Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Poulet Rouge aka Naked Neck Chicken

Most of the time spent in my car on the way to work is spent thinking about what I'm going to cook for specials. It allows me to develop a game plan for when I walk in the door, sometimes though its a little depressing when you've been trying to save money and not order exciting expensive ingredients. So, I was walking into the kitchen thinking I was about to put together a rustic pasta special, instead, I walk into a case of poulet rouge that the resort Exec Chef ordered for us. Reinvigorated and ready to work with a new product I took a knife to a steal, slapped on my armor(apron, I'm a bit of a sci-fi dork), and got to work. I immediately noticed that the birds have long slender looking bodies, the limbs especially, it kind of reminded me of duck.

Certainly I was not going to 8 piece it and fry it up, I decided to take the long route with the old school galantine technique. After I took all the skin off and made a farce out of the meat I rolled them up and poached them in a soft simmer for 15 mins. Now, I will say this is one of those moments that I get slightly aggravated that the resorts best equipment (cryovac, circulator, activa, etc.) are reserved for the hotel and The Atlantic Room, I think I could have been a little happier with the end result with some of those resources, maybe in next years budget we'll see.

After shocking them in an ice batch I cut portions and set the line up to produce the dish. I knew I was going to use polenta and king trumpet shrooms. That's about as Italian as took this, I stretch those boundaries as much as I can.

In a pan with medium heat I crisp the skin by constantly turning the chicken, this also finishes the cooking process because they were only about 70% of the way there.....

The flavor of the poulet rouge is truly fantastic, I would definitely say richer and deeper than normal chicken. I think everyday folks are so used to tasting mass produced, KFC style mutant chicken Frankensteins that sometime true poultry flavor is forgotten. Believe me, you can taste the difference. I used stock from the bones and foie gras butter to make the sauce and put it over the top, garnish with grilled onions and lemon verbena foam......delicious......

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So sunday came and I woke alone and relatively bored. Becca and Courtney were at a girl thing. A wedding shower. Brennan was on his way over and I had a plan. After lunch, beautifully heart clogging burgers, Golden Tee, and to Myre Asian Market...
I just heard an amazingly fitting quote by Roger Daultrey of the Who. "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth."
It actually makes quite a remarkable bit of sense to my attraction to food. I was pumped to wander the isles of this particular asian grocery w/ Brennan. Let's say the 1st time I went in such an establishment I knew or was familiar with 1% of the product.....7 plus years later I'd up it to maybe 4%. These seemingly plastic spoon/chopstick cuisines hold more depth than the worth of our country's collective knowledge. What I mean exactly is that thousands of years has produced some seemingly bizarre food strategies. Some amazing leaps of faith. Some brilliant discoveries based on geography, flora/fauna, and a sheer luck of intellect. Nothing else could explain some of the products one might find.
So after an hour, Brennan and I had some things we wanted to mess with. We went home to cook. Based on poor planning and a dare to myself I went for 3 tastes of the Asian realm no soy sauce. We had little and being me, (PBR's deep) I found it a revelation to cook with no soy sauce.
Brennan did a fantastic seared tuna avocado dish. Next was a summer roll by me. Then a chicken sausage, Napa cabbage, okra dish from Brennan. Then Laab Salad and room temp Pho.
The heart of my last trek to the asian grocery was for toasted rice powder. If you have never had Laab salad, please try it. It encompasses so many intriguing elements of taste in one plate that.....that's it. A perfect plate of food. Lastly was a plate of rice sticks, cilantro, Thia basil, pickled vegg, and strip/filet marinated in Vietnamese salt and lime. The broth I made was little to cover the four bowls. It made the composed dish cold if not luke warm. But I was in heaven. I rarely eat if enjoy my own plates but had a revelation by eating my own in a state I had not intended. Vietnamese cappaccio I guess? The meat was incredibly delicate, all the other elements sang. Brennan or Ruby please disagree.....justified but somewhere in some province of some Asian state...this dish rings home and with smiles I swear......Till next time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn Scallop

