Kokopelli may still be exorcising the club vibe from its earlier incarnations but chef Gina Rodriguez impresses Adam Erace with her skill.
Like how to coax the most flavor from Anaheim chilies (fire-roast them), which account for the jade tint and easygoing heat of Rodriguez’s chicken stew. “Every year, the whole family would roast huge batches of Anaheims, and my mom would always pair them with chicken,” she explains. “Adam [Solomon] told me, ‘Make your mother’s chicken.’” This is it, a small bowl with big flavor thanks to the Anaheim purÃ©e stirred into a Jack-cheese-and-cream gravy. The chicken is pulled from breasts braised in a tea of cilantro stems, garlic and “house spice,” a Southwestern ras el hanout (cayenne, cumin and Mexican oregano are among the 15 aromatics) that forms the backbone of many of Rodriguez’s recipes. Veined with minced jalapeÃ±o or serrano, the accompanying mini muffin charmed â€” Rodriguez runs a cornbread clinic, her versions neither too sweet nor too savory, too dry nor too moist.