Saturday, February 18, 2012

Roast Your Way to Bistro Greatness: Inspiration from Durand & Keller

Some of my better meals come after being inspired in a restaurant.

Chef Didier Durand of Cyrano's in Chicago delivered plate after plate of inspiration.  Luckily I was able to share the plates with a dining companion rather than bust a gut eating by myself.  Take a look at the menu this night:

Menu at Cyrano's, Chicago, IL
Menu at Cyrano's, Chicago, IL, a photo by atl10trader on Flickr.

Who couldn't love a menu with so much beloved merguez on it?  It was as exciting to read as it was to taste.  Quite a talent.  And yet it's bistro food - well within my reach (and yours) to cook given the proper steps and practice.  No need for Modernist Cuisine equipment here.

Here's Chef Didier.  He's been a long time fixture in Chicago, but unfortunately (or fortunately for those addicted to his cooking) he sometimes falls just behind the mental recall list of what's the latest and greatest in the ever changing restaurant scene in Chicagoland.  Bottom line: Don't miss a chance to visit Cyrano,  especially after a good-looking renovation that renders the dining space rustic and exuding coziness.

Chef Didier Durand
Chef Didier Durand of Cyrano's Bistrot (546 N. Wells St. 312-467-0546), a photo by vincentjohnson on Flickr. All Rights Reserved.

My Inspired Meal

Fresh my return from Chicago, I received a package from a new mail delivery butcher I am evaluating, Thompson River Ranch. I decided to cook the special Wagyu beef that night in a simple preparation using some of the vegetable dishes I tasted at Cyrano's and a blended piperade as a sauce. Bistro style.

Thompson River Ranch Wagyu Beef & Sides
Thompson River Ranch Wagyu Beef and Roasted Sides, a photo by atl10trader on Flickr.

On the plate: 
  • Roasted asparagus, roasted cauliflower in nothing but a drizzle of sunflower oil, salt and pepper. Put on a cookie sheet lined with foil for 40 minutes at 375F.  I take out the asparagus after 25 minutes.
  • Caramelized onions cooked for at least 1 hour at medium to low heat in a saucepan.  Afterwards the mushrooms are added and cooked for another 20 minutes.
  • The Wagyu beef is cooked according to these directions: (Good advice no matter what kind of beef you are cooking)
Here's the recipe for the piperade sauce which I derived from Thomas Keller's Bouchon:
  1. Wash 3 red bell peppers and 3-4 big red tomatoes.  Prep them by drying them off with a paper towel.
  2. Slice the red peppers in half and remove the stems, seeds, and inner white ribs. Dry off excess moisture.  
  3. Slice the tomatoes at about 1/2 inch or a bit more in thickness.
  4. Place the red peppers in a bowl and drizzle with canola or sunflower oil, salt, and pepper.  Coat the pieces evenly by mixing well.  Put the red pepper halves on a foil-lined cookie sheet (cut side down).
  5. Do the same treatment for the tomatoes separately in the same bowl.  Place the tomatoes along side the peppers on the sheet.
  6. Roast the redness for 45 minutes at 400F.  I added a few springs of tarragon.  Choose any other herb like oregano, sage, or basil if you prefer.
  7. When a good char appears on the peppers, take them out and let them rest in a brown paper shopping bag for 10 minutes.  This will make it easier to remove the skins.
  8. In the same mixing bowl as earlier, place the skinned peppers and tomatoes along with 2-3 tablespoons of sherry or madeira.  Make sure to add every drop of liquid from the cookie sheet! Use an immersion blender to blend the items in the bowl or transfer everything to a blender. 

Prep for Piperade: Roasted peppers, tomatoes & caramelized onions
Prep for Piperade, a photo by atl10trader on Flickr.

Here is the most enjoyable wine paired with this meal:
2004 Fattoria Le Pupille (Elisabetta Geppetti) Poggio Valente, Italy, Tuscany, Maremma, Morellino di Scansano - CellarTracker!

Try the piperade yourself. Makes a great addition to scrambled eggs too.

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