Sara Remington
Fall/Winter Menu Preview
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Fall/Winter Menu Preview 2012

Irene Sax / July 2012

Only surfers can hang on to endless summer. This is certainly not true for chefs, five of whom plot for the endless chill coming soon.

Jason Fox
Commonwealth
San Francisco
“We like to say we serve ‘modern progressive food.’ Yes, it’s American cuisine, but here in California using Asian ingredients is part of what we do, part of a chef’s vocabulary. It’s not fusion; it’s Californian.”

Savory
Mackerel on the plancha with fennel, radish, kimchi & brioche. “I love mackerel. They’re caught locally in the fall, but later on we might have to go farther down the coast for them. The fillets are cooked at service time, and everything else is ready to go. Bake brioche marbled with chopped seaweed, cool it, and cut into slices. Cook fennel bulbs in cream, then puree. For the kimchi, salt and ferment cabbage for a day, then puree it with Korean chiles, ginger, garlic, sugar, and oil. At service, the mackerel is crisped skin-side down on the plancha, flipped, and just kissed on the other side. To plate, place the fish on a platform of toasted brioche beside a spoonful of warm fennel puree; garnish with fennel fronds, purple watermelon radish, and dots of kimchi puree.”

Scallops with popcorn puree, chickweed, Jerusalem artichokes & yuzu kosho emulsion. “Yuzu kosho is one of my favorite condiments, a citrusy, spicy green paste made of yuzu rind and chile peppers. For this dish, we turn it into a frothy sauce by beating in a little milk. Two or three scallops are seared in oil, butter-basted, then laid on the plate on top of Jerusalem artichoke slices cooked sous-vide and then caramelized. Underneath all this is a warm popcorn puree made by popping the dried kernels, simmering them in cream, and passing the sauce through a chinois. The garnish is chickweed, an edible weed that we get from local farmers. The mild lemony flavor is a contrast to the corn and artichoke, brightening the whole dish.”

Duck confit with young turnips, squash agnolotti & star anise broth. “This requires a four day prep. Cure duck legs overnight with salt, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, mustard seeds, juniper, coriander, and star anise; confit them in warm duck fat; let them cool in the walk-in. On the third day, remove the skin from each leg in one piece; place skins meat-side up on a sheet pan covered with plastic wrap; sprinkle with meat glue [transglutaminase]. Pick the meat off the bones in big chunks, toss it with more meat glue, and pat it down over the skins. Cover with more plastic, weight it down, and refrigerate. The next day, cut the duck into squares. At pickup, crisp the skin in hot duck fat and lay the squares on a plate surrounded by tiny squash agnolotti and turnips cooked sous-vide with sugar, olive oil, and árbol chiles. Sauce with a spoonful of duck broth simmered with star anise and ginger; garnish with whatever delicate greens are in season.”

Sweet
Asian citrus curd with olive oil cake, huckleberries & yogurt sorbet. “Area farmers are growing fresh Asian and Japanese citrus, so we can get fresh yuzu juice as well as pick makrut limes from a tree we grow on the roof. Make a classic curd from either one of them. Cook an olive oil cake in the microwave: fill a whipper canister with a batter of wheat flour, almond flour, eggs, and olive oil; dispense the batter into a Dixie cup; microwave briefly at pickup; pull it out of the cup; tear it into big pieces. If we’ve used fruity Ligurian oil, you’ll get a faint taste of olive oil from the cake. Spoon huckleberries macerated in simple syrup around the curd, add pieces of cake, then a quenelle of frozen yogurt, cream, and sugar bound with a little gelatin. There’s a lot of flavor impact in this dessert.”

Anthony Martin
Tru
Chicago
“Chicago may be the only city in the country that’s open to the kind of whimsical platings I’ve been doing. Of course, you need to turn out a great-tasting product first. But lately I’ve been enhancing the presentations with inedible garnishes made of natural things like logs, stones, and river slate.”

Savory
Scottish salmon consumed in cedar with heirloom potatoes & dill. “To recapture the flavors of traditional cedar-planked salmon, I went to a lumberyard and had them cut cross-sections of cedar in the shape of plates. Brush wild salmon fillets with soy sauce and cook them mid-rare under a salamander. Place on the cedar plates, which rest on a nest of cedar branches and fingers of wood. Set the wood aflame and cover with a glass cloche that fills with smoke, allowing the fish to take on a hint of it. Roast five or six little potatoes of different shapes and garnish them with bright flavors like sorrel, pickled onion rings, fried capers, and fresh lemon zest. Place the fish and potatoes on a white plate with a Chardonnay sauce made with chopped dill stems.”

