I want to put a crown on my friend Dave’s head and kowtow him. Well, maybe a chef’s hat is more appropriate, but I thought the crown looked more impressive. I don’t know why or how Dave is such a good cook because he is a mechanical engineer, but there hasn’t been a single time I’ve left his dining table feeling less than impressed. The number of instant food comas he’s induced in me also makes me suspect that he’s lacing those meals with something extra. Anyhow, in all seriousness, what he puts on his dinner table is the birds singing, stars shining, and unicorns burping glitter kind of tasty!
So a few months ago, Dave tells me that he’s bored and wants to cook something tasty. Something expensive. I don’t know what on earth I was thinking, but my first response was “Blah Mountain View is too far. I can’t make it down there.” Oh how things quickly changed when Dave uttered the words “Spanish Black-Footed Free-Range-Acorn-Fed Pork….and duck fat simmered potatoes…Imma buy a gallon of that shit.” Say WHAT? I’m SO there! First off, who the hell orders pork imported from Spain from a butchery that isn’t even on our side of the continent (Wagshal’s Market in Washington D.C.). And secondly, is there anything that sounds as gross and decadent at the same time as food simmered in duck fat? I don’t know where Dave gets these ideas. What turned out to be the star of the meal for me though, was the chilled Sunchoke Dashi Soup with Vegetables. This dish, I do know, was inspired by an episode of Top Chef. I have to say I’ve never had soup served deliberately chilled before so I had my doubts. Those doubts quickly melted away when I saw how it gleamed as Dave gently poured it into our bowls. I am a fan. A BIG fan. Every mom and mechanical engineer turned part-time foodie and part-time cook should serve this as part of a summer meal.
By the way, in case you were wondering, here’s a sunchoke! Spellcheck doesn’t seem to think it exists, but it does! When Dave first showed it to me, I thought it was ginger!
Braised Pork Cheek (otherwise known as the Carrilleras cut) and Potatoes Simmered in Duck Fat.
Presa a la Plancha with a Halved Oven-Baked Artichoke or in normal people speak – pork grilled on a metal plate, but in this case Dave used a cast iron skillet. I loved that it was served on the rare side with plenty of blood oozing out of it. I had no idea that this was pork as well and not beef until after I stuffed my face. What an amazing meal! MASTER CHEF DAVE, YOU ROCK.
Here’s the recipe for the chilled soup from the Bravo website:
- 1 pound peeled sunchokes, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup green onion whites; reserve greens
- 1/8 cup leek whites
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 quart dashi stock
- 1/8 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt, to taste
- 1 cup bonito flakes
- 1 quart water
- 1 small piece of kombu
- 1 baguette
- 2 slices prosciutto
- Squash, ribbons
- Cucumber, cubed seeds
- Zucchini, ribbons
- Carrot greens
- Carrots, ribbons
- 1 cup crème fraiche
- 1 lemon, zest
- 1 garlic clove, grated
1. Sweat green onions (whites) and leeks on medium heat in butter and add sunchokes, season with salt to taste. Add cream and simmer sunchokes until tender. Add dashi and simmer. Finish with buttermilk and take off heat, chill and puree blanched green onion greens.
1. Bring water and kombu to a simmer and remove kombu, turn off heat add bonito and steep for 2 minutes and strain.
1. Pull apart a baguette and dry in an oven
1. Press slices of prosciutto between 2 sheet pans and bake in an oven at 280 degrees Fahrenheit until cripsy.
1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
1. Place ‘vegetable garnish’ in a bowl. Pour sunchoke dashi and garnish with prosciutto and croutons.