“Top Chef” Star Gregory Gourdet Spotlights Haitian Cuisine With New Restaurant ‘Kann’ Opening This Summer

Gregory-Gourdet
Image: courtesy of Eva Kosmas Flores.

As an avid traveler and lifelong student of food and culture, Chef Gregory Gourdet is best known for infusing recipes and ingredients from his own Haitian heritage with seasonal product and meat, creating signature flavors adored for their seasonality, boldness, complexity, and spice. The celebrated chef, best-selling author, and two-time Bravo “Top Chef” finalist, was named “Chef of the Year” by both Eater Portland and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, and is a James Beard Award nominee. Throughout his culinary journey, he has always remained true to his roots and a mission to bring Haitian cuisine to a larger, mainstream audience.

This July, Gourdet will open his first restaurant in Portland called ‘Kann’ (“cane” in Haitian creole). The wood-fired dinner house is a tribute to one of his favorite childhood memories from visiting Haiti, where he’d listen for sugar cane vendors to come by with wheelbarrows overflowing with the freshly-harvested snack. The menu will feature iconic Haitian dishes, including Griyo (pork), Bannann Peze (fried plaintains), Djons Djons (black mushroom rice), and lots of Pikliz (Scotch-bonnet pickled cabbage condiment) fused with fresh Pacific Northwest bounty. 

Gourdet is also an advocate for sobriety, healthy eating, racial equality, and sustainability within the restaurant industry. Through his endeavors, he remains committed to moving the restaurant industry forward in a sustainable and equitable way. 

On the heels of Haitian Flag Day (May 18th), Gourdet shares one of his favorite traditional dinner recipes for chicken stew, from his best-selling, health-focused cookbook, Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health with EBONY. He says, “When I was a kid, we often left Queens on Sunday mornings to visit Mémère, my paternal grandmother, in New Jersey. Along with warm kisses and a few words of broken English, this chicken stew would greet us. Its official name, Poule Nan Sos in Haitian Creole, (or “chicken in sauce”) is quite an understatement. The meat is marinated overnight with onions, garlic, thyme, and chiles along with citrus, the fruits juiced and then rubbed forcefully onto the chicken to access the fragrant oils as well. After the meat takes on all that flavor, it’s stewed with the marinade and loads of bell peppers for a satisfying, thrilling stew. This dish is Haiti, something we make time and time again. I suspect you will, too.”

POULE NAN SOS

Image: courtesy of Eva Kosmas Flores. From the book Everyone’s Table by Gregory Gourdet and JJ Goode. Copyright ©2021 by Gregory Gourdet and JJ Goode. Published by Harper Wave an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

Ingredients:

For Marinating the Chicken

3 pounds mixed bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks, rinsed and patted dry

3 tablespoons kosher salt 1 juicy orange, halved

1 juicy lime, halved

2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1/8-inch half-moon slices

8 garlic cloves, roughly sliced

2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, cut in half and sliced thin

1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves

For The Dish

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 red bell peppers, seeded and deveined, cut into long, thin slices

2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and deveined, cut into long, thin slices

2 cups chicken stock, salted homemade or store-bought

Small handful roughly chopped parsley sprigs

Marinate the Chicken

Put the chicken pieces in a large bowl and season with the salt. Squeeze the citrus halves over the chicken, then spend a minute or so rubbing the cut sides of the citrus against the chicken. Add the onions, garlic, chile, and thyme and toss well, rubbing the chicken as you do.

Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 12 hours or up to 48 hours.

Make the Dish

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, guiding any stuck-on aromatics back into the bowl. Set a strainer over a small mixing bowl. Pour the marinade through the strainer, reserving the solids and liquid. Pat the chicken very dry with paper towels.

Heat the oil in a wide heavy, ovenproof pot (I use a 31/2-quart braiser) over medium-high heat just until shimmery. Cook the chicken, skin-side down, occasionally turning the drumsticks but not the thighs, until the skin is deep brown about 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the tomato paste and salt, and cook, stirring often, until it turns several shades darker, about3 minutes. Add the bell peppers and the reserved solids from the marinade, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers softenslightly and take on a little color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up and in a single layer, then take aminute to pile the peppers, onions, and other aromatics on top of the chicken. Then evenly pour in the reserved liquid from the mari-nade along with the stock. Cook in the oven, basting every 15 minutes to coat the chicken with the peppers and sauce, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the meat pulls off the bone with a gentle tug from a fork, about 1 hour. Garnish with the parsley and serve.

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