Author: Adam

Cauliflower

Sorrel
Ginger
Butter
Basil
Leeks
Espelette
Caviar
Garlic
Nutmeg
Olive Oil
Pine Nuts
Faro
Chick Pea Flour
Potatoes
Preserved Lemon
Pancetta
Egg Yolk
Creme Fraiche
Pasta
Curry
Apple
Mint
Brown Butter
Cardamom
Parsley
Aged Balsamic
Sweetbreads
Peas
Bacon
Risotto
Tarragon
Lime
Onion
Raisin
Truffles
Sherry Vinegar
Ramps
Olive Oil
Marinated Anchovies
Hot Pepper
Cream
Bay Leaves
Back to Pairings

Back to Pairings

From Firefly Farm to Table

Wednesday May 22nd was a beautiful day to be visiting Firefly Farms in North Stonington, CT for an exclusive butchering workshop.  Firefly Farms is a Certified Humane animal farm located in the South Eastern most point of Connecticut that specializes in rare breed animals that are pasture and forest raised.  The farm is fairly new and is currently specializing in raising Mulefoot hogs which are the only hogs to be considered a breed and Mulefoot hybrids as well as chickens and cattle.

Mulefoots were likely brought over to the Gulf Coast via the Spaniards and since the early twentieth century their population has been in a decline.  I had a rare opportunity to be apart of this butchering workshop at Firefly Farms to further hone my skills in butchering and learn about modern breeding techniques.  What makes this more unique is that Mulefoots thrive on pastures and open land, which Firefly has plenty of and can tell you all about on their website.

Prior to this event I made the trek out there to visit their farm and get the full tour, their property is small by the standards of pasture raised animals but they have adequate land for what they are currently raising.  Dougan, one of the family members that owns and manages the property, was my first contact a few weeks prior to my visit while I was in search of the perfect piece of fat to make my lardo.  The excitement in his voice to meet me and get me out to the farm was a breath of fresh air since moving to the East Coast.  During our first talk he was on his way to New York to pick up some rare cattle so our chat was short, but the following week he called me again excited to talk to me about the wonderful and underrated pork fat that he has available.  When making lardo, I not only look for the best tasting fat but also the thickest, which has proven to be difficult.  The back fat needed for lardo comes off of the back of the pig, above the loins (along the spine), and is hard to get and has a lot to do with the breed of the pig and its diet.  After our second talk I was convinced that this was the farm to begin working with, not only for myself but for Cavey’s restaurant, and I headed out there a few days later.  Dougan’s passion and excitement for his farm is something that I enjoyed and can relate to when I am in the kitchen.

During my first visit there was massive demolition going on, Dougan’s family is in the process of removing a lot of their trees to allow for better growth and development of the land, which during my second visit, was already beginning to show.  The idea behind thinning the trees, which I know very little about, was to allow for more sunlight to reach the ground to help with ground cover and food for the livestock.  Other techniques that are applied to the land are all controlled by animal rotation, this farm is truly on its way to being sustainable, from limiting erosion to natural development of the land and feeding the animals with what grows naturally, which happens to be acorns and grass, and acorns are great to finish pigs on.

My second visit started with another mini tour where we were all given a refresher on how the farm operates.

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After our tour we began our butchering workshop, we broke down into pairs and we each had half of a pig to work on. Our first step was to decide what we wanted to do with the meat, which would determine how we broke it down. Our goal was a little different than the rest of the attendees, as they were going for the singles out tenderloin and a full rack of chops we were more focused on the parts that have more flavor. We started by removing the middle section, loin and belly, and proceeded to break down the front of the pig. Out of the front we got two nice roasts with a good amount of fat and a beautiful jowl that will be great when cured and smoked. After the front was cleaned up we broke down the back leg. Ours was very large, we were going to continue to break it down but with the time constraint we decided to cure it and hang it for prosciutto.

Black Bass and Local Shad

It’s been a month since starting work at Cavey’s in Manchester, CT and we have just started to receive all of the local spring goods such as ramps, fiddlehead ferns, and mushrooms. The one that has surprised me the most though is, the local fish, Shad. When shad season starts you better have it in your restaurant, we receive calls daily asking if we are running any shad specials or if it has made it to our menu. I was more excited to get the roe as I have not had a chance to work with it much, until we got the filets from our fishmonger. Each filet of Shad has four rows of curved bones and the art of filleting Shad is a 400 year old tradition for most fishmonger’s. The fish is very similar to herring and is typically and best served with the roe, and at Cavey’s we wrap the roe in pancetta before pan frying.

The same day the Shad arrived we received another shipment of fresh ramps and black bass, and since I am an amateur with the shad I decided to tackle a bass special. This dish was inspired by the long awaited spring and the desire to grill. I started this special by poaching some fingerling potatoes in seasoned water then allowing them to cool in the fridge. We only want to par cook them because we will be grilling them later when ready to use. After spending an hour or so cleaning ramps I sautéed the bulbs and when they became tender I added the green tops until they wilted. I placed this mixture in a blender and created a very bright and flavorful purée that will be used as the sauce. My favorite attribute of black bass is the thin skin that is great when fried or grilled when left on the fish. Scoring the skin in a few spots helps prevent the fish from curling too much when being cooked. The final key component is the asparagus, since the season is just starting to take off we have had the opportunity to get some local product that is out of this world. The best way to cook asparagus is from raw and either roasting or grilling until tender but still crisp, and for this special I chose to roast them in a hot oven

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Finally, there have been a bunch of tasting menus from vegetarian to all meat since the last post so here are the ones I was able to capture.

Cavey’s of Manchester, CT

The path of a chef is a long and winding road with more intersections than most other jobs.  A new job is usually right around the corner and they don’t usually last more than 5 years unless they keep us captivated.

