Walkabout of BCNY - 4 months later!

Wow! It's hard to believe that it's been a scant four months since the doors of Beecher's Cheese New York first opened to the public. If you've been following me on facebook or twitter for a while, you might remember the "20 Hours And Counting" video I posted those many moons ago. It's been a whirlwind of great food, wonderful guests and all those exciting "first times" that go along with a restaurant opening.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Watch for yourself!

Have you visited the Beecher's in New York yet? Tell me what you thought in the comments!

Beef & Pork Chili

The chili with seasonal greens panzanella, sprinkled with
a bit of Flagship cheese.
There's really nothing like a great chili recipe. It's like a classic rock standard. Any person can mess around with it according to their tastes and come up with some amazing flavors. I've played with a lot of chili recipes over the years. I've never quite been fond of beans in my chili; if you've followed this blog for a while you know my favorite part is usually the meat (often pork). So, of course, for my chili recipe, I started with both beef AND pork and went from there. You might think some of the ingredients seem odd, but this chili is pretttty darn good!

Beef & Pork Chili
Serves about 5 (2.75 quarts)
3/4 lb uncured bacon – pork belly
1 tbsp canola oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded, fine dice

1 large jalapeño, seeded, fine dice
I'm talking about BIIIIG flavor.
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 1/2 oz can adobo chipotle peppers, pureed
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1-1/2 tbsp chili powder
3-1/2 diced tomato (about 5 tomatoes
1 cup lager beer
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tbsp. Maximus/Minimus Seasoning Blend
3 lb beef brisket, whole boneless, trimmed and cut into ¾-inch cubes
1 oz unsweetened dark chocolate, rough chop

1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp corn flour

Grind the bacon in a food processor until “pebbly,” not quite a full paste. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, very thoroughly brown the bacon in canola oil until fully rendered, about 20 minutes, leaving no white in the bacon and a deep, dark color is achieved (without burning).
Add all the red onion, yellow onion, garlic, poblano pepper and jalapeño to the pan and reduce the heat to medium, cooking about 20 minutes until vegetables are fully sweated through and softened.

Add the vinegar and cook for about three minutes or until the acrid smell reduces. Make sure to scrape the pan regularly to loosen any bacon or vegetables stuck to the pan.

Add the remaining ingredients except the corn flour, stirring well to combine. Bring it to a soft boil on medium-high then reduce to a simmer. Cook about 2 hours until the brisket is very tender, stiring occasionally to avoid sticking and adjust the heat as necessary. When nearly done, about 5 minutes before, sprinkle the corn flour on the chili and stir thoroughly to avoid clumping, then let cook for the last 5 minutes on very low heat.

Please try this at home! I'd love to hear what you think and what changes you might make!

Kurt's Flatiron Faves - Casa Mono

Some celebrities are infamous for satisfying much more than their wanderlust during their travels. You hear stories of illegitimate children springing up in town after town, suspiciously nine or so months after they’ve passed through the area. There is even evidence that suggests that Genghis Khan is the aggressive ancestor of over 16 million people in Asia today.

Mario Batali is about as far as you can get from Genghis Khan,  but he has something in common with these “prolific” celebrities. It seems to me that everywhere Mario goes, it’s not long before there’s a new restaurant popping up somewhere, inspired by that recent visit. His redwood of a restaurant family tree is unique in that they are all SO GOOD.  It’s difficult to maintain a standard as high as Mario does with what seems like hundreds of restaurants under his purview. He’s got an immense litter of Italian restaurants that seem to proliferate like rabbits.

Casa Mono, my Flatiron Fave this week, is the result of his travels through Spain and his partnership with Joe Bastianich. The Iberian peninsula is famous for its many culinary jewels, particularly jamón ibérico, a special type of ham made from at least 75% black Iberian pig. To digress a little, did you know that the finest of this type of ham is made from a pig that is fed exclusively on acorns?  Amazingly, this all acorn diet means that the fatty flecks in this cured ham is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, which is just about the best type of fat you can eat. Basically it's a cholesterol-lowering cured meat. That's the miracle of pure food, of knowing where your food comes from and what it's made of.

