Friday, April 16, 2010

Feeding our Heroes

Serving food, good food, is the reason Restaurant Eugene exists. Every guest, everynight is special and sometimes we even have the opportunity to serve our heroes --- or heroines as the case may be. Ms. Betty Fussell, food writer and 2009 James Beard Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America inductee joined us for dinner recently.

If you're unfamiliar with her work, take a moment to read her brief essay Sustaining the Heart and Body. It says it all.

So what do you feed the author of Raising Steaks, The Life and Times of American Beef on her first real visit to Georgia? Why, White Oak Pastures beef of course! Tartare for starters, then the ribeye, finishing with a little Sweet Grass Dairy cheese cake. A table set for, by and with the work of our heroes --- a toast to you all!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring Gifts

Spring brings many gifts to the chef and usually they come through the hands of the farmer. These sweet, piquant kale florets were delivered today by Indian Ridge Farm. It's unusually early for kale to go to flower, especially in North Georgia, where Indian Ridge is located. No doubt those 80 degree days we had in early April coaxed these brassicas into seed a bit prematurely. We are grateful for them whenever they come and tonight they will be featured with our lamb. Come taste some of the season's bounty.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chef Hopkins' Oyster Recipe in this month's Garden & Gun

Deep-Fried Oysters

Linton Hopkins
Holeman & Finch Public House, Atlanta, Georgia

I had just moved to New Orleans to begin my externship at Mr. B’s Bistro. I had never lived in New Orleans before and somehow got it into my head to discover the best po’boys in the city. I remember the first joint I went to—Domilise’s—on the advice of a friend. It was in Uptown, and in the middle of a neighborhood. Women were wearing dresses and flip-flops and frying oysters right where you walked in. I ordered an oyster po’boy with rémoulade and a root beer. I watched the ladies lightly coat the oysters and fry them crisp. It looked so simple (I have found out through years of cooking that it is). The oysters were golden brown with a thin crunchy coating sitting on rémoulade and crusty bread. I was in heaven. Every time I fry and serve oysters, part of me always goes back to that day.

Oyster Items
1 pint Southern oysters (usually 20 to 30, preferably no larger than a half dollar), shucked and stored in their own liquor

Breading Ingredients
1 pint buttermilk 1 dry pint cornmeal (about 2¹/³ cups); I get a crisp crust by using Anson Mills Antebellum fine yellow cornmeal
1 dry pint all-purpose flour (about 2¹/³ cups)
1 tbsp. Creole seasoning
1 tsp. kosher salt

Reserve buttermilk in separate container. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until well blended. Remove oysters from liquor, draining excess so oysters are still wet but not dripping. Place all of the oysters in buttermilk. One at a time, remove each oyster from the buttermilk, allowing the excess to drip back into the container. Toss to coat all sides in the breading (gently press the breading onto the oyster to help it adhere). Transfer to waxed-paper-lined plate or cookie sheet until oysters are all breaded.

In a heavy stockpot with high sides fitted with a deep-frying (or candy) thermometer, bring at least two inches of peanut oil to 375ºF.

Keeping the heat at a steady 375ºF and working in batches of six, fry the oysters until they are golden brown and just cooked through, about 90 seconds. (The oysters will curl slightly when they are done.) Using a slotted spoon, remove oysters and drain on brown-paper-bag-lined plate. Serve immediately with a side of rémoulade (see below).

Rémoulade Ingredients
1 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
½ cup Creole mustard (like Zatarain’s)
2 tbsp. hot sauce (preferably Louisiana style, like Crystal or Trappey’s)
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
¹/8 tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. filé powder
¼ cup minced green onion

Place ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. Transfer to storage container, cover, and refrigerate for up to one week.

You’ve Fried Them. Now What?
Two more recipes from Chef Hopkins

1) Fried Oyster Po’boys I fell in love with these when I was a cook in New Orleans, and I serve them on my lunch menu with a few changes. We use a Pullman white loaf, cut horizontally to get two large slices. Butter both sides of the bread and griddle to a golden brown. Lay out both slices and spread mayonnaise on one side of each piece. Top the bottom half with fresh chopped romaine and sliced tomatoes. Add fried oysters and close with the second slice of toast (mayonnaise side down). Eat with hot sauce and cold root beer.

2) Fried Oysters with Simple Greens, Buttermilk Dressing, and Bacon This recipe combines many items I love about the South: fried oysters, buttermilk, bacon, and local lettuces. I mix about a half cup of good-quality mayonnaise with a quarter cup of buttermilk, a few dashes of red wine vinegar and hot sauce, a lot of fresh black pepper, and a dash of salt. I cut some bacon into a large dice and sauté it in an iron skillet until chewy/crispy. I clean the freshest lettuces I can find. I place the fried oysters on a plate in the shape of a circle, put the greens into the middle of that circle, sprinkle with the bacon, and dress with my spicy, creamy sauce.
—As told to Francine Maroukian

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