Duroc pork belly with potatoes two ways & black truffle. “I like to use Duroc pork, a heritage breed that originated in America. The main component of the dish is pork belly, cured 24 hours in a wet brine of salt, sugar, rosemary, and garlic. Next, remove a lot of the fat from the flesh side and some from the interior, leaving a half-inch-thick sheet of pork that’s about 30 percent fat. Lay it out with strips of applewood-smoked bacon along its length and roll it up like pancetta—it’s like a jelly roll with the bacon as the jelly. Roll in plastic and foil to maintain its shape; vacuum-seal in a plastic bag; cook sous-vide 24 hours at 70 degrees Celsius [158˚F]. Portion, reheat, and serve with two kinds of potatoes. One is a very straightforward sweet potato puree cooked in pork stock and finished with butter that’s laid in a line across the dish. The other becomes a fat dumpling. Like gnocchi, it’s made of baked Idahos, but instead of flour it gets cornstarch and egg yolk. I put some of the dough in the palm of my hand, tuck in a butter-sautéed crouton of brioche and a piece of Australian black truffle, and then close it up before poaching. The plate gets slices of black truffle, raw field spinach for color, and dabs of a prune puree aged for over a year in Port and red wine so it gains sweetness with just a touch of alcohol. Everything is moistened with a simple jus of roasted bones and meat deglazed with water and a few aromatics.”

Venison with baby Brussels sprouts & currants. “Even though my presentations look whimsical, I don’t like to manipulate the food too much. When you eat venison here, I want you to taste venison, and the same is true of the Brussels sprouts. Pan-roast a venison loin crusted with juniper berries, black pepper, and a touch of coriander. Remove the leaves from the Brussels sprouts, making little cabbage cups. Sauté shallots and bacon, moisten with venison stock, and add the Brussels sprouts leaves and red currants. Spoon a perfect circle of currants and Brussels sprouts around the pink-cooked slices of venison.”

Sweet
Vanilla parfait with compressed pineapple & banana, compliments of George. “This is named after Curious George, the monkey in the children’s book, which tells you how playful this presentation is. I found these foot-tall ceramic statues of monkeys holding banana leaves and had plates made to fit into their hands. One hand holds a clear cup of banana bread made with roasted bananas plus a scoop of banana ice cream. In the monkey’s other hand is a flat plate holding a thin piece of fresh, intensely flavored rectangle of pineapple that’s marinated with brown sugar, Meyers’s rum, and orange juice, then compressed in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag. On top of it is a cylinder of frozen vanilla parfait decorated with orange segments, a Marcona almond tuile, marigold petals, and micro cilantro.”

Adam Sappington
The Country Cat
Portland, Oregon
“I do all the butchering in-house. I want to help to preserve and pass along the craft. Most people get boxed cuts and want specific things, but we use all the parts of the animal. The section of our menu called “From the Butcher Block” reflects that fact. On the other hand, about half our menu is vegetarian.”

Savory
Grilled Italian prune plums with sliced country ham, arugula & baked goat’s milk cheese. “We cure our own country ham, and at any time we may have eight of them going. For this first-course salad, shave off super thin slices, lay them on a plate, and top with split grilled Italian prune plums, which come in at the end of the stone fruit season. Halve the plums, pop out the pits, macerate them in cherry balsamic and thyme, and then grill them to order. When they’re heated, they become luscious with caramel and smoke. Add a pile of hearty arugula and finally a round of nutty goat’s milk cheese heated in the fire. Finish with olive oil, put some mayo on the plums, and out it goes.”

Scrapple-stuffed pig’s-face pancetta with sunny-side up egg & Thousand Island dressing. “Bone and butterfly a pig’s face; cure it for seven days with salt, brown sugar, juniper berries, and thyme; flatten it under a 150-pound weight; let it dry in the walk-in. Make scrapple by chopping up the animal’s shoulder and organ meats, adding warm spices like nutmeg, juniper berries, cinnamon, black pepper, and sugar, and then cooking it slowly in a combination of pork fat and beef suet for 3 1/2 hours. Remove the meat; place in a pot set over medium heat; stir in fine-grain farina and pork stock; cook until thickened; pack into a loaf pan; let set for at least a day in the refrigerator. Open up the cured face, pack in the scrapple, roll and tie up, bake it at 220 degrees for 14 hours. It gets supper crispy, like chicharrones. At service, slice it, crisp in a pan, and put a fried egg on top. Serve with a little Thousand Island dressing made with chopped pickle and a scattering of garlicky croutons from a country loaf.”
Learn more about making scrapple.