Of course, great ham does not an amazing restaurant make. It never hurts though. My favorite dish there is an incredible frisée salad with crisped ham. It was light, fresh, and crunchy, and somehow didn’t suffer from the blandness that afflicts a lot of trendy frisée dishes. It’s another testament to Mario and his staff’s dedication to keeping things simple and delicious.

View Beecher's and Casa Mono in a larger map

We’re nearing the end of the Flatiron Faves tour. There are only a couple more spots to go. Are there neighborhood places that you think I’ve missed? What do you think of the ones I’ve written about so far? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Pepper Capponata Conchiglioni with Rockfish

Sometimes, once just isn’t enough. Your first visit to New York. A bite of steak. A glass of amazing wine. With things like these, one taste deserves another. Do you ever feel that way with ingredients that you’ve used? Those grapes from last week’s lamb special did that for me. There was something about their sweetness, their depth of flavor. I knew there was so much more I could do with them.

So, I set about to another recipe. This local pepper capponata with rockfish and pesto really turned out well. Try it at home and let me know what you think!
Pepper Capponata Conchiglioni with Rockfish
makes 4 servings

1 eggplant
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion
1/2 fennel bulb
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup roasted grapes

Dill Pesto:
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 cup Italian parsley, stemmed
1 Tbsp dill, stemmed
1 Tbsp preserved lemon
1 oz Beecher's Flagship cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Dash of black pepper

1 1/4 cup conchiglioni pasta

2 lbs rockfish
2 Tbsp canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
To make the capponata, pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Wash all the vegetables and cut into a medium dice, keeping all ingredients separated. Toss the eggplant in 2 teaspoons olive oil with light salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven until lightly brown and soft, about an hour.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 F. In a large roasting dish, toss the onions and fennel with 1 teaspoon olive oil, light salt and pepper. Sweat in the oven until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the peppers and crushed red pepper. Roast until soft and lightly brown, but retain shape, about 15 minutes. Add the eggplant to  the dish and stir in tomato paste, red wine vinegar and roasted grapes. Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the dill pesto, simply combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and purée until smooth. Set aside.

Bring a pot of slightly salted water to boil and cook the pasta about 8 minutes. Drain noodlesand mix into the capponata. Do this near serving, so the noodles don't get soggy in the capponata.

Cut the rockfish into four equal pieces and sprinkle both sides of each piece with a little salt and pepper. Heat a little canola oil in a sautée pan and cook fish until done, about 4 minutes a side.

Plate with the capponata conchiglione pasta on one side of the plate and the pesto on the other, then lay the fish near the edge of the pasta so the fish has one end on the pesto sauce. Voilà!

Please, try this recipe out at home and let me know what you think in the comments!

Kurt's Flatiron Faves - Gramercy Tavern

A while ago I found myself touring New York with Seattle culinary legend, Tom Douglas. Tom and I have known each other for a while and I was sure that he would have a laundry list of restaurants in New York that he would want to visit. A creative mogul like Tom would certainly need to visit new places and old favorites for inspiration and nostalgia alike. I was mistaken. There was one place he said he needed to go: Gramercy Tavern.

I don’t blame him.

It’s the granddaddy of Flatiron restaurants. It may be the second of Danny Meyer’s places, but you could easily argue it’s his flagship restaurant. You can sense its prestige from the moment you walk in, but then everything shifts when you’re greeted by the staff. Gracious and unassuming, they don’t make you feel like you’re necessarily walking into one of the top rated restaurants in New York City (which, of course, you are). The food is unmistakably gourmet, well executed cuisine, but all the dishes seem to stem from old favorites and trusty stand-bys. From the door to dessert, that’s Gramercy Tavern to me. Everything looks pretty fancy, but at the heart of it all is comfort and great hospitality.

Next week we’ll cross Park Avenue to check out my next Flatiron Fave, Mario Batali’s Casa Mono!

View Beecher's and Gramercy Tavern in a larger map
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My Flatiron Faves

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Lover of big ideas and bold flavors. Food should be like family and friends: honest, fun, and fulfilling.

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