cover image My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef

My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef

Kwame Onwuachi, with Joshua David Stein. Knopf, $35 (304p) ISBN 978-0-525-65960-0

Chef Onwuachi (Notes from a Young Black Chef) brings his ancestry and formal training at the Culinary Institute of America to bear on the flavors of Nigeria, Louisiana, and the Bronx in this inspiring celebration of soul food recipes. He foreshadows the fiery dishes to come with an opening section of spice blends that includes jerk powder with ground habanero, and a “peppa” sauce that calls for 50 Scotch bonnet peppers per quart. Each recipe lists its country of origin, making for intriguing comparisons. A Nigerian chicken in red stew made with a spicy tomato sauce, for instance, appears next to a Jamaican brown stew chicken sweetened with a heavily caramelized sugar sauce, while the amaranth greens in a Jamaican callaloo contrast with the taro leaves of Trinidadian callaloo that are simmered in unsweetened coconut cream. A seafood chapter focuses on the American South, with such familiar cajun and creole dishes as crawfish pie, shrimp étouffée, and seafood gumbo. Meat lovers, meanwhile, can settle back with smothered pork chops, try their hand at homemade Jamaican beef patties, or indulge in a burger inspired by the Big Mac but upgraded via a blend of brisket, short rib, and chuck, then topped with jerk bacon. One man’s unique gastronomic journey proves universally appealing in this hearty collection. (May)