I don’t know about you but I am a visual learner, which is why the recipes on foodiePrints are very image intensive. They are also broken down into preparatory steps (tasks that enable the actual task of cooking) and method (tasks for getting from mise en place to plate).
I feel, to appreciate food, one must learn to cook, or at least be around people who do.
Given that I rather enjoy dining out, I am always up to the challenge of replicating a dish or aspects of one at home. That is with the exception of anything that can be labelled modernist cuisine, formerly techno emotional, avant garde, or molecular gastronomy. How do you make foie gras foam at home? You don’t. Leave that to the pros and those food enthusiasts who equip their kitchens with some rather impressive and expensive gadgetry.
I am reminded of something former Chef de cuisine at Atelier Restaurant (540 Rochester Street) Sarah Allen once said to me, “A lot of what we do in the kitchen, the home cook can replicate, but most are unlikely to invest the required time.”
[Allen now works in the kitchen of highly acclaimed Beckta Dining and Wine (226 Nepean Street).]
There is neither immersion circulator nor vacuum sealer in my kitchen, certainly no canisters of liquid nitrogen. I do have three slow cookers, a very prized stone mortar and pestle, a 7-year old metal-base blender (not a vita-prep), and a collection of seasoned cast iron (wok, skillet, and a new acquisition I plan to make takoyaki with).
I will however avail myself of any chef-lead demo I can attend. Such is what makes up the daytime portion of the Celebrity Chefs of Canada event this Sunday at the National Arts Centre (53 Elgin Street): demos by 8 teams (16 chefs). Talented local chefs will be paired with out-of-town celebrity chefs, many of whom are household names: Susur Lee, Vikram Vij, Jason Parsons, Ned Bell, and Lynne Crawford. Sunday’s Celebrity Chefs Event will be the second annual.
Last year, my favourite dish at the event was the one Chefs Robin Bowen, formerly of Spin Kitchen and Bar and Empire Grill, and Paul Rogalski of Rouge Restaurant (1240 8th Avenue S.E., Calgary) collaborated on. Both chefs hailing from Alberta, their demo was a relaxed and jovial one, complete with cowboy hats.
Their dish was nothing to shake a six shooter at. Think chuck wagon fare elevated to fine dining.
North Country Bison Hash with Quebec Goat Cheese and Cauliflower Ravioli
[served with preserved lemon and rendered bacon hollandaise and chili plum gastrique]
After my first bite, I had but two thoughts. “Dear me, a cauliflower preparation I actually enjoyed!”
“So gonna make this for St. Paddy’s next year!”, I remarked.
After all, attendees of last year’s Celebrity Chefs event each walked away with recipe cards for every dish served, recipes home cooks should be able to accomplish with residential equipment. That is, with the exception of the dish from Chefs Marc Lepine of Atelier and Mathieu Cloutier of Kitchen Galerie (60 Jean-Talon Est, Montreal) in Quebec. Theirs falls into the aforementioned modernist cuisine category. Though, Lepine, fresh from his Canadian Culinary Championships win, opened an online store, called Powder to the People, from which anyone can source the specialty ingredients he uses in his kitchen.
[This year, the recipes are part of the program guide each attendee will receive.]
Fast forward to March 2012. My better half is in Toronto for 10 days, leaving me to my devices for food. So, with the pantry and fridge to myself, I set to work.
Prep: Corned Beef
Fair warning, this prep produces a whole brisket’s worth of corned beef, more than 4-times what is needed for the hash component of the intended dish. I gifted half to a friend.
First, I visited Dave Neil, owner/operator of The Piggy Market (400 Winston Avenue), artisan delicatessen and craft butchers. From him, I purchased a whole brisket, it coming from nearby O’Brien Farms. Dave graciously bisected the brisket into point and flat cuts for me.
