|Food 99/1: Bar Food|
|Monday, 04 June 2012 16:14|
Every single one of us has a soft spot for food that would be considered “unhealthy”. Fast food is the largest restaurant demographic in the western world. The fast pace of life has made a market for quick, easy food that tastes good. Now, that can or can’t mean it’s good for you but sometimes you just need to treat yourself. Everything in life is about moderation. We like to use the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you should eat what’s good for you and not overdo the drinking and live a diligent life. The other 20% of the time is for excesses, the things that make life exciting.
For many years now, bars and pubs have been trying to take things like the fast food we all secretly crave and make them more interesting. In the 1990’s the term gastropub was given to many pubs and bars that were taking real care and creativity to the usual bar menus; now there are pubs across Europe that have garnered Michelin Stars.
While Flying Fish started out as an ultra-creative place for seafood fine dining, we have also decided we can do more. We have added a new bar and lounge area to our outside patio and it is allowing me to try some more downscale food, but with all the same care and attention to detail we use in our fine dining menu. Included in this week’s recipes are elements for my burger, blt, and some other things we’re working on here at Flying Fish for those times when you just want to have some drinks with friends and lighter snacks or when the budget this week doesn’t include a fancy dinner. And although I can’t give up all my secrets, I will give you a big one.
We started our burger here at Flying Fish on our brunch menu. I wasn’t sure how it would be received. It is very different for most as it is a fully composed burger. You don’t add ketchup to this guy! It became so popular so fast that we added it to the lunch menu and now to the bar menu and now the burger is available pretty much all day every day. The reason it tastes so good are the details. First is the burger itself, we grind the meat ourselves here at the restaurant. You will not believe the difference that one step alone makes in the quality of your burgers. I use a secret blend of three different cuts. Chuck, which you’ll find in almost all burgers everywhere, top sirloin and shortribs. My beef comes from one single farm. I believe it makes a world of difference in the quality and the consistency of my products.
I use grass fed beef as well, which while a little more expensive, gives a lot more flavor and is way better for you. No antibiotics or growth hormones in my burgers. And none of that pink slime we’ve all seen in those youtube videos of slaughterhouse ground beef.
Secondly, and almost as important, is the bun. I choose brioche. Brioche is a luxurious bread made with eggs and butter in the dough. It has incredible richness and mouthfeel. It’s a big part of why this burger is so good. There are few toppings on my burger because it’s all about the burger and two special condiments. One of those is a tarragon butter mayonnaise that is rich and fragrant. This is an easy recipe you can try (and it’s very much like a traditional béarnaise but without the double boiler and all the whisking):
Tarragon Butter Mayo
1 lb of butter melted over low heat
2 large eggs whole
2 cups tarragon vinegar
1 shallot diced
1 tsp black peppercorns
kosher salt to taste
Start by placing tarragon vinegar, diced shallot and black peppercorns in a small sauce pot. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vinegar has reduced to ½ cup. Strain the mixture, cool and reserve the liquid for later.
Meanwhile, in a blender, preferably with a dial speed control, place 2 whole eggs and over a low speed whip the eggs until they lighten in color and triple in volume. At this point, with the blender running, slowly add the butter in a steady stream into the eggs. The mixture will emulsify and thicken. Continue to add butter until it’s all gone or until the mixture thickens to a thick mayo consistency. At that point slowly drizzle in the tarragon vinegar reduction a little at a time until the mayo loosens up a bit. Taste as you go for the amount of acidity you like. Season with salt. Reserve in a cool area but do not refrigerate or the mixture will harden and break. It will last out for 2-3 days, which is plenty of time to use on fish, eggs, chicken or a shoe if you so desire. It’s that good!
The other secret weapon in my arsenal is bacon jam. Yes, I said bacon jam. The first time I saw something like this was quite a few years back and it was awfully good, but we have kicked it up a notch (to paraphrase another famous chef), and made it our own. Now you can have it too!
