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Secrets of an Executive Chef

BU’s Walter Dunphy on an easy and healthy winter meal


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Click on the video above to see chef Walter Dunphy prepare an easy, delicious winter meal. Download a transcript of the audio here.

Move over, Iron Chefs. BU has its own culinary king: executive chefWalter Dunphy, who is appearing before the cameras to prepare ahealthful and scrumptious midwinter meal for BU Today‘s audience. Dunphy makes a meal whose recipe he created especiallyfor the BU community, one that features the traditional flavors of a New Englandwinter: pan-seared chicken with sage over a salad of warm wild rice,butternut squash, and sun-dried fruit, accompanied by sautéed haricotsverts.

Therecipe follows guidelines established by BU’s Sargent Choice program, athree-year-old nutritional and culinary collaboration between thedietitians at Sargent College’s Nutrition & Fitness Center and the chefs at BU’s Dining Services.Using whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, leanproteins, and heart-healthy oils, Sargent’s nutritionists createhealthy and delicious (that’s insisted upon) recipes for baked goods,sandwiches, pizzas, soups, and even desserts. Then Dining Servicesprepares them for sale in retail outlets and at dining halls acrosscampus, where they’ve become a familiar and healthy alternative tocheese fries or mystery Chinese.

“The greatthing about this meal is that it’s relatively easy to put together, butit seems complex when you deliver it to your family,” Dunphy says.“They’ll think you’re kind of a pro. And it’s also very healthy.”

Dunphy,a chef for more than 20 years, oversees several hundred culinaryemployees, supervises a catering staff that runs more than 4,000 eventsannually, and heads all campus-wide culinary initiatives. He hasprepared meals for many dignitaries and celebrities, includingPresident George W. Bush, poet and author Maya Angelou, former FirstLady Barbara Bush (Hon.’89), Prince El Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan, andOprah Winfrey.

We asked Chef Walter Dunphy for his recipes for Pan-Seared Chicken over a Salad of Warm Wild Rice, Butternut Squash, and Sun-Dried Fruit, sided by Sautéed Haricots Verts. He shares his secrets below.

Pan-Seared Chicken with Sage
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (4 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 teaspoon white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon finely minced sage
1 teaspoon minced flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup apple cider

Set a 12-inch sauté pan (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat andadd the olive oil. Season the chicken breast with kosher salt and 1/8teaspoon of the fresh ground white pepper. Sprinkle with the fresh-cutherbs and lightly press. With your hand, lightly dust the chickenbreasts with the white whole wheat flour. Place the chicken herbed sidedown in the pan and sear while shaking it to keep loose until thechicken becomes caramelized and golden in color, about 3 to 4 minutes,then flip chicken breast and add apple cider, cooking for another 2 to3 minutes and allowing cider to reduce a bit. Lower the flame and allowchicken to poach in the cider reduction for about another 3 minutes.Check for an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Salad of warm wild rice, butternut squash, and sun-dried fruit

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut to half-inch dice
3/8 cup sun-dried cranberries
1/4 cup Vidalia onion, small dice
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon finely minced sage
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup sun-dried apricots, julienned (garnish)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Place dried cranberries in a bowl, cover with cider, and allow to rehydrate for 20 minutes.

Placesquash in a 4-quart saucepan and cover with cool water. Place over amedium-high flame and bring to a simmer; allow to cook for about 10minutes or until just fork tender. Remove from heat, strain in acolander, and run cool water over them to stop the cooking.

Heata 12-inch nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat and add oil. AddVidalia onions, moving constantly so they do not burn, and cook untiltranslucent, about 2 to 3 minutes; add squash. Remove berries with aslotted spoon, reserving the liquid, and add the berries to the pan,shaking often. Season with salt, pepper, and sage and cook for 2 moreminutes. Add the reserved liquid from the cranberries and allowreducing by 2/3, about 3 more minutes. Remove and allow the squash tocool.

Wild rice

2/3 cup long-grain wild rice
3 cups water

Rinsewild rice in a sieve under cold water and then combine with cold waterto cover by 2 inches in a 5-quart pot. Simmer, covered, until tender,45 minutes to an hour. Add water if needed. Rice should be slightly aldente.

Combine with butternut squash mixture and hold warm for service.

Haricots verts

4 cups haricots verts (snipped and washed)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

Ina medium sauté pan over high heat, add oil, bring to a high heat but notsmoking, and add beans. Sauté, shaking and flipping occasionally forabout 3 minutes. Add a ladle or two of water and season and cook for anadditional 2 minutes until bright and tender. The beans should remainslightly crisp to the tooth.

In the center of the plate, place 1 cup of the wild rice salad and 1cup of the haricots verts. Using a sharp knife cut each chicken breastinto three slices on the bias and place over the top of the vegetables.Sauce with the remaining apple cider reduction and garnish with thejulienned dried apricot.

Serves 4
Approximate cooking time 25 minutes

Nutrition facts per serving:
420 calories
7g total fat (1 gram saturated fat)
60g carbohydrates (8 grams fiber)
33g protein
520mg sodium
(Percent of daily vitamins)
Vitamin A 170%
Vitamin C 60
Calcium 10
Iron 20

This story originally ran in the Winter 2008–2009 issue of Bostonia magazine.



3 Comments on Secrets of an Executive Chef

  • Anonymous on 01.30.2009 at 10:08 am

    Looks delicious! I’m going to try out the recipe this weekend. BU Today should feature a recipe and video every month.

  • Anonymous on 01.30.2009 at 12:28 pm

    looks great!

  • San Francisco DUI lawyer on 02.13.2009 at 7:08 pm

    I’ve always wondered what exactly executive chefs do. Does being executive mean you’re supervising the cooking and not actually doing much cooking yourself? I’m pretty sure they don’t do any chopping or mundane tasks, but I’d be curious to know the details.

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