Craft of Cooking: Notes and Recipes from a Restaurant Kitchen


From Tom Colicchio, chef/co-owner of New York’s acclaimed Gramercy Tavern, comes a book that profiles the food and philosophy of Craft, his unique restaurant in the heart of New York’s Flatiron district, and winner of the 2002 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in America. From its food to its architecture and menu design, Craft has been celebrated for its courageous movement away from culinary theatrics and over-the-top presentations, back to the simple magic of great ...

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Craft of Cooking: Notes and Recipes from a Restaurant Kitchen

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From Tom Colicchio, chef/co-owner of New York’s acclaimed Gramercy Tavern, comes a book that profiles the food and philosophy of Craft, his unique restaurant in the heart of New York’s Flatiron district, and winner of the 2002 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in America. From its food to its architecture and menu design, Craft has been celebrated for its courageous movement away from culinary theatrics and over-the-top presentations, back to the simple magic of great food.

Realizing that his own culinary style had grown increasingly unembellished, and gambling that New York diners were experiencing that same kind of culinary fatigue (brought on by too much “fancy food”), Colicchio set out to prove that the finest food didn’t have to be the most complicated. From its opening in March 2001, Craft offered diners simple, soulful dishes centered around single ingredients that went on to shake up many people’s ideas of what “restaurant food” should be like.

Craft of Cooking leads you through Colicchio’s thought process in choosing raw materials—like what to look for in fresh fish, or how to choose the perfect mushroom—to show that good food is available to anyone with access to a good supermarket, farm stand, or gourmet grocery. The book also features “Day-in-the-Life-of-Craft” portraits, which offer a fascinating, behind-the-scenes glimpse at areas of the restaurant beyond the dining room. These segments allow the reader to peer into the fast-paced prep kitchen, to witness the high drama of reservations, and to get a taste of the humor and empathy necessary to serve New York’s colorful visitors and foodies.

And then there are the recipes. Craft of Cooking presents 140 recipes that range from the simplest dish of spring peas to roasted fish; from lush but effortless braises to complex brining and curing of meat for homemade charcuterie, included to give the reader a “fly-on-the-wall” experience of visiting the Craft kitchen for themselves. Dishes are divided–like the Craft menu itself–into categories of meat, fish, vegetables, potatoes, grains, desserts, and pantry, and then further delineated by technique–roasting, braising, sautéing, etc.–with abundant suggestions and technical tips. Using Tom’s straightforward and friendly voice, Craft of Cooking offers recipes suited to any purpose—from a quick family meal to a festive dinner party for twelve.

As he did in his James Beard award-winning book, Think Like a Chef, Colicchio uses Craft of Cooking to teach, tell his story, and offer inspiration to cooks of any skill level. With more than 100 full-color and black-and-white photographs, Craft of Cooking is destined to become a staple of home cooks everywhere—the one “restaurant cookbook” they can’t live without.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"I haven't tried to simplify these recipes for the sake of the home cook," writes Colicchio (Think Like a Chef). "Simple food doesn't mean simplistic. It requires a healthy dose of skill and hard work." And with that caveat, he offers up 125 uneven dishes. While there are plenty of recipes that are simple to prepare, most of the book's recipes require time, patience and, occasionally, deep pockets: Duck Ham must hang in the refrigerator for three weeks; Braised Monkfish calls for 17 ingredients, three of which are sub-recipes; and foie gras and black truffles make several appearances. Colicchio is unapologetic in including "behemoth" recipes-restaurant dishes that he admits may be out reach of most home cooks. Uncompromisingly fresh flavors are his touchstone, and squeamish cooks may find it disquieting to discover that many ingredient animals such as soft shell crabs and lobster meet their end at the cook's hand. Colicchio has subdivided the chapters into sections according to technique-roasting, saut ing, braising, pur eing, marinating. Each chapter includes ingredient portraits, as well as essays, that give a sneak peek behind Craft's doors. (While the photos throughout are nicely placed, the extreme close-up of carrots and celery on the cover is a kind of culinary Rorschach test.) The essays, though, are a jarring interlude because the book, which is written from Colicchio's point of view, suddenly does an about face by quoting the chef, and the disembodied narrator is never revealed. But will all this dampen sales? Certainly not. The Colicchio name is enough to sell this book, and the clear, simply written recipes will quell even the worst case of kitchen anxiety. Photos. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The food of New York City's upscale Gramercy Tavern, where Colicchio is chef/ co-owner, was featured in his unusual first cookbook, Think Like a Chef, which provided a glimpse into how a creative chef develops his recipes. Since then, Colicchio has opened several of his own restaurants, including Craft, where he serves what he describes as "simple, soulful dishes centered around single ingredients," served family-style. With the sauces, condiments, and other such accompaniments listed separately, the choice of putting together a dish left to a certain extent up to the diner, the menu there at first stymied some, including restaurant critics, but Craft has since become one of the most popular restaurants in the city. Here Colicchio offers his favorites of its "ingredients-driven dishes": Pan-Roasted Chicken with Chicken Jus, Pan-Roasted Asparagus, Porcini in Parchment. As in the first book, there are thoughtful explanations of technique and why the recipes work; for the more adventurous cook, there is also a selection of more elaborate or labor-intensive dishes. Mini-essays on "Family Meal," "Lunch Service," etc., provide a behind-the-scenes look at the Craft kitchen. For most collections. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780609610503
  • Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 479,379
  • Product dimensions: 7.72 (w) x 10.36 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

