mrjeffmccarthy.com

Fried Chicken Ice Cream

It shouldn’t exist. When you put it in your mouth your palate is all “WTF?!” More than half of the people that tasted it laughed out loud just after they wiped the confused look off their faces. But much like that hamburger you once ate that used doughnuts instead of buns, sometimes things that defy reason just work; and should be embraced like all other forms of gluttony.

Full disclosure: this is not an original idea, nor is it an original recipe. Faithful Readers know I don’t have an original bone in my body. I once Googled “fried chicken ice cream” because that’s what guys like me do. What I turned up was this recipe based on a treat from the prolific Coolhaus. As I read through it I became very excited, agitated to the point of fidgeting in fact, because I saw a huge potential to improve upon the idea that they had spearheaded. What they do is create an intense fried chicken caramel, which has a ton of disgustingly good applications on its own, and ripple it into a maple brown butter ice cream. Solid. Super solid idea, none could argue. However, is this as “chicken-y” as can be? I mean if everything tastes like chicken, this needed to Chicken Punch me in the face. Why isn’t the dairy infused in this recipe? It seems like such a huge missed opportunity. Roasted chicken bones will flavor milk or cream just as well as water will when making stock, so why stop at the fried chicken caramel to drive that flavor home; I thought. Because…subtlety? Well there’s your problem right there!

Anyway, enough about that recipe, let’s talk about how I do it. First of all, one of the great joys of making this recipe for tentop was I found out a ten pound case of chicken skin is a thing that I can buy for $15. I never thought I’d be grateful for the huge demand for “boneless, skinless” anything, but here I am; a beneficiary of bi-product. At this juncture I’ll point out another flaw in the original recipe, especially when you double and triple this recipe as any self respecting, Hot-Blooded American will be wont to do. Chicken skin has a shit ton of fat in it, way more than the the amount of egg yolk in this recipe can emulsify into a smooth ice cream base. So if you are closely comparing the two recipes as I imagine all three of you that are reading will be, take note of step 2 in the custard method below. Another glaring misstep in my humble opinion is the inclusion of cornstarch in the OG recipe. Is it here to mitigate the excess of fat? Especially since the brown butter is left in it’s entirety in the recipe? Perhaps, but…well shit man be proactive, not reactive to ingredients’ behaviors. So I did the brown butter infusion as I would have for Brown Butter Ice Cream, but I also fried up some more of the chicken skin in that butter before proceeding with the Brown Milk process, which was created by Chef Sam Mason. The excess fat is discarded, so the custard base is my own basic recipe I’ve used for years, which requires no corn starch to work. We used this ice cream as a component of a dish at Supfast 2.

Fried Chicken Ice Cream

For the caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 lb chicken leg and thigh bones, roasted hard

For the fried chicken sauce:
¼ pound fresh chicken skins, roughly chopped
2 cups rich chicken stock
½ tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 tsp dried sage (or 2-3 leaves of fresh sage, chopped fine)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1. Place the chicken leg and thigh bones into a pot and cover with the cream. Bring this to a boil, cover, kill the heat and let steep 30 minutes. Strain of cream and add more cream if you need to to get 2 cups. Some of the cream will be soaked into the bones. Set aside infused cream

2. Place the sugar into a sauce pot with enough water to make a wet sand consistency. Caramelize the sugar to a rich amber, I look for the color of an old penny. Whisk in the chicken infused cream, return to a boil, then strain through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside the caramel.

3. Make the fried chicken sauce: Render the chopped chicken skins of their fat and cook them do a deep, fried chicken color. Pour off 95% of the rendered fat before adding the stock and remaining seasoning ingredients. Let this step simmer 20 minutes over low heat.

4. Whisk in the chicken caramel and bring to a boil. Pour the Fried Chicken Caramel into a storage vessel and let cool to room temp before covering and chilling overnight to develop flavors. Next day strain and save for use in the ice cream base, or to impress your friends.

