Friday, February 22, 2013

Chef's Tasting

And now post-Valentine's Day, we start a whole series of tastings. Winter is seriously the most challenging time to do tastings as the showy summer fruits and vegetables are absent. We had fun with this menu making do with what we had on hand.

Smoked Salmon "Latke"
Smoked Salmon "Latke". Tony came up with the idea of inverting the smoked salmon and the potato, putting whipped potatoes on top of a thin pancake of shredded smoked salmon, capers, and dill. A twist on your mom's salmon croquettes.

Potted Rabbit
Potted Rabbit. We're blessed to have plenty of rabbits on hand and sometimes when we have too many, we conserve the rabbit by curing it and slow-poaching it in duck fat, then shredding the meat, seasoning it, and mixing it with the highly reduced braising liquid and more fat, then sealing it in a container under a layer of fat. Sound like rillettes? It is.

Hedgehog Mushrooms on Goat Grits
Hedgehog Mushrooms on Goat Grits. Recently, I've been on a kick of enriching my grits with goat cheese, especially to serve with a high acid red wine. On top is a mix of hedgehog mushrooms, roasted sweet potatoes, and spinach.

Sweetbreads. There may be no finer meat to eat than sweetbreads, these from our friends Bill and Holly at Martin's Angus Beef, our regular beef supplier. After poaching in court bouillon, being pressed overnight, and then cleaned, these labor-intensive nuggets have been hard-seared in pancetta oil after being tossed in Wondra and then finished with a splash each of heavy cream and veal glace. Did I mention a bit of black truffles as well? The green is cavolo nero.

Pork Pâté en Croûte
Pork Pâté en Croûte. I made a freaking awesome pork terrine earlier this week from pork shoulder, pork belly, and pork liver and I wanted to serve it for my tastings this week. But I didn't want to do the cold first course kind of thing with it because it has been so cold this week. Tony came up with the idea of wrapping the slices in pastry and then at some later point, we had made this awesome tart apricot chutney that was just hanging out waiting to be used, and so it went inside as well. Served with a whole-grain mustard vinaigrette to help tame the unctuousness of the terrine and the pastry.

Wild Boar Bobotie
Wild Boar Bobotie. I'm just going to say it right here and right now: feral wild boar is wild for a reason; it's barely worth eating. Domestic pork is so, so, so much tastier, fatter, and easier to work with. These big feral bastards from Texas are lean, stringy, chewy, and taste much more like beef than pork. Your idea of a good time? Not mine. So what can you do with it? Mostly, we grind it and add a hell of a lot of fat. And then we try to figure out what to do with pounds and pounds of ground boar. And bobotie, the unofficial national dish of South Africa, is a great way to use ground meat. More commonly made from lamb and/or beef, bobotie is an Indian-spiced mince pie topped with an egg custard. This one contains golden raisins, diced apricots, and diced apple.

Lime Curd Parfait
Lime Curd Parfait. With most of our dessert wines, something light and citrusy is called for, if we are not doing a savory profile dessert. Lime whip, lime curd, crème anglaise, and shortbread crumbles make this a tart and light finish to a heavy winter menu.

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