The Dish: Chef Ken Oringer

Ken Oringer is a chef with globally inspired food and an increasingly international reach. Born in New Jersey, Oringer loved great restaurants and after college decided to make cooking his career. He worked for star chefs like David Burke and Jean George before starting his own global brand.

Working with fellow chef and business partner Jamie Jamie Bissonnette their JK Food Group runs Boston's Coppa and Little Donkey and their best-known venture Toro, a tapas bar that now has locations in Boston, New York, Bangkok and Dubai. 

Here are some of Oringer's signature recipes: 

Pickle brine fried chicken sandwich

Ingredients

8 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs 3 oz. each
4 cups pickle brine (recipe below)
4 cups fried chicken dredge (recipe below)
8 cups vegetable oil
1 ripe avocado
1 cup hidden valley ranch
8 martins potato rolls
1 cup pickled jalapeños (recipe below)
2 cups papaya slaw (recipe below)

For the pickle brine:
8 cups buttermilk
½ cup kimchi base
3 tablespoons salt
3 eggs
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Fried chicken dredge:
6 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 2/3 cups cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon salt
2 ½ tablespoon Korean chili flake
2 tablespoons black sesame seed
2 tablespoons roasted sesame seed

For the pickle brine: 
8 cups buttermilk 
½ cup kimchi base 
3 tablespoons salt 
3 eggs 
2 tablespoons paprika 
2 tablespoons black pepper 
2 teaspoons garlic powder 
2 teaspoons dried oregano 
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the pickled jalapenos:
6 jalapenos
1 cup sugar
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup water  

Papaya slaw: 
1 green papaya
1 tablespoon garlic, pressed into paste in a mortar and pestle
4 thai bird chili, pressed into paste in a mortar and pestle
3 tablespoons palm sugar, pressed into paste in a mortar and pestle
3 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons cilantro  

Directions

1. Whisk together all pickle brine ingredients.

2. Cover chicken thighs with pickle brine, wrap in plastic and let sit at least 24 hours in refrigerator before cooking. Heat oil to 350 in a deep pot.

3. Slice jalapeños, wear disposable plastic gloves when you do this. Over high heat, bring sugar, rice vinegar and water to a boil. Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl over jalapeños. Let soak until cool. Transfer to a glass jar with liquid. Store in refrigerator.

4. Slice the papaya on a French mandolin with the medium tooth blade attached. Combine all other slaw ingredients in a mixing bowl. Squeeze papaya while combining to help absorb ingredients. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

5. Mix together dredge ingredients and dip chicken thighs in dredge until covered completely. Fry for 4 minutes submerged in oil. Remove and let cool on a plate lined with paper towels.

6. Scoop out avocado and combine with hidden valley ranch until mixed well. Open a Martins potato roll and build sandwich by placing pickled jalapeños on the bottom slice, then the chicken on top of them and a nice scoop of papaya slaw on top of that. Spread the avocado ranch generously across the top bun. Repeat for all the sandwiches. Close and serve. 

Charred sweet potato 

Ingredients

4 sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup mole (recipe below)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
½ cup coconut granola
¼ cup scallions, chopped 

Mole sauce ingredients

5 white Spanish onions, quartered
5 poblano peppers
2 1-inch knobs of ginger
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 cloves
¼ cup nutmeg
1 1/3 cup sesame seeds
½ cup almonds
½ cup peanuts
½ cup pepitas
1 cup walnuts
2 cups guajillo chili
1 cup ancho chili
4 cups arbol chilis
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup golden raisins
20 tomatillos
4 cups tomato
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups dark Mexican chocolate, chopped

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350. Roast the sweet potatoes in the oven whole, until cooked through, about 25- 40 minutes. Remove, and slice in half.

2. Heat a skillet to medium high. Place the halved sweet potatoes meat side down for 2-3 minutes until blackened. Flip and char on skin side for a moment. Remove from heat.

3. Combine the sour cream with lime juice, salt, pepper until incorporated. Prepare the sweet potatoes to serve by shmearing the top, blackened side, with mole. Add dots of crema, dots of molasses, sprinkle of granola and finish with the scallions.

For mole sauce:

1. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Brush with olive oil. Place onions, poblano peppers and ginger on grill pan until blackened, about 4-5 minutes turning once. Preheat oven to 310 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large saucepan of water to boil.

2. Combine cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and sesame seeds. Spread on a baking sheet and toast in oven dry for 1 minute. Remove from baking sheet to cool. Combine the almonds, peanuts, pepitas and walnuts, and toast on baking sheet in oven for 2 minutes. Remove to cool.

3. Place the guajillo, ancho and arbol chilis on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 minutes each. Remove from oven and steep in boiling water for half an hour. Place the garlic cloves on a baking sheet and roast until brown, about 10-12 minutes.

4. In a large blender, combine the charred vegetables, chilis, nuts and spices with the raisins, tomatillos, tomato and sugar. Blend until smooth.

5. Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add oil until it is about ¼ inch in the pan, and heat until it reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour in the blended mixture, very carefully (it will pop in the oil), and mix constantly so it doesn't burn. Once combined with oil add chocolate, mix until melted. Remove from heat and let cool. Blend the entire mixture again. Serve.

Octopus a la plancha with charred onion vinaigrette and potato tostones

Ingredients

1 octopus, 4-6 pounds 
2 cups of vegetable oil 
1 onion, chopped 
4 garlic cloves, peeled 
1 fresno chili 
2 celery sticks, chopped 
2 fresh bay leaves 
10 sprigs of thyme 
2 pounds fingerling potatoes 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 cup Charred Onion Vinaigrette (recipe below) 
1 tablespoon fresh oregano 
8 lemon wedges 

For charred onion vinaigrette 

1 octopus, 4-6 pounds 
2 cups of vegetable oil 
1 onion, chopped 
4 garlic cloves, peeled 
1 fresno chili 
2 celery sticks, chopped 
2 fresh bay leaves 
10 sprigs of thyme 
2 pounds fingerling potatoes 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 cup Charred Onion Vinaigrette (recipe below) 
1 tablespoon fresh oregano 
8 lemon wedges   

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 315 degrees Fahrenheit. If imported or frozen, soak octopus in ice cold water for a few hours.

2. Heat a cast iron, or oven safe, sauce pot to medium high and add oil. Place the onion, garlic, fresno chili, celery, bay leaves and thyme. Heat the vegetables until they are turning slightly golden, after about 4-5 minutes. Add octopus and move to oven. Cook for 25-30 minutes.

3. Remove and test the octupus' tenderness by using a cake tester or knife, when inserted and easily removed it is done.

4. Move octopus over to a new pot, strain the liquid out of the hot pot carefully and add to liquid to new pot with octopus, discard vegetables. Place entire pot into a large mixing bowl filled with ice water to cool down. Remove octopus and set aside.

5. Place pot with liquid on medium high until boils, turn down to a simmer. Add potatoes and cook 25-30 minutes until potatoes are tender and can be broken with a fork. Remove potatoes, discard liquid. Let potatoes air dry. Once they are cooled, smash them with heels of palms until flat to form tostones.

6. To prepare the octopus, cut the head off the octopus and cut the beak, or mouth, out (it almost feels like a shell). Then slice the tentacles into 8 portions. In a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil and place 1 tentacle and 3 pieces of potato to create caramelization, cook about 3-4 minutes on each side, making sure pieces are browning but not burning.

7. To serve, lay tostones on the plate and add octopus tentacles directly on top. Drizzle the charred onion vinaigrette over each entire tentacle letting it fall onto the potatoes as well. Garnish with fresh oregano and lemon wedges.

8. Heat a skillet to medium high heat and tablespoon of olive oil. Cook onions until blackened, 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove and add green onions, until black, about 3-4 minutes.

9. Finely chop charred onions with the olives. Add lemon rings and oregano and contine to finely chop. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl salt to desired taste. 

Cucumber salad

Ingredients

12 Persian cucumbers
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons salt, plus to taste
2 teaspoons pepper
6 baby sweet bell peppers
2 small chili peppers, finely chopped
¼ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup high quality, whole fat Greek yogurt
½ cup tomatillo salsa (recipe below)
½ goat feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons pea shoots
Pinch of sumac 

For the tomatillo salsa:
2 tablespoons oil
2 white onions, quartered
2 jalapenos
24 tomatillos
12 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bunch cilantro
5 tablespoons cider vinegar
15 sprigs of mint
1 teaspoon salt 

Directions

1. Slice cucumbers, length wise, thinly on mandolin, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Marinate the cucumbers for about an hour in olive oil, three tablespoons lemon juice, one teaspoon lemon zest and 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.

2. Heat a grill pan to medium high heat and brush with olive oil. Place the baby sweet bell peppers on the grill four 4 minutes on each side, or until soft. Remove, let cool and dice. Marinate with chili peppers, sherry vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.

3. Mix Greek yogurt with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Schmear seasoned Greek yogurt over half of the serving plate, and the other half with the tomatillo salsa. Roll up cucumbers and stand them all on top of the sauces. Sprinkle over the top the marinated baby peppers, crumbled goat feta, pea shoots, sumac and the remaining lemon zest.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat, brush with oil. Place onions on grill pan, cook until blackened, 6-8 minutes on each side. Place jalapenos on whole until blackened, 6-8 minutes. Place tomatillos on the grill pan whole until black, about 4 minutes on each side, until bursting.

5. Roast garlic in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until brown. Wear plastic gloves when handling the jalapeños. Cut the jalapeno stems off. 

6. Combine the cooked ingredients and remaining ingredients in a blender. Add salt to taste. Let salsa come to room temperature before serving.

The one in a grapefruit

Ingredients

6 ounces Lime Infused Tequila*
2 ounces Pamplemousse
¾ ounce Creme de Cacao
4 ounces Grapefruit Juice
Pinch of Kosher Salt
4 lime slices 

Directions

1. Mix together in a shaker, pour over ice into 4 hollowed-out grapefruits. Garnish each with a lime wheel.