For the Custard Base:

3 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1 roasted chicken carcass, hot and smashed up
1/2 lb butter
1/4 lb chicken skins roughly chopped
9 ounces sugar
8 large egg yolks
1. This is a two or optionally three day process, so bear that in mind. Melt the butter in a sauce pot big enough to hold the first five ingredients. Add the chicken skins and brown them as you did for the caramel sauce. The butter will brown as you do this, take care not to take it to dark.
2. Pour in the dairy, and stir the whole mess up well. Add the smashed roasted chicken carcass and pour this whole thing into a bucket to chill over night. The fat from the butter and chicken skin will infuse the cream and half & half as it rises to the top and solidifies. This is the Sam Mason Brown Milk method, the best way to make brown butter ice cream.
3. The next day, poke a hole in the now solid layer of fat and pour off the dairy. The chicken carcass should be semi-stuck in the fat. When the liquid is all poured off, strain it through a fine mesh sieve. Add enough cream to bring it back up to 4 total cups. Discard the fat and chicken carcass.
4. Make a custard by bringing the dairy and sugar to a boil, tempering in the egg yolks and cooking it until it coats the back of a spoon, or 170 F. Optional step: Chill this base overnight to develop flavors in the base. This is what true ballers do.Next day strain it and prep your ice cream machine for spinning.
5. Take your Fried Chicken Caramel and bring it to room temp. Transfer it to a squeeze bottle for rippling into the ice cream.
6. Spin the custard in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As you are removing it from the machine, ripple in the caramel by layering it in. Spoon a layer of the ice cream, and squeeze the caramel over in a squiggle pattern, then repeat. Do this until all the ice cream is rippled. Spoon some into your mouth and shake your head, amazed.
We served the ice cream as pictured below, with a sour dough waffle, foie gras torchon, and a fat hunk of buttermilk fried chicken skin. Because America.

Starstruck at Feast PDX…Again!!

Another fantastic time at this years’ Feast PDX, specifically at the Night Market. Not only did I get to work with the bad asses from Antique Taco, I got to meet one of my pastry heroes; Christina Tosi of Milk Bar! And…she invited us to visit her production bakery nest time we’re in NY! I love this event, already looking forward to next year.


Tentop Presents: Will Preisch

There are Chef’s that I have respected by visiting their restaurants and eating their food. There are Chef’s I have stalked on twitter and voraciously devoured their cookbooks or blogs. Then there are Chef’s that feed me something that compels me, mid-meal; to stalk into the kitchen and hug them. Will Preisch is such a Chef, and We were extremely lucky to work with him for a week of prep and three nights of service.

Will until recently was Chef at The Bent Brick in downtown Portland. He’s worked all over town, most notably Park Kitchen and Le Pigeon. I met him at ten01 when he was using his time off to stage around town. His considerable experience has caused him to pursue a cuisine that is foremost creative, but manages to comfort and nourish without being too cerebral. His subtle use of modern techniques makes you ponder his inspirations, without feeling confused or alienated. If you can’t tell, he’s one of my favorite Chef’s; and through tentop I feel lucky to be able to call him a friend. Anyway enough waxing romantic about Mr. Preisch, let’s talk about the food.

We served eleven courses of Will’s food, but I’ll just touch upon my four favorites here. You can view and drool over the full menu here. If you have a facebook account, log in and check out the full photo set here, and like the tentop page while you’re there. We opened with a bagel, which was Will’s nod to our sister business Bowery Bagels. The Bagel crew was very excited to make these mini bagels, and Will used them as a vessel for his miso cured smoked cream cheese. We topped the cheese with BLiS trout roe, which is quite good on its own but gave this little bite a briny pop that had guests wooing, and anxiously awaiting what was next. A true “appetizer.”

I have to mention the shellfish dish for a few reasons, mainly because it is a dish that I could never conceive, an exercise in technical prowess as well as a smart use of different textures with similar ingredients. I also mention it because it through it I was able to witness a guest, for the first time, as he described it “…finally get how food pairs with wine.” It was cool to watch his his eyes glaze over as he chewed and sipped, and when his eyes came back into focus he was somehow…changed. I remember the first time I experienced food and wine in this way; and how it changed me, too.

