Friday, June 24, 2011

Fish Head Terrine

After a post from Ideas in Food a couple of weeks ago about Fish Head cheese, I was intrigued and needed to attemptt a version of my own. Chef Chris our exec sous, took the striper heads & added the carcass and put them in a CVAP at 58C over a bed of fumet ingredients, salt & pepper and some white wine. We cooked the heads for the recommended amount of time from the Ideas in Food post, but found that due to the size of the heads and possibly the additional ingredients it needed much more time. All in all it took about 1 hour 45 minutes to get to the texture we felt was enough. We picked the meat and Chris packed it into a mold with 6lbs of pressure for 12 hours in the blast chiller. The result......see for yourself

the finished terrine, seasoned perfectly from the fumet ingredients and held together just as good if not better than traditional pork head cheese (without additional gelatin)

cube of fish head terrine served in striped bass spinal cord vessel for amuse bouche ( used this for the Starchefs tasting last night) preserved lemon vinaigrette & micro seacress

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Striped Bass Spinal Cord

We received an amazing 50" Striped Bass today out of Rhode Island, by far biggest striper Ive seen. Ive been drawn to fish this year, and the acquisition of my Winston CVAP oven has given me a whole new outlook on the way I cook fish. Being able to cook fish in a vapor controllled environment at precise low temperatures has given me the opportunity to do things I have never been able to do with fish.

After my exec sous broke down the fish , we decided to try a technique we learned a few weeks ago using the CVAP on Ideas in Food Blog, Fish "Head Cheese". We decided why only the head?So we put together a standard fumet set up (without water) and cleaned the head of gills and put the head and remaining skeleton into the cvap on the fumet set. (Onions, fennel, celery, carrots, lemons, white wine, sachet on sheet pan)
We cooked the fish for 1hr & 45minutes , at 58C. When we took the fish out of the oven we were left with the most tender meat just falling off the cartilage and bones cleanly. Clean enough that I was left with a perfectly clean, large spinal cord. After breaking each joint apart and washing, I deep fried the spine to get rid of any lingering cartilage. What was left were these awesome serving pieces that I will utilize for serving a trio of striped bass. Maybe a belly tartar, ceviche, escabeche combo.

Using the whole fish usally means scraping the flesh off the bones for various applications and if big enough using the ribs as a little scooby snack. But using the usually unusable parts as serving pieces is something I'm going to continue to explore.

Friday, June 17, 2011

British Tamworth Pig

Half of the Tamworth Ready For Butchering

Ready To Brainstorm Menu Ideas

Mustard Braised Pork Sliders For Our Velocity Lunch

Pork Trotter Terrine

Last week we received the first of this seasons Tamworth Pig, a 200lb beauty from Round the Bend Farm in Dartmouth, MA. Antone “Tee” Vieira is the farmer responsible for raising heritage breeds of cattle, goat, sheep and hog who wander freely over the landscape along with free-range chickens. Tee raises harvest animals and work the land the old way, by rotating the animals.Their urine and feces are worked into the land. They eat different grasses. All are a part of a natural farming system.Some of the other heritage animals include Irish Dexter cows, Black Welsh mountain sheep and Swiss Oberhasli dairy goats.

I took my time with this one, its been a little bit since having a 200lb animal in front of me. It brought back the almost "zen" like feeling I remember when running Tastings and we would bring in these and other whole animals to break down and figure out how to use in different applications on our nightly tasting menu.

Already we have braised shoulder for mustard braised pork sliders for our lunch menu, Trotters were slow cooked in stock made with the pig bones and then made into a cold terrine for use with our charcuterie plate,The chops and T-bones were a huge hit served with cauliflower textures and frisse salad and a pork demi made with the stock used to cook the pig trotters. 

Tonight the boys will feature pork butt that was brined and then cooked in our Winston Cook & Hold Oven with CVAP technology for 12 hours at 175F for a "Surf & Turf" featuring the  seared slow cooked pork butt,  little neck clams, fingerling potato, pickled ramps and a beer (Harpoon UFO) and whole grain mustard sauce.

Its an amazing feeling to take one animal and have the opportunity to do so much with it and still have so much left to do! We have the belly, the head, more shoulder, butt, ham, heart and kidneys, fatback and hocks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Not Your Typical Banquet Dept.

One of the personal challenges of my position is that I cant just focus on the restaurant 606 Congress 24/7. I have to remember that all the outlets in the hotel fall under my direction including our Capiz Lounge, In room dining, some of the carry out food we serve in our Starbucks and we cant forget the 25,000sf of Banquet space on the 3rd & 4th floor.

A challenge because  although I worked in a supervisor capacity in a banquet dept when I was starting my career, I was never really sold that you can produce amazing food, use only the best ingredients and give people a restaurant quality experience while serving 200, 300 even 800 people at a time. Maybe it was the hotel I worked at and the practices they used, but it just was something I didn't want to do.

But then I took my current position, I had no choice but to focus on the catering team and the food being produced. Especially seeing that the majority of our food sales come not from our amazing restaurant and the awesome team we have there, but from our great banquet space. I immediately began to notice that the team was well aware that you cant produce amazing food without amazing ingredients to begin with. They cared about every dish that was going out of the kitchen. whether it was a buffet for 600, a plated dinner for 75 or ala carte selections for 300 ( yes ala carte selections for 300 people to be served simultaneously) this crew and the leadership running the crew were top quality cooks and chefs putting out food that could be served on any menu we put in the restaurant.
Today we support farmers that follow all-natural farming methods. We steer our clients towards fish that is environmentally friendly and locally sourced. We prepare practically everything from scratch & to order. The enthusiasm for quality & freshness is ever present in our banquet kitchen as it is in our restaurant kitchen.  We create & customize each menu down to every ingredient & spice,  made just for our clients.

Its also a challenge as a chef to be able to orchestrate a full restaurant, 800 people eating a 4 course meal in banquets, a busy lounge serving its own menu and all to make sure that each person is doing their job to make our guests feel like its an individualized special experience for each of them personally. I cant do it alone and I'm fortunate to have an awesome team.

I'm a chef converted to having a very high respect and desire for banquet cuisine done right.