From the popular TV cooking competition series, Top Chef. CHEF: Sara M. SEASON 3, EPISODE 5 ELIMINATION CHALLENGE: Prepare a Latin lunch for the cast of a telenovela.


  • For the Black Beans:
  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 1/2 quarts low-sodium vegetable stock or water, or more if needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Poblanos:
  • 10 medium poblano chiles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 yellow squash, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked long-grain white rice
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more leaves for garnish
  • For the Avocado Butter:
  • 4 Hass avocados, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • For the Roasted Pepper Sauce:
  • 3 red bell peppers, seeded and quartered
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lime, or more to taste


For the Black Beans:

Soak the beans overnight in enough cold water to cover; drain.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add the stock, beans and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are tender but not falling apart, adding more stock if necessary to keep the beans covered, and occasionally skimming the foam from the surface. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Poblanos:

Roast the chiles directly over a gas flame, turning with tongs until blackened. Place in a heat-proof bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 20 minutes. Remove the blackened skin. Make a lengthwise slit and remove the seeds and ribs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, zucchini, squash and garlic and sauté until just softened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a large bowl and fold in the rice, raisins and cilantro.

Stuff the poblanos with the rice mixture and place them in two 9 x 11-inch baking dishes. Cover the dishes with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes, or until heated through.

For the Avocado Butter:

Puree 3 of the avocados, the milk, oil, and salt in a blender until smooth.

For the Roasted Pepper Sauce:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

In a large roasting pan, toss the red peppers, onion, tomatoes and garlic with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the vegetables are very soft, about 25 minutes.

Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and lime juice. Taste and season with more salt and pepper or lime juice if necessary. Set aside.

To Serve:

Spoon some of the pepper sauce onto each of 10 serving plates. Spoon on some beans, then place the stuffed peppers on the plates and put a dollop of the avocado butter and a slice of avocado on each plate. Serve, garnished with cilantro leaves.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Chronicle 2008. All rights reserved.

RecID 9950

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