SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Chef John Griffiths’ earliest food memories are of his Southern grandmother’s cooking in his childhood. The pleasure of delicious slow-cooked collards with bacon and fruit cobblers inspired his evolving career behind the stove.
Shortly after high school, he earned the Associates of Applied Science in the Culinary Arts Degree at Schoolcraft College in Michigan. One of Griffiths’ more formative professional periods began while working with James Beard award winning chef Takashi Yagahashi at Tribute Restaurant in Farmington Hills. Four short years later, his talent led him to become the executive chef at the exclusive Bay Harbor Yacht Club, while simultaneously working as a part-time chef instructor at his alma mater. He made the acquaintance of Larry Forgione at the Yacht Club, and they forged a relationship that culminated in the 2004 opening of Forgione’s legendary An American Place in St. Louis with Chef Griffiths at the helm.
Chef Griffiths diversified his career in the years following 2007, leading a restaurant consultancy firm that helped open and shape dozens of restaurants in the Midwest, acting as executive chef for Bon Appetit at Washington University, and reimagining Truffles, a modern, season-forward Italian restaurant, as their executive chef. Here, Chef Griffiths received significant accolades including an invitation to cook at the James Beard House in New York City.
In early 2013, he succumbed to the natural beauty, superior weather, and incomparable produce of California, and he moved to Sacramento to lead The Kitchen Restaurant. The unique “Demonstration Dinners” at The Kitchen were nightly six-course degustation during which the courses were cooked in full view of the guests, who were encouraged to interact with the chefs as the dinner progressed. Griffiths moved to the Bay Area in late 2014 to join the team at The Advocate in Berkeley as the opening executive chef.
In March 2016, Chef Griffiths joined the team at Bluestem Brasserie as Executive Chef, where he now oversees the seasonally evolving menu and whole-animal butchery practices.
In his free time, he can be found clinging to the side of a mountain, buried in cookbooks, or chasing his chocolate lab around a park.
We met at Bluestem recently for our Foodie Chap chat – where really good food and conviviality go hand in hand. Enjoy the conversation and the delish recipe – posted below.
Chef John Griffiths’ Chicken Liver Toast
- Chicken Liver Parfait
- Grilled Bread (we are fans of acme levain)
- Bronx grape and Almond Relish
Chicken Liver Parfait Ingredients:
- 320 Grams – Chicken Livers; Soaked in milk for 4 hours
- 12 Grams – Salt
- 4 Grams – Pink Salt
- 1.6 Grams – Ground white pepper
- 4 – Large Eggs
- 320 Grams – Butter
- 40 Grams – Shallots
- 0.8 Grams – Garlic cloves
- 1.5 fluid oz – Brandy (or cognac if you’re ball’n)
- 1.5 fluid oz – Maderia
- 1.5 fluid oz – Port
Trim the livers by removing the veins/arteries and fatty bits connecting the two lobes. Soak the livers in enough milk to cover, refrigerated for about 4 hours. Strain the livers well.
When the livers are close to being removed from the milk you can begin the rest of the parfait.
Preheat an oven to 180F.
Spray a ceramic terrine or casserole dish with pan spray then line with plastic wrap, keeping plenty of extra plastic overhanging to be wrapped back over top of the dish.
Peel and slice the shallots and garlic thinly, about an 1/8 “ place in a non-reactive pan with the port, madeira and brandy. Reduce slowly until just the smallest amount of moisture remains in the pan. Remove from pan and reserve at room temp.
Melt butter, reserve warm, not hot.
Combine livers, salts, pepper, shallot-wine reduction in the bowl of a blender.
Process the livers working to a medium high speed. Incorporate the eggs one at a time. Then pour in the butter in a slow steady stream. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer and pour into the lined ceramic casserole/terrine dish. If the dish does not have a tight fitting lid, top with aluminum foil over the plastic wrap. Place in a larger pan that can accommodate a water bath to cook the terrine dish.
Cook in water bath in the oven at 180F until an internal temperature of 150F is reached. Remove from the oven, let cool at room temp for one hour then place in the refrigerator to cool overnight or at least 4 hours.
From this point the Parfait can be left in the mold or removed and packed tightly into small ziplock bags or food saver type vacuum bags. Will keep 7 days.
Note: Pink Salt is a curing salt (sodium nitrate). This lends the rosey color to the parfait and also aids in its shelf life. You can omit it if it is unavailable, the liver may discolor more quickly and should be consumed within 3-4 days.
Grape and Almond Relish
If you are going to fire up your wood or gas grill for the levain toast, then follow this recipe, it adds a lot of depth to the relish. But if not, just use fresh herbs and add them, roughly chopped, to the grape relish.
- 2-3 sprigs Rosemary
- splash of Dry White Wine
- drizzle of Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- Tie up the rosemary with butcher twine, fairly tightly.
In a container of appropriate size, add wine and olive oil. Toss/turn the bundle of the herbs a several times in the mixture of oil/wine until the herbs are well coated. Shake them out vigorously.
Over a cooler portion of the grill, place the bundle and let them begin sizzle and steam and char lightly. If the herbs begin to catch fire or dry out, dab them back into the oil/wine mixture a few times. Keep turning the small bundle until the herbs are well flavored (smoky) and nicely grilled; bits of dark, some char, but not charcoal.
- Let cool, then pick and chop as you would fresh herbs.
Toast almonds in a 325F oven for bout 7-10 minutes, let cool, then crush with the side of a knife or bottom of a heavy pan. Reserve.
Ingredients To Make the Relish:
- ½ cup seedless (Bronx or thom-cord are best) grapes, washed and split
- 1/4 cup crushed almonds
- 1fl oz cup of Charred Herbs (more or less based on taste)
- Good Quality extra virgin olive oil To Taste
- Aged Sherry vinegar To Taste
- Kosher Salt
Combine all the above and season with sherry vinegar, olive oil and salt as needed
Liver Toast Assembly:
Remove the liver parfait from the refrigerator. Place it in the bowl of a mixer with a paddle and process on medium to soften and smooth out the liver (you can opt to pass it through a sieve at this point if you feel like showing off).
Slice your favorite levain/sourdough type bread into 1” thick slices, brush with some olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill over a pretty high heat. We want some good char on the outside, but the bread should still be very moist on the inside.
Generously spread the parfait onto the grilled toasts, sprinkle a little coarse sea salt on the parfait, then top with a generous spoonful (or two) of the relish making sure to have some liquid in there. tip: we create a little well when we spread the liver on the toast to capture the liquid of the relish.
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