Stop playing around: Pulled Chicken in Black Bean Sauce

The real deal.  No BS.  No Manches!  Or, Mexican slang for no messing around.  Dress to impress, cook like your life depends on it, kill or be killed.  When everything is on the line, these are the phrases we use.

When you apply for a job in the culinary world, it becomes reality.  You may now be intrigued, but may also thinking ‘how ridiculous, it’s only cooking’.  Or something along those lines.  Or not.

Professional culinary jobs, especially those in management, are coveted.  It’s like being hired as the director of finance, or senior database architect.  Different worlds, same principal:  you have competition.  Other people want your job, and are willing to work longer hours, receive less pay, and work harder than you.

So why am I going to hire you?  What can you do for me?

‘Well, as you can see from my resume, I have a solid background in management, I worked at every top restaurant in the world, I can run a 4 minute mile, I went to MIT, I’m a war hero, I won a Noble Prize, blah blah blah’

In the world of culinary, a resume might get you an interview.  Your performance and attitude will get you a job.  ‘Okay, your resume is very impressive, why don’t we get you in the kitchen now and see how you do’

Now it’s on.  No manches, no playing around.  I’ve been in this situation many times, and it’s what we like to call a bench test, or ‘stage’.  And anything is fair game.  Maybe they’ll throw you on a station for the night and see how you handle yourself.  Maybe they’ll give you a bunch of leftover stuff and make you turn it into a 4 course meal…. if you can.  Maybe you tour the walkin and pick out a few things and cook an entree.  Whatever it is, you better impress them, and represent yourself 100%, otherwise no matter how much experience you have and how good your resume is, this job isn’t for you.  We will keep your resume on file should anything come up in the next 6 months.

The following recipe is the type of recipe that might work.  For me.  It isn’t necessarily refined gourmet French, and is therefore a gamble, but it’s build upon unbridled culinary passion.  The technique and resulting flavor are phenomenal.  Every chef has seen seared scallops and pan roasted chicken.  We’ve all had truffle celery puree.  Big deal, you can make wilted spinach.  Wow.  Good one.

But this… no manches!  This might be good enough to set you apart.  Difficulty level: 5/10.  Easy money; present it elegantly, garnish it well, make a clean and well constructed plate composition, and land yourself a new job.  Welcome aboard.

Pulled Chicken with Black Bean Sauce      

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hr
Inactive cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 portions


For the Chicken:

1 whole chicken, split down the keep bone
2 tbsp miso paste
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup assorted dried peppers
1 cup sake
1 tbsp spicy korean bean paste
1 knob ginger, smashed
1 stalk lemongrass, smashed
2 bay leaves

For the Black Bean Sauce:

1 can black beans, drained
1 jalapeno, stem removed
2 tbsp tapatio hot sauce
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder

To Finish:

kosher salt
black pepper
1/2 red onion, fine chop
1/2 bunch cilantro, rough chop

grated cheddar cheese


For the chicken:

Place everything in a pot, add water to barely cover.  Simmer for approx 1 hr, until cooked through and tender.  Strain, reserving the liquid.  Let chicken cool to room temp, about 30 minutes.  Pull the meat from the bones and shred.

For the sauce:

Place everything in a small sauce pot.  Add enough water to cover by about 3/4 inch.  Bring to a simmer, turn heat to very low and cook for 1/2 hour.  Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Reserve and keep warm.

To Finish:

Mix the chicken with the onion and black bean puree.  Place in a saute pan and gently reheat.  Add some of the reserved cooking liquid to make sure it doesn’t dry out.  When hot throughout, add the cilantro and check seasoning.  Serve, using the cheese as a garnish.

Best served with tortillas (flour or corn), avocado slices, and tomatillo salsa.


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