Carmel Zucker
Max Mackissock's roasted Chinese mountain yam with charred citrus, crispy pig’s jowl, frozen sweet potato, coriander & mint.
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Fall/Winter Menu Preview 2013

Carolyn Jung / July 2013

Like squirrels gathering acorns on a warm day, five chefs start planning ahead for the cool and then cold months sure to come. Carolyn Jung takes a look at how they’re preparing.

Max Mackissock
The Squeaky Bean, Denver
“Before we opened, I was having dinner with my business partner. We were having green beans, and his girlfriend commented about how green beans squeak on the teeth. It shows how fresh they are. The name stuck. The association with farm-fresh produce appealed to me. It’s also a quirky name, and we like to have fun. We harvest to order every day from our own raised beds and farms. We try to use every part of the vegetable out of respect for what it took to grow them.”

Radish in all its forms, textures of brown bread, Le Meunier butter. “This is based on the typical French dish of brown bread with butter and radishes that I grew up eating. We grow different varieties of radishes—watermelon, French breakfast, and black. Leave the tails on; halve some and leave some whole, depending on the size. We make our own brown bread. Slice part of the loaf very thinly on a meat slicer and let the slices dry out. Crumble the rest of the bread as a base for a little salad dressed with a vinaigrette of fines herbes, olive oil, and Champagne vinegar. Make a sponge cake à la minute by mixing molasses, rye, flour, caraway, and sugar; load into a canister; charge and dispense onto a plate; microwave the ‘dough’ for 30 seconds; tear into chunks; place on a plate. Rodolphe Le Meunier, a French cheesemaker, makes butter with a high fat content and an intensely cheesy quality to it. We whip it lightly, put it into a piping bag, and pipe out spots onto the plate. This is a light dish that has a lot of character.”

Roasted Chinese mountain yam with charred citrus, crispy pig’s jowl, frozen sweet potato, coriander & mint. “We pull the young Chinese mountain yams out of the ground starting in October. It’s a white variety with high starch content, six to eight inches long and one to two inches in diameter. It’s the only yam that you could probably eat raw. Peel, then pan-roast in reduced pork stock, basting constantly, until glazed. Dry limes in the oven until charred, then grind them into powder. Lightly candy peanuts and toss in the charred lime powder. Spread a line of chopped candied peanuts down the length of the plate; dust the peanuts with ground fried sweet potato peels. Cure pork jowl in star anise, sugar, and salt for five days; remove from the cure; dry in the walk-in for a week; slice thinly; crisp in a pan; grind to a powder; dust over the top of the peanuts. Lay the yam over the peanuts; add a quenelle of pureed sweet potato cooked in milk and cream and processed in a Pacojet. The quenelle will melt to make a nice sauce. Garnish with petite mint leaves and coriander with blossoms.”

Dry-aged pigeon with kosaitai, pine brown butter vinaigrette, matsutake & crosnes. “We get pigeons from a farm in South Carolina and dry age them for 14 days to denature the protein so they become tender and intense in flavor. Grill halved pigeons over Japanese binchotan charcoal to which some hickory wood has been added to impart a smoky flavor. Remove breasts and legs. Brown some butter. Freeze pine needles with liquid nitrogen and pulverize while still frozen. Place pine needles and brown butter in vacuum-sealable bag; cook sous-vide at 65 degrees Celsius [149˚F] for one hour. For a vinaigrette, blend cider vinegar, agave syrup, toasted pine nuts, salt, and Ultra-Tex 8; gradually add warm pine butter, taking care not to break the emulsion; pour into a bowl; fold in more pine nuts. Roast matsutake mushrooms. Place the pigeon on the plate, with the mushrooms on the side. Make a salad with kosaitai—a mustardy, purple choy with exceptional flowers. We use the flowers, greens, and a little bit of the stem. Garnish with the vinaigrette and crosnes heated to order.”

