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"This is as panicked as I get!" Alessandro Stratta.

Renoir Restaurant

Las Vegas

He says it with a huge smile on his face and glass of wine in his hand. His sous-chef, Dan Rossi, from Cleveland, calls Alex an "anomaly" in the context of chefs. "He's not a screamer." Guess that's why this, and several other employees, have followed Alessandro Stratta from Mary Elaine's in Arizona, to Las Vegas. More specifically, to the Mirage Hotel and Renoir. But this isn't the only reason.

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It's been quite a journey for this half-Italian (from his father), half Frenchman (inherited from his Mom). From both, he takes a world wind of traveling experiences and six generations of hotel and restaurant wisdom. Although born in Wisconsin, Alessandro Stratta has called Pakistan, Malaysia, and Mexico his "home" over the years. "Home" has also meant living in a series of hotels until the age of 14.

Maybe this is part of the reason Alex is comfortable here at the Mirage Resorts and Casino.

"My father ran hotels--he was a suit-and-tie guy. I never saw myself this way. I was more intrigued by the kitchen. I heard the noise--the clinging and clanging, smelled the fires, saw the steam ... Everything was such a panic, I wondered what was going on back there?"

He found out.

Ironically, his description of the kitchen is far removed from his mild-mannered persona.

"There's no room for screaming in a kitchen. I've worked for screamers my whole life. If you have someone on your back, you're not going to perform. If you're intimidated or too worried about getting yelled at, you're not going to be able to do your best or express yourself (within the perimeters of what I do.)"

He calls his relationship with his kitchen staff a "two-way street." He expects them to give him all they've got and in return? Stratta says, "They give me 100% and I promise I'll make them a chef." It's a promise he keeps.

Stratta plays down his awards. There are plenty of them including the Mobile Five Diamond and several James Beard honors--he even won the Iron Chef competition. And now? "My goal is to produce great chefs. I've done more than I thought I'd ever do professionally. At one time, I wanted to be the best chef in the country. But as you mature and develop as a chef, you understand there is no such thing as the best chef."

He may be modest, but surely the restaurant is not. Stratta is given vast--and the finest--resources to accommodate the Sin City clientele. "People come here for a sense of adventure--to try something new. So they'll drop 500 bucks on dinner and think nothing of it. There's that, 'Why not? We're in Vegas!' spirit. If we only do 60 covers in one night, we don't think, 'Oh my God, how will we make it?' In a casino/hotel, you just chalk it up to a bad night."

If we want to talk about immense resources, one can't overlook the original Renoir paintings. At the photo shoot, Art Culinaire was instructed 'not to get too close to them,' and was closely watched by security. 'Come on, Alex, what's it like cooking with a backdrop of Renoirs? Intimidating?'

"They're amazing. 'The Garden of Essai' went on auction at Sotheby's and when they took it away I never realized how much I missed it until it was gone. I screamed, 'Where's my painting!'"

Stratta likes Las Vegas. In fact, he tells us, he and his wife are going to Nobu tonight--it's at The Hard Rock Cafe.

"I can't wait!" Who would have thought Japanese is his favorite? His style is far from Japanese. He calls it, "an intelligent combination of French and Italian--marrying ingredients like gnocchi with foie gras." "Japanese food is all about fresh and light. Compared to a nice hamachi with yuzu, cilantro and jalapeno ... that's heavy stuff! I incorporate hints of the techniques, but always in the style and context of what I do."

Stratta is rare by chef standards. He doesn't define himself by his profession. Unlike many chefs, he doesn't think about food all the time. "That's too consuming," he says. "You have to have a balance. I play guitar. I have a family. I enjoy other things. Food and cooking is only one part of me. It's my passion and what I know best. It's what I do for a living. If someone asks what I am? I'm not going to say, I'm a chef!"