Skipping ahead a few courses we had the cabbage and horseradish dish, which at a glance seemed completely innocuous but turned out to be my favorite of the night. Will braised the cabbage sous vide in his homemade sauerkraut vinegar, and served it with caramelized yogurt he had made in the pressure cooker. The brown butter crumbs he made by simply tossing milk powder into butter as it browned were perfect, and that’s a technique you’ll see me crib a lot. What I loved about this dish it is took an everyday ingredient that usually is used as a side, and brought it to center stage. It was uber-rich but not in a fatty, unctuous way.

Another dish that was a bit of a game changer for me was Will’s celery root dish. The ice cream was similar to a kulfi, that is to say un-churned, but what was striking about it was Chef Will’s use of red eye gravy. The coffee/ham sauce went perfectly with the earthiness of the celeriac in a face palm kind of way; and that is a great bullet point about Will’s food. It’s “why didn’t I think of that” food.

Ok, one more dish…because: SAVORY OATS. Will first hit me with this on a dish at the Bent Brick, essentially a deconstructed haggis, but this version was flavored with green garlic and served with two preparations of duck. The use of oats as a starch in and of it self is genius, but as a vessel for flavor it makes the mind race with possibilities. The presentation on this dish was just gorgeous as well, it popped with color and the eye had no choice but to follow the food around the plate. Another favorite of the night.

Suffice to say I learned a lot working with Will. About cooking and such of course but also organization, cleanliness, and organization. I write organization twice because Will, impossibly; was more organized each night. From portioning herbs for garnish to better organizing our bus tubs, every detail was considered and reconsidered and then considered again. This meticulousness carries over to everything that Will does, and you can’t help but get caught up in it when in the kitchen with him.


Vol Au Vent: The Easy Way.

I’ve seen many a great technique in this biz, I mean I hope so after almost 20 years. Every once and awhile thought I see something that really changes the game, a true face-palm-angels-singing-on-high kind of moment. Like the technique for cleaning chop bones with butcher twine, or the Mexican Egg Separating Method (MESP.) One of the finest examples of these types of techniques was demoed to me rather non-nonchalantly by the multi-talented and often elusive Chef Eric Suniga, with whom I worked with briefly at ten-o1. He saw me and my assistant laboriously struggling to make hundreds of tiny vol au vents late one night using this basic method. Off the cuff he mentions, “I’ve got a really fast way to do that,” which is the same method I’m about to show you, Faithful Readers. I have described this method to countless cooks and Chefs by drawing something similar on a piece of parchment or paper towel, now I’ll Just send ‘em a link.

Use this techinque as I often do as a vessel for mushroom duxelles,or smoked salmon salad. Make larger versions for a super clean tart tatin. There are really a thousand-and-one uses for this versatile pastry. Just Google it. Anyway, here’s a Photoshopped diagram of the technique which took me way longer to make than it will for you to make hundreds of vol au vents. FYI the Pear Tatin pictured at the top of this post uses the same method, just with a square cutter.


Tentop Returns: And How.

After almost a year hiatus, Michael and I got back into the kitchen and fucking slayed it. I don’t know how else to say it. It was the most thoughtful, portion appropriate menu we’ve put together to date. Start to finish, as we put up each course on the first night, I was very proud of what we had done.

We opened with an Oyster Po-Baby, a nod to the creativity of Chef Larry Piaskowy of Bar Jars, a dear friend of Kitchen Cru and tentop. It was cute and delicious, and a straight bite off his idea. Thanks Chef.

Second course closely related to my faithful reader’s interests. A play on the simple, rustic Turkish Egg; we did sage butter poached eggs and Ham Toast. That’s right HAM TOAST. For the yogurt element of the dish I scored some home made stuff from PDX Biryani. I blended confit garlic and paprika into it and holyeeee shit. Turkish Eggs 2.0.

Third we did an almost…standard dish. A straight take on Spanish flavors we had Black Cod seared in chorizo oil, bomba rice, baby clam nage. We gave it the tentop treatment with some deep fried chorizo slices. It went over quite well.

The entree course was one that people around me were probably just as happy to see come together as I was. I had been talking about doing a ponzu braised item with a crispy kale salad for way too long. We ended up doing it with Tails & Trotters pork cheeks. Michael had the genius idea to add a little hoisin to the sweet potato puree that blanketed the plate, and damn. This dish was a home run. Check the recipe below.