Pastry chef Matthew Thompson
Pear & fig: Compressed pears with fig toffee cake & noyuex ice cream. “Make a toffee cake with butter, brown sugar, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, flour, baking soda, salt, and fig puree; bake in ramekins; top with a toffee sauce made of brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream. The sauce soaks into the cakes so they end up really moist. Infuse oil with fig leaves at 70 degrees Celsius [158˚F] for 12 hours. The resulting oil has a nutty, coconut flavor with only a slight fig taste. Put slices of Bartlett pears, sugar, and fig leaf oil into a vacuum-sealable bag; seal on the highest setting to soften the pears and intensify the sweetness. We save all the pits from our stone fruits in the summer. Infuse milk and cream with noyuex [stone fruit pits] to make ice cream that has a very nutty flavor. We also roast and chop the noyuex fine to fold into the ice cream. Place the cake into a small bowl, garnish with compressed pear, some raw Bartlett pear, and a quenelle of the ice cream.”

Justin Yu
Oxheart, Houston
“When I cooked at Ubuntu [in Napa, California], it opened my eyes to how versatile vegetables can be. Out of our 12 menu items at Oxheart, seven are strictly vegetarian, because we prefer to cook that way. Houston generally has more of a meat crowd, so it’s great to see people here open to trying what we do: pursuing different textures and flavors that you don’t generally see out of vegetables.”

Temple tangor with carrot & beet jellies, preserved lime granita. “A Temple tangor is a cross between an orange and a tangerine that’s cultivated in Temple, Texas. Lightly season peeled segments with Galveston sea salt, which has large, almost pebble-like flakes. Add carrageenan, a red algae coagulant, to carrot juice and to beet juice to create the carrot jelly and the beet jelly. It creates a softer texture than gelatin or agar-agar. We preserve limes from the year before in salt, sugar, water, black peppercorns, and coriander seeds. Infuse simple syrup with the lime and glucose so it will freeze; scrape it to create the granita. Place Temple tangor segments on the plate, spacing them out; place carrot and beet jellies in between the spaces; garnish with citrus leaves, such as kaffir lime; top with granita.”

Seminole pumpkin, roasted with fermented onion & malt. “The Texas growing season is either a lot or nothing. So when we have a lot of onions, I ferment them. Salt spring onions, press them, and let ferment for two weeks in their natural liquid in the cooler. Slice them and caramelize them in a pan with garlic and yellow onion. You’re almost making a sofrito. Finish with malt powder. The Seminole pumpkin is small, with a flavor akin to butternut squash. Wash the exterior; halve with the skin still on; roast at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes to caramelize the flesh. You want it soft, without being mushy. Slice into wedges; warm in the oven with fermented onion sauce to order. Serve on the plate with soy milk thickened with agar-agar and almond puree made by blanching and soaking almonds overnight in salted water before pureeing them with vegetable oil, salt, and bitter almond seed that you can buy in Chinatown. The almond puree comes out soft like butter. My grandmother used to make me drink soy milk and eat persimmons, so the flavors of this dish remind me of that.”

Texas Heritage Farm quail roasted over mesquite wood with brown rice, seaweed & tea. “Build a fire with mesquite wood and charcoal; cook the quail directly on the coals to char the skin a little; put the quail on a grate a foot above the fire to get a smoky flavor without cooking the interior. For service, we finish roasting them in the oven. Carve off the legs, breast, and wings; finish with sea salt, olive oil, and pan drippings. The brown rice is cooked in broth made from roasted quail bones and kombu. We dry some of the rice, fry it to make it crispy, then toss it with roasted nori powder to put on top of the rest of the brown rice. The rice is served on the side in its own bowl. It reminds me of eating meals with my family, where you’d always have your own bowl of rice. The quail is garnished with ogonori, a fresh sea moss we get from a local farm, and a sprinkle of matcha tea.”

Pastry chef Karen Man
Goat’s milk crème caramel. “Make a caramel by heating sugar; add goat’s milk whey and sea salt; pour into a pan to set. Make a custard with eggs, sugar, and goat’s milk; pour over the caramel in the pan; cook in the oven in a water bath; cool; flip it out; cut out with a ring mold. We dry persimmons overnight in the oven. The little segments go down on the plate with the crème caramel; add diced fresh persimmons mixed with olive oil, salt, and sugar.”