TOM COLICCHIO is the chef/co-owner of New York’s celebrated Gramercy Tavern, ranked New Yorkers’ #1 favorite restaurant in the 2003 Zagat Survey, as well as chef/owner of Craft, the 2002 James Beard Best New Restaurant in America. Tom also received the 2000 James Beard Award for Best Chef in New York City, and a James Beard award for Best General Cookbook in 2001 for his first book, Think Like a Chef. In 2002 Colicchio opened Craftbar, a casual adjunct to Craft, CraftSteak in Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Hotel, and introduced CraftKitchen, a line of olive oils and condiments imported from Calabria, Italy. In 2003, Colicchio opened ’wichcraft, next door to Craftbar in New York’s Flatiron district, bringing Craft’s ethic of simplicity and great ingredients to the ever-popular sandwich. He is married to a New York writer/filmmaker and is the father of 10-year-old Dante, who is a big fan of his father’s veal-ricotta meatballs.

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Read an Excerpt


Although I can get dogmatic at Craft about using fresh ingredients, in this recipe we use dried porcini. After reconstituting, you're left with a wonderful mushroom-flavored stock, which is then used in cooking the risotto; this adds just one more layer of flavor to the finished dish.

Serves 6

9 cups chicken stock
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese to taste

Bring 1 cup of the chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms. Remove from the heat and set the mushrooms aside until they soften. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the stock. Strain the reserved stock through a fine strainer, then finely chop the mushrooms. Add the chopped mushrooms to the mushroom-flavored stock.

Bring the remaining 8 cups of chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Allow the stock to reduce by about 1 cup, then keep warm over low heat.

Combine the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large, high-sided skillet. Heat over medium heat until the butter foams. Add the onion and cook until it is translucent, about 15 minutes. Stir in the rice, thoroughly coating it with the onion, butter, and oil. Cook the rice until it is no longer chalky looking and begins to pop, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly until it has evaporated.

Add 1 cup of the warm chicken stock. Simmer, stirring, until the rice is almost dry. Repeat twice more. Stir the mushroom-flavored stock into the rice. Cook, stirring, until the rice is dry again.

Finish cooking the rice by stirring in enough additional warm chicken stock, a cup at a time, so the rice is just barely tender. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and add cheese to taste.

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First Chapter

Rabbit ballottine

A ballottine is a dish in which a whole boned animal or bird is stuffed with a mixture of forcemeat, or farce. To help the ballottine keep its shape while cooking, we wrap the stuffed rabbit in caul fat, a sheer natural netting taken from the lining of the cow's stomach. As it cooks, the caul fat melts away, glazing the rabbit beautifully in the process.

Makes 1

For the farce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 sprig fresh sage
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
heart, liver, and kidneys from 1 rabbit (see below)
3 duck or chicken livers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup sherry vinegar

For the ballottine

1 rabbit, boned (have the butcher do this), heart, liver, kidneys, and bones reserved
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 slices prosciutto
1 whole piece of caul fat
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
green olive tapenade, page 00 (optional)
rabbit gelée (recipe follows)

For the farce: Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, sage, salt, and pepper and sweat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer the onion to a plate and wipe out the pan. Heat the pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then add the rabbit heart, liver, and kidneys and the duck livers. Season with salt and pepper and cook, turning the meats once or twice until they are firm, about 3 minutes. Add the sage and rosemary, return the onions to the pan, then add the sherry vinegar. Simmer until the pan isalmost dry. Allow the farce to cool, then chop it.