RELATED ARTICLE: Halibut with Caramelized Butternut Squash and Porcini Foam (Serves 6)

paul SALE

directions

For the porcini foam: In a medium saute pan, heat oil. Add shallots and mushrooms, sauteing until mushrooms release liquid. Add stock and reduce by half. Add heavy cream and reduce by three-quarters. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and pour into a whipped cream dispenser.

For the butternut squash: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a 1-inch melon ball cutter, scoop butternut squash into balls and place on a sheet pan with mushrooms and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside, keeping warm.

For the halibut: Season halibut with salt and pepper. Divide halibut fillets, olive oil and thyme between six vacuum-packed bags. Bring a medium saucepan of water to 135 degrees. Add halibut and cook for 10 minutes. Set in an ice bath until chilled and refrigerate until needed. Reheat in a saucepan of simmering water for 10 minutes. Remove from water and cut open.

To serve: Plate butternut squash, porcini mushrooms and chestnuts with halibut and serve with porcini foam.

ingredients

For the porcini foam:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

8 ounces porcini mushrooms, sliced

1 cup chicken stock

1/3 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

For the butternut squash:

2 butternut squash, peeled

8 ounces porcini mushrooms, sliced

Salt and pepper

For the halibut:

6 6-ounce halibut fillets

1 1/2 cups olive oil

1/2 bunch thyme

Salt and pepper

For the garnish:

4 ounces chestnuts, shelled and roasted

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RELATED ARTICLE: Saddlerock Oysters and Jelly Sampler (Serves 6)

paul SALE

directions

For the tomato-horseradish jelly: Place horseradish, vinegar and sugar in a vacuum-packed bag and refrigerate for two days. Remove and strain through a fine mesh sieve. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, chop tomatoes and strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter. In a medium saucepan, bring horseradish liquid and tomato liquid to a boil. Add agar-agar, reduce heat and simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat and pour onto a plastic wrap-lined sheet pan to 1/4-inch, refrigerating until set. Remove jelly and dice into 1/4-inch cubes.

For the fennel jelly: Place fennel and stock in a vacuum-packed bag. Place in 140 degree water for 50 minutes. Remove, cut open and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Transfer to a saucepan and add agar-agar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for two minutes. Pour onto a plastic wrap-lined sheet pan to 1/4-inch, refrigerating until set. Remove jelly and dice into 1/4-inch cubes.

For the lemon jelly: In a saucepan, add zest, water and salt. Bring to a boil; add agar-agar and simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat and pour onto a plastic wrap-lined sheet pan to 1/4-inch, refrigerating until set. Remove jelly and dice into 1/4-inch cubes.

To serve: Arrange oysters on top of rock salt and peppercorns. Top oysters with jellies and garnish with chervil.

ingredients

For the tomato-horseradish jelly:

2 tablespoons grated horseradish

2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

6 Roma tomatoes

1 teaspoon agar-agar powder

For the fennel jelly:

1 fennel bulb, chopped

1 cup vegetable stock

1 teaspoon agar-agar powder

For the preserved lemon jelly:

Zest of 2 preserved lemons, finely chopped

1 cup water

Salt

1 teaspoon agar-agar powder

For the oysters:

18 saddlerock oysters*

For the garnish:

Rock salt

Black peppercorns

White peppercorns

Red peppercorns

Chervil sprigs

* Available through K & B Seafood, Inc. at (631) 261-8161.

RELATED ARTICLE: Chicken with Wild Mushroom Risotto (Serves 6)

paul SALE

directions

For the chicken jus: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large saute pan, heat oil and add chicken bones. Place in oven and roast until golden brown. Remove from oven and deglaze with vermouth, peppercorns and thyme, reducing by three-quarters. Add stock and reduce to a thin sauce consistency. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and set aside, keeping warm.

For the risotto: In a medium saucepan, heat the butter. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add rice, and saute for five minutes to coat the grains evenly; Add the wine, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring constantly until absorbed. Add 2 cups stock, stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Add remaining stock and simmer, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Incorporate mushrooms, herbs and cheese. Set aside, keeping warm.