Renee Erickson
The Whale Wins, Seattle
“We cook most everything in the wood-fired oven. Ingredients are chosen for their ability to do well in the oven—things like whole fish, half chickens, marrow bones, potatoes, endives, and even shellfish. It’s a nice way to add smokiness from wood without having to add bacon. We also pickle most everything—chanterelles, rhubarb, apples, you name it. I’m a huge fan of acidity in food. It really adds brightness and freshness.”

Fall escarole salad with pears. “I like to serve bitter greens in the fall, especially escarole, which is not used very much. Tear escarole into bite-sized pieces. Make vinaigrette in a blender from the minced peels of preserved lemons, olive oil, mustard, Champagne vinegar, salt, and pepper; pulse in a little yogurt or crème fraîche for body. Thinly shave cored pears on a mandoline to get doughnut-like slices. Toast walnuts in a 350 degree oven; toss in a hot pan with a nob of butter; season with salt. Toss the greens, pear slices, and walnuts with the vinaigrette; plate with a sprinkling of fresh marjoram or parsley. It’s a rustic salad, which speaks for my food here.”

Skillet-roasted rib eye with Treviso radicchio. “The steak weighs in at about one pound and is cut half an inch thick. Allow it to come to room temperature. Put a carbon steel pan in the wood-fired oven to get it warm; add olive oil and rub over the top of the steak, flipping to coat both sides; season both sides generously with gray sea salt; return to oven; let the steak get crusty and caramelized on the bottom, about three to four minutes; flip; add two tablespoons butter; baste the steak with butter; place it back in the oven for about four more minutes; remove from the oven; squeeze fresh lemon juice over the steak. Roast halved oil-bathed radicchio on a sheet pan in the wood-fired oven. The steak goes on the plate; the radicchio is laid over the meat; garnish the top with a large spoonful of tapenade; drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.”

Oven roasted chicken with Normandy-style cabbage. “We always have a roasted chicken on the menu, but we change it up a bit. Heat olive oil in a pan; add a half chicken, meat-side down; place in a wood-fired oven; let the skin soften and melt a little so the salt will stick to it when you add it; flip the chicken; add salt and butter; baste; place the chicken back into the oven for 15 to 18 minutes. Our oven runs at 600 to 700 degrees, so things cook quickly. The skin will puff up and get blistered. It’s incredible. Cut up savoy cabbage into thin strips; core apples, leaving the skin on; then cut them into thin strips so they cook down at the same rate as the cabbage; add to a pan with a good amount of hard cider, a bit of butter, and freshly grated horseradish; cook for 10 minutes in the wood-fired oven. You don’t want it to brown, but to be a sauerkraut-type color. Add mustard and crème fraîche. Place the cabbage on the plate; cut the chicken half into breast and thigh; place on top of the cabbage.”

Wild huckleberry Eton mess. “Starting in October, we get wild huckleberries from our forager. They’re almost black in color, and really sharp and sour tasting. Simmer on the stovetop with sugar, bay leaf, white wine, and big pieces of lemon peel. We don’t cook this in the wood-fired oven because the berries are delicate and I don’t want the sugar to caramelize. Strain out the bay leaf and lemon peel; cool. Beat room temperature egg whites with granulated sugar until stiff peaks form. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Make doughnut-sized meringues with a well in the center; bake for two hours on low heat; turn heat off to dry in the oven. In a shallow gratin dish, place a base of whipped cream, crumble on a layer of meringue, then add some wild huckleberry compote. Repeat the layers again, ending with a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar over the top layer of the huckleberry compote. It ends up being like a little mountain.”

Justin Severino
Cure, Pittsburgh
“I spent two years at Manresa in Los Gatos, California, processing all the animals there. I was looking to open a butcher shop and cafe. But the cost to do so in California would have been about $2 million. So, I moved to Pittsburgh to do it. I feel I can make a difference here. I built my reputation on using whole animals and making salty pieces of pork and beef. At the restaurant, pretty much every table shares a salumi platter. We have a meat room in the basement. We use cured meats in many preparations, including sauces. But this isn’t an all-meat restaurant. In fact, I probably put more energy into sourcing our vegetables and dairy products.”

