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Oct 22, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘John Besh’

By the Book: Cooking from the Heart by John Besh

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

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James Beard Award-winning chef John Besh’s Cooking from the Heart is chock-full of recipes inspired by his native Louisiana, with whole chapters dedicated to types of seafood and wild game. Despite those more unfamiliar territories, the book was approachable and dishes were straightforward. I decided to try something from the wild game section. Since Kenrick’s doesn’t sell wild boar heads (yes, seriously), I went with something tamer: schmaltz with apples and rosemary.

Schmaltz usually refers to chicken fat, but here it’s made with good old-fashioned pork belly. The process is fairly simple: simmer all the ingredients in a large pot to render the fat, then let it cool and solidify in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, after nearly two hours of simmering and an overnight chill, my infused fat was still more liquid than solid. Only the top layer was hard enough to spread atop bread.

While the rosemary notes were pronounced, the apple wasn’t strong enough to power through the intense porky flavor. Slathering cold animal fat on a piece of bread was an odd way to consume it, too. Instead of eating it like butter, we brainstormed other possibilities for the remaining schmaltz: adding it to mashed potatoes, using it in place butter or lard for biscuits or tossing with root veggies for a decadent side.

Skill level: Recipes run the gamut from beginner to advanced.
Other recipes to try: Fried kale salad, cote de boeuf with red wine and porcini mushrooms, milk chocolate and hazelnut clafoutis
The verdict: Bourdain’s meatballs take the W this week.

 

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Schmaltz with Apples & Rosemary
Makes 1 small bowl

3 lbs. pork belly, cut into small chunks
2 onions, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 apples, cored and quartered
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

• Combine the pork belly, onions, garlic, apples, and 4 cups water in a large heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and slowly simmer for 45 minutes. Add the rosemary and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the water has evaporated and the rendered fat is clear and slightly bubbly, about 1 hour.
• Strain the rendered fat through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Chill. Serve on warm, crusty bread.

 

Reprinted with permission from Andrews McNeal Publishing 

By the Book: John Besh’s Quick Pickled Radishes

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

As we continue with our James Beard-themed By the Book series this month, we move on to a celebrity chef who’s known as much for his southern good looks as he is for his southern-style cuisine. I first experienced John Besh’s cooking a few months ago on a trip to New Orleans. For brunch, a large group of us headed to Lüke, Besh’s brasserie-style restaurant in the Central Business District of The Big Easy. Everything was divine, from the French press coffee to the famous, thick and smoky Allan Benton bacon to the decadent Eggs In a Jar: creamy cheese grits topped with deep-fried soft-shell crab, a balloon-like poached egg and a hefty dousing of creamy hollandaise, all layered into an adorable Mason jar. (Put anything in a jar and I’ll order it.)

So when I saw that Besh’s new book, My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking (nominated for a 2012 Beard Award) was up for grabs this month, it was an obvious choice.

In my next life, I’m going to have a lot of free time. I’ll bake beautiful loaves of Old World bread, pickle the fresh produce I nabbed at the farmers market that week and make jar after jar of fresh jellies and preserves. In this life of never-ending deadlines and dog walking and house cleaning, however, I’ll have to settle for the occasional quick pickling.

As with so many recipes in his book, Besh provides a basic recipe and then offers several ingredient options. For this quick-pickling method, he recommended using baby carrots, beets or radishes. Since I had just picked up four bundles of fresh radishes at the Clayton Farmers Market, I figured I’d pickle two and reserve the other two for this amazing recipe (Try not to get addicted to it; I dare you.).



The recipe was simple and straightforward. Peel the veggies, blanch them, pour the pickling spices into the cooking liquid and then combine everything in a sanitized jar. Besh suggested either using a tablespoon of the Zatarain’s crab boil seasoning or a teaspoon each of mustard seed, coriander seed and black peppercorns. Ever a fan of the harder-is-better route, I decided to go for the individual spices. But after visits to three different grocers and no whole coriander seed to be found, I gave in and bought the pre-mixed spice pack. Suddenly, a simple recipe became even easier.




If you’re anything like me and don’t have the time (or patience) to juice fruit, let bread rise or give pickled veggies the time they need to work their magic in the fridge, Besh’s recipe is a quick and easy way to dip your toe into the DIY pool.



Quick Pickled Vegetables
Makes 1 quart

I like to use this process to pickle carrots, radishes and beets and have come to prefer the texture of these homemade pickles to anything store-bought. The vegetables are blanched for a moment, leaving them still crisp. Although these pickles taste wonderful alone, they are so beautiful I frequently use them as a way to elevate many dishes, especially the Vietnamese-inspired recipes in this book.

½ tsp. salt
1 lb. baby carrots, radishes or beets, peeled
1 cup sugar
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. Zatarain’s Crab Boil seasoning or 1 tsp. each of mustard seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns

• In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil along with the salt.
• Add the peeled vegetables and blanch for no longer than 2 minutes. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon.
• Add the sugar, vinegar and spices to the pot and bring just to a boil.
• Fill canning jars with the blanched vegetables and pour in enough cooking liquid to fill the jars.
• Cool, then cover and store in the refrigerator where they’ll last for a couple of weeks.

From My Family Table by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing

What’s your favorite vegetables to pickle and how do you do it? Tell us about your favorite pickling recipe in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of My Family Table by John Besh. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Claire, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won her a copy of Cooking with Chocolate: Essential Recipes and Techniques. Claire, keep an eye out from the Sauce crew.

 

 

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