With the brisket refrigerated, I mixed together 16 cups of cold water (4 quarts) with 1 cup of kosher salt (large flakes), 1/2 cup of cane sugar (brown sugar can be substituted, but will add more of molasses flavour), 6 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed), 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns, 1 tsp chile flake, 2 sprigs of fresh thyme (rubbed to extract the flavour), 1 spring of rosemary (picked), 4 medium-sized bay leaves, 1 tsp of juniper berries, and 3 star anise pods in a large metal bottomed pot.
I placed the pot on medium heat with a lid and heated everything to boiling. After boiling the liquid for 2 minutes, I took the brine off the heat to cool.
When cool enough to handle, I divided the brine into two large zip top freezer bags, pouring enough brine to come halfway up the bag and dividing the herbs and spices evenly. Needless to say, make sure you have bags that can fit both brine and brisket cuts. I placed the point and flat cuts separately in the bags and topped both off with more brine. These I sealed, leaving no air pocket and ensuring the brine covered the meat.
The bagged meat was then put in a holding container to protect against leaks and placed in the fridge for 7 days.
On the 7th day, the brine was replaced with fresh water so the cuts of brisket could purge a little of their salt. This fresh water purging protects against overly salty brined meat. Whenever we make corned meat, we always purge for at least 12 hours.
Now, to braise the brisket cuts, you have two options, both of which work.
The oven braise method requires 6 hours. First I preheated my oven to 375F with a pizza stone on the bottom most rack and another rack directly over top. On the second rack, I placed a large roasting pan, containing the brined flat cut, enough cold water to cover, 2 tbsp kosher salt, half a large onion, one carrot, and the same quantities of whole spices as went into the brine. This, I tightly covered with aluminum foil and roasted for 3 hours, not opening the oven door. After 3 hours, I turned off the heat and let the residual heat, stored in the pizza stone, further slow cook the brisket for another 3 hours.
The more traditional stove-top braise method requires three hours. First, I added the brined point cut to a large heavy bottomed pot. To this, I added enough cold water to cover, 2 tbsp kosher salt, half a large onion, one carrot, and the same quantities of whole spices as went into the brine. This, I placed on medium heat and brought to a boil. Then I turned the heat down to low and simmered the brisket for 3 hours.
The corned beef is done when the meat is fork tender.
My cooked and uncut corned beef portions sat happily in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 5 days.
Prep (best done the day before serving): Bacon Drippings, Ravioli Filling, Potatoes
For the hollandaise, duck fat was used in lieu of bacon drippings. If you want to go with bacon drippings, to make up 12 tbsp (3/4 cup), you will need to render an entire package of store-bought bacon. Preheating the oven to 350F, I placed the strips of bacon on a rack over at tray to catch the bacon drippings. Everything was roasted for 2 hours. I collected and measured the drippings. If you do not have enough, make up the shortfall with another flavourful fat, like duck fat. Leaving the fat in a measuring cup, I covered it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated it.
For the ravioli filling, one large head of cauliflower (approximately 3 cups of florets) was used. It was cleaned, cored, and cut into florets. Then, I placed a large metal bottomed skillet onto medium heat. To it, I added 1 tbsp each salted butter and vegetable oil. When the fat stopped foaming, I added the cauliflower florets, a very small pinch of kosher salt (on account of the salted butter), and several grinds of black pepper. This, I stir fried until the cauliflower florets turned golden. Watch the smallest cauliflower bits. They will colour most quickly. Once coloured, I added 1/2 cup cream (10%-30%) to the skillet and tossed the cauliflower in the liquid. I lowered the heat when the cream started bubbling and cooked everything until the cream reduced to almost nothing, coating the cauliflower. Meanwhile, I placed 1/3 cup of pressed cottage cheese, 3 tbsp of coarsely shredded Fifthtown goat cheddar, 3 tablespoons of Fifthtown Cape Vessey, 2 tbsp of cream cheese, and 1/4 cup of olive oil into a blender. When the cauliflower mixture was mostly dry, I added it, piping hot, to the blender, blending everything until smooth. I placed the pureed mixture in a sealed container and refrigerated it.