For the chicken: Divide chicken and herbs in six separate vacuum-packed bags. Bring a large saucepot of water to 165 degrees and cook chicken for 25 minutes; remove and set in an ice bath until chilled and refrigerate until needed.

For the sauce: In a bowl, mix butter and herbs until combined. In a small saucepan, heat chicken stock and whisk in butter. Set aside, keeping warm.

To finish: Remove chicken from refrigerator and cut open bag. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large saute pan over high heat, add oil. Saute skin-side down until golden brown.

To serve: Plate risotto and chicken. Drizzle with chicken jus and sauce. Garnish with herbs.

ingredients

For the chicken jus:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound chicken bones

1/2 cup white dry vermouth

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/2 bunch thyme

1 quart chicken stock

For the risotto:

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

5 cups hot shrimp stock

1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, sliced and sauteed

1/4 cup assorted chopped herbs

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Salt

For the chicken:

6 free-range chicken breasts, frenched

Assorted herbs as needed

For the sauce:

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 bunch chives, blanched and finely chopped

1/2 bunch parsley, stemmed, blanched and finely chopped

1/4 cup chicken stock

To finish:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

For the garnish:

Assorted herbs

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RELATED ARTICLE: Poached Oxtail with Winter Vegetables (Serves 6)

paul SALE

directions

For the oxtail: Debone oxtail, leaving meat intact. Using butcher's twine, roll and tie 1-inch apart. In a large saute pan, heat oil, add oxtails and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside to cool. Add oxtails, thyme and veal stock into one vacuum-packed bag. In a large saucepan, heat water to 165 degrees. Add oxtail pouch and cook for eight hours. Remove and set in an ice bath until chilled, refrigerating until needed.

For the vinaigrette: In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and wine. Place over heat and reduce by three-quarters. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and set in an ice bath until chilled. Add vinegar and slowly whisk in olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste.

For the potato tuiles: Preheat deep fryer to 350 degrees. Square off potato, cutting a 5-inch long X 1/2-inch wide rectangle. Using a mandolin, slice into six strips. Take a potato strip and spiral it around a wooden dowel wrapped in aluminum foil. Secure each end with a pin and deep-fry until golden brown. Remove from fryer and blot with paper towels. While still warm, remove the tuile from the dowel. Season with salt and repeat process.

For the celery root puree: Bring a medium saucepan of salted water and milk to a boil. Add celery roots and potato and cook until tender. Strain through a colander and transfer to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Puree with cream until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside, keeping warm.

For the vegetables: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss vegetables with oil, arrange on a sheet pan and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast until tender. Remove from oven and set aside, keeping warm.

To finish: Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer and heat oxtail for 10 minutes. Remove bag, cut open and strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, reducing to a sauce consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Slice into six portions and add to sauce. Remove butcher's twine.

To serve: Plate oxtail on a pool of sauce. Spoon celery root puree with vegetables and drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss microgreens and herbs in vinaigrette and garnish with potato tuile.

ingredients

For the oxtail:

2 oxtails, trimmed and deboned

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 sprigs thyme

3 cups veal stock

For the vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup almonds

1/2 cinnamon stick

1/2 nutmeg, crushed

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1/2 tablespoon whole allspice

1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

For the potato tuiles:

1 large Idaho potato

Salt

For the celery root puree:

3 cups water

1/2 cup milk

2 celery roots, peeled and chopped

1 potato, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup cream

Salt and pepper

For the vegetables:

Olive oil as needed

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 parsnip, peeled and diced

1 zucchini, green parts only, diced

Salt and pepper

For the garnish:

Microgreens

Assorted herbs as needed

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RELATED ARTICLE: Wild Monterey Salmon, Potato Truffle Hash and Saffron Emulsion (Serves 6)

paul SALE

directions

For the saffron emulsion: In a saute pan, combine shallots, saffron, thyme, peppercorns, wine, fish bones and stock. Bring to a simmer. Reduce liquid to one cup, skimming often. Add cream and bring back to a simmer. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in butter until frothy.