Our dessert that night was another one I had been wanting to try for awhile, essentially french fries dipped in a milkshake like you would get stoned off your gourd at your favorite drive-thru. We made pommes dauphine, piped ‘em into “fries” and froze ‘em solid before frying and serving with a shake. It’s a fun, interactive dessert that would work quite well on many menus. Basically…a fucking churro.

Ponzu Braised Pork Cheeks

8-10 pork cheeks, preferably from Tails & Trotters
vegetable oil as needed
1 cup white wine
2 cups lemon juice
2 cups orange juice
2 cups grape fruit juice
2 cups lime juice
1/4 cup soy
3 -4 chunks palm of sugar
1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 medium white onions, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed

1. Trim off any excessive fat from the cheeks but don’t go crazy. You want some of that fat to render when you…
2. Sear the pork cheeks on all sides until golden brown. Remove from the pan and saute all the veggies in the rendered fat. Do not be afraid to get some color on them. Deglaze with the white wine.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine as you bring it to a boil. Add in the pork cheeks, cover tightly and braise in a 300 F oven until tender, about 2 1/2 hrs.
4. Let the whole mess cool to room temp before chilling it, overnight, in the pan it was cooked in.
5. Next day, scrape off and discard any fat that has solidified in the pan. Remove the pork cheeks and set them aside, preferably under refrigeration.
6. Strain the braising liquid and reduce it by half. Adjusting the seasoning with soy and palm sugar as needed. You are looking for the perfect balance between salt (soy) acid (citrus) and sweet (palm sugar.) If your reduction is not thick enough to coat the pork cheeks, thicken it with a little with cornstarch. Just be sure to bring to to a roiling boil to cook of any starchy taste.
7. Warm the pork cheeks up in the sauce, coating them evenly. Serve hot.


Starstruck at Feast PDX

Feast PDX was quite simply insane. Anyone involved could at least attest to it’s grand scope if not it’s amazing content. So if your interested, ask any of those people to elaborate. Personally, I don’t need to relive it. The quintessential moment for me is pictured above. If you don’t know who that is standing next to me, then how the ever-loving fuck did you end up on this website? Faithful readers may recognize him from Iron Chef America, where he unabashedly gave his honest opinion, sometimes with eloquent rancor. Author of two of my favorite books and renowned judge of food (and people.) He also writes for this little known publication.

Anyway, it was awesome to meet him, and it was the cherry on top of a very long month. More blogging soon. Probably. Hopefully.


A Tale of Torus

Whew.  I mean motherfucking WHEW.  So much has happened since my last post that I can’t figure out where to begin. I guess the biggest and most obvious thing to mention is the latest project that I’m involved in, Bowery Bagels. The story goes like this: My employer and friend Michael Madigan has a mean bagel recipe. I mean these things are REAL bagels, which where I grew up you didn’t have to clarify what that means. Out here in the Northwest however, the definition of that oh-so common torus shaped bread is much more nebulous; but I digress. Yes, this is a true bagel recipe; a simple, malty, glutenous dough which is formed, long fermented, boiled, seeded, and baked. Anything else just isn’t a bagel. And Michael’s recipe is a fine example. I first tasted this recipe about 10 months ago, Michael had made a batch to butter up a certain contact at a certain grocery store to hopefully get the products of one of Kitchen Cru’s clients onto the shelves at said grocery. The products were almost forgotten as the bagels were devoured, and the contact urged Micheal to go into production and make these bagels available to the masses.  When he came back from that meeting, the excitement glimmered in his eyes, and the so catalyzed the meteoric rise of our bagel production and what would become Bowery Bagels.

We did R&D. We converted Michael’s recipe for 8 bagels to 16, 32, 64 and we outgrew our mixing options at Kitchen Cru. It was right around this time that we started development of one of our signature bagels, the Miso Soy Ginger (MSG.) The most significant milestone in this process, maybe the whole Bowery process in its entirety, was the hiring of my dear friend Kathy High, a Dough Whisperer of the Highest Order. She arrived to the party at about version 9.2 of the MSG’s development, and after touching the dough once, doing a little research, she dialed in the recipe to what it is today.

