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Who’s Cooking: Bruce Arneaud of Commack

Bruce Arneaud, 18, a culinary student at Wilson

Bruce Arneaud, 18, a culinary student at Wilson Tech, prepared spicy curry chicken. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Bruce Arneaud, 18, is a Commack High School senior and a second-year culinary arts student at Wilson Tech. He lives in East Northport with his parents, two older brothers, and younger sister.

What kind of cooking did you grow up with?

My parents were both born in Trinidad so I had a lot of Caribbean food, but we ate almost everything.

How did you become interested in cooking as a career?

When I was young, cooking was a big part of my family and everyday life. Then I started watching cooking shows on TV. Watching Bobby Flay was a big inspiration. He takes everyday recipes and throws his own flair onto them. He uses big flavors. He changes the way people look at food. I’ve been at Tech for two years. They start you off with the basics, with knife cuts, then you progress to soups, breads, baking and pastry, international cuisine. At the end of two years you have all the skills to get into a professional kitchen.

What are your cooking goals? After college, I’d like to be an executive chef at a hotel like the Ritz Carlton or Hilton. Then I want to open my own restaurant in Florida. I like the pace of life there. People take time. I want people to come into my restaurant, sit down and enjoy every aspect of what I have to show.

Where does this recipe come from?

I found the recipe online but I modified it to the way I cook. In addition to the onions, I added scallions for depth of flavor and coloring. I adjusted the seasonings. What I like about it is that most people think that curry is an Indian thing, but the Caribbean has its own way of cooking curry. So do a lot of other cultures. It’s a really international thing that everyone can come together and understand.

Any tips for success?

For this recipe and in general, stay focused, have your mise en place, which means to put things in place, and stick with the goal. When you have that true focus in the kitchen is when you become successful.

SPICY CURRY CHICKEN

For the chicken:

1 onion, sliced

1 habanero pepper, seeded and julienned

2 to 3 scallions, chopped

1⁄3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Pinch fresh thyme

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste

1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds), cut into pieces

1⁄2 lemon

Salt

Ground black pepper

2 tablespoons curry powder

3 tablespoons room temperature water plus 1⁄2 cup hot water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1⁄2 cup chopped tomato

For the rice:

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup long-grain rice

2 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth

2 tablespoons lime juice

Zest of 1 lemon

1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro

1. Set aside a few slices of onion. In a blender, combine the remaining onion, habanero pepper, scallions, cilantro, thyme, garlic and crushed red pepper. Blend until smooth. Reserve 1 tablespoon to make the curry paste later.

2. Wash the chicken and pat dry. Trim away any excess fat, and remove skin if desired. Rub all over with the lemon half. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Coat with the remaining sauce. Transfer to a nonreactive bowl, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least several hours or overnight.

3. In a small bowl, combine the reserved 1 tablespoon sauce, curry powder and 3 tablespoons water. Mix well. Let stand 2 to 3 hours.

4. Heat oil In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the reserved onion and cook until golden brown. Add the curry paste and cook until grainy and curry separates from the oil, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pot to prevent it from sticking and burning, 3 to 5 minutes.

5. Add the marinated chicken to the pot. Mix well to coat all pieces of the chicken. Cover and cook on medium heat until the meat has relinquished its juices. Continue to cook until liquid is mostly evaporated, basting with the liquid every 5 to 7 minutes to keep the chicken moist. Stir in the remaining 1⁄3 cup hot water and tomato. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

6. While the chicken is cooking, make the rice. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In an ovenproof saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter until melted. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring, until you get a nutty aroma.

7. Add the chicken broth and lime juice and bring to a boil. Transfer to the oven and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the zest and cilantro, season with salt and pepper, and serve with the chicken. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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