For the salmon: Divide salmon, thyme and butter into six vacuum-packed bags. Bring a saucepan of water to 135 degrees. Place salmon in water and cook for ten minutes. Remove from water, set in an ice bath until chilled and refrigerate until needed.

For the potatoes: In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add potatoes and cook until tender. Add herbs and season with salt and pepper.

To finish: Heat salmon in a saucepan of simmering water for ten minutes. Remove from water and cut open bags.

To serve: Place potatoes and truffle slices on a plate. Top with salmon fillet and spoon saffron emulsion over plate. Garnish with chervil.

ingredients

For the saffron emulsion:

4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

2 teaspoons saffron

1 sprig thyme

1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 pound white fish bones

3 cups fish stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 ounces butter, cubed

Salt and pepper

For the salmon:

6 6-ounce salmon fillets

6 sprigs thyme

1 1/2 pounds butter, cubed

For the potatoes:

6 ounces butter

1 pound purple potatoes, turned

2 tablespoons assorted chopped herbs

Salt and white pepper

For the garnish:

1 black truffle, thinly sliced

Chervil, stemmed and chopped

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RELATED ARTICLE: Lobster with Artichoke Hearts, Red Wine Reduction (Serves 6)

paul SALE

directions

For the red wine reduction: In a large saucepan, combine red wine and shallots; reduce by three quarters. Add veal and lobster stocks and reduce. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside, keeping warm.

For the artichokes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, heat oil and saute onions until translucent. Add chicken stock, carrots, artichokes and white wine and simmer. Cover and place in oven for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside, keeping warm.

For the lobster: In a large saucepan, bring salted water to a boil and parboil lobsters for three minutes. Remove tails and knuckles from shells and reserve tentacles for presentation. Remove innards from lobster and discard. Cut claw shell in half, keeping meat intact. Divide lobster meat, butter and herbs into six vacuum-packed bags. Bring a large saucepan of water to 128 degrees and cook lobster for eight minutes. Remove from water, set in an ice bath until chilled and refrigerate until needed. Reheat lobster in simmering water for ten minutes. Cut open bag and slice tail meat.

To serve: Serve artichokes with lobster. Drizzle with red wine reduction. Garnish with chervil and tentacles.

ingredients

For the red wine reduction:

1 cup Sangiovese

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

2 cups veal stock

2 cups lobster stock

2 ounces butter, cubed

Salt and pepper

For the artichokes:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, peeled and sliced

2 cups chicken stock

3 carrots, peeled, channeled with a lemon stripper, sliced thinly on the bias

12 artichoke hearts

1 cup white wine

For the lobster:

6 2-pound lobsters

2 pounds butter, cubed

1/2 bunch tarragon, stemmed and chopped

1/2 bunch parsley, stemmed and chopped

1/2 bunch chervil, stemmed and chopped

1/2 bunch thyme, stemmed and chopped

For the garnish:

Chervil sprigs

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RELATED ARTICLE: Lamb with Grilled Figs and Truffle Goat Cheese Tart (Serves 3)

paul SALE

directions

For the goat cheese tarts: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, mix potato, goat cheese and truffles and season with salt and pepper. Cut three 2 3/4-inch circles and three 5X3-inch strips from puff pastry. Using a 2 1/4-inch ring mold, place a circle in the bottom of mold, wrapping a strip inside ring mold securing the two. Bake until golden brown. Remove from oven, setting aside to cool. When cool, remove from molds. Using a lattice dough roller, cut one sheet puff pastry into three 2-inch circles. Place circles over small hemisphere molds, brush with egg wash and place in oven until cooked through and golden brown. Remove from oven, setting aside to cool. When cool, remove from molds.

For the lamb jus: In a large saute pan, saute shallots until golden brown. Add red wine and thyme and reduce by half. Add lamb stock and reduce. Remove from heat and strain sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Add salt and pepper.