Which brings me to my new adventure at Cavey’s in Manchester, CT.  It is a very unique restaurant where the ground level dining room is Italian and the downstairs dining room is French, each with their own kitchens.  Both menus change with the seasons and as products are available so some items may only be on the menu for a week, then there are other classic family dishes that are always available.  Cavey’s also offers chef’s tasting menus which gives us the opportunity to create a special meal for the diners in the heat of the moment.  This kind of excitement is what a lot of chefs thrive for.

As a sous chef I will be on the line nightly and getting back into charcuterie and all of the things I enjoy about my profession.  I will do my best to post pictures of our tasting menus but sometimes in the heat of it a picture is the last thing on my mind.

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1st: Smoked Salmon

2nd: Halibut Cheeks

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w Halibut cheeks with pickled rhubarb, red ribbon sorrel, , shaved fennel and celery leaf salad.

3rd: Risotto

Risotto with black olive, capers, eggplant, tomatoes, and raisins

Risotto with black olive, capers, eggplant, tomatoes, and raisins

4th: Pork Tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin with creamy polenta, candied pine nuts, and a cherry and olive tapenade

Pork Tenderloin with creamy polenta, candied pine nuts, and a cherry and olive tapenade

5th: Grilled Ribeye

grilled ribeye with bakers potatoes, caramelized onions, and crispy bacon lardoons

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1st: Asparagus Soup

Asparagus soup with ricotta and poached asparagus tips (soup was poured table-side)

Asparagus soup with ricotta and poached asparagus tips (soup was poured table-side)

2nd: Halibut

3rd: Risotto

4th: Duck

Roasted duck breast, stuffed and roasted duck leg (Farro, rabe, garlic,) with polenta and a cherry and olive tapenade

Roasted duck breast, stuffed and roasted duck leg (Farro, rabe, garlic, and pine nuts) with polenta and a cherry and olive tapenade

5th: Salmon

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1st: Mussels

Sauteed mussels with a salad of chorizo, radicchio, and shishito peppers

Sauteed mussels with a salad of chorizo, radicchio, and shishito peppers

2nd: Halibut Cheeks

3rd: Taleggio Angliotti

Taleggio Angliotti with arugula pesto and a roasted chestnut and sunchoke cream

Taleggio Angliotti with arugula pesto and a roasted chestnut and sunchoke cream

4th: Pork Tenderloin

5th: Ribeye

Caper crusted ribeye with creamy polenta and grilled shishito peppers.

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1st: House Ricotta

2nd: Scallop

Pan seared scallop with caper butter and a candied fig

Pan seared scallop with caper butter and a candied fig

3rd: Farrotto

Octopus and arugula farrotto

Octopus and arugula farrotto

4th: Pork Tenderloin

Creamy polenta and fennel chips

5th: Short Rib

Braised short rib with risotto and carrots agro dolce

Foie Gras Shortbread

If you are like me and you love foie gras, then you are sure to have some scraps of the uncooked product after you have finished cleaning it.  This is especially the case when you get a lower  than “B” grade of foie gras.  One of my favorite things to do with foie scraps is to fold them into a terrine, the low cooking temperature prevents the fat from being rendered out, or make foie gras butter.  The butter is great because of its versatility and its amazing flavor.  I mean come on, its butter and foie gras!  The recipe below has been adapted from the following site The Chopping Block.  At the chopping block they use all foie gras, which is perfectly acceptable, but I do enjoy the flavor of the butter being substituted for half of the foie gras.

Foie Gras Shortbread

4oz  Foie Gras (Chilled)

4oz Butter (Room Temperature)

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1oz Balsamic Vinegar

1/2t  Sugar

1/8t  Black Pepper (Ground)

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2C  AP Flour or AKI AP Flour^GF

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2ea  Egg Yolk

AN Flaked Salt or Sea Salt

Foie Gras Butter

  • Place the foie gras and butter in a food processor and blend until smooth.  This step is optional, place the butter on a sieve and press it through using a rubber spatula.  This process will remove larger chunks that did not get pureed and sometimes if there are chunks of foie the fat will render out while baking and could cause the shortbread to spread into a thin mess.Foie Butter.jpgFoie Butter.jpgFoie Butter.jpg

If you are going to use the butter as is, I recommend using it on top of steaks and adding truffles, sea salt and black pepper.  To do this, after the steps above, place the foie butter in a mixing bowl and fold in the your choice of ingredients to your liking.  On  a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper, scoop out the foie butter and place it on the front third of the plastic, spread it the length of the plastic, side to side, leaving two inches of plastic on both sides.  Then take the end of plastic nearest you and pull it over the butter and start to roll the butter along the table in the plastic.  You are essentially make a log of butter, then grab the ends and lift and roll the butter on the counter to twist of both ends.  Place the butter in the fridge or freezer for later use, if freezing be sure to place it in the fridge 24 hours before use.

Foie Gras Shortbread

  • Place the foie gras butter into the bowl of a stand mixer with the sugar, balsamic, and black pepper.  Cream until well combined.
  • Add the flour to the mixing bowl and carefully mix until well combined, you will need to scrape the bowl to ensure an even mixture.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl, wrap in plastic, and place in the fridge to chill.
  • After a few hours, or when ready to use, remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temp for 30 minutes before rolling.  Pre-heat an oven to 325°F

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  • Roll the dough to the desired thickness and cut to fit the dish it will be served with.

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  • Beat the two egg yolks then place the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with the egg.  Sprinkle with the sea salt or flaked salt and bake for approximately 20 minutes, may take longer in conventional ovens.

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The foie gras shortbread cookies go great on Caesar salads or on their own.