Lantern Lights the Way to Eating Well

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Photo by Briana Brough.

Although the cuisine on Lantern’s menu is Asian, you won’t find much of that cooking in the kitchen at noon when the staff of about 18 gathers. “Normally, we have Mexican,” Andrea Reusing says. Think chilaquiles and posole, says chef de cuisine and partner Miguel Torres. “We try to have a plan,” he says with a laugh. Today, the plan calls for a hearty one-pot chicken and rice dish, like a paella but without the saffron and more in the southern tradition. This dish will “feed a crowd,” Andrea says. It’s perfect for a family meal at the restaurant or at home. Between 15-year-old Lantern and her new project in the Bull City, The Restaurant at The Durham Hotel, Andrea actually rolls up her sleeves in her home kitchen a couple times a week. “I cook really simple at home,” she says. For her husband, Mac McCaughan, and kids Arthur, 9, and Oona, 13, it is usually a meatless dish, since Mac is a vegetarian. But when she’s by herself, Andrea says she’ll sear up a hanger steak.

And the kids are not afraid to jump in. “They like to come to work with me,” she says. Oona has been lending a hand in Lantern’s office, and Arthur is a big fan of crouton-making.

When asked what she hopes her kids get out of their time in the kitchen, Andrea says, “I hope they’re comfortable with work being integrated into the rest of the lives, and, for cooking, I hope that they can feed themselves.” She has these hopes for other children as well, specifically the 12 to 14 fourth- and fifth-graders she invites into Lantern’s kitchen once a week through their charitable Kitchen Patrol program, collaborating with UNC’s Communiversity Youth Programs. “We cook with the kids and then all eat together,” Andrea says, the goal of which is to “help children discover and improve the skills they need for a lifetime of cooking and eating good food.”

TIP: Rotate your large pan frequently to minimize hot spots.
TIP: Rotate your large pan frequently to minimize hot spots.

Sticky Rice with Chicken, Shrimp and Clams

  • Olive oil as needed
  • 2 21⁄2 lb. skin-on, bone-in chickens, cut into 10 pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 qt. onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 qt. sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 qt. celery, diced
  • 2 qts. short grain rice
  • 1⁄4 cup sweet paprika
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 3 cups white wine
  • 1-2 qts. of shellfish or poultry stock
  • 1 cup wild shrimp, peeled
  • 20-30 clams

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large pan over medium-high, heat several tablespoons of olive oil and sear chicken seasoned with salt and pepper until all sides are evenly golden brown. Remove chicken and lower heat to medium, but do not clean pan. Add onion and cook until soft, then add garlic until lightly toasted. Add peppers and celery and season well with salt and pepper. Be patient when cooking the vegetables – saute until completely cooked, soft and fragrant. Add a bit more oil and lightly toast rice. Add paprika and cayenne, then half the wine. Let wine reduce, then add additional wine to taste. Add stock in batches. For a saucier final product, add more stock. For dry, fluffy rice, use less. Add the dark meat, cover with a tight fitting lid and place in oven for 30 minutes, checking often. At 30 minutes, add white meat chicken, clams and shrimp for about 15 minutes or until finished cooking.

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Laura Zolman Kirk

Associate Editor Laura Zolman Kirk is a Kentuckian turned Chapel Hillian and totally in love with this special slice of North Carolina.
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