This week was the first week in a long time in which we had the time and space to cook fun stuff. For most of the past nine months we’ve been operating the kitchen in survival mode. Sure, we’ve done some new things here and there, and most of it’s been inspired (I’d like to think, at least), but most of what we’ve made over this period have been tried and true recipes that we know how to make efficiently and scale up well.
But there we were last Friday in the kitchen, making candied citron and boiling beef tongue for minced meat and working on a green plum ketchup recipe from plums preserved a while back for this week’s fancy burger set. The Christmas goose had arrived the day before, and a conversation had already begun in the kitchen about what to do with it. On Cheap Date Night last Thursday, we cooked for over 150 people, and it was a joy to feel the energy of a busy restaurant service again–even though it was all to go.
Last week felt like old times, like it was more than merely holding the pieces together.
Not that there haven’t been other things to enjoy over this period. It’s been wonderful watching the bakery blossom, working with this amazing staff, and just being in the kitchen every day with my cooks working beside them, which is the best way I’ve come to realize to really transfer this craft from one generation to the next, and also to receive what this generation of cooks has to teach mine. So it’s not as if there hasn’t been a lot to appreciate. Yet, last week felt like a corner had been turned in terms of being a creative kitchen again.
The Holiday Schedule
Looming over all of this is the COVID surge. The week before Thanksgiving I couldn’t sleep well thinking about what would happen if one or more of us on staff got COVID and we couldn’t fulfill the orders people placed. That’s one of the reasons we made pickup a day earlier–to give folks a cushion if we couldn’t come through for them.
Thinking along the same lines–of providing a cushion–we’re just going to start offering up as much Christmas stuff as possible this week. Good thing that winter cooking lends itself to this kind of thing. Frozen things like goose pot pie might as well sit in your freezer as ours. Things like cut steaks will only get better with time in their vacuum-sealed bags. Our new “Two Legs of Duck Confit Under Over a Pound of Fat” could theoretically be fine in the fridge for months if anyone could wait that long. Most of our fruit pies now are available unbaked and frozen now, indistinguishable from the fresh ones, and in good supply this week. (If they sell out we’ll have more the following week too.)
The plan for Christmas week (next week) is to offer pickup on both Wednesday and Thursday, instead of the usual Friday since that’s Christmas. We’ll be sending out a newsletter early like we did at Thanksgiving, this coming Sunday 12/20. Also, there will be no takeout on Christmas week.
Goose Pot Pie
For anyone who just wants to keep the Christmas meal easy and interesting this year. This will be very similar to our chicken pot pie–chunks of poached goose breast along with carrots, onions, and peas–except with more herbs and spices in the mix, and a veloute made with roasted poultry stock instead of a blonde stock.
Goose Leg Confit
Made very similarly to our duck confit. First, goose legs are cured with aromatics along with salt and sugar overnight, rinsed and cooked slowly in goose fat all day, and is then cooled overnight in the fat. The goose leg you get will be taken out of the fat and vacuum sealed in a bag. Preserved this way it will be be good until Christmas.
Two Legs of Duck Confit Packed in Over a Pound of Fat
If you want some duck fat around the house to fry potatoes or eggs in, this is the way to go. Each order comes with two legs of duck confit that are encased in over a pound of duck fat.
If all you want is a leg of duck confit and don’t want a pound of duck fat, it’s more economical just to get the “A Leg of Duck Confit” below.
We have a limited number of strip steaks this week. I’m trying to get more for next week, but it’s been a challenge getting the prime antibiotic free stuff. (We could get other beef, but then what would be the point of you getting commodity beef from us when you can get that anywhere?) This is the same beef we’ve offered the last two times we’ve offered beef steaks. These are thick cut, thoroughly trimmed and ready to cook steaks, and they’ve been aging a while too. The steaks you get this week will still be perfectly good to eat on Christmas.
This Week’s Specials
A Leg of Duck Confit
These are individual legs of fully-cooked duck confit. Eat it fresh this weekend, or freeze to have a simple and delicious dinner waiting for you in the freezer for when you need it. Each order comes with 2 oz. of rhubarb chutney, which we make in the spring with Somerset rhubarb.
Chicken Freekeh Soup
The Palestinian Freekeh we use comes to us from our friends at Equal Exchange (the same place we get the chocolate for many of our bakery items). It is traditionally made using an age-old process which includes roasting the wheat in the field over fire while it is still green. Cooked in our rich chicken stock with chunks of chicken and freshly toasted and ground middle eastern spices, this is one you won’t want to miss!
Pork Shoulder Ragout
You can thank the Wassermans for this one. They called to tell us how amazing the last batch was. Since it’s not every day that people go out of their way to tell us such things, and because they’re some of our favorite people, we’re making more. The only problem is that we were kind of “winging” it when we made it last and don’t remember exactly what we did. But with the same well-marbled pork shoulder, rich chicken stock, white wine, fresh herbs, and good quality tomatoes, it won’t be too far off (and I’ll be certain to keep notes this time.)
Fancy Burger of the Week
Green Plum Burger
Two summers ago, I received an email from someone who had a plum tree in their backyard that had been damaged after a storm. A branch full of green, underripe plums had split off the tree, and the gentleman asked if I wanted the plums. We weren’t sure what we were going to do with them, but we took them anyway. We simply cooked them, passed them through a sieve, and waited for inspiration to strike.
The first thing we did with the green plums was make the Worcestershire sauce we’ve been offering on the store the past few months. Then this past Friday we made green plum catsup. We all agreed that it should go on a fancy burger with cheddar cheese and lots of bacon. This might be one of the best burgers we’ve ever made!
This fancy burger is available during our takeout hours, 4 – 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. You can order by calling us at 412-621-2700. Please take a look at the menu on the website first to see what the day’s menu is.