Grilled lamb leg on a lacy potato cake with wild mushrooms & roasted garlic relish. “More butchering: break down the leg into its muscle groups and slice them into medallions, so they’re ready to be grilled to order. For the potato cake, press julienned potatoes into a cake and cook in olive oil or pork fat heated in a nonstick skillet. When crisped, throw it into the deep fryer, so the customer gets crunchy hash browns made to order. Stew whatever wild mushrooms are around—chanterelles, porcini, black trumpets—with roasted garlic and some thick-sliced shallots; finish with a little pickling liquid. The potato cake goes on the plate, then the mushrooms, some leaves of frisée and radicchio with a zigzag of ranch dressing, and then the grilled lamb medallions, moistened with lamb jus and some gremolata butter.”

Sweet Dutch apple pie with Bourbon caramel ice cream. “I think you get the best pies when you use a mixture of apples. Whatever we’ve got—maybe Gravensteins and dark red Arkansas Blacks—we peel, slice very thinly, and season with white and brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pile into a pie shell and top with a streusel of oats, butter, flour, and brown sugar. That’s what makes it a Dutch apple pie. Bake, cut a wedge, and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream into which we’ve swirled a Bourbon caramel. Dab some more of the caramel on the plate and send it out warm, if possible.”

Daniel Humm
Eleven Madison Park
New York City
“At EMP, we offer a tasting menu where guests choose from a list of ingredients. What we do with the ingredients changes all the time. Sometimes we don’t know what we’ll be doing until the delivery is unpacked and we see what vegetables have arrived. Then we are inspired.”

Savory
Salsify with Mangalitsa ham & quinoa. “The idea here is to use salsify as a winter asparagus. Poach the salsify in vegetable stock enriched with some Mangalista pork fat. Cool the salisfy, and drape with the ham, as in the classic presentation for asparagus. Top with soft-cooked eggs. Serve with a salad of quinoa, which I use a lot. Rinse and cook the quinoa, dehydrate half of it, then fry it so it has a crunchy texture. Mix it back into the other half of quinoa with a shallot brunoise, sliced chives, and a vinaigrette made from fresh lemon juice, salt, and lemon oil we make by steeping the microplaned zest of lemons in grapeseed oil.”

Roasted squab with beets. “Dry-age the squabs by hanging them for six days in the walk-in to bring out their gamey flavor. They’re only partially cleaned, with the heart, liver, and kidneys left inside. The legs are removed and are submerged in duck fat in a 200 degree oven for two hours, or until the meat comes cleanly off the thigh bone, which is removed. Roast the breasts on the carcass to medium, remove the breasts, and press the carcass with gloved hands so the juices come out, just as for canard à la presse. Warm the juices in a pan and enrich them with a little butter. That’s it—very pure. At service, crisp the leg meat so the plate holds two different textures of the bird. Squab has a sweetish flavor that works well with a garnish of multicolored beets, both roasted and pickled. Half the beets are roasted in the oven with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and sugar until they’re tender; the other half are shaved thin on a mandoline and covered with a boiling pickling liquid of white balsamic vinegar, salt, and water. The acidity of the pickle is important to cut through the richness of this dish. Acidity builds appetite and makes you excited for more. That’s true of wine, too. The only wines able to age are those with some acidity.”

Foie gras smoked & shaved with bitter greens. “Cure Hudson Valley foie gras for six hours in the refrigerator under a coating of kosher salt; rinse; pat dry; chill it for another 24 hours. Cover lighted coals with soaked applewood chips and push them to one corner of a grill. Place the foie gras in a stainless-steel bowl set over a pan of ice so the foie gras doesn’t melt; place on the other side of the grill; smoke for 20 to 25 minutes at 125 degrees; place back in the fridge. For the sauce, puree roasted peanuts, brown sugar, Sherry vinegar, and water in a blender. At service, chill the foie gras in the freezer for half an hour, cut into thin sheets on meat slicer, and roll the sheets into cylinders. Three of them go on a plate over a little of the peanut puree. Alongside them is a salad of mixed greens like kale, lola rosa, and green frill mustard dressed with a Sherry vinaigrette.”

Sweet
Pastry chef Angela Pinkerton
Malted milk sorbet with peanut caramel, pretzel crisps & Dijon/malt panna cotta. “This started with the idea that, since street-cart pretzels are a big thing in New York City, we would do something that was a pretzel but sweet. Once you start applying sweetness, the results are incredible. What do you eat with pretzels? Mustard was the first thought, so we have a white chocolate panna cotta sweetened with malt syrup and flavored with Dijon mustard. And you drink beer—more malt—so we make a yogurt sorbet using malted milk powder. The sorbet has a swirl of peanut butter salted caramel made with sugar, cream, 40 percent chocolate, and peanut butter. Of course, we make our own pretzels, stretching the yeast dough thin like a lavash by pulling it across the bottom of a sheet pan and brushing it with food-grade lye to make a dark shiny crust. Then it’s sprinkled with Malden salt, baked at 325 degrees, set to dry out overnight in a low oven, and the next day broken into shards. The plate holds a quenelle of sorbet and the panna cotta, plus pretzel crisps, sponge candy, peanut brittle, peanut butter shortbread, and dots of peanut caramel.”

