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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.
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.
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
- Fill a mixing glass half way with ice.
- Add liquors and other cocktail ingredients.
- Twirl a bar spoon to stir for 20-30 seconds.
- Strain the cocktail into a well-chilled glass.
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.
the modernist with Chef Anthony Cafiero
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
smoked tombo tuna w/lemon gel & passion fruit
sturgeon w/ celery root, red cabbage & curried carrot
warm red kuri squash panna cotta w/ teff & espilette
umami ‘cereal’ w/maitake, wheat berries, jamon broth, millet & brussel sprouts
pork belly, romesco, mushroom ‘air,’ paprika
venison tenderloin, coffee, cocoa, beluga lentils, concord grape
lemon curd, cranberry sheet, 42 second almond cake
ganache, chili, crispy soy, smoked meringue, graham struesel
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.
It should come as no surprise that tentop’s recent Pastafarian dinner was a resounding success. Pasta is universally loved around the world and our guests were happy to eat five courses of it. The highly exalted Flying Spaghetti Monster was pleased and we felt his benevolent smile shining upon us all. The guest Chef, one Michael Perez; is a talented cook, one as immersed in the Chef life as I’ve seen. Fucking guy lives and breathes kitchens, and this pasta dinner proved his skill. It was a blast working with him again, we’ve got a rich history. Each dish was more succulent than the last, but recipe that follows was by far my favorite. As I was picking the meat off the rabbit carcasses I kept popping the plump little milk braised garlic cloves into my mouth. Your supposed to save those for the farce I guess. Use this filling to stuff your favorite pasta, we did casonsei, which look like little candy wrappers. Don’t be afraid to bust out your dick shaped cutter for other fun filled shape. I bet it would also make a great burrito filling.
Milk Braised Rabbit farce by Mike Perez
1 rabbit (hind quarters)
4 Spanish yellow onions(julienne)
1 gallon milk
1 bulb garlic
6 oz Pecorino Romano
1 bunch thyme (1/2 picked and chopped)
1 bunch rosemary (1/2 picked and chopped)
Season legs and sear. Rest on a rack. Add onions to pan and caramelize, reserve half of the caramelized onions for later. Add all the garlic to the onions in the pan with the thyme and rosemary (whole) sauté until you smell the aromatics. Add legs back to pan and add milk to cover. Braise at 300*f until meat is falling off bone.
Shred pecorino. While hot pick rabbit off bone and salvage any garlic left in the milk, discard milk (it will be separated) and braised onions. In a food processor; process rabbit, fresh milk, chopped herbs(to taste), reserved onions, pecorino, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Balls deep.
You HAVE to process everything while hot or it will not be emulsify correctly or have a proper consistency. When the farce cools it will tighten up and be ready to pipe into any number of dick shaped pastas.
At tentop’s recent Offal Good dinner we served many of Chef Dunleavy’s creations; and one of the stand outs was this little goddammit here. A riff on the classic dish of Algeria; one seen throughout the Maghreb. An age-old sweet and savory combination, Pastilla combines a salty meat filling and a buttery sweet crust. Mark pushed the envelope a bit by replacing the traditional squab with veal sweetbreads, and the addition of a creamy carrot ice cream. The sweetbreads were seasoned with popular Moroccan blend of spices called Ras al Hanout, which kept me thinking of this guy, It all came together nicely with marcona almonds and fresh herbs. My faithful readers should take heart in the story of Chef Dunleavy, a real rags to riches story. Or in his case, a jizz-mopper to Chef story. I salute any who take on this recipe, the pay off is truly worth it.
Veal Sweetbreads Pastilla by Mark Dunleavy
2 lbs sweetbreads
1qt veal stock
1 T ras al hanout
1/8 c parsley, chopped
1/8 c chervil, chopped
1/8 c chives, chopped
salt & pepper
soak sweetbreads in a couple changes of mildly salty water overnight . drain and dry. Remove membrane. Season with ras al hanout and salt. Sear in a rondeau until golden on both sides. Remove. Add veal stock, ras al hanout and saffron. Bring to a simmer. Add sweetbreads cover and place in 350F oven for about 10 minutes, or until cooked with a minimal amount of pink remaining. Cool in braising liquid at room temperature and then press sweetbreads between two sheet pans. Reduce braising liquid by ¾. Clean sweetbreads and portion into popcorn size nuggets. Mix with a ¼ c of reduced braising liquid, 1 T crème fraiche, the chopped herbs and salt, pepper and ras al hanout to taste.