Seared Scallop, Butternut Squash Noodle, Cinnamon Marscarpone Cream, Hazelnut Powder
So this dish tasted like cinnamon toast crunch, mostly just the cream with the Hazelnut Powder. That took me back to a good place but the real point was trying to play with the noodles and see what works best. The noodle is not actually a noodle in the classic sense of the word, it's butternut squash puree gelled with agar and molded in a tube. Just eating them by themselves isn't really that inspiring in my opinion, the texture is very soft and unexpected, but not neccessarily good. However they work very well to accent the rest of the dish with the warm sauce and savory scallop, a complete fork full is the only way to go. Fall is pretty much here now so its good to come back to these rich, sweet flavors to get my mind headed in the right direction......

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Butternut Squash Noodles

I've seen this technique everywhere on the culinary Blogosphere but have never used it, they taste great, gonna sleep on whatever they will garnish tomorrow......

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Time to make the doughnuts......

Tasting Menu
September 20th 2010

1st Course
Banh Mi
crispy pork belly, pickled vegetable, jalapeno tomato jam, baguette

2nd Course
fried chicken
buttermilk chicken ravioli, southern biscuit, blackberry honey, Frank’s Red Hot butter

3rd Course
braised beef cheek, blue corn crepe, habanero mole, queso fresco

4th Course
meat and potatoes
roasted duck breast, pommes de Robouchon, wilted arugula

5th Course
roasted garlic ice cream, sweet corn cake, jalapeno crema
Well....I wish I had been more into this than I was. Making excuses sucks, I suck, but I kinda phoned parts of this in. I had every intention of producing a great meal for my cooks. Three guys who bust their butts, put up with me, and really seem to want to see food. I slept on a menu till last night, bumbled my way through it.....I don't know. I do suck sometimes. Brennan helped but actually got to sit down and eat and I was nervous and mildly embarrassed. I think I had good ideas, at least one saving grace/element on each plate, but flopped overall. Woe is me, I know, the last of my self pity is here and now. Let me get over myself and tell those who were not there what it all was.
I made truffled orange zest spaghetti @ the restaurant w/ duck confit, candied blood orange peel, pecan, jalapeno, butternut squash, rendered crisp skin, and Pecorino. That's the 1st picture. It made me quite content. Not sure why but my bones said it worked. The tasting is as written. I will say that the Banh Mi made me feel content too. It worked from brain to plate. Maybe a couple tweaks but I was happy and it was as pretty as I could have ever wished for. I love moles. I love that there are literally hundreds of possible combinations. Please right here and now look up a real mole recipe if you never have. More ingredients than any other cuisine's sauces go into these and more techniques of roasting, blistering, etc. They are full works of art.. That's it I guess.....till next time.

Mystery Meat Part 2

Taking a page from Chef Thurston and seeing who can guess what this is?

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Monday, September 13, 2010

A day off in Mexico

After misery in the form of the Jags vs. Tebow in 80,000 degree heat and some redneck 4 year old spraying me in the face with his mist fan for half the game, I decided to take today off. No yard work, no cleaning, just food. Mexican at that.

A trip to Publix had me wandering the produce isles. After some internal deliberation, I opted for a chile tasting.

1st course Arugula, pickled cucumber and red onion, roasted jalapeno salsa, pomegranate, queso fresco

2nd course Braised short rib, blue corn tamale, habanero mole, Mexican crema, sauteed chayote

3rd course Duroc pork tacos, queso fresco, braised baby back tips, serrano and roasted tomato ragu

