rubi lopez web.jpg

Unit: II MEF Support Battalion

Length of Service: 2 years

Hometown: Snowhills, North Carolina

What do you enjoy most about cooking?

“Knowing you’re going to get a different meal every time. You have a chance to make it better than it has been before. I also like the fact that, once you’ve prepared it, you get to see people who will be satisfied with it. If it does need a tweak you’ll be able to do that again moving forward… You can eat your mistakes too, but when you move forward you can change it up.”

What influenced you to become a cook?

“My mother was the biggest influence. She was a big fan of cooking. You rarely saw her outside of the kitchen. She will find something to make or she will go on the Internet and find something to cook. Another person growing up was one of my step-grandmothers. She always enjoyed cooking. When I was with them you could see how happy they were cooking and they always asked for feedback. Growing up we always had Hispanic food and Indian food.”

What’s your favorite type of dish?

“I really base off what I feel like that day, what looks good to me. A lot of Marines say we eat with our eyes first… recently in the competition I went to, there was one specific dish I got assigned to (which I brought today).”

What’s one thing people should have in their kitchens?

“A cook’s knife, a spatula and tasting spoons. You always want to test your food before you put it out. If I wouldn’t want to eat it, why would I give it to the Marines? With a spatula, you’re using it for more than just flipping stuff around… It depends on what kind of pan you are cooking in and what kind of food you are cooking. A metal spatula and a rubber spatula are different. I had a sergeant tell me, when I was a lance corporal, that the taste of a dish can change from using a rubber spatula.”

What do you like most about the recipe you’re providing?

“The process of cooking it. The way that all the ingredients come together is really cool. It was my first time cooking with wine which was interesting. I’d never really done that before and seeing the process and how much it changes the flavor was interesting. When it comes to the carrot puree you have to be careful not to add too much salt or heavy cream. It’s really easy to overpower the flavor if you do. The pan sauce is a process too, working with the wine and a whole (chicken) carcass. The flavor ends up being this really great mix of all the things you put into it.”

Herb Mousseline Chicken with Carrot Puree and Mushroom Pan Sauce

Ingredients:

4 airline chicken breast

2 eggs

2 oz tarragon, parsley, thyme and chives

1-1/4 cup heavy cream

6 oz carrots

3 cup chicken stock

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup onion

1 cup red wine

1 chicken carcass

Mushrooms (as needed)

INSTRUCTIONS

Yields 4 servings

Herb Mousseline Chicken

1. Scrape dark meat from chicken breast into rough squares and mix with herbs.

2. Process herb mixture, adding whites of 2 eggs (save yolks). Transfer processed mixture to a bowl with ice water on the bottom, add heavy cream and transfer to a piping bag.

3. Place mousseline under chicken’s skin and massage into a natural appearance.

4. Pan roast the chicken skin side down. After you flip it once, toss it with butter, rosemary and garlic. Finish in the oven while prepping the rest of the meal.

Carrot Puree

1) Poach Carrots in 1 cup chicken stock until tender.

2) Transfer to blender and mix with heavy cream. Hold for service.

Mushroom Pan sauce

1) Put chicken carcass in a pan with oil to roast for a few minutes.

2) When carcass finishes, add onions and roast for an additional 10 minutes.

3) Add tomato paste, waiting for it to turn a dark mahogany color.

4) Deglaze pan with red wine and reduce.

5) Add chicken stock and reduce by 1/2 in pan. Strain into a clean saucepan and add mushrooms.

Editor’s note: This dish was served with duchesse potato and sauteed asparagus during this year’s 2nd Quarterly Culinary Team Competition