Posted Tuesday, Nov. 06, 2012
By now we're giddy in love with fall, having mentally adjusted to the darker hours with the help of slow cookers, red wine and pumpkin everything. The time is right to get cozy and tuck in to our favorite comfort dishes -- beef stew, butternut squash soup, meat and potatoes of any kind and, of course, mac and cheese. But if you're ready to upgrade your go-to fall recipes and get a little "cheffy," look to these amped-up options from area restaurant pros who have made traditional classics even better.
Taleggio Mac & Cheese
1 pound macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 strips applewood-
smoked bacon, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup shallots, minced
2 tablespoons butter, plus
1/2 cup, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart milk
8 ounces taleggio cheese,
without rind, cut into
3 ounces white cheddar
2 ounces truffle peel, plus
additional slices for
1 teaspoon truffle oil
2 cups breadcrumbs
1. Cook macaroni as directed on box. Strain and rinse under cold water until room temperature. Lightly toss in olive oil and reserve for later.
2. In a pot, heat the canola oil over low heat and cook the bacon until it has rendered all fat.
3. Add garlic, shallots, two tablespoons butter and cook until shallots are translucent.
4. Add flour and cook for two minutes. Slowly whisk in milk. Once milk is fully incorporated, simmer lightly while constantly stirring until flour flavor has disappeared, approximately five minutes.
5. Fold in cheeses, truffle pieces and truffle oil. Next, fold in macaroni and portion into four personal-size skillets or oven-safe dishes. Toss breadcrumbs with 1/2 cup melted butter and top the mac and cheese. Bake in a 400-degree oven until golden brown. Garnish with truffle slices.
-- Tillman's Roadhouse, 2933 Crockett St., Fort Worth; 817-850-9255, www.tillmansroadhouse.com
Apple Gruyere Stuffed Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Peppadew Hash
Sweet Potato Peppadew Hash:
1 quart sweet potatoes, peeled,
diced into 1/4 -inch cubes
2 tablespoons oil
3/4 cup yellow onions,
diced 1/8 inch by 1/8 inch
1/2 cup Peppadew brand
peppers, diced 1/8 inch by
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1. Place sweet potatoes in a steamer or blanch in a sauce pot of simmering water for 4 to 6 minutes or until tender. Shock in an ice bath to stop cooking and chill. Drain and set aside.
2. In the saute pan over medium high heat, add oil and onions. Saute until onions are tender. Add peppers and sweet potatoes. Saute for 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. In a fresh saute pan add butter blend and hash. Caramelize the hash to your liking.
4. Serve in the middle of the plate as the base for Apple Gruyere Stuffed Pork Chops (recipe follows).
Apple Gruyere Stuffed Pork Chop:
4 8-ounce frenched bone-in
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1 cup Granny Smith apples, julienned using a mandolin
1. Butterfly-cut pork chops from the outer edge down to the bone.
2. Combine sea salt and black pepper. Season both sides of each chop.
3. Combine Gruyere and apples in a small bowl to make a loose stuffing.
4. Clean and oil a section of the grill for the chops. Place the chops cut side down on the grill first to cook the inside of the chop lightly. Turn over after two minutes.
5. Place 1/2 cup of stuffing on one side of the pork chop and flip the other side over the stuffing to close. It will not seal all the way. Place a small plate or weight on the chop to hold it closed. Grill for two minutes, then carefully turn the chop over to grill on the remaining side for two minutes.
6. Remove from the grill and serve over the sweet potato Peppadew hash. Serve with the bone up off the plate for a dramatic presentation.
-- FnG Eats, 201 Town Center Blvd., Keller, 817-741-5200;fngeats.com
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 cup onions or shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, unpeeled
1 fennel bulb, chopped
3 cups butternut squash, peeled
and cut into chunks (frozen
2 cubes Rapunzel brand bouillon
cubes with sea salt and herbs
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of dried, rubbed sage
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
(The folks at Spiral Diner use
Chef's tip: To prepare fresh butternut squash, cut off stem and bellybutton and peel off all skin. Cut in half and scoop out guts with a spoon. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Or, to make it simple, just use frozen organic chunks.
1. In large pot, combine oil, onions, garlic, ginger and fennel
2. Stir together, cover and cook over low flame for 10 minutes. Fennel should be soft.
3. Add squash, bouillon cubes, water, nutmeg and salt to pot. Bring to a boil and stir.
4. Reduce to a slow boil, cover and cook for 25 minutes until the squash chunks are really soft.
5. Place ingredients in a blender or use an immersion blender to blend until totally smooth.
6. Serve with a pinch of sage and a drizzle of olive oil.
-- Spiral Diner, 1314 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth. 817-3-EatVeg; www.spiraldiner.com
Beef Short Ribs of Stew
16 classic cut beef short ribs
Kosher salt and coarse black pepper
8 cups beef stock
1 gallon water, plus more for barley preparation
3 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 large yellow onions, diced
1/4 cup fresh garlic, minced
1/8 cup shallots, minced
1/8 cup fresh thyme, chopped, plus 1 tablespoon for barley
1/8 cup fresh oregano, chopped, plus tablespoon for barley
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 sticks butter
1 cup olive oil
8 cups cooked pearl barley, prepared according to package
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. In a very large pot, pan-sear ribs over high heat until browned.
