Portland chef Jenn Louis is on the move these days.
The owner of Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern has two restaurants and a busy catering business to run. She recently appeared on the new season of Bravo's Top Chef Masters, which premiered this week. And she's been doing a lot of traveling, participating in culinary festivals and charity events around the country.
But even on those rare evenings when she has some downtime, Louis says she still enjoys cooking at home.
"It's one of my favorite things to do," says Louis. "Cooking at home is a very different experience from cooking in the restaurant and it's something I can do to enjoy time with my husband [co-owner David Welch] and just relax."
On a recent day off, Louis introduced us to a quick, homestyle meal using some traditional techniques and flavors from Mexican cooking.
"I grew up in Southern California and Mexican food has always been like soul food to me," says Louis. "This is a riff off eggs and beans, something I make late at night when we come home from work. This version is a little more of a complete meal, but it is something that David and I enjoy all of the time."
The dish features chicken thighs braised in a traditional sauce made with tomatoes, chipotle chiles and chicken stock. Louis adds her own twist at the end, cracking eggs into the pan and steaming them until they are just set, adding a rich, creamy complement to the spicy, smoky sauce.
The whole thing can be cooked in a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven and served on the table with build-your-own garnishes like crema, avocado, lime, cilantro and cheese.
"The garnishes add fresh flavors that complement the richness of the sauce," says Louis. "Then everybody can have it the way they like it."
Combined with tortillas and a salad, it makes a simple, satisfying meal for those on the go.
Recipe: Jenn Louis' Braised Chicken and Hen Eggs with Chipotle Chiles and Pinto Beans
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 chicken thighs, boneless
- 1 white onion, peeled and cut into sixths
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
- 2 ½ cups tomato purée, skin and seeds removed
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 4 chipotle chilies in adobo
- 1½ tablespoons cumin, ground
- 1½ tablespoons coriander, ground
- 1 14 oz.-can pinto beans, drained
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup crema
- Lime wedges
- Cotija, crumbled or grated
- Avocado, peeled and sliced
- Cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- Jalapeño, chopped finely
- White onion, chopped finely
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
In a blender, finely purée onion, garlic, tomatoes, stock, chilies, cumin and coriander. Set aside.
In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, warm oil over medium high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and sear on both sides until caramelized and golden. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Drain all but enough oil to cover bottom of pan. Add additional oil if needed. Maintaining medium high heat, pour contents of blender into hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season sauce lightly with salt. Add chicken pieces, nestling them into the sauce, skin side up. Place pan in oven and braise until the chicken is tender, about 35 minutes. Remove pan and stir beans into sauce. Crack eggs into four corners of pan, not touching the sides of the pan, and return to oven to bake eggs. Continue gently cooking until whites are set and yolks are runny. Drizzle with crema and top with garnishes.
Place the skillet on the table and serve out of the pot with warm tortillas and garnishes.