With the governor’s stay-at-home orders still in place and more people eating at home instead of going out, local chefs shared their favorite recipes they make at home.

Chef Matthew Jensen from La Ferme in downtown Alexandria shared his recipe for Pad Thai because he said it is so versatile.

“I love this recipe,” he said. “It’s easy to use fresh ingredients that change throughout the seasons. You can choose to keep this vegetarian or add the meat of your choice. Plus, eating with chopsticks makes it interactive and fun.”

Jensen said since his family doesn’t get to go out to eat right now during the coronavirus pandemic and he doesn’t get the pleasure of cooking dinner for guests at his restaurant right now, his family got dressed up this past weekend and he made a three-course dinner at home. He added that his Pad Thai was the main entree.

Chef Matt Ohren, head chef and co-owner of The Garden Bar on 6th, shared his recipe for Hawaiian Pork.

“This is my quarantine creation,” said Ohren. “With summer just around the corner, it is fun to be creative with fresh flavors.”

Patrick Sieve from Traveler’s Inn and Nice Juicery said chicken thighs are very underrated and underutilized.

“They are absolutely delicious and, in my chaotic world, I can get away with making them pretty quickly,” said Sieve. “There are a couple of different ways to make these, but I prefer the Instant Pot because, well, it cuts the time in half.”

Matthew Jensen is head chef and owner of La Ferme in downtown Alexandria. He said the flames in his dish were just for fun, but unless you are trained professional chef, do not try that part at home. (Contributed)
Matthew Jensen is head chef and owner of La Ferme in downtown Alexandria. He said the flames in his dish were just for fun, but unless you are trained professional chef, do not try that part at home. (Contributed)

Pad Thai – Chef Matthew Jensen

Ingredients:

1 package flat rice noodles

1/2 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos (soy sauce)

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoon Sriracha (Southeast Asian chile sauce)

1 bunch scallions

4 large shallots

1 package firm tofu

1/2 cup peanut oil

6 large eggs

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cup bean sprouts (1/4 pound)

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Soak noodles in a large bowl of warm water until softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain well in a colander and cover with a dampened paper towel.

Meanwhile, make sauce. Add Bragg, brown sugar and sriracha, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

Cut scallions into thin slices. Cut shallots crosswise into very thin slices.

Rinse tofu, then cut into 1-inch cubes and pat very dry.

Heat oil in wok over medium heat until hot, then fry half of shallots over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden-brown, eight to 12 minutes. Carefully strain that mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl. Reserve the shallot oil and spread fried shallots on paper towels. (Shallots will crisp as they cool.)

Wipe wok clean. Reheat shallot oil in wok over high heat until hot. Fry tofu in one layer, gently turning occasionally, until golden, five to eight minutes. Transfer tofu to paper towels using a slotted spoon. Pour off frying oil and reserve.

Lightly beat eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat 2 tablespoons shallot oil in wok over high heat until it shimmers. Add eggs and swirl to coat the side of wok, then cook, stirring gently with a spatula, until cooked through. Break into chunks with spatula and transfer to a plate.

Heat wok again over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly. Pour in 6 tablespoons of shallot oil, then swirl to coat the side of the wok. Stir-fry scallions, garlic and remaining uncooked shallots until softened, about one minute. Add noodles and stir fry over medium heat (use two spatulas if necessary) three minutes. Add tofu, bean sprouts and sauce and simmer, turning noodles over to absorb sauce evenly, until noodles are tender, about two minutes. Stir in eggs and transfer to a large shallow serving dish. Sprinkle Pad Thai with peanuts and fried shallots and serve with lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, and sriracha.

Matt Ohren is the head chef and co-owner of The Garden Bar on 6th in downtown Alexandria. (Photo courtesy of Heather Scott Photography)
Matt Ohren is the head chef and co-owner of The Garden Bar on 6th in downtown Alexandria. (Photo courtesy of Heather Scott Photography)

Hawaiian Pork – Chef Matt Ohren

Ingredients:

5 pounds pork butt

For marinade:

2 habanero peppers, with seeds, finely chopped

2 jalapeño peppers, with seeds, finely chopped

1 serrano pepper, with seeds, finely chopped

1 pineapple, charred and diced

2 oranges, juiced and zested

4 limes, juiced and zested

1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger

2 cups brown sugar

8 green onions, finely chopped

2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and marinade for 24 hours and then grill to your liking. Or sous vide for 36 hours at 143 degrees. Serves 10 to 12.

Chef Patrick Sieve from Traveler's Inn Restaurant and Nice Juicery has some fun at home while cooking up his honey garlic chicken thighs. (Contributed)
Chef Patrick Sieve from Traveler's Inn Restaurant and Nice Juicery has some fun at home while cooking up his honey garlic chicken thighs. (Contributed)

Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs – Chef Patrick Sieve

Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken thighs

For marinade:

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

1/3 cup honey (from Scott’s Family Honey in Alexandria)

3 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon oregano

2 tablespoons of fresh parsley

Pinch salt and pepper

Directions:

Mix together marinade ingredients and set aside.

In the Instant Pot, sear both sides of the chicken thighs.

Hit sauté on the Instant Pot and add a tablespoon of sesame oil or vegetable oil and let it heat up for a minute. Line the bottom of the pot with the chicken thighs skin side down and sear on each side for about 3-4 minutes. Chicken will render a little fat but don’t worry about draining.

Pour in the marinade evenly making sure no chicken thigh is dry and press the manual function for 20 minutes, put the lid on.

Pop a bottle of red wine, cook some rice or even open a bagged salad, and when the time is up, be careful pulling them out as they are so tender, they fall apart.

Drizzle some of the marinade over the top, hit it with some optional sesame seeds and green onions and boom, dinner.