3 lbs bacon
4 lg white onion
8 cloves of garlic
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
1 ½ c coffee brewed strong
black pepper to taste
Chop bacon into medium dice. Render in a large sauce pot until the bacon is crispy. Remove bacon to a paper towel to drain. Remove the bacon fat from the pan and reserve for another use. It’s full of flavor! Add 4 tablespoons of fat back to the same pot and add onions. Cook onions down until they are soft and caramelized. Add chopped garlic and sauté just until soft. Add remaining ingredients along with cooked bacon and simmer until liquid becomes thick. Remove from heat and puree in a blender or food processor to the consistency you want. Put in a sealable container and chill until it achieves a jam-like consistency. Add to your favorite sandwiches or stuff pork or chicken with it!
To assemble: cook burger of your choice to your desired level of doneness. Toast the bun slightly then add bacon jam to the bottom bun and tarragon butter mayo to the top. Dress with crispy lettuce. Top with cheese of your choice and there you have it! Or save yourself the trouble and let me make it for you at Flying Fish!
One of our other great bar foods we have is an amazing BLT. We make the bacon onsite here ourselves. It’s a laborious process but it is the best bacon you will ever have and it isn’t full of the chemical solutions that commercial bacon uses. It does however require some interesting ingredients (some easy to find and some a little more difficult).
Flying Fish House Cured Bacon
1 high quality pork belly (we use Kurabota pork from Japan)
4lbs of kosher salt
1lb of smoked salt
1lb of curing salt (Prague #1 is best. Available online)
5lbs brown sugar
1/2lb fennel seed
1/2lb coriander seed
Make sure your pork belly is clean, dry and free from bones on the underside. Mix the spice rub together to make sure it’s blended evenly. Find a non-reactive container to house your pork. If you have to cut the belly in two, that’s fine. Dust the belly on both sides liberally with the spice mix. Rub it in well then leave the belly overnight to cure. Re-apply the spice mix and turn the belly over making sure to remove any water that has collected overnight. Repeat this step for 5-7 days making sure to re-apply, turn and drain every day. At the end of the curing process wash the curing rub off the belly thoroughly.
Then place pork belly in fridge on a wire rack to dry overnight. Next step is the smoke. You can add liquid smoke to the spice mix and make it more of a wet rub and skip this step but I like real smoke. If you are lucky enough to have a smoker at your house, this part is easy. Just set up your smoker to smoke at 250F for four hours. If you don’t have a smoker you can do what I do. Take a deep metal hotel pan and fill the bottom 1/3 of the way to the top with soaked hickory chips. Then place a perforated pan or wire rack on top of the chips. Place the pork into the pan and double wrap the pan with foil ensuring it is closed tightly.
Preheat your oven to 250F and place the metal pan on the stove over high heat to try and ignite the wood chips. Leave a small corner open to check for smoke. Once there is a good steady stream of smoke reseal the foil and place the pork in the oven for 2 ½ hours. Once finished place the bacon on a wire rack in the fridge again to dry out a bit. Slice to your desired thickness. A meat slicer helps a lot here for consistency in thickness. Place your bacon in 1 lb increments into sealable bags or vacuum seal for freshness and freeze, pulling out only as much as you need.
At Flying Fish we complete our BLT with toasted brioche, sliced heirloom tomatoes, fresh spring lettuces and truffle mayo but you can top it with whatever your heart desires!There are a million different things you can do with upscaling your favorite bar snacks, but one thing they all have in common is the best ingredients available and the attention to the small details when preparing them. Respecting your ingredients will almost always yield beautiful results. Even if it’s just a simple burger ;)
Feel free to check out what I have done with simple bar food at our website, www.flyingfishbahamas.com under the bar section of the menus.
And as always if you have any other wine or food questions drop by our website at www.ninetynineone.com and drop us a line in the Q&A section of the site. We’re always happy to answer any questions you have.
Also, drop by www.flyingfishbahamas.com or find us on facebook to stay up to date on the happenings at Freeport’s finest restaurant!Follow us on Twitter @ninetynineone
Yours in good eating,
Chef Tim99/1 Food Service Management in Freeport is owned & run by Tim & Rebecca Tibbitts. 99/1 is a full service catering business serving scrumptious offerings with top quality ingredients. 99/1 also specializes in cooking classes, guided wine tastings & tutorials, drop off dinners & in home catering. www.ninetynineone.com 373.4363
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