For the lamb: Season lamb with salt and pepper and cut into three servings. Divide lamb, herbs and butter into three vacuum-packed bags. Bring a saucepan of water to 165 degrees and cook for 45 minutes. Remove and set in an ice bath until chilled, refrigerating until needed. Reheat in simmering water for 10 minutes. Cut open bag and slice lamb into individual chops.

For the figs: Prepare a hot grill. Brush figs with olive oil and grill until lightly browned; remove and set aside.

To serve: Spoon goat cheese mixture into tart. Cover with a lattice dome and serve with lamb chops and fig halves. Drizzle with lamb jus and garnish with mache and truffle slices.

ingredients

For the goat cheese tarts:

1 Idaho potato, peeled, boiled and mashed

4 ounces goat cheese

2 ounces chopped black truffle

4 sheets puff pastry

Egg wash for brushing

Salt and pepper

For the lamb jus:

1 shallot, peeled and chopped

3 sprigs thyme

2 cups red wine

2 cups lamb stock

Salt and pepper

For the lamb:

1/2 lamb rack

12 ounces butter, cubed

1/2 bunch thyme

1/2 bunch tarragon

Salt and pepper

For the figs:

3 figs, halved

Olive oil, as needed

For the garnish:

Mache

Black truffle, thinly sliced

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RELATED ARTICLE: Tuscan-Style Braised Pork Belly with Mascarpone Polenta (Serves 4)

alessandro STRATTA

directions

For the pork belly cure: In a bowl, combine all ingredients except pork belly and mix well. Score skin of pork belly and rub with mixture. Cover and cure for two days in refrigerator. Remove belly from cure and cut into four twelve-ounce pieces.

For the pork belly braise: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large saute pan over high heat, add oil. Sear pork belly pieces on all sides and remove from pan. Add garlic and onion to pan; cook until translucent. Add bouquet garni, rosemary, tomato paste and brown sugar. Deglaze with wine and reduce until dry. Add tomatoes and stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide pork belly and sauce evenly between four vacuum-packed bags. Heat a saucepan of water to 200 degrees and cook for 12 hours. Remove from water, set in an ice bath until chilled and refrigerate until needed.

For the vegetables: In a large saucepan, heat oil and render pancetta. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add celery, carrots, mushrooms, thyme and reserved tomato sauce, cooking until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the polenta: In a medium saucepan, add stock, milk and salt; bring to a boil. Whisk in cornmeal until smooth. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Finish with butter, mascarpone and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. Adjust with milk until polenta is the consistency of runny mashed potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To finish: Reheat pork belly in simmering water for ten minutes and cut open bag. Remove bouquet garni and rosemary from tomato mixture and transfer to a blender; mix until pureed. Strain tomato mixture through a fine mesh sieve.

To serve: Place pork belly on polenta and spoon with vegetables and tomato mixture. Garnish with parsley, chives and pancetta.

ingredients

For the pork belly cure:

3 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks, crushed and toasted

4 tablespoons ground black peppercorns

2 tablespoons ground and toasted coriander seed

1 tablespoon ground and toasted fennel seed

3 whole cloves, crushed

8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1/4 cup brown sugar

Zest of 4 oranges

3 pounds pork belly, deboned

For the pork belly braise:

1/2 cup olive oil

Cured pork belly

6 cloves garlic, peeled and

2 onions, peeled and chopped

1 bouquet garni

1 rosemary sprig

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup white wine

10 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 quart chicken stock

Salt and pepper

For the vegetables:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped pancetta

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced

1 sprig thyme, stemmed and chopped

Reserved tomato sauce

Salt and pepper

For the polenta:

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups milk

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup cornmeal

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the garnish:

1/2 bunch parsley, stemmed and chopped

1 tablespoon sliced chives

Crispy pancetta

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RELATED ARTICLE: Salmon with Red Pepper Confit and Basil Sauce (Serves 4)

alessandro STRATTA

directions

For the red pepper confit: Divide all ingredients in one vacuum-packed bag. Bring a pot of water to 140 degrees and cook peppers for three hours. Remove bag, set in an ice bath until chilled and refrigerate until needed. Reheat in a saucepan of simmering water for five minutes and cut open bag.

