Iconic Arizona Restaurant Recipes

Leah LeMoineJanuary 1, 2013
Share This

Iconic Arizona Restaurant Recipes

Leeks with mozzarella and egg at FnB
Chef Charleen Badman’s recipe for braised leeks with mozzarella and egg is a rags-to-riches story. “I like to take vegetables that people don’t like and present it to them in a way they haven’t tried it before,” Badman says. She tasted a similar dish during a stint in New York City before introducing her version as a special at FnB in 2009. But she felt something was missing. Finally, she struck upon the idea of adding crunchy, mustardy bread crumbs to balance the softness and fattiness of the egg and mozzarella. Food & Wine took notice, giving the recipe rave reviews, and a star dish was born. “I want it to still have that special feeling even if it is a signature dish,” Badman says, which is why the menu item is seasonal and debuts when the leeks from McClendon’s Select are ready to harvest, usually in October. “[Waiting] makes you hungry for it. I want you to crave it.”


12 medium leeks
Small bunch of thyme
1 lemon, sliced
8 ounces whole-milk fresh mozzarella, chopped
4-6 eggs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying eggs
Salt and pepper
1 cup water

Mustard crumbs:
1 cup dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons parsley, coarsely chopped
Zest of 1/2 a lemon

Preheat your oven to 400° F. Trim off the root end and tough upper greens from leeks. Cut leeks in half lengthwise. Rinse in a bowl of cold water, then remove leeks to strain. 

Heat a large sauté pan and add olive oil. Sauté the leeks cut side down, season with salt and pepper, and brown (approximately 2-3 minutes). Add the thyme leaves, sliced lemon and water to the pan. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Braise for 10 minutes. Remove leeks from the pan until they are cool to the touch. Cut the leeks in half, place them in a casserole dish and top with chopped mozzarella. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and heated through. You can set the oven to broil for the last 2-3 minutes to brown the cheese. 

While the leeks are in the oven, mix all mustard crumb ingredients together. Remove the casserole from the oven and set aside. Fry eggs in the remaining oil, sunny-side up. Evenly distribute the eggs on top of the casserole and top with the mustard crumbs. Burst the “bubbles of love” (egg yolks) with a teaspoon, drizzle the yolks over the dish and serve. 

Makes 1 shareable serving (4-6 people)

                                •          •          •          •          •

Chimayo chicken at Richardson’s
You know a signature dish has staying power when it survives 22 years, a restaurant’s fiery demise and its phoenix-like rebirth. The chimayo chicken at Richardson’s has lasted through it all and is so famed that diners will order it without knowing what it is, based on reputation alone. “There’s no necessity to change anything or add anything,” says Arturo Perez, a chef who has worked in owner Richardson Browne’s restaurants (he’s currently at the Rokerij) for more than 20 years. “There’s been times when [Browne] has taken things off the menu, but there’s one exception: the chimayo chicken.” The New Mexican spin on stuffed chicken bursts with contrasting and complementary flavors, from salty, nutty asiago to smoky roasted poblanos. “Once you try it,” Perez says, “you like it.”

2 7-ounce double-lobe chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 poblano pepper – roasted, skinned, seeded and sliced into thin slivers
4-5 ounces shredded asiago
6 sundried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for 15-20 minutes to rehydrate
4 ounces fresh baby spinach
Ground parmesan
Salt and pepper
Flour tortilla

For roasted onion sauce:
3 roasted onions, cut in half
1 cup white wine
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup water

For roasted red bell pepper sauce:
6 red bell peppers – roasted, skinned, seeded, and sliced
1/2 a red onion
1 jalapeño pepper, peeled and seeded
1 cup red wine
Salt and pepper