Boudin noir with chestnut espuma, cocoa/pumpkin seed crumb, oats, Brussels sprouts & smoked maple syrup. “We make a blood sausage out of pork, pig’s blood, and onions ground with short-grain rice like arborio or carnaroli to help thicken it, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, smoked paprika, and piment d’Espelette for a kick. Stuff the mixture in sausage casings; poach the sausages; cool; then brown them in butter. To make chestnut espuma: Render bacon; add onions, chestnuts, and milk; simmer until tender; add salt; puree; pour into an iSi canister and charge it with nitrous oxide. It comes out as a savory chestnut froth. It’s super rich, but adding air lightens it. Next, combine flour, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and cocoa on a nonstick baking pad and bake until crunchy; when cool, work into crumbs; combine with mixture of roughly chopped pumpkin seeds, rolled oats, and pumpkin seed oil; season with sea salt, piment d’Espelette, and thyme leaves. Deep-fry Brussels sprouts leaves until crisp; season with salt. Fill a sheet tray one-half inch deep with maple syrup; run it through the smoker at the lowest temperature, 120 degrees, overnight, stirring occasionally; pour into a blender with xanthan gum; pour into an iSi canister and charge it with nitrous oxide. It comes out with a light, fluffy texture. Slice the sausage in half or thirds, standing the slices at attention on the plate; pile the Brussels sprouts in a mound; make lines on the plate with the chestnut espuma; arrange foamy rounds of the smoked maple syrup; garnish with pumpkin seed/oat mixture.”

Bone marrow ravioli with bacon, honey mushrooms, Pecorino Romano, sunchokes, slow-cooked egg & wheatgrass sauce. “One day, I started prepping marrow bones—soaking them to get rid of the blood, simmering them, and skimming off the froth of impurities. Then I walked away and forgot about them. By the time I got back, the liquid was reduced to an emulsion of almost caramel consistency. This couldn’t be bad, I thought. We poured it through a chinois and put it in the fridge. The next day, it was like a brick. We tried making it again, this time with mirepoix. While it was still warm, we put it in a blender with half the amount of Parmesan cheese. After pouring it into ravioli molds to let it set up, we simmered the ‘ravioli’ in salted water until tender. When you cut into it, nothing runs out; it’s the consistency of sludge and probably the richest thing I’ve ever eaten. Don’t serve anyone more than one. I wondered what would be the best contrast to the richest thing I ever put in my mouth. Got it! Blend raw wheatgrass with soy lecithin, which aids in emulsification, and hazelnut oil. Puree peeled sunchokes simmered in milk as the bed for the ravioli to sit on. Sauté bacon; add honey mushrooms and a little of the ravioli cooking water, a little of the bone marrow emulsion, and finely grated Pecorino Romano; reserve. Cook an egg for one hour in a 62-degree water bath controlled by a thermal circulator. Crack it into a small bowl; season with sea salt and cracked black pepper and chives. Lift out of bowl with a spoon and place it next to the ravioli. Garnish with the mushrooms and wheatgrass sauce.”

Pickled Spanish mackerel with pickled date puree, herb custard, saffron shellfish sauce & smoked parsnip crackling. “Pack mackerel fillets in sea salt for 15 minutes; brush off the salt; add fillets to a mixture of half white balsamic vinegar and half Sherry vinegar for 15 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. Heat a cast-iron pan on medium heat; place fillets skin-side down—the flesh side never touches the pan—to get super crispy. Cook dates with thyme, apple cider vinegar, and ground coffee sous-vide at 190 degrees Fahrenheit until the dates soften; while still hot, blend the dates with extra-virgin olive oil until creamy. Make an herb custard by adding agar-agar to half-and-half; refrigerate until firm. Puree basil, cilantro, chives, mint, parsley, and tarragon; mix in the agar-agar custard. Agar-agar doesn’t melt after it’s set, so this becomes like an eggless custard that’s very light on the palate. For the shellfish sauce, sweat onions, carrots, celery, thyme, fennel, garlic, parsley, and bay leaf; add mussels, clams, and dry vermouth; steam; strain off the jus (the staff gets to eat the mussels and clams for lunch); reduce; season with saffron; add milk and butter; blend with a hand blender. Dehydrate parsnip peelings in a smoker; deep-fry to order until crispy (they puff up a little and get crunchy). Arrange custard, mackerel, and pickled date puree on the plate; froth up the sauce; pour over the fish; garnish with a parsnip crackling.”