Not all of which were successful. Blue corn tamale would have worked better off as a crepe. I found out my tortilla press is not suited for flour tortillas. Way to thick no matter how I tried. Better off sticking to what I read and using a rolling pin.
It was awesome to taste the differences of the three chilies while cooking but some of those differences got muddled in the plated dishes. Too much heat or simmering for too long and the simple act of time on fresh, bold flavors crushes their impact on the senses. Cilantro does not get better with time. Rick Bayless actually recommends rinsing raw onion before incorporating into some fresh salsas to minimize their corruption or overpowering nature.
What was successful? Pomegranate and salt and heat. Mexican crema on anything, even an old ass Birkenstock would taste fantastic. Chayote..well, the thin skinned, cucumberlike texture of the ones I got is good raw, slightly off tasting but fantastic sauteed in olive oil and salt. 3 successes I guess cause I got to try somethings new, get closer to that which so few in the broad culinary populous deem important or intriguing, and treat the one who matters above all and always most to me, to some experimentation. She's honest and ruthless and my best judge. Anyways...a successful day.
Till next time......

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A breath of fresh air and some change on the horizon me thinks...

Does anyone else feel like slapping Gail whatever from Top Chef? No.....I do not in any sense of the word advocate violence towards women, dogs, cats, orangutanes, holy hand grenades, jaguar's earlobes, etc. Just checking to see if you were actually reading this and maybe a little wishful thinking.

Last weekend our plans to lay by a pool for 3 days fell through. What an unbelievable blessing in disguise. Becca and I in no better words, dropped in on Chris and Kristen up in Charleston. I found my new favorite hole in the wall bar, ate a truly great meal @ Chris' restaurant, slept/planted on a couch almost a whole day in recovery/doing nothing, and finished out our time wandering downtown with Kristen in search of great food and drink.

Charleston has a great vibe. It felt very focused on local, sustainable, farm to table, twisted up southern cooking. It made a lot of sense. It was refreshing.

I'm not one to blow too much smoke but I was truly proud to eat at Chris' place. We have been friends a long time. Since humble....who am I kidding....ridiculously cocky line cooks. We've always had each other's backs, pushed each other, and it was awesome to see and taste all of Chris' talent and diligence in the dishes he sent out. Potato croquette w/ crisp prosciutto and gorgonzola, seared scallop and gnudi, this wildly complex salad of chocolate tomato, marinated red onion, peaches, and hazelnut powder, a wreckfish meatball and risotto, yes I said wreckfish meatball, it was fantastic really and truly, compressed braised pork w/ foccacia, pickled cuc. and garden peppers, veal marsala w/ ravioli, a dessert assortment not pictured including a great hazelnut gelato, and house made lemoncello. It was very well thought out. Cook on Chris....

Lastly was Glen's or Beck's or something in the "G"ish word. A great bar a hop, skip, or jump from their apartment. Free shuffleboard, pool, darts, like 100 plus beers, and board games. We ate, we drank PBR on tap for her and Labatt bottles for me, and played Connect 4 for and hour and a half. Great trip!

While I'm here and still in the writing mood, I'd like to suggest any and all to watch Bourdains No Reservations on Paris. The new one. He touches on some very intriguing and important subjects. Things are changing in food everywhere. A famous Paris chef boasting of coming to the states, to NYC early in his career to train at Gramercy Tavern. A concept laughable 20 plus years ago. A huge movement away from Michelin. The stuffy, 3 1/2 hour, formal, starchy 30 piece suit, chair for your purse, 8 staff per table, noses scraping the ceiling feel for casual. What a stupid word. Casual. Formal. Relax, at ease. Best behavior, mind your manners, sit up straight. I get both. Both have their place. But what about the best food without any regard for if the flower on the table matches the pattern on the wall matches the trim on the waiters trousers matches the mink/fox feet broach on the woman's blouse at table two....go change your pants you fool. Bottom line, watch Robouchon talk. Watch Ripert literally squirm at a barrage of new comers challenging things. It's not good or bad. I love all that the french are. I love tradition and reverence for such. But I also love chaos and change and pushing the limit of acceptance.

What do you think?

Till next time.............

Naked Neck Chicken.....

Stay Tuned.....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010