For the chicken: Pound chicken breasts with a meat mallet on both sides until 1/4-inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Put 2 ounces spinach, 3 sundried tomatoes, half the poblano and 2 to 2 1/2 ounces asiago cheese on each chicken breast. Fold and tuck the chicken around the stuffing. Sprinkle with parmesan.
Broil until golden and crusty on top. Bake 5-6 minutes more or until cooked all the way through. If the chicken gets too dark, cover with a bit of foil.
For roasted onion sauce: Bring white wine to a boil. Add garlic and onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add water and bring to a slow boil. Cook until all ingredients are tender. Cool and blend in a blender or food processor. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
For roasted red bell pepper sauce: Put all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a slow boil, then simmer until peppers and onion are tender. Add a bit more wine or water if the sauce is reducing too much. Cool and blend in a blender or food processor. Check seasoning.
Lay a flour tortilla on a plate. Ladle onion sauce onto tortilla, then place chicken on top. Ladle red pepper sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with parmesan.
For an authentic side dish, stuff a seedless and deveined Anaheim chile with mashed potato and roast.
Makes 2 servings

                                •          •          •          •          •

Carne adovada at Los Dos Molinos
The phrase “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” is bandied about a lot in food writing, but at Los Dos Molinos, where the New Mexican heat has induced chile-perfumed tears for more than 20 years, it’s alarmingly apt. Their nationally-acclaimed (a Food Network spot and Zagat award, among other notices) and locally-beloved carne adovada is no exception. The spicy, smoky, country-style dish tingles the taste buds with its powerful chile punch and sumptuous tenderness. “If you’re from New Mexico, it’s like coming home,” says Dominique De La Paz, third-generation owner of the restaurant founded by her grandparents, Eddie and Victoria Chavez. “Our motto is ‘Some like it hot.’”

6 to 8 pounds pork loin, cut into 2- to 3-inch cubes
1/2 cup New Mexico chile powder
1/2 cup New Mexico chile flakes
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons garlic salt
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 Spanish onions, chopped
2 cups chicken or beef broth

Put all ingredients in a Dutch oven. Cook, uncovered, on low for 4 hours. Turn off the heat and check for doneness, but do not stir. Serve meat unadorned with rice and beans or in your favorite preparation – tacos, enchiladas, burritos, etc. De La Paz recommends eating it New Mexican-style: stacked enchiladas with a fried egg on top.

Makes 10-12 servings

                                •          •          •          •          •

Stetson chopped salad at Cowboy Ciao
“Most customers can’t believe we’re giving the recipe out,” says general manager Rich Furnari. “They expect us to guard it like gold or our first-born child.” The chopped salad is so popular that Cowboy Ciao has the recipe saved in its point-of-sale system and will gladly print out a receipt-sized copy for anyone who asks. What’s so special about a measly salad, which in most hands would be a pedestrian assemblage of greens doused with dressing? The mélange of ingredients (developed during Bernie Kantak’s tenure as Cowboy Ciao’s head chef) is elevated by the quality and interplay of flavors, Furnari says. “It’s a surprising blend of flavors with so many different dimensions. It’s a phenomenon, really. You can tell when people are here for the salad. It’s what we do. It’s our thing.”

2 ounces Israeli or “pearl” couscous, cooked
2 ounces chopped arugula
2 ounces diced roma tomatoes
1 1/2 ounces smoked salmon
1 1/2 ounces asiago cheese
1/2 ounce pepitas
1/2 ounce black currants
1 ounce super sweet dried corn

For pesto-buttermilk dressing:
1/2 cup pesto
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 cup aioli
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 a lemon, juice only
Salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing: Add the first three ingredients to a food processor and blend thoroughly. With the motor running, pour in the buttermilk. Add remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad: Combine the pepitas, asiago and black currants. Arrange salad ingredients in separate rows on a large platter. Pour dressing to taste and mix. Store remaining dressing in the refrigerator.