For the ballottine: Lay the rabbit out flat, boned side up, on a clean surface. Pound the legs so they are the same thickness as the rest of the meat, then fold them in so the meat forms a somewhat irregular square. Pound any sections that seem thicker than the rest. Salt and pepper the rabbit. Cover it with the prosciutto laid crosswise (from leg to leg) in a single overlapping layer. Spoon the farce into the center of the rabbit. Fold the two ends over the farce, then tightly roll the rabbit. Wrap the ballottine in the caul fat and tie it at 1-inch intervals with kitchen string.

Salt and pepper the outside of the ballottine. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium low. Add the ballottine. Cook, rotating the ballottine as it browns, until it is golden, firm, and plump, about 50 minutes. When the ballottine is done, a thermometer inserted into the center should indicate a temperature of about 1§0°F. Serve warm or chilled sliced very thin with tapenade and rabbit gelée, if desired.

rabbit gelée

Heat the oven to 450°F. Chop the bones of 1 rabbit. Place the bones in a small roasting pan and cook, turning them occasionally, until they are well browned, about 40 minutes. Pour off any accumulated fat, then transfer the bones to a pot. Add brown chicken stock (page 00) to cover, about 5 cups, and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock, discarding the bones. Return the stock to the pot and reduce by half. Add 2 sprigs of rosemary, a sprig of thyme, and salt and pepper to taste and allow the stock to cool to room temperature. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin over 1 tablespoon cold water and set aside for about a minute. Strain the stock and warm it over medium heat. Remove it from the heat and stir in the gelatin. Pour 1/2 inch of stock into a small baking dish (a 7-inch square will work). Refrigerate overnight. Cut the gelée into cubes and serve with slices of the ballottine.

Pan-roasted sweetbreads

Sweetbreads, the thymus gland of a calf, have a wonderful texture and a mild, delicate flavor, which works well paired with almost anything. This dish requires some forethought-the sweetbreads need to be soaked overnight-but the extra planning is worth it: Pan-roasting the sweetbreads crisps the outside, while the center stays moist and creamy.

For the sweetbreads

3 pounds sweetbreads
about 1 cup super-finely ground flour (wondra)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons peanut oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 sprigs fresh thyme

For the sauce

2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon minced carrot
1 tablespoon minced celery
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
4 cups veal stock (page 00)
3 sprigs fresh thyme

For the garnish

1 cup (a half recipe) pan-roasted diced vegetables, page 00

For the sweetbreads: Rinse, then soak the sweetbreads in cold water in the refrigerator overnight. Drain, place them in a medium saucepan, cover with salted water, and bring to a simmer. Simmer the sweetbreads for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water. Chill the sweetbreads for at least 1 hour, then carefully remove as much of the outer membrane as you can without tearing the meat.

For the sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to caramelize, about 25 minutes. Add the vinegar and increase the heat to medium-high. Vigorously simmer the vinegar until the pan is almost dry, 12 minutes. Add the stock and thyme. Reduce the heat and gently simmer, skimming from time to time, until the stock has reduced by about two thirds and is slightly viscous, about 40 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and keep warm over low heat.

To cook and serve the sweetbreads: Lightly flour each sweetbread, then season with salt and pepper. Heat two large skillets over medium heat. Divide the oil between the skillets and add the sweetbreads. Cook the sweetbreads without turning them until the first sides begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Flip the sweetbreads and reduce the heat to medium low. Continue cooking, periodically spooning off excess fat and moving the sweetbreads, so that they brown on all sides. When they are lightly and evenly browned, about 7 minutes, add the butter and thyme. Cook the sweetbreads, basting with the browned butter and turning them occasionally, until they are crisp and slightly firm, about 12 minutes more. Drain them on paper towels. Wipe out one of the pans and heat the diced vegetable garnish over medium heat. Serve the sweetbreads, sauce, and garnish on warm plates.

Pan-roasted foie gras

I love serving foie gras at Craft; with very little effort the guest is rendered speechless with pleasure (you just can't beat that).

The key to this recipe is to cut the foie gras into thick slices, sear it on a high heat, and serve it immediately; otherwise it will start to lose its fat.

I recommend serving foie gras with a small side dish of Mostarda, or mustard fruits (page 00).

Serves 6

2 pounds foie gras, chilled
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Separate the lobes of the liver and trim away any obvious exterior fat. Using a sharp hot knife, slice the foie gras about 1 1/2 inches thick. Place the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to cook.

Heat 2 large skillets over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the foie gras slices and add them to the pan. Cook until the first sides begin to brown, about 30 seconds, then flip each slice. Lower the heat to medium and cook, basting with melting fat, until the foie gras feels like the thick part of your palm, about 2 1/2 minutes. Drain on paper towels, then serve.

Copyright© 2003 by Tom Colicchio
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