Seven recipes from the Blue Kitchen archives celebrate the flavors immigrants have brought to our shores and tables.
Need proof that America is a land of immigrants? Take a stroll through any supermarket worth the name. You’ll find pasta and pasta sauce makings. You’ll find cumin in the spice aisle; jalapeño peppers and fresh ginger in the produce department; sauerkraut, kielbasa (or certainly, brats). You’ll find miso paste. You’ll find hummus. These foods—once exotic, but now kitchen go-tos for most of us—didn’t get here on their own.
They came with various waves of immigrants from various lands, because they were familiar and comforting, and, let’s be honest, because that’s what they knew how to cook. They cooked them at home for their families and in the restaurants they started as businesses, serving them first to their fellow immigrants, then to adventurous American-born eaters. And thus, these foods made their way into more and more kitchens and into supermarkets.
America is the country it is because of immigrants, culturally (and culinarily) richer, smarter, stronger and more diverse. Here at Blue Kitchen, we celebrate immigrants almost daily. Here are some recipes we’ve made over the years that owe much to other cuisines, other cultures.
Spanish chorizo—dense, flavorful pork sausage—paprika, red bell peppers, onion and garlic turn potatoes into the colorful, satisfyingly hearty meal you see above. The technique of “cracking” the potatoes, favored by Spanish cooks, gives them their irregular shape and exposes more surface to let more of the potatoes’ starch thicken the sauce.
“Old Godmother” Spicy Potatoes and Pork
Marion gives potatoes and pork an entirely different spin with a storied Asian condiment created by a middle-aged Chinese widow struggling to feed her children and ultimately creating a billion-dollar business. You’ll find the recipe and the story here.
Roast Leg of Lamb with Moroccan Spice Rub
A rub of fragrant spices and herbs—including cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and saffron—creates a crust of exotic Moroccan flavor for this recipe. You can use the versatile spice rub with other meats and cooking methods too.
Korean Kimchi Pancake with Chicken
A dinner in Rochester, New York inspired Marion to cook this weeknight-quick savory pancake. It makes delicious use of crunchy, spicy kimchi, the Korean national dish.
Roast Chicken Provençal
I am a huge fan of herbes de Provence. But even for me, this recipe for chicken thighs roasted with shallots, lemons and garlic sounded like it called for way too much of this French herb mix. Actually, it was spot on.
Vietnamese Beef Stew
On the rare occasions our vegetarian daughter craves meat, she says it is this delicious, aromatic, meaty stew she desires. Eaten with a fork (not chopsticks) and served with a baguette, its inspiration stretches back to when Vietnam was called French Indochina.
Lamb Chops with Potatoes, Peas and Cumin
And finally, here’s another example of how American home cooks are consummate borrowers. For Marion and me, anyway, it’s often less about painstakingly recreating a dish from another culture and more about using their ingredients and techniques to inspire something. Here cumin, turmeric and chili powder give this quick, one-pot meal of braised lamb chops, potatoes and peas a delicious Indian twist.