1 package of filo
½ c marcona almonds
1 T sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ c parsley, chopped
½ c melted butter
Prepare four layers of filo with butter and parsley spread between each layer. Crush marcona almonds and toss with sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt. Portion 1 ½ oz of filling and place on the filo. top with a covering of marcona mixture. Cut a rectangle 2” x 3” around the filling. Roll like a chimichanga, motherfucker.
Carrot I.C. (adapted from someone else’s recipe)
600 ml carrot juice
50 g glucose powder
40 g sugar
10 g glucose syrup
2 g ice cream stabilizer
5 egg yolks
300 ml cream
Reduce 300 ml of the carrot juice to a syrup. Add remaining juice, glucose powder, sugar, glucose syrup, ice cream stabilizer and salt. Scald. Temper into yolks. Cook to custard and strain into cream. Freeze
Bake filo pouches at 350 f until golden. Serve with carrot i.c and nut garnish.
My original idea for tentop was not to create a thematic supper club. I knew when I took the kitchen manager job at KitchenCru that i would need a creative outlet, a venue where I could experiment with food and write about it. I also thought I might be able to create a place for buddies of mine to cook; sous chefs or line cooks. Talented people who wanted to cook their own food, but worked under another Chef, so couldn’t. Not another venue to give the reach around to the usual suspects of the Portland food scene, but a place for the talented up and comers who make those Chefs’ celebrity possible. As noble as that all sounds, I also saw it as a chance to continue learning new techniques and biting ideas, the foundation of my culinary prowess. And the obvious benefit of doing half the work and receiving the same amount of glory was not unappealing, truth be told.
So, proud to say; our latest dinner showcased talented Chef Mark Dunleavy of Tabla on NE 28th. I met Mark at Ten-01, and I’ve written about him before on this blog. He picked a menu direction that turned out to be a hard sell: offal. I was a bit disappointed and surprised by this in Portland, with everyone preaching the whole “nose to tail” eating and all that farm to table shit. I figured people would be tripping over themselves to eat this stuff, but we didn’t fill the seats until the last minute. Chef Dunleavy created a menu both interesting and accessible, for the veterans of organ meats and noobs alike. The guests who attended were blown away, we had one couple tell us they wanted to buy a season pass to tentop; and they were visiting from DC.
After posting the pictures from this dinner on facebook, I’ve been inundated with requests from cook buddies in Portland who want to get in here and do a dinner with tentop; and I couldn’t be happier. Upcoming dinners will include themes like “Fusion,” because love it or hate it, it’s where innovation in food comes from. Also “Molecular,” because I know a talented Chef who can teach me some cool shit. And what about straight up Mexican? Everybody loves that shit, and I’ve got a guy for that. So stay tuned faithful readers, if there is still any of you out there. Here’s Mark’s menu, I handled the dessert, of course. I’ll be bugging him to hook me up with some recipes to post.
Chef Mark Dunleavy
foie gras mousse
“ants on a log”
pig heart rueben
house made rye, heart pastrami
confit lamb tongue
beets, watercress, horseradish
pig’s head, marinated mushrooms, pickled mustard seeds
deviled with potatoes, grilled hanger steak and parsley sauce
in the style of pastilla with carrot ice cream
“pig tail,” blood caramel, milk chocolate mousse
What’s more comforting to faithful readers like yourselves than a hamburger and hotdog? For me, I always want to eat one or the other of these invented elsewhere but perfected by America delicacies. I eat hot dogs or hamburgers more than anything else, Shorty can verify, and there are few things that I will argue more vehemently than the proper way to make/cook a burger. It’s my favorite food, there I said it. I am a simple man with simple tastes.
For tentop’s Junk Food dinner, we spun the old classics into something we could call our own, It’s just how we roll. The dog we did in the style of choucroute, the classic Alsatian dish of sauerkraut, sausage, pork belly, and sometimes potatoes. We followed through on the theme with a soft pretzel bun and whole grain mustard. We made our own smoked andouille sausage, a milestone for me. I’ve seen sausage piped into casings dozens of times, but have never done it myself. It’s easier than it looks, but it ain’t exactly easy.
The burger was a version of something I’ve been wanting to try for awhile, which I discovered here. It’s one of those “because fuck you that’s why” kind of dishes. We took truffle mac e chee, solidified it in the fridge, then cut out round discs which we stuffed into the burgers. The trim left over we breaded and deep fried as a side, and just called it “hamburger with truffle mac e chee,” making the stuffed part a surprise. The buns were a recipe I’m coming to lean on more and more from Ideas in Food. By the way, every time I say “Ideas in Food,” I think of something else. It’s a simple dough that is highly adaptable to many applications; foccacia, loaves, buns, etc. I even used it once as a spare tire on my car. Anyway, I stole it from one of the best books released this year, go buy a copy. But first make this bread.
