The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes that Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South

By Sandra A. Gutierrez

If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you will know that I am always talking about how many cookbooks I get in the mail. Well, a lot! So it is very rare for me to actually go out and request a cookbook but that is exactly what I did when I heard that cooking teacher and writer Sandra Gutierrez was coming out with a cookbook that combined the flavors of the American South with the flavors of South America. What an intriguing idea!  I eagerly awaited the book. My expectations were high, very high. I did not know exactly what to expect but this I knew for sure: the recipes would be high in flavor, I mean how could they not.. with the jazz of Latin America added to the comfort foods of the American south.. the outcome could only be delightful.

And, I am very happy to report, that the book exceeded my expectations. I hope that the powers that be at IACP and James Beard are reading this post because this book is a contender for the 2012 awards.
Let me tell you why:

The number one reason: The recipes. The flavor combinations are unique and just wonderful. I create recipes all the time and I learned so much from reading this book on how to combine flavors. For instance: combining squash with coconut and pralines or serving sweet potato chips with a chipotle spiced honey or tamarind and whiskey glazed ribs.. and that is just the beginning!

The recipes are well-thought out. This is not a book someone threw together because the concept sounded cool. Far from it! This is a remarkably well-thought out book where the author has shown an in-depth and reaching knowledge of ingredients and culture.

If you are bored with the same old dishes that you make, reach for this book. I promise you, it will change the way you cook.

Five stars, Ms. G, you rock!

The recipe I selected to feature is her Latino style fried chicken. I think it showcases how beautifully she has married the two cuisines.

Photos and Recipes from The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes that Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South. Copyright © 2011 by Sandra A. Gutierrez. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press. www.uncpress.unc.edu

Latin Fried Chicken with Smoky Ketchup

Nothing says “South” more than fried chicken. Crispy, juicy, spicy, and moist, my version takes a bath in spiced-up buttermilk before it’s cooked. This is one of the most requested recipes in my cooking classes. Chicken is first fried, then blasted in a hot oven to finish cooking, creating a crunchy exterior. This cooking method prevents the spices and flour from burning and allows excess fat to render out. The result is chicken that is moist but not greasy. Made this way, chicken can be kept in a warm oven for a full hour before serving without becoming soggy. No more burnt coatings and undercooked chicken! My secret to a crunchy crust is to use self-rising instead of all-purpose flour.

You can find bottled Latin ketchup with various levels of heat at Latin grocery stores; my rendition delivers a gutsy kick. Pair this with iced tea or ice-cold cerveza.

For the chicken

  • 1 chicken (5–5 ½ pounds), cut into 10 serving pieces
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
  • 2 tablespoons minced chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1 teaspoon adobo
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying (about 4–5 cups)

For the ketchup

  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons minced chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1 teaspoon adobo
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder

In a large glass bowl, combine the buttermilk, cilantro, chipotle, adobo, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat; cover and chill for at least 6 hours (or up to 24). Preheat the oven to 325°F. Fit two baking pans with metal cooling racks. In a large bowl, combine the flour, paprika, salt, coriander, garlic powder, cayenne, chile powder, and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and set on one of the prepared racks. Let the chicken air dry for 5 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven, heat 3 ½ inches of oil to 360°F. Working in batches, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture a second time; fry the white meat for 8 minutes and the dark meat for 10 minutes, or until the crust is crispy and reddish-brown. Transfer the fried chicken to the other prepared rack. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh of the chicken registers between 180°F and 185°F (the juices will run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork). To keep the chicken warm (up to 1 hour), reduce the oven to 250°F.

In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, chipotle, adobo, and chile powder; chill until ready to use. The ketchup will keep, covered tightly, for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Serves 4–6

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