Fast forward to today. Kathy has kicked so much ass that there is little ass left to kick. 10,000+ bagels a week are pumped out of Kitchen Cru, and more and more are ordered every week from our numerous wholesale accounts which include Stumptown Coffee and New Seasons Market. After several pop ups at Cru, our store front has been opened across Broadway next door to the Gilt Club, and we already have a devoted crowd of local followers; served by a devoted staff of kick ass peeps. I’m working on my second sandwich menu for the shop, which has been delightfully fun thanks to another key employee, Erin Andrews. She preps all the food for the shop as a culinary ninja such as herself would do such things. And me…well…I just try to keep it all rolling forward. One day I’m ordering a pallet of high gluten flour, or picking up huge buckets of malt syrup, the next I might be scaling out ten batches of dough and corn-mealing 500 sheet pans. In the same week you’ll find me R&Ding new sandwich ideas, or showing Erin how to make foie torchon for our foie gras schmear. All the while running Kitchen Cru with my newly hired kitchen manager, Ingrid Chen.

In a nut shell, I’m doing great my Faithful Readers. Better than ever in fact. So as the dust settles a little bit, and the talented people I work with take more and more off my plate; expect a lest a FEW more posts than you’ve been seeing here. And no, I haven’t forgotten about tentop, and I hope you all haven’t either. So come eat a bagel for fuck’s sake, they’re damn good.


Cocktailia

Tentop has evolved in ways that my faithful readers never would have dreamed at it’s inception, at that is too cool for me to put into words. Our latest dinner however, was a little closer to the basic form we started with. To put it most simply, two guys cooking the food they wanted to cook. We had the fortunate benefit of having Nick Keane on board as our bar tender, and his drinks were the starting point for all the dishes that Michael and I came up with. While my liver may never forgive me for the R&D put in on this menu, I feel it was some of the best food Micheal and I have cooked, and it had to be; to stand up to Nick’s banging concoctions.

The whole menu and pairings were killer, as I hope you can imagine; but I’d like to focus on two dishes. Our entree, Delmonico Steak Frites is a good snapshot of how we approach dish design. Take a classic, in this case two classics, and jam ‘em into something new, something the same but different. Here we started with Steak Rossini, a classic even among the classics, basically filet and seared foie gras. With our typical “we can do better” attitude, we switched out the filet mignon for rib eye, (as we are, in fact, men;) and the seared foie for torchon, because it spreads like butter. We molded the torchon into a fancy flexible mold to get the cool shape. A full rib eye steak seemed a bit much for a multi-coursed meal like this, so at Michael’s suggestion we had it butchered in the Delmonico style by Ian of Tails & Trotters. I know better than to tackle a butchery project like this on my own, and Ian’s skill is widely known. He did such a good job that we ended up cooking the suckers whole, and then sexily slicing them at service. So we’ve got steak, we’ve got foie…how about truffle fries? So yeah, we jammed in yet another classic; Steak frites. Nick came up with the perfect pairing with this, a goose fat washed Manhattan, which had a lingering earthiness to it that rode smoothly underneath the profound richness of this dish. Fuck was it good.

My other favorite of the night was partially due to the pairing, and partially due to the fact that I literally dreamed this dish up. When we tasted through the cocktails the first time, I knew right away I needed to rethink my dessert. This cocktail (originally named the McRittenhouse before Nick settled on Bitter Vieux,) is one of the best I’ve tasted. Thick and syrupy, stirred of course, and perfectly balanced. This drink needed more than a slice of pie next to it. I’d been dicking around a bunch with the Milk Bar cookbook, with mixed results, and the answer eventually came from there…kind of. I had a dream one night, and my better half can verify this, because I woke up spouting gibberish about “the best ice cream sandwich” before rolling over to return to loudly snoring. The dream involved my combining Tosi’s milk crumb recipe with the age-old “crunchy layer” I learned from Chef Tony Martin. I made the crunchy layer, then covered it with the milk crumbs, covered both with a layer of parchment and weighted it down. After it was set I portioned it into rectangles and used it as the “bread” for an ice cream sandwich. In my dream, I did this process countless times. I just kept doing it and doing it until I woke up. Weird huh? Anyway, dreams do come true sometimes, and in this case, thankfully so. Here’s a recipe.

