Best New Chef 2013: Jose Enrique
Best New Chef 2013: Jose Enrique

Jose Enrique

Won Best New Chef At Jose Enrique, San Juan, Puerto Rico Why He’s Amazing Because he’s elevating Puerto Rican cooking, using ingredients from the vast market across the street from his restaurant. The chalkboard menu changes frequently during the evening, based on what the purveyors might bring in during dinner service. Born 1977; San Juan, Puerto Rico Culinary School The Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY) Background Riche (New Orleans), Bili (Vieques, Puerto Rico), San Juan Water Beach Club (San Juan, Puerto Rico), Café Centro (New York City) Quintessential Dish Crispy fried yellowtail snapper with mashed batata (sweet potato) and papaya-avocado salsa How He Got Into Cooking “A lot of people cook in my family. My grandmothers, my dad, my mom; everyone does a couple of great dishes. My uncle would make Thanksgiving—huge turkeys stuffed with blood sausage. It was always fun.” Beloved Cooking Equipment “My dad made his own Caja China. Picture a metal square oven with the heat coming from the top. He’d cook pork. The first few hours the pork is belly up, so all the fat drips down and confits the belly. Then he flips it over and the skin gets blown up and crispy. Kids fight over it. My dad’s Caja China is on wheels, it’s portable, he’ll set it up anywhere.” Bringing It Home Enrique cooked around the world, in Belgium, France and the US, before returning to the neighborhood where he was born, to open his flagship restaurant. Other Projects In San Juan, Enrique also runs Capital, a popular brasserie, and the coffeehouse Miel. In late 2013, he’ll open a restaurant in the eco-minded El Blok hotel in Vieques.Story of Discovery “Until recently, I’d never been blown away by Puerto Rican food; the dishes I’d tried were always a little heavy and a little bland. But Jose Enrique and his bright, sharp, fresh flavors have changed my mind. At his restaurant—a casual place in an old house where weekend parties erupt on the street outside—he writes his menu on white boards, which allows him to add dishes in the middle of service. When I was there, he listed grilled thin swordfish steaks, from a fish that had been delivered just hours before, pairing it with his outstanding hot sauce made from chiles that he confits in oil for hours with garlic and tomatoes. Blood sausage also appeared on the menu. It was deep black and porky, speckled with chunks of delicious fat. Even better were the blood sausage spring rolls I had another night, baked in crisp spring roll wrappers with a serious swath of cream cheese, which melts into a rich sauce. That’s what a Best New Chef does: takes a cuisine you don’t think you like and turns you into a convert.”—Kate Krader
Pineapple Mojitos
Rating: Unrated
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Chef Jose Enrique’s family comes from Cuba, where they were famous for their pineapple soda—it was once the country’s most popular soft drink after Coke. Enrique makes a mojito version of it, using a rich brown sugar–pineapple syrup, rum, mint and club soda. Slideshow:  White Rum Cocktails 
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Chef Jose Enrique created this dish with bonito, a tuna-like fish he often catches while fishing. The phenomenal dressing requires only three ingredients: mustard, cilantro and oil. Slideshow:  More Tuna Recipes 
Chef Jose Enrique often pumps up a classic chimichurri by adding sweet roasted tomatoes. The condiment is great with steak, as well as grilled fish or poultry. Slideshow:  F&W's Summer Grilling Guide 
Instead of serving beans next to the rice, chef Jose Enrique folds them in, along with caramelized peppers and onions and a hit of cumin. Slideshow:  Black Bean Recipes 
JE Hot Sauce
Rating: Unrated
New!
Chef Jose Enrique makes this wonderful hot sauce by confiting chiles, peppers and tomatoes, then pureeing them until creamy. Any leftover braising oil is sensational with pasta or drizzled over chicken or vegetables.
Puerto Rican cooks often stuff baked plantains with ground beef. Instead, chef Jose Enrique likes to contrast the plantains' sweetness with a savory mix of lamb, eggplant, tomatoes and feta. Slideshow:  Latin American Recipes
Chef Jose Enrique’s version of the Puerto Rican classic pernil asado is extra-flavorful because he marinates the pork in lime and orange juices, as well as plenty of garlic, before roasting until the meat is caramelized and crispy. It can be carved, shredded or pulled into large pieces for serving. It’s no wonder that pernil is a traditional Christmas dish that’s ideal for family gatherings.
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This terrific mackerel from chef Jose Enrique has a great array of textures and flavors: flaky fish fillets, airy pieces of fried eggplant and a super spicy garlic-and-citrus mojo sauce. Slideshow:  Quick Fish Recipes 
The shrimp in this recipe can be prepared either on an outdoor grill, or on a grill-pan. Serve with yuca escabeche for a simple summer dish.
Chef Jose Enrique’s version of the Puerto Rican classic pernil asado is extra-flavorful because he marinates the pork in lime and orange juices, as well as plenty of garlic, before roasting until the meat is caramelized and crispy. It can be carved, shredded or pulled into large pieces for serving. It’s no wonder that pernil is a traditional Christmas dish that’s ideal for family gatherings.
This terrific mackerel from chef Jose Enrique has a great array of textures and flavors: flaky fish fillets, airy pieces of fried eggplant and a super spicy garlic-and-citrus mojo sauce. Slideshow:  Quick Fish Recipes 
The shrimp in this recipe can be prepared either on an outdoor grill, or on a grill-pan. Serve with yuca escabeche for a simple summer dish.
Avocado-Green Pea Salsa
Rating: Unrated
New!
This unusual, colorful salsa from chef Jose Enrique combines green peas and creamy diced avocado with a hit of lime. It’s outstanding with baked rice dishes like arroz con pollo. Slideshow:  Salsa Recipes 
Using a family recipe, chef Jose Enrique makes this chicken-and-rice recipe with what seems like too much stock, wine and pilsner, but the result is especially moist. Use short-grain rice like Bomba, which absorbs liquid well. Slideshow:  One-Bowl Rice Dishes 
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Octopus can be tough, but it becomes amazingly tender when it's cooked for a long time. It's quite delicious in Jose Enrique's irresistible pastries. Plus: More Best New Chefs