Last week, I found myself behind the scenes at the JW Marriott Cusco kitchen. Not only that, I was wearing an apron… and a chef's hat (if only for a few minutes because it didn't do much for me, style-wise). Executive Chef Teddy Bournocle and his crazy talented team let me take over the kitchen where I was free to make a dish that stood the chance of ending up on the five-star hotel's restaurant menu. I'd spent days indulging in Peruvian gastronomy, one of the world's best. Ceviche, lomo saltado, anticucho -- I even tried CUY! I'll let you Google that. With a lot on the line and it being my first time cooking in an industrial kitchen, I opted for something more familiar to me -- quinoa -- using local ingredients like the biggest and juiciest of choclo kernels (corn) to add a Peruvian twist.
Ready in: 20 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup choclo kernels (extra large, white corn kernels)
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
½ cup chopped cilantro
1. Heat the olive oil a large, non-stick pot over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with coriander, paprika, salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the pot in an even layer, and cook on each side for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Allow to cool, then cut into strips.
2. Meanwhile, add the bell pepper, garlic, and choclo to pot, and sautee for a couple of minutes, until the pepper begins to brown. Add the cooked quinoa and season with a dash more of salt and pepper. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes before adding the cilantro, reserving a tablespoon or two to garnish the dish.
3. Divide the quinoa among two plates and top each with chicken. Garnish with remaining cilantro, a drizzle of olive oil and sliced red chiles if you like it spicy.