Milk Crumb Crunch

first, make the milk crumbs.

you’ll probably want to double the recipe, it’s a good thing to have around.

then you’ll need:

12 oz of chocolate (I use 64% cocoa barry)

3 cups of feuilletine (if you can’t get feuilletine, you can use an equal amount of ground nuts, corn flakes, potato chips, or any combination there of. Just some crunchy shit you think will taste good in chocolate)

1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Prepare a half sheet pan with a silpat.

2. When the chocolate is melted, mix in the feuilletine all at once. Quickly spread the mixture out onto the prepared pan using an offset spatula.

3. While the chocolate is still warm, sprinkle an even layer of milk crumbs over it. Cover this with parchment and pile on a few half sheets on top to press the two recipes together.

4. Chill until fully set, at least one hour. Bring the pan up to room temperature before portioning into desired shape. How I used it is pictured below, as the cookie in a butter pecan ice cream sandwich. We served it with salted orange caramel and

Bitter Viuex by Nick Keane

1 1/2oz Rittenhouse Rye
3/4 Laird’s Applejack
3/4 Lillet Blanc
1/4 Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Benedictine
3 dashes Fees whiskey barrel bitters

  1. Fill a mixing glass half way with ice.
  2. Add liquors and other cocktail ingredients.
  3. Twirl a bar spoon to stir for 20-30 seconds.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a well-chilled glass.


Tentop Presents: The Modernist with Chef Cafiero

My skepticism about modernist cuisine, so named after ‘molecular gastronomy‘ fell out of favor; is not a thing I hide. As it is with so many things, the doubts stem from ignorance, intimidation, and unabashed pig-headed stubbornness. When Chef Anthony Cafiero (AKA Tony Two Fingers) approached me about doing a tentop based on modernist techniques, my skepticism faded as I began to understand the kind of dishes he wanted to do. This wouldn’t be a masterbatorial onslaught of foams, gels, and powders; a showcase of chef-jizz that just barley resembled food. No, Tony has a real knack for applying these techniques in a very non-obnoxious way, and his infectious enthusiasm one cannot help being swept up in. And while this dinner did in fact have foams, gels, and powders; they were all used as an interesting twist on something Tony is quite good at, making food taste good. I mean, you’ve eaten at Tabla, right?

I felt those pangs of skepticism return as mid way through the first day of prep, we hadn’t actually cooked anything. We had used the blender about eight times, had done some steeping, so I guess there was some heat applied, but cooking? This wasn’t quite cooking yet. We made a curried carrot foam that would keep it’s shape for days. We made passion fruit pearls (or ‘caviar’) in a way that I would almost call easy. We made a panna cotta that was intended to be served warm. Yeah…warm panna cotta…I was digging this, I was learning things here. We brined some venison loins, and that was the closest to my comfort zone as we were going to get that day.

It wasn’t until the day of service that we started to ‘cook.’ Pork bellies were tanked for a long, slow swim in the circulator. Tombo tuna was butchered. Venison came off the brine and also went into the tank to cook sous vide. As we started to set up the mise en place for service, I started to get a sense of the full scope of what were about to do. We had five one to two bite ‘tastes’ followed by eight courses of modern tapas, 6 savory and two sweet. We had an intermission planned with aroma therapy and cocktails. We had Chris Onstad on hand to document it all in his distinct, eloquent prose. As the guests started to arrive, I knew that this was going to be a once in a lifetime dinner.

Service was a bit of a blur, I can’t lie. Each course came together as planned, but I was shocked as the colors and flavors popped the way they did, it being the middle of winter and all. We rolled through the small bites, we smoked tombo to order, Tony seared sturgeon and I finally felt heat on my arms as the fire burned hot and fast. As we plated the ‘Umami Cereal,’ I had one of those moments where I thought ‘Wow, this is my job,’ and whatever I had done to get there I silently rejoiced in. It’s crazy to watch a dinner go from a page filled with scribbles to such a visceral experience. During our short intermission, we served a cocktail called a ‘neBroni,’ where in we made a simple negroni augmented with root beer liqueur. We sealed it up in a cryovac bag and had Eric squeeze it into the glasses like an udder, pouring it over orange ice cubes. Eat your heart out Morgenthaler. The most memorable plating for me was the one pictured above, a coffee crusted venison loin with a concord grape fluid gel and beluga lentils. The venison was a succulent morsel, and I had a blast with the ‘blood spatter‘ style plating.

