Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Death Row Menu

Many people ask me what my favorite food is. As a chef I have been fortunate enough to taste some of the best ingredients that you can find in this world. I've had heaping spoonfuls of Beluga caviar, triple-seared Kobe beef and beloved foie gras (just to name a few) prepared at some of the greatest restaurants in this country, if not the world.

The question always reminds me of the last meal on death row game where you pick the menu perfect enough to die happy afterwards. My answer may surprise you since even after all of my travels and culinary conquests, my menu is simple: Alaskan King Crab Legs with Drawn Butter, Prime Rib (roasted whole) with Sauteed Broccolini, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Classy, huh?

But since I was asked what my one favorite food is, it would hands down be the King Crab. Why? Maybe it was growing up in the Midwest back when if tuna was served, it was cooked more than just seared, where family trips to Florida with my mom and step-dad broadened my culinary horizons with fresh fish and seafood. I remember seeing my first live shrimp jumping around on the docks, deep sea fishing with mom "Chumming" over the side of the boat, and of course, endless buffet lines piled high with displaced Alaskan King Crab Legs. My mother and I still believe to this day that we put at least one restaurant out of business due to their "All You Can Eat King Crab" nights...

Due to a drop in prices for king crabs I was able to not only use it in this week's special, but to also do a take on my Death Row Meal to offer our first (and affordable) Surf 'n' Turf:

Right away I knew I wanted to create a variation of Steak Oscar, which is filet mignon topped with crabmeat, asparagus and bearnaise. Instead of using the dry and costly tenderloin I went with the second most tender cut of beef - the flat iron steak. Once grilled to medium rare I topped it with an "au gratin" of crab, half and half, shallots, garlic, butter, Parmesan and white wine before lightly coloring in the oven. To finish the plate I went with a combination of two traditional steakhouse accompaniments: mashed potatoes and creamed spinach, along with a preparation of a red bell pepper jelly with balsamic vinegar that balances the dish by cutting through the richness of the au gratin.

If Alaskan King crab is my favorite food, then I must include my favorite spirit in this week's cocktail special as well: bourbon. Bourbon may not be what I grew up on, but I sure grew up around it in the suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky and I never miss an opportunity to play with it!

Despite mixing bourbon with anything other than water being blasphemy in my family (a trait even my NYC born wife has taken to) even I stray from the pack from time to time to try out new combination of flavors.

This time I went with a combination of bourbon and hibiscus water with a splash of simple syrup, Tuaca Italian Liqueur, club soda and a dash of Pechaud's bitters, but instead giving it some dignified name I decided to give it something more silly in light of the upcoming Halloween festivities, something like "the Scarecrow".

Fortunately this won't be out last meal together, so see me here next week for more great tastes!

With Love,