Curtis Duffy
Grace
Chicago
“We planned Grace [set to open this fall] to have no appetizers, entrées, or desserts, just savory and sweet dishes in two tasting menus. Neither menu is vegetarian, but one focuses on vegetables and herbs, while the other—while still vegetable-strong—incorporates fish and lighter proteins.”

Savory
Olive oil–poached bigeye tuna with smoked goat’s milk pudding, whipped hoja santa & four licorice scented herbs. “This one has three elements. The tuna is marinated overnight in olive oil, then cooked sous-vide with the oil for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on its size, so it never overcooks and becomes opaque and white. We call the second element a pudding, but that’s a loose term these days, describing a mouthfeel rather than a dish made with milk and eggs. Let fresh goat’s milk sit in a container at room temperature for eight hours to intensify its acidic quality; put the container in a smoker over a cherry wood fire for half an hour; remove; add agar-agar. When nearly solid, whip it in a blender until it feels creamy and rich like pudding. For the third element, blanch hoja santa—a Mexican herb that tastes a bit like licorice or sassafras—anise hyssop, fennel, and chervil; add ice water to the hot water; then strain, leaving behind a scented herb tea. Add xanthum gum and egg white powder; whip until the texture looks light and airy like whipped cream but has no fat at all.”

Whole roasted sunchokes with black quinoa, Meyer lemon & hibiscus in three forms. “Sunchokes are normally peeled, but when you roast them the skin becomes chewy in a good way, so we leave it on. Coat the sunchokes in olive oil and roast at about 200 degrees for three to four hours. Transfer them to a sauté pan of heated olive oil and baste them for about five minutes until crisped. Left whole, these are served with a salad of black quinoa, dried cranberries and cherries, Meyer lemon segments, and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. This has a tart-sweet bite that counteracts the creamy fatness of the sunchokes. The other help comes from hibiscus, which we use in three ways. First, a tea made from flowers; some of this becomes a broth that is poured over the dish at tableside. The rest of the hibiscus tea is mixed with tapioca starch and dried in a solid sheet in a dehydrator. When it comes out, it can be broken into big glass-like shards and placed on the dish. And finally, we garnish the plate with fresh leaves from the hibiscus bush. The plating is very organic, not prescribed.”

Braised hazelnuts with date-infused dashi, junsai & custard made from cod skin & oxalis. “Blanch the hazelnuts; rub together inside a towel to remove their skins; braise in a pressure cooker for 45 minutes to an hour with water, salt, and a little sugar to balance their bitterness. The liquid cooks away and the result is amazing: the hazelnuts have the form, but not the crunch, of the raw nuts. Put in a small bowl and surround with raw junsai, the flower of a water lily that has a natural gelatin-like texture and a bright cucumber-like flavor. Moisten with dashi made the traditional way with water, kombu, and bonito flakes but when cooling infuse with dates overnight so it gains their flavor profile without any of their sweetness. The final element is the cod skin custard, which, again, is not really a custard. Clean the cod skin really well and add to caramelized garlic and onions as in the Spanish pil pil sauce. This is simmered with half-and-half and a little vegetable stock, thickened with agar-agar, and whipped smooth in a blender. Oxalis is wood sorrel, which adds acidity to the dish. I tend to reach for herbs to season dishes, adding stevia leaves instead of sugar and lemon balm rather than lemon or lime juice.”

Sweet
Burnt cassia pudding with kaffir lime, coconut granola & black mint. “This is a classic pudding made with eggs, sugar, and cream but infused with cassia bark toasted almost to the point of burning in a cast-iron pan. I like cassia better than cinnamon. Strain into a small glass dish, like a Martini glass without the stem. Top with granola made with rolled oats softened in coconut water, shredded and toasted coconut meat, agave syrup, sugar, salt, glucose, and cassia powder baked at 300 degrees until golden and crunchy. Another layer is the kaffir lime gel made by steeping lime peel and sugar in lime juice and thickening it with agar so it becomes a puree. Garnish with black mint, which has pointed jagged leaves that look like marijuana. Anytime I’ve used them someone invariably says, ‘Oh, that looks like…’ and I tell them they’re not the first to say that.”