Chicken Ropa Vieja with Black Barley and Mango-Jicama Salad

Menu Part: 
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Executive Chef Ryan Conklin
UNC Rex Healthcare
Raleigh, N.C.

At UNC Rex Healthcare, chef Conklin creates a vegetable-forward plate by spotlighting black barley pilaf and a mango-jicama salad on an entree of ropa vieja. The Latin-style dish is made with braised chicken thighs instead of the traditional red meat and is portioned out in a smaller serving, surrounded by the grains, salad and a housemade plantain mojo sauce.


Chicken Ropa Vieja
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 red onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 qt. chicken stock
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tbsp. achiote paste
1 tbsp. ground cumin
8 green olives, sliced
1 tbsp. malt vinegar
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. Mexican oregano
½ tbsp. ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped cilantro

Black Barley Pilaf
2 cups hulless black barley
1 oz. celery, diced
1 oz. carrots, diced
1 oz. red bell pepper, diced
1 oz. onions, diced
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1½ qt. chicken stock
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. toasted cumin seed, ground
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt

Plantain Mojo Sauce
1½ cups bias-sliced plantains
¼ cup chopped carrots
2 tbsp. chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. minced habanero pepper
½ cup chicken stock
1½ cups orange juice
4 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. saffron
1/3 tsp. salt

Mango-Jicama Salad
¾ cup julienne jicama
¾ cup julienne mango
¾ cup diced avocado
2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. lime juice
½ tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. grated lime zest
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup micro greens


1. Prepare chicken: In pressure cooker pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell peppers and garlic; saute 2 minutes.
2. Add chicken and remaining ingredients except cilantro to pot. In pressure cooker, cook 13 to 14 minutes; if using a Dutch oven, cook chicken at a low simmer for 45 minutes or until tender.
3. Remove chicken; lightly pull apart into shreds. Place chicken back into liquid; stir in cilantro. Keep warm.
4. Meanwhile, prepare barley: In skillet, sauté celery, onions, bell pepper and carrots in extra virgin olive oil until just cooked through. Set aside.
5. In saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil. Stir in black barley; bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, or until desired tenderness. Strain barley; toss with sautéed vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, parsley and ground cumin.
6. Prepare plantain mojo: In saucepan over medium heat, sauté plantains, onions, carrots and garlic in olive oil for about 4 minutes. Season with salt. Add chopped habenero pepper; sauté 1 minute more.
7. Add orange juice, chicken stock, cream and saffron; bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
8. Puree sauce in blender until smooth consistency and sauce just coats the back of a serving spoon. Adjust seasonings; reserve until service.
9. Prepare mango-jicama salad: In bowl, combine mango, jicama and avocado. Add zest, orange and lime juice, cilantro, lime zest and salt; toss well. Allow salad to sit for at least 10 minutes to marry flavors.
10. For service, add microgreens to mango salad and toss gently. Spoon plantain mojo sauce onto deep plate; top with mango jicama salad. Place chicken over salad and side with barley pilaf.

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