Smoked goat’s milk cheese doughnut with bacon/maple glaze, apple curd, chestnut mousse, espresso meringue & spiced Bourbon gel. “The doughnut is a brioche-based dough with lots of butter. Cut into two-inch by three-inch rectangles; let rise; deep-fry to order. With a paddle attachment, whip chilled smoked goat’s milk cheese with maple syrup and a little heavy cream to make it fluffier; as soon as the doughnut comes out of the fryer, pipe the goat’s milk cheese into the center. Put crispy bacon into a food processor to make bits. Mix together bacon fat, maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar, and the bacon bits to glaze the doughnuts. Make a curd out of reduced apple cider lightly seasoned with harissa. Cook chestnuts in milk until tender and milk reduces by half; puree; chill in the refrigerator; heat sugar and water to 238 degrees; gradually whip into egg yolks; when cool, fold in puree and some heavy cream whipped with gelatin. We store cracked espresso beans in confectioners’ sugar; sift those out of the sugar; whisk the sugar into beaten egg whites; pipe one-inch lengths onto a nonstick baking pad; bake; let them sit overnight in a turned-off oven so they dehydrate and get dry and crunchy. Cook off the alcohol from some good Bourbon—something you’d drink; add harissa and xanthan gum. The curd goes on the plate, then the doughnut; garnish with the gel, chestnut mousse, and crumbled meringue.”

Jonathan Benno
Lincoln Ristorante, New York City
“Lincoln Center is a truly inspirational place to work. I’ve worked in plenty of dungeons in New York City, so it’s nice to work in a kitchen now where you can actually see outside. The best advice Thomas Keller ever gave me was simply, ‘Take your time, be patient, and do it right.’ That can apply to the preparation of a dish or to one’s career.”

Terrina di vitello saltate with winter vegetable salad & bagna caôda. “The terrine is comprised of sweetbreads, brined veal tongue, and veal cheek. Braise the cheek and tongue for a few hours in chicken stock, aromatics, mirepoix, and a split calves’ foot; braise the sweetbreads for half an hour in chicken stock with dry vermouth, mirepoix, and aromatics. After cooking, peel the membrane from the tongue. It’s important to assemble the terrine while the meats are still warm. Spray a two-inch-high half hotel pan with cooking spray; lay plastic wrap in it; layer sweetbreads, tongue, and cheeks; add a little of the braising liquid from the tongue and cheeks. After it’s about two inches thick, lay another layer of plastic wrap on top, then place another hotel pan on top; weight it heavily so it really presses down. Refrigerate it overnight to set up. Cut a 300 gram [10 1/2 ounce] slice, lay it flat, then cut three 100 gram [3 1/2 ounce] portions. Brush cut-side with a mixture of egg white and cornstarch, then dip into bread crumbs. On the pickup, sauté the terrine slices very gently in a little canola oil until golden brown; place breaded-side up in a 250 degree oven until terrine is just warm in the center, about eight minutes; add butter, a garlic clove, and thyme; baste the terrine with butter mixture; remove; drain it on a towel. Make a salad of braised artichoke hearts and sunchokes, blanched Swiss chard ribs, raw radishes, and blanched Romanesco broccoli; dress them with a warm bagna caôda sauce of anchovies, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Dress some Italian chicory leaves in red wine vinegar and olive oil. Lay the terrine on a plate, put the bagna caôda–dressed vegetables next to it, then garnish with chicory.”

Rigatoni al cacao e cinghiale (Cocoa rigatoni with wild boar). “This is our take on a traditional Tuscan dish usually done with long pasta or tagliatelle. We make extruded rigatoni in-house from a dough of semolina, 00 flour, water, and cocoa powder. We make boar sausage from a large dice of boar shoulder and fatback, curing salt, kosher salt, cracked black pepper, fennel pollen, browned fennel seeds, and chile flakes; it’s refrigerated overnight before it’s ground through a medium dye the following day. For the sauce: Sauté the sausage, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks; add a little chicken stock, a dot of butter, a drop of red wine vinegar, dried cherries that have been plumped in Chianti, toasted walnut pieces, and chopped parsley. The cooked pasta and sauce get tossed together in the pan, then transferred to a bowl. Grated Pecorino Toscano goes over the top.”

