As staff nutritionist for the U.S. Ski Team, Allen Tran has cooked hundreds of meals for America’s best and boldest downhill and cross-country skiers. During the summer, at the team’s off-season training center in Park City, Utah, he oversees everything from breakfast to the recovery station, stocked with chocolate milk and homemade granola. In the winter, he’s tasked with cooking the athletes’ favorite recipes while traveling to some 15 events around the world.
His philosophy is simple: flavorful foods, quality ingredients. In the morning, he serves carbohydrates and a small amount of protein, like oatmeal with nuts, to fuel the skiers all day. At night, he turns to ingredients that are high in protein and iron, like lamb and garbanzo beans, to speed athletes’ recovery. “When I plan a menu,” says Tran, “I look for a lean, high-quality protein, slow-burning carbohydrates, and a green vegetable or fruit that’s high in antioxidants.”
At the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, Tran will prepare standbys like flank steak fajitas and “brinner”—breakfast for dinner. Also on the menu: his popular Jamaican jerk chicken with plantains. “Our athletes love big flavors,” says Tran, “and this dish has them.”
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
3 green onions, chopped
1 habanero chile pepper
3 garlic cloves
1/2 inch fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons honey or dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 boneless chicken breasts
1. Combine the first ten ingredients in a food processor and blend to a coarse marinade.
2. With the machine running, add the vinegar, tamari or soy, and oil, and mix thoroughly.
3. Coat the chicken breasts in the marinade and refrigerate overnight.
4. Before cooking, bring the chicken to room temperature (about one hour).
5. Heat grill or oven to medium-high (400 degrees) and cook chicken until browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes, turning- occasionally. Serve with roasted plantains.
4 plantains, completely black and soft to the touch
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Slice the pointed ends off each unpeeled plantain.
3. Cut in half lengthwise, then lay flesh side up on a baking sheet.
4. Roast until soft and the exposed flesh is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
5. Peel and serve!