Pate and events

Turkey day leftovers are as much a part of the restaurant as they are at my house. Utilization is key whether it's folding the candied yams into some pancake batter for breakfast or constructing the perfect turkey sandwich. This year we had a lot of trim from our birds so we bagged it up with some bourbon and a touch of maple syrup.

We ground in a bunch of neuske's smoked bacon with the breast meat and livers so it would help in the moisture department. Next we folded in choux paste instead of a traditional panade. The choux paste really helped the texture and gave it a light feeling. If I ever need to make turkey burgers I will be folding in pate choux. When doing our test pieces to check for seasonings it was cooking up nice, light and moist. When putting it in the mold we added some chunks of sous vide pork belly and golden raisins. In retrospect we should have vac'd the farce once in the mold to remove all air but it still turned out ok.
We made a quick cranberry mostarda from our leftover fluid gel and there you go

There is always some shrinkage after baking a pate, I wanted to eliminate all that fat leaching out so we bagged some up and put the circulator on 64C. Dropped it in for 1 hour and pressed it between 2 plates to cool overnight. When I'm back on Monday I will check the results.

Coming up this week at bluezoo
-chef's table december 2nd- 50 chefs from all over the country here to honor Jerome Girardot with a fundraiser for him family. The menu is going to be family style and for the most part classical french, so far here is what we have

-blanquette de veau
-cote de boeuf...artichokes barigoule
-loup de mer...canaveral white shrimp, bouchot mussels cockle, vadouvan shellfish butter
-chestnut agnolotti, nantuckets, shaved brussels, butternut
-tapas style raw bar- east and west coast oysters, uni, stone crab, key west middle necks, torro, and an assortment of sauces and garnishes in various forms
-hammock hollows greens, tableside salt roasted beets, goat cheese fondue, black walnut
-cheese!!!! couronne lochoise just got in yesterday, super funk doughnut shaped cheese to resemble the "Crown of Loches"(town of loches, Loire Valley), just one of many awesome cheeses that our resident frenchy ordered.
-Laurent will be creating 5 different custom desserts for the dinner

the next day we are off to the Ritz here in Orlando for the actual fundraiser where we will be serving rouget, black truffle "gnocchi", and a slew of other micro sized time consuming prep that chef has yet to let us in on. It will be interesting.


Turkey plate

Finally got this post up, here was our holiday turkey dish.
Willie Bird brined, sous vide, seared breast. Pumpernickel and brioche stuffing, haricot vert "cassarole", cranberry fluid gel, braised and pressed dark meat, and turkey jus.

Overall a good night, 425 covers, 108 turkey sold out of 139 prepped, sold out of pumpkin soup, 57 dessert trios of pumpkin creme brulee, apple pie, and cinnamon crunch ice cream sold as well. We are happy to serve our guests on the holidays and we try to give all of them on vacation a little taste of home.



Here is our turkey jus after a full day of slowly reducing and constant skimming. Nothing in the original stock was caramelized but still we end with a dark, clean, and clear jus. Tomorrow we will butter it out lightly for some shine.

The thigh and leg braising liquid was reduced as well then mounted with butter. We added chopped sage and fleur de sel then packed it into parchment lined hotel pans. The pans were stacked and we put a weight on top of them as they were cooling. Tomorrow we will portion and sear for service.

T-day is not complete without some Blis bourbon barrel aged maple syrup which went into a foam for our pumpkin soup. After the soup was made and foamed it tasted just like a warm, slightly more savory pumpkin pie.

Now on to the cranberry fluid gel. We made a gastrique base, added the cranberries and oj then cooked them down slowly. We strained the liquid and added our agar, then pureed. It tastes just like the Ocean Spray Cranberry in a can(which is what we were going for), but in a fluid gel state. Aaron and I commented on it last year after we made it and I ended up pureeing the stuff in a can for the family when I did T-day dinner the next day and it worked perfectly. Could we have just pureed the stuff in a can? Yes! I just can't justifying serving that to paying customers, we have to use fresh ingredients and show some value for price paid. I grew up with the gelled stuff that still had the ridges from the can in the shape of a tube on the plate just sliced so for me at home I love it but couldn't do it at the restaurant. I'm hoping there will be some left over for me to take home for my day after turkey sandwich.

One of the classics is the green bean casserole. We made a mushroom bechemel, blanched some verts, folded it all together then made little bunches. These will get topped with some focaccia bread crumbs and baked.

It's all coming together. We are a seafood restaurant mainly and will sell a hefty amount of fish tomorrow for our traveling guests that have no idea what Thanksgiving is all about in the US but we have prepped about 140 portions of our "not so traditional turkey dinner" in anticipation of the people that join us year in and year out for this holiday. Now all we have to do is execute.


Knee Deep in Willie Bird

It's that time of year again and I'm sure most restaurants are in the same boat as we are. Turkey time is upon us and we have sourced some fresh Willie Birds from Sonoma. The birds are an all natural fresh product that really speaks for itself. Outside of killing your own bird it is hard to compete with this product. We spent all day yesterday breaking down the 24 birds ranging from 12-14lbs. The breasts and tenderloins have been separated, the legs and thighs as well. The carcass get's it's own VIP treatment which I will divulge later in the post. Livers reserved as well as all scrap for future charcuterie endevours.
Today we began portioning breasts where as in the past we would activa and role the breasts into cylinders, sometimes stuffing them with a farce, but this year we are headed in a different direction. This year is more of a focus on the bird itself, clean, clear, and precise. The tenderloins are cleaned of the sinew for kids portions. The legs and thighs are being braised this go round instead of cured and confit as in the past.
We went with a traditional braise instead of sous vide for the dark meat since the finished product requires it. It's is a little more difficult to pick and shred sous vide thighs and legs. Below we have arranged our thighs and legs for the braise.