For the hash, you will need cooked mini potatoes. The easiest way to do this is to simmer mini potatoes in a pot filled with salted water until a knife or fork can penetrate with little resistance. Remove the potatoes from the pot and cool them in ice water. I placed the cooled mini potatoes in a sealed container and refrigerated it.
To prepare the hollandaise, I added 3 egg yolks, 1 tbsp of cream (10%-30%), and kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste to a blender. This, I blended until frothy. Meanwhile, I heated 12 tbsp (3/4 cup) of fat in a metal bowl, set over a pot of boiling water until the fat reached 145°F. When the fat reached this temperature, I slowly drizzled it into the egg yolk and cream mixture with the mixture spinning in the blender on medium-low. When thick and smooth, I turned off the blender, removed 2 tbsp of preserved lemon from its jar, and finely chopped it. I added the lemon puree to the blender along with 3 generous dashes of Vicki’s Veggies’ amazing barrel-aged hot sauce (use your favourite vinegar-based pepper sauce) and 2 tbsp of dry sherry. I then blended everything smooth again. The hollandaise was placed in an insulated double walled container to keep warm. Think thermos.
To prepare the hash, I quartered the mini potatoes, chopped a large onion into a 1/4 inch dice, and chopped a seeded red bell pepper into a 1/4 inch dice. I then cut 14 oz of corned beef into a 1/4 inch dice. Using a cast iron wok (a large skillet would work too), I heated some high smoke point oil to rippling. To this, I added the potatoes. Once coloured, I moved the potatoes to the outside of the wok, creating a well to add the onion and red pepper. When the onion and red pepper had cooked through, I added 1/4 cup of cream (10%-30%), 1 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp fish sauce, and the corned beef. The soy and fish sauce replaced the Worcestershire sauce originally prescribed. When everything was heated through, I seasoned it to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. To hold the hash, I placed it in a slow cooker, set to warm. To plate, I reheated however much I needed in a small cast iron skillet, set to medium heat.
To prepare the ravioli, break an egg into a bowl, add 1 tsp of cold water, and beat until combined. This egg wash will be used to seal the wonton wrappers. No, I didn’t make my own pasta, but you really could. I bought wonton wrappers. They are now pervasive, available in your local supermarket. We placed 1 tsp of the cauliflower and cheese filling into the center of a wonton wrapper and painted the edges with the egg wash. Over this, we placed another wonton wrapper, sealing the edges, and making sure there were no air pockets. Each ravioli needed two minutes in boiling salted water to cook. To make round ravioli, we cut the excess with a round metal cookie cutter.
To assemble a plate, we used a ring mould. A tall cooker cutter would also do. We placed warm hash into the mould, patting it down gently. Then, we carefully removed the ring mould. We placed a cooked and cut ravioli on top. We sprinkled with green onion. WE dressed the plate with some warm hollandaise.
How does it taste? Oh it is an amazing mixture of textures and flavours, even without the plum gastrique prescribed. Using preserved lemons in the hollandaise is a stroke of pure genius. The corned beef hash is a mixture of earthy flavours that is balanced by the brightness and spice of the hollandaise. The hollandaise helped to carry flavours. The sharply sweet cheese and cauliflower ravioli added a tad more richness.
In hindsight, the dish could have used with some fruity brightness or even a drizzle of maple syrup vinegar on the plate. Fruit-wise, the next time I make this dish, I plan on plating with a spiced plum jam, like local michaelsdolce Plum and Star Anise, thinned with some rice vinegar.
This Sunday’s upcoming Celebrity Chefs should prove to be quite the culinary event. I am looking forward to the new dishes, the chef demos, and, of course, the recipes that come with the program guide.
Aside: I initially tried to make hollandaise, using the rendered bacon fat, via the bain-marie method. I curdled it and tried a rescue with a blender. Failing, I went with the entirely blender method for making hollandaise.
Tags: #indulgePEC, Celebrity Chefs of Canada 2012, Charcutepalooza, corned, featured, hash, Prince Edward County, slow cooked, slow roast