Bistecca alla griglia (American Wagyu top sirloin with bone marrow sformato, root spinach & pickled juniper sauce). “This is a very traditional butcher’s, or French bistro, cut. The French term is culotte. It’s a really delicious piece of meat—the muscle within the top sirloin that’s triangular in shape. Because it’s American Wagyu, it has beautiful marbling, too. We buy the whole culotte, portion it into 250 gram (9 ounce) blocks, then season with salt and pepper before grilling. Let it rest before slicing it. Serve with bone marrow sformato, which is a fancy bread pudding. Soak marrow bones in salted water for a couple of days to draw the blood out; let them come to room temperature; press the marrow out; render the marrow, reserving the fat. Our pastry chef makes a really good focaccia in winter that’s brushed with a little duck fat, black peppercorns, and rosemary. We pulse cubes of day-old focaccia in the processor to make bread crumbs. To that we add egg, milk, cream, salt and pepper, roasted garlic puree, and bone marrow fat to form a wet mixture. Spray a hotel pan with cooking spray; line with plastic wrap; pour mixture into the hotel pan about an inch and a quarter deep; wrap in plastic wrap; cook in a steamer until set, about half an hour. Take it out; uncover; let it rest 10 minutes; cover with plastic wrap; place another hotel pan on top to weigh it down; refrigerate for a couple of hours. Sauté rectangles of pudding in olive oil until lightly colored; finish in the oven, flipping once and basting with some added butter. Place bistecca on the plate with sformato, wilted root spinach—also called savoy spinach— and pickled juniper sauce. We buy pickled young juniper berries from Quebec. Make a sauce reduction with shallots, garlic, black peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, white wine, and a little white wine vinegar; add veal stock; reduce until almost of sauce consistency; strain; blend; with the motor running, add a little bone marrow fat, pickling liquid from juniper berries, roasted garlic puree, and salt and pepper. Once the sauce emulsifies, add pickled juniper berries. It’s similar to an au poivre sauce in appearance with an almost Sichuan peppercorn–mouthfeel—not as numbing, but more of a tingle. The young juniper berries are more subtle in flavor than mature ones, so you can use more of them. They have an incredible perfume.”

Pastry chef Richard Capizzi
Chocolate/Amaretto bonet with butternut squash cake, amaretti cookie & black pepper/rosemary syrup. “As it progresses into fall, it gets more and more challenging to do seasonal. That’s when I move into vegetables. A bonet, which is from Piedmont, is like a chocolate flan in appearance. What makes this one unique is that we bake it in hard plastic cups with no ridges that can withstand up to 500 degrees of heat. Make a caramel; when it reaches 380 degrees, add rosemary; deglaze with water to get it to 280 degrees, the holding point for syrup; strain; add ground black pepper, which will look like vanilla bean seeds; while hot, pour into molds in a shallow layer; let set at room temperature. For the custard base, heat cream; infuse with cocoa powder, 70 percent chocolate, and sugar; incorporate eggs; strain; when cool, add Amaretto; pour into the molds; steam in a combi oven until congealed. No air bubbles are incorporated, so it comes out very smooth and creamy. Let it sit overnight. These are disposable molds, so crack the top and unmold. The butternut squash cake is like a genoise: Whip eggs to ribbon stage; add roasted butternut squash puree, salt, flour, and baking soda; steam in an oven, which prevents the top surface from taking on too much color, so that when it’s unmolded and flipped over, the bottom doesn’t have a thick skin. Cut crescent moon shapes from cake. Cook squash bâtons, vanilla bean, black pepper, and some rosemary syrup thinned with a little water sous-vide until tender, creating an almost confit effect; hold in rosemary syrup at room temperature for service. Make amaretti cookies with egg whites, ground almonds, cocoa powder, and Amaretto; pipe out on a baking sheet; dust with confectioners’ sugar; bake. Place bonet and cake on the plate; top cake with a squash baton; add a cookie so that it’s half on and half off the bonet, similar to how a tuile would sit.”