For the basil sauce: Place saucepan over medium heat, add stock and fennel. Reduce by three-quarters. Strain though a fine mesh sieve. Transfer to a blender and add basil. Blend until smooth. Add olive oil in a slow steady stream to emulsify. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Strain through fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth and reserve.

For the black olive oil: Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Place olives on silpat-lined sheet pan and bake in oven for one hour. Transfer to a blender and puree with oil until mixture is smooth and dark black. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and set aside.

For the potatoes: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Preheat salamander. Thinly slice potato cylinders on a mandolin into 32 slices then toss with clarified butter. On a silpat-lined sheet tray, layer two potato slices in four separate stacks. Top each stack with sauteed onions, sprinkle with sugar and olive oil. Layer each stack with two more potato slices. Place in oven and bake 10 minutes, turn potatoes over, and continue baking for an additional eight minutes, pressing down on potato stacks lightly to keep them flat. Remove from oven and place under salamander until golden brown.

For the salmon: Season salmon with salt and pepper. Divide salmon and black olive oil into four vacuum-packed bags. Refrigerate until needed. Bring a pot of water to 130 degrees and cook bags in water for 25 minutes. Remove from water and slit open.

To serve: Place confit and salmon on top of basil sauce. Glaze salmon with a coating of black olive oil from bag and garnish with peashoots. Toss frisee with lemon vinaigrette and place in two small piles; top each with a potato stack. Garnish with pea shoots.

ingredients

For the red pepper confit:

2 red peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch strips

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1 sprig thyme, stemmed

1 teaspoon lavender honey

2 tablespoons white raisins, soaked in sherry vinegar and drained

Salt and pepper

For the basil sauce:

2 cups chicken stock

2 bulbs fennel, chopped

1 bunch basil, stemmed

3/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper

For the black olive oil:

1 cup taggiasca olives, pitted and chopped*

1 cup olive oil

For the potatoes:

2 Russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into 2 1 1/2-inch diameter cylinders

1/4 cup melted clarified butter

1/2 Maui onion, peeled, finely chopped and sauteed until golden brown

Sugar as needed

Olive oil as needed

Salt and pepper

For the salmon:

4 5-ounce salmon fillets

Reserved black olive oil

Salt and pepper

For the garnish:

1/2 cup frisee

Lemon vinaigrette as needed

Pea shoots

*Available thorough The Savory Pantry at (877) 426-4887.

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RELATED ARTICLE: Squab Breast with Foie Gras Ravioli (Serves 4)

alessandro STRATTA

directions

For the squab bouillon: In a large saucepan, add all ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook for three hours, skimming occasionally. Strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth, discard solids and set aside, keeping warm.

For the crouton: In a saute pan over high heat, add foie gras. Cook until golden brown on all sides; remove foie gras and half of rendered fat. Cool and reserve. Add squab livers and saute until golden brown. Transfer foie gras, squab livers and butter to a food processor fitted with the metal blade and blend until smooth. Pass through a tamis and set aside. In the same saute pan, add reserved foie gras fat and apples, sauteing for five minutes. Add raisins and sherry vinegar and reduce to a syrup consistency. Fold the apple and foie gras mixtures together; add salt and pepper. Refrigerate for three hours. Preheat a broiler. Remove mixture from refrigerator, spread one tablespoon onto a crouton and broil until golden brown.

For the ravioli: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add eggs and flour; mix in milk until dough is formed. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about five minutes. Refrigerate for one hour. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll through to the thinnest setting on pasta machine. Cut out eight circles using a 2-inch round cutter. Transfer to a sheet tray. Place cubes of foie gras in the middle of four pasta rounds and egg wash edges. Place remaining pasta rounds on top of foie gras and seal. Cook in a saucepan of boiling water until tender.

