Tuesday, September 3, 2013

On a Bed Of...

We love roasting chicken on vegetables. Tonight we decided to pair thighs with potatoes. We blanched the spuds with garlic cloves. When they were tender we drained them and mixed them with some bone marrow roasted onions. The whole chicken is resting on a bed of broccoli that was dressed with bacon fat. The idea was to roast them together until the chicken was crisp and the broccoli was meltingly tender. The trick is that you have to move things around and stir the broccoli so that it all cooks evenly. When we put the chicken in the oven the dome temperature was reading 500°F. As it roasted the fat rendered from the skin into the vegetables. As it rested the juices soaked in. Smoke permeated everything during the cooking process. In the end it was a case of the whole being much more than the sum of its parts. Chicken and vegetables, coming together to make our best dinner to date.


We took a bottle of green chartreuse and cold reduced it. The rotary evaporator allows us to remove the unwanted alcohol. The herbal aromas concentrate. So does the sweetness. This essence of chartreuse is a leap forward from the one we cooked on the stove and paired with artichokes. This green elixir has us brimming with ideas: from glazing beets and lobster to macerating fresh berries and even revisiting our chartreuse ice cream without the hot notes of the high proof liqueur.

Pepperoni Buttermilk

100 grams pepperoni cut into slices 2.5 grams gum Arabic 0.75 grams xanthan gum Put the buttermilk and pepperoni into a blender and turn on low. Increase the speed to high and puree the mixture until it is smooth, about 45 seconds. Turn the blender down to low and sprinkle in the gum Arabic and xanthan gum. Increase the speed to high and blend for 30 seconds, until the powders have been completely absorbed. Turn the blender off and strain the pepperoni buttermilk through a fine mesh strainer. Use a small ladle or the back of a spoon to press on the solids and force all of the buttermilk liquid through the strainer. Use immediately or reserve the pepperoni buttermilk in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days. *The pepperoni buttermilk is heat stable. This does not mean you can leave it on the stove and forget about it. We use it to gently cook fresh beans, to enrich dried beans and as a sauce for seafood. When we cook with the pepperoni buttermilk it appears to curdle a bit during the initial heating. But continuing to cook it down as we did with the beans, whisking in a splash of cold water, or putting back into a blender will bring the sauce back together.

Pepperoni-Buttermilk and Cooking Beans

We like to eat fresh beans that are cooked until they are super soft and tender. We were first introduced to the idea of “overcooked” beans by Marco Canora. He showed us how to braise romano, wax, and runner beans in a blond soffrito with tomatoes and aromatics. The slow cooking process and what it did for the beans was revelatory. The memory continues to inspire us. We found lima beans at the Doylestown farmers market. I wanted to braise them. But I was not in the mood for tomatoes and onions. I like the idea of creamed corn and creamed spinach, so creamed lima beans were an easy leap. Except cooking in cream didn’t excite me. I am still smitten with buttermilk. So we looked at our bullet proof beurre monte as the base. We like to pair meat and beans together and everyone knows pepperoni is another fetish of mine so we added it to the mix. We used our blend of gum Arabic and xanthan gums to keep the mixture heat stable. Then we added the beans and simmered them over low heat for over an hour. The buttermilk briefly curdled and then came back together. The mixture thickened as the water evaporated from the pot. We did not peel the second skin from the lima beans. Instead we let gentle heat break them down. The end result was a stew of creamy lima beans flavored with pepperoni. The beans were fresh and flavorful. They easily held their own against the pepperoni. Everything came together beautifully. We ate them straight from the pot with a couple of spoons.

The gelatinous, fatty prize. Butter without the churning. Bone marrow takes the application of heat to break down. If it's not treated carefully it can melt away. We spoon it on toast or broil it under a bed of buttery, herbed bread crumbs. The bones can be roasted on a bed of onions or grilled alongside steaks on the barbie. It happily absorbs many flavors from smoke to bourbon. It can be blended with crumbs and seasonings and used to top almost anything, like clams casino or butterflied shrimp. It adds luxury to bearnaise sauce and mystery to hot vinaigrettes. Bone marrow is one of those secret ingredients that disappears into a dish and makes it exponentially better.

Sea Bean ...

If we look at sea beans and then think about how we like to cook things from the sea and the various kinds of beans, many ideas begin to blossom: sea bean salsa verde tartar sauce/ gribiche sea bean butter sea bean hummus sea bean salt buttermilk poached sea beans sea bean ranch dip/dressing sea bean butter minestrone with sea bean sea bean bread sea bean chili sea bean soup/consomme sea bean salad baked sea beans sea bean-potato puree fried sea beans tomatoes dressed with sea bean vinaigrette sea bean seasoned haricot vert sesame sea bean buns for a a filet o' fish sandwich

Cow Peas

We first worked with crowder peas doing a dinner with Sean at McCrady's. Recently we came across them at the Wrightstown farmers market. They were labeled field peas. They looked so familiar, I thought they might be the delicious crowder peas we worked with years ago. Using the internet to identify them, I believe we purchased Knuckle Purplehull Southern Peas. They were time consuming to peel though our, and when I say our I mean Aki's, efforts were rewarded. The peas were tender and had a clean green flavor. We cooked them with a light soffrito enriched with canned tomatoes and BBQ sauce. The peas matched well with the bold flavors. They became tender and creamy as they cooked. The grassy notes softened and a delicate sweetness came through. It was exciting to discover them at our local market and we can't wait to see what we can pair them with next.