Fail Safe Bread by Ideas in Food.
975 g AP flour
4.5 g dry active yeast
12.5 g sugar (or honey, or maple syrup, or brown sugar)
18 g salt
2.5 cups water, milk, tea, beer, etc warm like bathwater, not too hot
oil for brushing, semolina for tray.
- preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Oil a medium large bowl.
- Weigh all the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix just until a ball of dough forms. cover the bowl and rest 15 minutes.
- After the rest, mix on second (medium) speed for 7 minutes. Mold the dough into a ball and transfer to the oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise two hours, or until doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down and let it rise again until not quite doubled in size, about one hour.
- Portion the dough into roll size (3-4 oz) divide in half and roll into loaves, or maybe a loaf pan? Or flatten onto a oiled sheet pan for foccacia. Bake for ten minutes at 400, then rotate the pan reduce the temperature to 325 and bake an additional 12 minutes
The latest tentop dinner at KitchenCru was a smash, or at the very least; we all got smashed. We opened both evenings with a big bowl of espillette almond caramel corn, and an even bigger bowl of iced down coldies. I mean what better way to kick off a Junk Food dinner than with an ice cold PBR or Ranier?
Pictured above was the first (and my favorite) course of the menu, Nachos. We cut some white corn tortillas into triangles and fried ‘em off, then smeared ‘em with white bean puree. Then they got some cooked chorizo, a big hunk of octopus, manchego cheese and a sunny side quail egg. In my humble assessment, this was one of the most successful food items I have created. And, it breaks the “No Cheese With Seafood” rule quite readily. We served this with a startlingly outstanding Sangria Slushie, cold and refreshing. I had the lovely miss Chen portion this up in front of quests, it’s just so damn COOL to see a whole cooked octopus. Incidentally, cooking octopus is not as nearly as intimidating as I once thought. Simply blanch it real quick in nearly boiling water, then pressure cook it for an hour, and let the steam dissipate naturally. Furthermore, pressure cookers aren’t nearly as terrifying as I expected them to be. Thanks to Tony Two Fingers for walking me through this technique.
The second appetizer course was Wings, a trio of those plump little beauties. And just to be clear, this. If I had my way I would never eat a drumette, only wings. And since I do get my way at tentop, only wings were served. I steamed all the wings after brining them overnight for twelve minutes. Then the wings sat on a rack over night to dry out for ultimate crispiness. When we finally went to fry them they had a full on pellicle going . We had three types, starting with the classic Buffalo. The only way to eat hot wings of this style is with blue cheese dressing, and because we do things a bit over the top here at tentop, we chose Rossini blue cheese for ours. This is hands down the best blue cheese on the planet, and it should be for the price. Shit for the price you should get a free bowl of soup. Second we had an Asian style wing, with a spicy chili crust and a plum dipping sauce. Lastly, my favorite; the Cool Ranch Dorito breaded wing with spicy peanut sauce. I used to put Doritos on my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and that’s where the idea had it’s origins.
These first two courses were a real microcosm of what we do at tentop. We take an idea, and then we push it as far over the top as we can. And that’s not for everybody, and that’s OK. Fuck the haters. We only want ten at a time anyway.
Cool Ranch Breaded Chicken Wings with Spicy Peanut Sauce
3 lbs chicken wings
3/4 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water from
1 gallon of water
1 tblsp fresh ground black pepper
3 cups flour
1 large bag of Cool Ranch Doritos
1. Measure the gallon of water and remove 2 cups of it, placing it in a pot and bringing it to a boil. When boiling, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, sugar, and black pepper. Stir to dissolve. Add this mixture back into the gallon of water.
2. Add the wings to the brine and cover, refrigerate for 5-6 hrs. Rinse wings well and pat dry. Lightly steam or quickly blanch the wings, about ten minutes in the steamer or 2 minutes in boiling water. Place wings on a rack set over a sheet pan and let dry out, uncovered, over night in the fridge.
3. Next day, pulverize the Cool Ranch Doritos in a food processor and create a work space for the standard breading procedure, with the ground Doritos as the breading. Proceed with breading in the manner described in the linked article.
4. Preheat your deep fryer to 350. Fry the wings until GBD, about 4-5 minutes. Serve with…
Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.