For the squab jus: In a medium saucepan, heat duck fat. Add bones and cook until golden brown. Add garlic and brown. Degrease pan and add stock. Bring to a simmer and reduce to one-half cup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the squab: Divide all ingredients evenly into four vacuum-packed bags. In a saucepan filled with water, poach bags at 140 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Set in an ice bath until chilled and refrigerate until needed. Reheat in 200 degree water for ten minutes and cut open.

To serve: Spoon leeks and gingerroot mixture from vacuum-packed bag onto plate. Place squab over mixture and drizzle with squab jus. Pour bouillon into cups and add ravioli and herbs. Serve with crouton. Garnish with micro greens and assorted herbs.

ingredients

For the squab bouillon:

Legs, necks and backs from 3 squabs, blanched

1 onion, peeled, halved and blackened

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

2 leeks, chopped

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 1-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and chopped

1 star anise

1 gallon chicken stock

For the crouton:

2 tablespoons foie gras terrine

1/4 cup squab livers

1 tablespoon melted butter

1/2 apple, peeled, cored and chopped

2 tablespoons golden raisins, soaked in sherry vinegar

4 3-inch long toasted croutons

For the ravioli:

2 eggs

9 ounces durum flour

1 tablespoon milk

4 1-ounce cubes foie gras

Egg wash as needed

For the squab jus:

1 tablespoon duck fat

Legs, necks and backs from 1 squab, blanched

1 head garlic, halved

1/2 gallon chicken stock

Salt and pepper

For the squab:

4 squab breasts, 8 pieces

4 leeks, white part only, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and julienned

2 cups squab bouillon

Salt and pepper

For the garnish:

Micro greens

Assorted herbs

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RELATED ARTICLE: Braised Rabbit Leg with Celery and Truffle Emulsion (Serves 4)

alessandro STRATTA

directions

For the tomato confit: Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Brush a sheet pan with oil. Arrange tomatoes on sheet pan and place a slice of garlic on each piece. Season lightly with salt. Sprinkle with thyme and drizzle with remaining oil. Place in oven for three hours, turning tomatoes after 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven, discard garlic and set tomatoes aside, keeping warm.

For the rabbit: Season rabbit with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Place a saute pan over high heat and add two tablespoons oil. Add rabbit and brown on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside. Add garlic and thyme to pan; cook until garlic turns translucent. Add vermouth, reducing to almost dry, then add chicken stock. Remove liquid from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Divide stock, rabbit legs, celery, truffles, truffle juice, remaining oil and butter into four vacuum packed bags. Heat a saucepan of water to 140 degrees and cook bags in water for five hours. Remove, set bags in an ice bath to chill and refrigerate until needed. Reheat bags in simmering water for ten minutes; cut open bags and remove meat from bones. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve and reserve. Reserve celery from bag.

For the celery: In saute pan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add reserved celery stalks and saute until golden brown. Add reserved stock and reduce by three-quarters. Finish with truffles and parsley. Add salt and pepper.

For the truffle emulsion: In a saute pan, bring stock to boil and reduce by half. Add truffle juice and butter. Transfer mixture to a blender; add egg. Puree until smooth and add oil in a slow, steady stream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with lemon juice and black truffles. Froth sauce with a hand-held immersion blender.

