Friday, March 28, 2014
Along with triangle leeks, miner's lettuce is a true harbinger of spring; a subtle reminder that months of cooking hard squash and winter radishes will soon be behind us.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Carmel Valley Berkshire Pig Headcheese
Almost two years ago, a few weeks after I came back to Post Ranch, I brought in two whole pigs from Carmel Valley. For me, the most important thing about whole animal butchery is respecting the animal and using as much of it as possible. After meticulously breaking it down and setting aside separate projects, I instructed someone on the next steps. When I returned a day later I was horrified to see the meat thrown haphazardly into the freezer because the person was "too busy" to complete the task. What should have been treated with respect had instead been destroyed, discarded into a frozen pile of failure. The incident was so traumatizing that I refused to order any more whole pigs, until now. Every portion of the pig has a use. For these particular pigs we did the following:
- Loins and Tenderloins - Pan Roasted for dinner - lightly brined with white soy and ginger
- Front Legs and Scraps - Fresh sausage for breakfast with pineapple sage and pink peppercorns from the North ridge
- Back Legs (Big Sur Hams) - Cured with wild black sage and redwood then smoked with eucalyptus, oak and mushrooms
- Bones - Smoked for four hours then made into stock
- Heads - Cooked in stock then cleaned and turned into a "head cheese"
For the final presentation of this dish Elizabeth made a red banyuls aioli and pickled mustard seeds to pair with toasted country bread and tiny root vegetables. I was really happy with the way the dish came out- because it elevates a dish from something people might turn their noses up at, to a refined presentation with juxtaposing textures and flavors that harmonize
perfectly with the rich headcheese.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Big Sur Ham
We recently received two beautiful Berkshire pigs from Carmel Valley. Sterling and I started a batch of Big Sur hams. Inspired by Speck (an aromatic smoked ham cured with laurel, juniper and rosemary from Northern Italy), we rubbed the legs with local sea salt, wild black sage and redwood shoots. After two weeks of curing, we will smoke with a series of sage, eucalyptus and oak, then hang for six months. I hope the final hams reflect the terroir of Big Sur!
Monday, March 24, 2014
Keyhole Limpet and Gumboot Chiton
This week the spiny lobster season and whelk season both came to a close. The Monterey Abalone Farm, who has been collecting both of these items for us, asked me if I had any other exotic seafoods on my wish list. They have always come through on even the most outlandish requests, such as live moon jellyfish and sea cucumber, so I racked my brain to think of anything that might be worth pursuing. Anemone, commonly eaten in Spain, but illegal to harvest in California, was out of the question. I remembered reading something about native Californians eating gumboot chiton, but had no idea what flavor they might have or whether they would be a choice ingredient. As luck would have it, Trevor happened to have a gumboot that he had collected for an aquarium and was more than happy to let me have it. While he searched the tank he also ran across a giant keyhole limpet, resembling an abalone shrouded in a strange-black film. For good measure, I decided to add it to the shopping list.
The gumboot chiton was pretty bad - not only was it flavorless, it also retained a hard-brittle texture (like plastic) regardless of whether it was raw, gently poached or cooked for hours. The results were so disappointing that for the time being I have written it off as strictly a survival food.
The giant keyhole limpet was a whole other story. After removing the strange black leathery shell, I pulled a large muscle - reminiscent of an abalone “foot”, from the small-oval shell with small hole on top. I was then able to separate this portion into two parts - a central “foot” and donut shaped outer muscle. After trying a few preparation methods we were able to get perfect slices of firm, yet tender meat with a flavor similar to abalone but with perhaps even a sweeter more complex note, by gently poaching a slice of the middle muscle in salted water for 25 seconds. We also took the outside ring and slowly poached it in water with sea salt for 2 hours. The result was completely unexpected - a creamy-white flesh, slightly sticky to the touch, most similar to a piece of braised pork fat. The flavor was rich and creamy - delicious and completely unlike anything I have tasted. It was an incredibly fruitful and exciting afternoon in the kitchen and I am excited to work on a dish that showcases the unique culinary merits of the keyhole limpet!
In addition to being an incredibly promising culinary ingredient, the giant keyhole limpet is also on the forefront of modern medical science. It contains a blood protein called “KLH” which is alleged to be able to fight auto immune disorder, Alzheimer’s and cancer. You can read more by clicking here.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
On Friday night we did a special request vegan nine-course menu. Here is a course featuring brassica from the garden: turnip top purée, tiny turnips, cauliflower, radish, ash, arugula blossom and kale.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Sierra Mar's New Lunch Menu
Last week we debuted our latest three-course prix fixe lunch menu. Here are some of the dishes. To view the entire menu, please click here.
|MORRO BAY OYSTERS - HIBISCUS, SHALLOT, BALINESE LONG PEPPER|
|SWEET ONION TART - WILD ONIONS, WATERCRESS, THYME|
|PETITE LETTUCES - WARM CHARLIE CASCIO GOAT CHEESE, CHAMPAGNE VINAIGRETTE|
|SMOKED BEET TARTARE - FRESH HORSERADISH CRÈME FRAICHE, LEMON, INK BREAD|
|KELP CURED ABALONE MUSHROOMS - CARROT PUREE, RED SHISO, CRISPY RICE|
|OLIVE OIL CURED STEELHEAD TROUT - WILD SPRING HERBS, FINGERLING POTATOES|
|GRILLED BAVETTE STEAK - FAVA BEAN PUREE, ROASTED SPRING ONION, GRAIN MUSTARD PAN JUS|
|PAN ROASTED BLACK COD - LOCAL ARTICHOKES, SPRING VEGETABLES, WHITE BEANS|
|HARRISA BRAISED LAMB LEG - ISRAELI COUS COUS, MEYER LEMON, MINT, PISTACHIO|
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