A play by play of this dinner would only serve to trivialize it, as it was an experience that cannot be replicated with words or otherwise. Suffice to say Chef Cafiero is cooking WAY over our heads, all the while being one of the most approachable and friendly dudes on the scene. Here’s the full menu from this amazing night. Click here to log into facebook and see the entire set of pictures.

tentop presents

the modernist with Chef Anthony Cafiero

’snacks’

apple & absinthe granita w/ pork powder, sangria sphere with finger lime & shiso, mushroom cream w/truffle pearls, licorice w/eucalyptus & pickled pears, apple cider w/ chorizo gel and crispy crepe

small fish

smoked tombo tuna w/lemon gel & passion fruit

big fish

sturgeon w/ celery root, red cabbage & curried carrot

small veg

warm red kuri squash panna cotta w/ teff & espilette

big veg

umami ‘cereal’ w/maitake, wheat berries, jamon broth, millet & brussel sprouts

small meat

pork belly, romesco, mushroom ‘air,’ paprika

big meat

venison tenderloin, coffee, cocoa, beluga lentils, concord grape

fruit

lemon curd, cranberry sheet, 42 second almond cake

chocolate

ganache, chili, crispy soy, smoked meringue, graham struesel


McRamen.

Chef’s and faithful readers the world over have had a long standing obsession with ramen, and not just the instant ramen that has fed countless generations of college students the world over. This Japanese comfort food calls more and more food lovers into it’s ranks yearly, but relatively few have taken the challenge of trying to make their own.  David Chang’s expose on the topic in the first issue of Lucky Peach magazine recently has had many kitchens buzzing, and mine is no exception. I tried making his recipes verbatim soon after reading the magazine, and felt so armed to start fucking around with my own version.

The noodles for this ended up being Chang’s recipe, verbatim. I experimented with making potato noodles using potato flour; didn’t work. The noodles kept expanding then turning to mush when I went to cook them. After I had given up I was told that I should have worked in xanthan as a binder, which one day I may try.

For the broth, we did a traditional corned beef braise; wherein a beef brisket is brined for five days, then braised for four hours in a low oven. We strained off the broth, augmented it with a simple beef stock made from cows’ necks. We steeped in konbu and ground dried shiitake mushrooms, and reduced the broth by one third. The traditional seasoning for ramen broth comes from what’s called tare (tar-ay,) a rich syrupy stuff made from chicken backs, soy, mirin, sake, and bacon. We tweaked this by using hanger steak instead of the chicken backs, and smoked ham hock along with the bacon. The tare is blended into the broth right before it hits the bowl. Again, I adapted all of this from Lucky Peach, so I hope David Chang doesn’t sue me. However, I guess if he was going to, he would have already.
The idea behind this dish was to “fuse” corn beef and cabbage with ramen, and the garnishes reinforced this. We had baby carrots, roasted fingerling potatoes, raw shredded cabbage, pickled mushrooms, and a breaded and fried soft boiled egg. We made a radicchio chip that had the very similar texture and flavor to the traditional nori. The hunk of corned beef was pull apart tender, warmed through in a little bit of the ramen broth.

Overall, I was extremely happy with this dish. As my own toughest critic, I have a few critiques. Firstly, ramen should not be part of a multi-coursed dinner. Ramen IS a multi-coursed dinner. I did not have enough broth in relation to the other ingredients in the bowl because I was worried about over filling people, as is my custom. Ramen should be a huge satisfying meal unto itself, not just a stop on runaway fusion train.

It’s worth mentioning that PDX Eater did a little piece on this dish for their reoccurring Chef in the Kitchen feature. A big and warm thanks to Erin Dejesus for her great article and ongoing interest in KitchenCru, and as many thanks to the talented photographer Dina Avila for her beautiful photos. The article is cool in an of it self and all, all though I was so excited during the shoot I forgot to put the corned beef in it. The real joy of this article however, came the day after; when people started to comment. Check it out, it’s worth a good laugh.