Makes 2 servings

                                •          •          •          •          •

Chiles en nogada at Barrio Café
To Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, a bit of chiles en nogada tastes like independence. The seasonal dish makes its triumphant return every year on September 16, Mexico’s Independence Day – fitting for a dish that was created by nuns to celebrate Mexico’s victory over Spain in the battle of Veracruz in 1810. The chile, stuffed with chicken, nuts and dried fruit and topped with a creamy sauce, marries Mexican ingredients and culinary sensibility with European technique. After trying countless versions in Mexico, Esparza perfected her own signature version. “It’s a dish I identify with, and I’m proud of it,” Esparza says. “It’s an opportunity to impress somebody with the elegance of Mexican food.” 

4 poblano peppers, roasted and peeled
2 skinless chicken breasts, diced into small pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried apricots
1 tablespoon diced apple
1 tablespoon diced pears
1 tablespoon golden raisins
1 tablespoon cranberries
1 tablespoon diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

For sauce:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup white wine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup almonds, ground
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro and pomegranate seeds for garnish

To roast peppers: Cook over gas flame until charred, or broil in oven. Let cool, then peel.
To cook chicken: Heat a large skillet on high. Add oil, and when hot, add diced chicken. Sauté until chicken starts to turn white. Add diced onions and sauté until onions are translucent. Add chopped garlic, apricots and all of the fresh and dried fruit. Sauté for one minute. Add tomato paste and sauté until paste has covered all of the ingredients. Add white wine and sugar and continue to cook until chicken is tender. Season to taste. Stuff peppers with chicken-fruit mix and broil a few minutes to warm through, being careful not to burn the peppers.
To make sauce: In a sauté pan, add oil and shallots and sauté until the shallots are translucent. Add garlic and sauté until garlic has turned a light caramel color. Add wine and reduce until almost gone. Add heavy cream and simmer until reduced in half. Adjust seasoning and finish with almonds.
To serve: Pour sauce on plates, set stuffed peppers on top and garnish with cilantro and pomegranate seeds.
Makes 4 servings

                                •          •          •          •          •

Hanger steak at Christopher’s
Chef Christopher Gross hesitates to call his hanger steak – a French bistro and brasserie staple – a signature dish, though he humbly admits it’s a classic, like the little black dress of bistro fare. “It’s always been popular with people in food,” Gross says. “It’s been called the ‘butcher’s steak,’ because it was the least attractive cut in the butcher’s window. They wouldn’t sell it, so they’d take it home and eat it.” Since Gross became the first in Arizona to put it on a menu, in the early 1990s, the cut’s popularity has dramatically increased. Paola Embry, Gross’ business partner, enjoys pairing the steak with pommes frites and wine and recommends a 2010 Pascual Toso Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina for an everyday wine or a 2005 Château Lafon-Rochet Saint Estèphe from Bordeaux for a splurge.

4 8-ounce hanger steaks
1 teaspoon canola oil   
1 teaspoon butter

For shallots:
4 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 cup sliced shallots

For rosemary pesto:
6 garlic cloves
6 basil leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

For red wine sauce:
3 cups red wine
3 tablespoons peeled and chopped shallots
4 grinds of black pepper
3 cups veal or chicken stock
2 or more tablespoons unsalted butter
1 sprig fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

For rosemary pesto: Puree or chop all dry ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix with olive oil.
For red wine sauce: Sauté shallots. Add red wine and reduce by 3/4. Add stock and thyme and reduce by half, or until stock gets slightly thick and coats the back of a spoon. Whisk in the butter and season to taste.
For steak: Grill or sauté steak in canola oil and butter. Baste with rosemary pesto until desired temperature.
For shallots: In a sauté pan, brown the butter. Add shallots. Cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the steaks on plates and top with the shallots. Drizzle the red wine sauce around the steaks.
Makes 4 servings

For more than 50 years, PHOENIX magazine's experienced writers, editors, and designers have captured all sides of the Valley with award-winning and insightful writing, and groundbreaking report and design. Our expository features, narratives, profiles, and investigative features keep our 385,000 readers in touch with the Valley's latest trends, events, personalities and places.