I learned from him and adopted into my cooking, was this concept of cooking the rice & peas separately. Egads! For Real?1? Wow...really? But guess what...his method was the real deal, on point and the one I now rock on the regular.
For my recipe I bumped up the ingredients and flavor as Im feeding me and mine HereInMyKitchen, but Chef Chayil, know if you read this...this technique is magical, our time together mattered and I cant wait to see how you evolve.
So we have Elsie Rodriguez, Chayil Johnson...and then we have Chef Jess Cochran from CPCC’s Culinary School. Back peddling a little, I had Chef Jess as a Chef Instructor for many a’ course, most impactfully my first in the kitchen/lab, CUL140, where rice cookery was what one had to master to have any hopes of progressing and achieving the American Culinary Federations (ACF) credentials in the French Method of Cooking.
Heres what I can tell you, steamed, boiled, pilaf-ed or fried, dyed, laid to the side...my rice game is strong, made even stronger combining knowledge from multiple sources.
The Fav Blend Rice and Peas recipe (what I use are factually beans, and no they are not the same as peas, but we just gonna roll with it for now) calls for soaking beans overnight, then cooking them with a focus on Latin goodness. The rice starts off as a pilaf, and gets some Latin cha-cha-cha added in (Im a salsa fan myself...for those who want to know my dancing preferences) and when combined...oh dios mio (don’t go there with me, Gonzales is a family name from not that many generations ago and I pay homage to the Cuban, Mexican, African ancestors that got me here)...clutch the cilantro...it is some kinda good.
So come on, my foodie friends, give it a try and let me know what you think of my Fav Blend Rice and Peas, a take on Arroz con Gandules, Puerto Rican Rice and Peas, Pilaf-ed rice with beans. Its whats good for yah soul and the perfect side to any celebration meal.