Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Seasonal Tribute

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the summer is fading fast. In fact, my produce purveyor has already informed me (to his own dismay) that local Winter Squash(!!!) such as butternut and acorn are now available, although the term actually refers to squash harvested autumn that can be stored through winter, but still...!!!

I always find myself grasping at the tail-end of the season this time of year, trying to squeeze in every incomplete idea that I have jotted down in my notebook over the summer out of fear that I will be unable to coerce the same ingredient for another nine months or so. Fortunately for me I am always looking forward towards something new, but if an old idea falls into place it is only a sign that it is even more apparent that it belongs in my repertoire, as is the case with my next special.

I had first conceptualized a sauce that I've called a "Bacon Ragout" for my Guest Chef Night at the Farestart organization a little over a year ago, but I never had a chance to use it at the restaurant until now: first I finely chopped some Bavarian Meats bacon (have I already stated this as the BEST?...worth doing again) and rendered it slowly to yield its fat in order to create a base for my sauce, then I added sliced garlic, chopped onion, diced carrot and a touch of grated ginger root. Once the foundation was set I added half of a bottle of red wine, a mild beef stock, diced local tomatoes and chopped baby fennel and allowed it to simmer for a few hours to mature.

I knew that I wanted to use this sauce as a variation on the classic Southern dish of Smothered Chicken Thighs, but I really wanted to add the refinement of crispy skin to the traditional concept, so I pan-seared the skin side in rendered duck fat before roasting them in the oven (hey, I have to make up for the vegetarian dish from last week, right?). Once cooked through I returned the chicken to the bacon ragout so that they could absorb some of that succulent sauce before turning it all out over perfectly cooked jasmine rice.

The favors are Mediterrasian with the health benefits of southern style cooking!!!

For this week's drink special I decided to do a tribute to one of my many mentors, Paul Nicaj. Paul is one of a few who are responsible for giving me my first Executive Chef position and is also notoriously known from the Plaza and Pierre Hotels in New York City. One of his favorite introductory drinks to greet guests is the Bellini, a mix of peach nectar and champagne, so I thought that I would pay tribute to Paul and the progress that he has helped me make by offering a bellini made with fresh juiced Northwestern Peaches!!!!

Better yet, if you specifically ask for "Paul's Bellini" we will give you 25% off of the regular price!!

If Paul has taught me anything, it is loyalty to your customers, because without them, you are nothing.

With Love,