**A note on the braising veg, stock, and Cib**
In the past every vegetable in the restaurant that went into a stock was heavily caramelized as well as the bones. We have been show a different way from our exec chef Robert Ciborowski and the difference speaks for itself. As a TK alum, Cib shows us how all the little details really make a difference. Combined with some Roger Verge research and TK technique our stocks and braises are better than ever. For one, celery is almost forbidden in stocks and any liquid that will be reduced to eliminate bitterness. Instead we add celery root to all our braises and stocks to replace it. I never get a bitter note from a reduction on line check anymore. So here were sub celery root for our celery and add fresh laurel, and thyme.
Beauty comes in such simple forms. Sometimes randomly arranged veg just looks like it was meant to be there.

This is where the stock comes into play. The carcasses of the turkeys get a nice long rinse in the kettle under cold water until the water coming out of the bottom is clear. At this point the only thing in the kettle is the turkey bones. Then fill just above the bones with cold water and heat the kettle gradually. We have replaced all the time it takes to roast the veg and the bones with standing over the kettle for about an hour, never leaving and constantly skimming. When it comes to a low simmer and all scum has been skimmed dump in half as much ice as you have water. If you are starting with 20 gallons, you will dump in 2ea, 5 gallon cambros of ice and TURN the kettle off at this point. The ice will cause the fat at the surface to congeal and it can be easily skimmed and removed. Now slowly start your kettle again skimming as the temperature comes to a simmer. Now add your veg(carrot, onion, celery root, thyme, laurel, traditional ratios for mirepoix to gallons of stock being made). Also you want to add about 1 bunch of leeks(whites only, very important you do not add the green tops) for every 5 gallons of stock being made. Let it come to a simmer again, and yes keep skimming. Now you let it go for 8 hours, skimming every 20 minutes. The stock will be as clear as day and the flavor really represents the time and effort.
We took this stock straight from the kettle and strained it several times then covered the legs and thighs with the stock, add a cartouche, and foil.

We let them braise for 5 hours @ 200F and bumped the temp slightly at the end to 250 for 30 minutes so the meat released from the bone easily. Braised turkey is usually pretty dry and mealy but this method turned out nicely.
Now we will pick all the meat, slowly reduce the braising liquid, mount it with butter, add any desired seasoning or herbs, and fold it into the picked legs and thighs. This will then be pressed into sheet pans and put in the fridge with a weight on them. On T-day, we will portion, sear, and reheat in the oven.

Next on the list of course was the stuffing. This recipe is an Ed Bilicki original that has stuck with us since he was the chef here before me. We have of course made our little modifications but for the most part you don't really need to mess with a good thing.
Toasted pumpernickel and brioche get tossed with caramelized mirepoix(yes this has celery in it), sage, turkey stock, and a custard base.

We press it into sheet pans and bake at 350F for 30 minutes with parchment, another sheet pan, and a couple cast iron pans on top then let it cool in the same fashion. It's basically a stuffing bread pudding. We portion it, sear it and put it on the plate.

So for now the braising liquid will finish reducing tomorrow and we will press the legs and thighs, the breasts are currently swimming in a brine then will be sous vide and seared for service. Mushroom bechemel has been made and tomorrow we make the haricot vert cassarole, focaccia scraps have been saved from service tonight to dry for a nice crunchy topping. Cranberry fluid gel will be addressed as well. The remaining stock has been reduced all day and I will post that tomorrow to show how a stock where nothing has been roasted still has great color and clarity, not to mention flavor. Stay tuned........did I mention I'm already sick of turkey!


Watermelon Radish

We finally have a minute to breathe around here before the holidays which makes it easier to post a little more. We just got kicked about 20lbs of watermelon radishes for free so I have a feeling there will be a lot of compressed, pickled, grated, and spun radishes on the menu for the next couple of days.

Here it is shaved then hit with some Valderamma Arbequina extra virgin olive oil, sweet and salty goat cheese, sel gris, and some micro radish greens.


Foie Pain Perdu

Chad and I were having a email discussion hitting on several topics,one being simplicity. There is no where to hide with simplicity, everything component must be on point. On that note, here is our foie pain perdu, the malaga soaked brioche is pan fried lightly, the center removed and replaced with a slice of foie torchon. Our "breakfast for dinner" dish. Then we fill it with some warm blis bourbon barrel matured maple syrup and finished with sel gris.

Simple, salty, sweet = ridiculous



Working on some aromas and how to incorporate them into dishes. Tried chesnuts and christmas spices but cinnamon took over everything. Herbs work well, now turning to spice blends to see how things will pan out. It's all trial and error, getting your temp right on the vaporizer is key. I tweeted Alex about aromas with nuts after his smoked hazelnuts but have had no luck with further tests. Just going to keep plugging, maybe a new utilization of our 2 compartment bowl from steelite. Next I think we will tackle BBQ aroma, something about the smell when you open the door to your smoker after 12 hours, need to capture that and give the same experience to our guests.


Travel Channel

We entertained Samantha Brown's crew tonight who were celebrating their 10th anniversary on the Travel Channel. One of their courses was thinly sliced toro that we rolled up around pickled daikon, miso caviar, yuzu air, and micro tat soi.

This one was black cod, we did a 10% saltwater brine, rinsed, pat dry, cryovac with evoo, sous vide at 56C using the thermocoupler and cooking until 54C then let them rest at room temp for 10 minutes before warming gently in the oven. The agnolotti have a butternut filling, the foraged maitakes were slow cooked in beurre monte then a little sherry vin for acid. The sweetness of the squash and the acid of the sauce complimented the fatty cod well.