To serve: On a plate, layer tomato confit and truffles. Top with celery. Place rabbit on plate and serve with truffle emulsion and black truffle slices.

ingredients

For the tomato confit:

1/2 cup olive oil

4 tomatoes, peeled, quartered and seeded

4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into 16 pieces

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

Salt

For the rabbit:

8 rabbit legs

All-purpose flour as needed

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1 sprig thyme, stemmed

1/2 cup dry white vermouth

1 cup chicken stock

2 celery stalks, cut 4-inches from base, halved

1 tablespoon chopped black truffle

1 tablespoon black truffle juice

2 tablespoons melted butter

Salt and pepper

For the celery:

1 tablespoon butter

Reserved celery stalks

2 tablespoons reserved stock

1 tablespoon chopped black truffle

1/4 bunch parsley, stemmed and chopped

Salt and pepper

For the truffle emulsion:

1 cup reserved stock

1 tablespoon truffle juice

2 tablespoons butter

1 soft-boiled egg, peeled

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped black truffle

Salt and pepper

For the garnish:

Black truffle, chopped as needed

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

RELATED ARTICLE: Roasted Veal Sweetbreads, Asparagus and Chanterelles (Serves 4)

alessandro STRATTA

directions

For the sweetbreads: Divide all ingredients into four vacuum packed bags. Place bags in refrigerator to marinate overnight. Bring pot of water to 160 degrees. Remove bags from refrigerator and cook for 2 1/2 hours. Remove, set in an ice bath until chilled and refrigerate until needed.

For the asparagus: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add flour and eggs; mix in milk until dough is formed. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about five minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. Remove dough from refrigerator and pass it through to the thinnest setting on pasta machine. Cut into eight 2X2-inch squares. Cook pasta squares in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender. Set in an ice bath until chilled, drain and place on an oiled sheet pan. Preheat salamander. Sprinkle both sides of pasta with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Cut off top 3-inches of asparagus spear, peel and blanch. Reserve trim for sauce. Place one asparagus spear on each pasta square so the tips extend outside the pasta. Roll into a log and cut off any excess pasta. Repeat process with remaining squares and asparagus. Place asparagus pasta on a buttered sheet pan, brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with cheese. Broil until lightly browned.

For the asparagus sauce: In a large saute pan, heat one tablespoon of oil. Add garlic and shallots; saute until translucent. Add half of the asparagus trim, deglaze with vermouth and reduce to dry. Add chicken stock and reduce by three-quarters. Transfer mixture to blender, adding remaining asparagus trim and blend until smooth. Pour remaining oil in a slow stream; add the spinach leaves. Add salt and pepper and set aside, keeping warm.

For the veal jus: In a saute pan, reduce veal stock to three-quarters of a cup. Transfer to a blender and add veal fat and butter. Mix to combine. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and set aside, keeping warm.

To finish the sweetbreads: Remove sweetbreads from bag and dredge in flour. Place saute pan over high heat and add oil. Add sweetbreads; saute until lightly browned. Add butter and continue to cook until sweetbreads turn golden brown. Add garlic and shallots and cook until translucent. Deglaze with chicken stock and reduce by half. Add veal jus, mushrooms and chives to finish. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: Set two asparagus on plate with a dollop of asparagus sauce. Place sliced sweetbreads on plate and spoon with sauce. Garnish with parsley and chives.

ingredients

For the sweetbreads:

2 pounds veal sweetbreads, blanched and outer membrane removed

1 quart milk

1/2 onion, peeled and chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

2 bay leaves

4 black peppercorns

2 teaspoons salt

For the asparagus:

9 ounces durum flour

2 eggs

1 tablespoon milk

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

8 spears asparagus

1/4 cup melted butter

For the asparagus sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

Reserved asparagus trim, blanched

2 tablespoons dry white vermouth

1/4 cup chicken stock

2 ounces spinach, stemmed

Salt and pepper

For the veal jus:

1 gallon veal stock

1/3 cup melted clarified butter

To finish the sweetbreads:

4 vacuum-packed bags sweetbreads

All-purpose flour as needed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup butter

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 cup veal jus

2 cups chopped chanterelle mushrooms

1 tablespoon chopped chives

Salt and pepper

For the garnish:

Parsley, stemmed

Chives, sliced

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
COPYRIGHT 2003 Culinaire, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Publication:Art Culinaire
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Dec 22, 2003
Words:6099
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