By Liam Mayclem, the KCBS Foodie Chap
Hospitality Entrepreneur and Chef Charlie Palmer has received critical acclaim for his signature “Progressive American” cooking, a style built on rambunctious, intense flavors and unexpected combinations with an infusion of classical French cuisine. In 1988, he made a landmark commitment to creating dishes featuring regional American ingredients at his sublime Aureole, located in a brownstone off Manhattan’s Madison Avenue, and over the years has established an impressive roster of restaurants across the country, from New York and Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas, Reno and Sonoma. A frequent guest on NBC’s Today Show, Palmer is also the author of four cookbooks, Great American Food (Random House/1996), Charlie Palmer’s Casual Cooking (Harper Collins/2001), The Art of Aureole, (Ten Speed Press/2002), and Charlie Palmer’s Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen (Melcher Media/2006).
“Being a Chef for me is about an unbridled passion for food.”
– Chef Charlie Palmer
Chef Charlie Palmer will once again bring together culinary and wine elites from around the country to participate in the Sixth Annual Pigs & Pinot weekend March 18th & 19th, 2011. Held at the award-winning Hotel Healdsburg, located in tranquil Healdsburg where three of California’s most important wine-producing regions unite — Dry Creek, Russian River, and Alexander Valley – this celebration has become a tradition amongst pork and wine enthusiasts who are eager to experience the creations of over 60 wineries and 10 chefs who showcase their talents each year. Chef Palmer previewed the Pigs & Pinot event with me recently.
We enjoyed a little Pinot Noir of course and some of his delicious cured roasted pork sausage. Be warned some pigs may be offended by all the pork talk in the preceding podcast or rather “porkcast”!
5 Tasty Questions with Chef Charlie Palmer
1. What is the most humbling experience you’ve had around food?
My most humbling experience probably came when I first started in New York. I made an incredibly wonderful fish fume. I mistakenly opened the valve and came back a half an hour later and it was all flushed down the drain and I looked like an idiot. From that point on I made sure I paid attention to our drains.
2. What are the perks of having a dad as a chef? And I’m talking about your kids.
My four boys, well they enjoy the restaurants, let me tell you that. When I’m home I tend to be the short order cook, so it’s like eggs any way in the morning and that kind of thing, so they’re very spoiled with it, but very appreciative I have to say. They’re always bragging about what they get to eat.
3. What’s the most bizarre food you’ve ever eaten Chef?
The most bizarre food is probably a toss-up between, I once ate monkey brains, 2 or 3 different types of snake, and I don’t know if this is the most bizarre, but the thing I liked the least was ants.
4. When you’ve been away, what’s that dish you have to have when you come home?
Well I’ve got to say my biggest vice is not any kind of junk food, but anyone that’s lived in New York City or visited New York City, if you go to a diner and ask for an egg, bacon and cheese on a roll, you get this incredibly crispy roll, with crisp bacon, a fried egg, cheese melted on it, and all of that together, it’s just a memorable experience.
5. Your last supper you’re going to have two or three guests, dead or alive, what will you eat and who will be at the table?
My last supper, hopefully it’s not soon, first of all I would say I would love to have my family with me, because we cherish having dinner together, you know I’m traveling a lot, we’re not always at the dinner table together. I would love to have dinner with Fernand Point, because he’s kind of a hero in my mind from a culinary standpoint and maybe Auguste Escoffier. When I was a kid and started studying, he was a God to me. Probably my favorite food in the world would be squab. I love squab and it’s the kind of thing where, no matter what you’ve been eating, I can remember times, after a long dinner in France, in a great restaurant, with great food, I’d be thinking ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a beautiful caramelized squab, with whole garlic, a juicy savory type of thing. Squab’s my deal.
I’m Drooling. Chef Charlie Palmer and five very tasty questions. Thank you very much.
Roasted Fresh Sausage
with Creamy Polenta, Roasted Pepper and Mustard Jus
4-8 each Fresh Sausage Links; recipe attached
2 ea Onion, Sliced into thin Slices
6 cloves Garlic, Sliced thin
1 each Red Bell Pepper
1 each Yellow Bell Pepper
4 sprigs Fres thyme
1 ea Shallot, diced fine
1 ½ cup Wild Arugula
½ cup White wine, preferably an un-oaked Chardonnay
1 ½ cup Quick Cook Polenta
3 cups Fresh Chicken Stock, Fresh, not canned
2 cups Pork Stock or Veal Stock, Fresh, not canned
5 ounces Butter,un-salted
1 ounce Parmesan Cheese, Grated
2 ounces Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Onion & Roasted Pepper Hash
Start tossing the bell peppers in a little oil, then season. Place in an oven at 375 degrees for 10 minuets or until the skin starts to peel away from the flesh. Remove from the oven and peel off all the skin. Remove the seeds and slice the peppers into medium strips. Reserve. In a large sauté pan, add 1 ounce of oil and sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat until the onions are caramelized. Once the onions are caramelized add the roasted bell peppers, place in a bowl cover and keep warm.
In a medium sauce add the chicken stock, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 ounces of butter and pinch salt. Bring the stock to a boil then add the quick cook polenta. Cook the polenta according to the brand you purchased, usually about 15 minuets over medium heat. On the polenta is cooked add freshly ground black pepper, grated parmesan cheese and adjust the seasonings. Cover the polenta and put aside in a warm area, reserve for later use.
Cooking the Sausage and Making the Mustard Jus
First season the sausage with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan over high heat sear the sausage in olive oil. Once the sausage turns a golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side, add the 2 remaining sprigs of thyme and 1 once of butter, baste the sausage with the melted butter and place in an oven at 375 degrees to finish cooking. Once cooked remove from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Remove the fat from the pan and sauté the diced shallots. Once the shallots are golden brown add the chardonnay wine and reduce by ¾. When the wine is reduced add 2 cups of pork or veal stock, reduce by ½. Once the sauce base is reduced add the 1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard then slowly whisk in the remaining 1 ounce of butter and adjust seasonings.
Mix the polenta together to make sure there are no lumps and the polenta is creamy, you may need to add a little more chicken stock if the polenta is too thick. On a large plate place a nice scoop of the polenta on the top left side. Place a dollop of the now ‘hash’ on the top right side of the plate. Slice the sausage links into 5 thick medallions, place between the polenta and ‘hash’. Place a little salad of the Wild arugula, tossed in extra virgin olive oil next to the sausage. To finish the dish spoon the mustard jus on the sausage and around the plate.
Fresh Sausage Ingredients
6 lb Lean, Pork Trim
2 oz Salt
.5 oz Pepper
3 oz Garlic, chopped fine
.25 oz Oregano
.5 oz Thyme
1 oz Onion Powder
1.5 oz Mustard Seed, toasted
1 oz Fennel Seed, toasted
2 oz Dijon Mustard
3.5 oz White Wine
The recipe below is one of the easiest and most rewarding to produce. The idea behind fresh sausage is that you can take the trim from a whole hog and within 30 minutes have a delicious product you can eat! The ratio is important, although the spice is based on personal preference. The recipe below is a twist off the recipe that my father would make when I was a child and still to this day I love to recreate.
The first step is to grind all the pork products through a medium-sized dye. The key to is to maintain the pork at a chilled temperature, if the pork gets above 45 degrees the fat will start to smear and you will lose your gorgeous marbling.
Once all the pork is ground then combine the seasoning and mix either by hand or slowly with a kitchen aid. Once mixed, using a sausage press put the ground pork into hog casings. Since this sausage is not cured it is imperative that it is cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 1500F degrees.
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