Monday, October 5, 2009
Dinner for Four
Just this past Monday, I got a call from my friend's mom (who I had never met). She asked me to cook for her and her husband, and another couple on Saturday (2 days ago). I was to come over to their house and cook a basic 3-course meal, and be paid for my efforts. It was pretty short notice, but I quickly agreed. I would be getting paid for something I would have lots of fun doing!
I immediately started planning out the menu, choosing similar proteins to those that I hope to serve for the library auction dinner in a few weeks just to make sure that I could pull them off under the circumstances. The guests had absolutely no dietary restrictions so I was really able to do my own thing.
For the first course I chose scallops, corn and a tomato, red pepper sauce. I chose corn because at Lacroix, they make this awesome corn that they really just sweat in butter. I cooked mine in a little butter, some bacon fat, garlic, shallots, and sage, then tossed in some bacon at the end. I got the idea for the tomato-red pepper sauce because last week on Avec Eric on PBS, he kinda cooked down some red peppers in some red wine and olive oil to make a sauce for cod I believe. I saw this awesome looking tomato from my garden and wanted to throw that in there too, so I sweated some red peppers with some garlic, onion, and rosemary, before deglazing with a little bit of red wine and a chopped up tomato. As the liquid evaporated, I added a little chicken stock and cooked it down further. Finally I passed it through a food mill. To order, I finished it off with a dab of butter.
For the second course I chose chicken confit with homemade spagghetti, because it's a very similar dish to the duck confit risotto that I hope to do for the auction dinner. I cured the chicken confit for 24 hours in garlic, peppercorns, cloves, brown sugar, thyme, and I placed some bacon over each leg. I then cooked them sous vide at 176 for 8 hours in duck fat. For the pasta, I used Thomas Keller's French Laundry Recipe, which is real nice and rich because it's loaded with egg yolks. I rolled this out as spagghetti on my pasta machine. To finish the dish, I pulled apart the confit meat, reserving the skin. I then seared the pulled meat in flaming hot oil while crisping the skin in the oven. I then tossed the meat with the pasta, some pasta water, some butter, some olive oil, and some pecorino, then topped the whole thing off with a piece of crispy chicken skin. I made sure none of them were on a diet before I served it to them.
For dessert I served good ol' American apple pie. I was inspired by some massive honeycrisp apples from a local farm that I saw in Whole Foods, and decided that a simple pie would be the best way to utilize them. For the dough I used a 3:4:5 ratio of water to butter to flour, rather than Ruhlman's 1:2:3, because if you can get away with a higher butter to flour ratio, why not do so!? I used completely butter for my dough; it may not make as flaky a pie as shortening but it's just so darn tasty (and anyways, there's a bunch of ways to ensure flakiness even with an all-butter crust).
I prepped almost everything beforehand, and there really wasn't much to do besides sear the scallops, cook the pasta, and warm up everything else. I warned people I was cooking for that I could set their smoke alarm off when I was searing the scallops, but I used their overhead fan and that turned out not to be a problem. Overall, everything went quite smoothly and I got paid for something that was lots of fun to do.
My only regret was that I forgot to take a picture of the scallop dish before I sent it out. I wish you guys could've seen it. It looked awesome.