2. Deglaze the pan with beef stock. Add the water and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Add the celery, carrots, onions, garlic, shallots, thyme, oregano, fennel seeds and salt and pepper to taste to the simmering liquid. Simmer for 10-15 minutes more.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the ribs with about half of the cooking liquid and veggies and place into the oven for about an hour and a half.
5. When ready to serve, melt butter in large saute pan and add half the olive oil. Add the cooked barley, additional thyme and oregano and the chicken stock and cook until liquids are reduced. Add remaining olive oil and Parmesan cheese.
6. To assemble, divide prepared barley across eight bowls, top with simmered liquid with veggies and two short ribs each, bone up for presentation.
-- Buttons, 4701 West Freeway, Fort Worth; 817-735-4900; www.buttonsrestaurant.com
Chocolate Pumpkin Cream Pie
Chocolate Chess Layer:
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter
2 (1-ounce) Baker's semisweet chocolate baking squares
Unbaked pie shell
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and salt to combine.
2. Melt butter and chocolate and mix with blended ingredients.
3. Pour into piecrust and bake for 35 minutes. Chill completely and top with pumpkin mousse and pecan shortbread crumble (recipes follow).
Pumpkin Mousse Layer:
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Combine pumpkin, 1 cup cream, sugar and spice in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool completely.
2. Whip remaining heavy cream and vanilla to medium to firm peaks and fold into cooled pumpkin mixture. Pour over chocolate chess layer and top with pecan shortbread crumble.
Pecan Shortbread Crumble Topping:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt and pecans. Stir in the butter and egg until mixture is crumbly, like coarse, wet sand.
2. Sprinkle crumbs evenly on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
3. Sprinkle over pumpkin mousse pie layer. Serve pie chilled.
-- Southern Breeze Market Cafe, 138 Olive St., Keller, 817-337-5177, www.southernbreezemarketcafe.com
Classic dish Meat and potatoes
Modern take Apple Gruyere Stuffed Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Peppadew Hash
"All of the flavors in this dish scream fall," says Bob Stephenson, one half of the chef team at Keller's buzzy new FnG Eats. Stephenson, the "Gordo" in the FnG name, partnered with former Cool River Cafe comrade Carlos "Flaco" Arevalo to open the Old Town Keller restaurant late this summer. Yet fall seems to be the restaurant's ideal time to shine, as the duo specializes in adding fun foodie twists to comfort cuisine. In this amped-up meat-and-potatoes entree, Stephenson stuffs bone-in pork chops with smoky Gruyere cheese and apples and presents them atop a sweet and spicy potato hash. "Apple, sweet potato, pork chops," he says. "It whispers 'dinner' in my ear."
Classic dish Pumpkin pie
Modern take Chocolate Pumpkin Cream Pie
Pastry chef Melody Fitzgerald, who got her start working for Dean Fearing at the Mansion on Turtle Creek and has appeared on Food Network Challenge: Paranormal Cakes, knows not all folks are fond of the sometimes stiff, gelatinous texture of traditional pumpkin pie. So the Southern Breeze Market & Cafe owner instead created a fluffy, spicy pumpkin mousse that tops this layered cream pie.
"It's a little more fun and the layers make it beautiful to serve," Fitzgerald says.
Those layers include a rich, chocolate chess bottom and scratch-made pecan shortbread crumble topping, producing creamy, crunchy mouthfuls of fall splendor. With straightforward steps and simple technique, Fitzgerald's recipe makes for an easy pumpkin pie upgrade.
Classic dish Beef and barley stew
Modern take Beef Short Ribs of Stew
Continually creating tastes of true Southern comfort that evoke warmhearted memories for many diners, Buttons executive chef Keith Hicks shares one of his own fond foodie memories in his recipe shown here. Hicks was a child when he earned his endearing nickname, "Buttons," given to him by his grandmother, who thought he was as cute as one. It was during this time, he says, when he would pop open Campbell's beef and barley soup cans and avidly slurp up all barley. The soulful chef re-creates a beautiful grown-up version of the typically visually unappealing stew by using bone-in short ribs, colorful veggies and buttered and herbed pearled barley. "It's almost like a deconstructed beef stew," he says. "I used to love those little barleys."
Classic dish Butternut squash soup
Modern take Butternut-Fennel Soup
For 10 years now, Spiral Diner has been surprising skeptical carnivores with filling, flavorful vegan fare. When founder Amy McNutt established the concept in 2002, her intent was to reveal that traditional comfort cuisine can be free of animal products and taste just as delicious. Always a haven for savory soups, Spiral offers a recipe here for an elevated butternut squash variety using fresh and spicy fennel and ginger; no cream needed. To be "extra fancy," McNutt says, top the soup with a lightly fried fresh sage leaf before serving.
Classic dish Macaroni and cheese
Modern take Taleggio Mac & Cheese
We can't help but become childlike with excitement when it comes to sitting in front of a bowl of steamy, creamy macaroni and cheese. It seems just about any variety will do, but Tillman's Roadhouse executive chef Daniel Tarasevich sends our senses into ecstatic overload with his truffle-topped taleggio version. "I chose taleggio cheese because its robust flavor can stand up to the truffles," says the young chef, whose eclectic culinary background brings diversity to Tillman's evolving menu. "And it melts silky smooth."
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