Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Canadian Celebrity Chefs Event: Moffatt and Walsh's Drunken Squab

Yesterday, I spent 12 hours immersed in food. The day included celebrity chefs, demonstrations, tastings, and time to share this experience with other people who are just as passionate about food. The event was the Canadian Celebrity Chefs Event hosted by Chef Michael Blackie at the NAC that was developed in part to support the NAC's National Youth and Education Trust, which furthers artistic education, training and mentorship for young Canadians.

Yes, I was disappointed in parts of the day. But there was much to watch, learn and absorb.

We saw 16 chefs of varying calibre (from Iron Chefs to celebrity television chefs to local masters) prepare eight over-the-top dishes that were not skimpy on portions (in most cases). All day, they passionately shared their skills, talent and knowledge. Each chef pairing had 45 minutes to show how to prepare their dish and then there was time for Q&A. We had a day's worth of watching and learning (in-between the frustrating interruptions from the host). The day was full and by the end of it, I was tired but happy to have been an observer.

Food & Wine
We tasted top quality ingredients that don't manage to find themselves in my refrigerator very often during the year: foie gras, oysters, veal tenderloin, bison, bone marrow, bacon foam, lobster, sweetbreads, sunchokes, and squab among others. Plus we had a wine pairing with each of the dishes. {And lunch was included too.}

We had eight appetizer dishes. It was even suggested that it would be ok to go and get another plate from the same station.

We also have eight original recipes to try in our own kitchens.

Some people complained about the cost of the event. Yes, because I am a food blogger and offered to help promote the event beforehand, during and after, I got my ticket (worth $145) for free. Recently I ate dinner at one of the best restaurants in Ottawa. The bill came to around $80 for one person, and I only had a main dish, a dessert and one glass of wine. $145 for 12 hours of food and demo is a deal, and one I would pay for next year if I don't have the opportunity to "work" the event.

First-time events give us the slightly rocky start we look back on fondly once it's all fine-tuned in years to come. (Maybe next year the chefs shouldn't bond so much the night before!) It's easy to be critical and focus on what went wrong. I prefer to pick out the sea glass and focus on the positive. We all love food. (And the sandbox is big enough for all of us. :)

Here is one of eight recipes from the event. This one is from Chef Michael Moffatt of Beckta's and Chef Anthony Walsh of Canoe in Toronto. The Tatin of Sunchoke was creamy and slightly sweet. I would add a bit of garnish to this dish for color if I ever make it at home.

Recipe for drunken squab + Newfie screech | tatin of sunchokes | foie gras crepinette

Moffatt | Walsh

Serves 4

For the Squab
2 pcs, 375-400 g Squab
Legs, back and wings detached, Breasts left on the crown, aged 3-5 days in a well-ventilated refrigerated space. Use the wings and back for a stock/jus.
The legs should be liberally seasoned with the following mixture:
Place all the ingredients in a processor or mortar and pestle and smash them to a course pulp.

2 tbsp Kosher Salt
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp ea Fennel Seed, Coriander Seed and Star Anise.
(I like to toast them lightly prior to smashing)
1 tsp Thyme leaves, 2 laurel leaves.

Coat the legs with the mix; rest them at room temp for 2 hours. Lightly rinse the legs off in cool water. Submerge the legs in warm duck fat, cover and place in a 275F oven for 1-½ hours. The meat should easily come off of the bone. Strain the fat and chill for re use.

For the Dip
250 ml Newfie Screech
400 ml Maple Syrup A Grade
500 ml water
1 Tbsp Star Anise Pods (lightly toast all spices)
1 Tsp Fennel Seed
1 tsp Coriander Seed
½ stick Cinnamon
1tbsp Kosher Salt

Combine ingredients, simmer until fragrant approximately 15-20 minutes. With the dip at a mild boil, place the squab crowns into the pot for 10 seconds. Remove and place back in fridge immediately to cool entirely. Repeat this process on the birds 5-7 times over the period of 24 hours. The birds from that point can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days. Preheat an oven to 425F; Place the Squab on a rack on a tray and cook for 8-10 minutes rotating the tray ½ way through the cooking. Remove from the oven; let rest 15 minutes prior to carving.

Tatin of Sunchoke
4 Puff Pastry rounds, 5cm in diameter, punctured thoroughly with a fork.
Warm caramel (250 ml water, ½ cup sugar, simmered until caramel color)
4 Thumb- sized pieces of well blanched (Roast or Boiled) Jerusalem artichoke, I like them with the skin on

Maple Sunchoke Puree
½ cup coarsely chopped skin on sunchoke
½ small sweet onion minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
¼ cup each of chicken stock as well as 35% cream
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp kosher salt

Combine ingredients and simmer until the sunchokes are soft, puree until smooth,
check seasoning.

(Pam Spray is a good measure prior to the whole process.)
In a foil 4 oz oven able cup, place a small piece of parchment to cover the bottom. Place a spoon of caramel, then place the piece of sunchoke on top of the caramel. Put a nice dollop of the sunchoke puree on top of the sunchoke… and finally lay the docked puff over the choke. Make sure to gently push the pastry down the sides of the mold. Bake at 375 F for 12 – 15 minutes, pop them out while warm and reserve.

Picked down Squab leg meat
½ cup ground pork
½ cup sliced Shallots
1 tsp Ginger
½ cup Panko or other bread crumbs
2 Egg yolks
½ cup blanched and julienne Swiss Chard or Collard Greens leaves
¼ cup Roast Chicken Jus
6 oz Foie Gras (season liberally with 1 tsp kosher salt, 2 tbsp Maple syrup 2 tbsp Screech… let sit for 1 hour prior to using)
½ tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp each of Sage, Thyme, Parsley
Lea and Perrins

Caul Fat
Strong roast Fowl Stock for poaching

Over medium heat, sweat the shallots, ginger and nutmeg in butter until soft and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes.

Add foie gras, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the Pork and picked down Squab. Add Chicken just to moisten. You should look for a loose porridge like consistency.

Once you have this consistency, add the panko to bind the mixture; cooking it until you see a sheen and a significantly tighter texture.

Remove from heat; add the greens, nutmeg and a good dash of Lea and Perrins. Chill well. Add the egg yolks, herbs and double check for seasoning. Chill well. Form into balls, wrap in caul, sear on seam side, then gently simmer in stock for 2 minutes (the stock should not completely submerge the Crepinettes. Place in a 375F preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Reserve in liquid. Serve them warm along side the Tatin and Squab.

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