Staff Meals from Chanterelle

Staff Meals from Chanterelle

by Melicia Phillips, David Waltuck

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It's the other menu at Chanterelle. Customers of New York's sophisticated and acclaimed restaurant dine on foie gras and truffles. The staff eats Smothered Pork Chops. Customers swoon over the signature seafood sausage. The staff, elbows on the table, cheerfully tucks into Singapore-Style Curried Rice Noodles. And while customers end their meals with a fantasy of… See more details below


It's the other menu at Chanterelle. Customers of New York's sophisticated and acclaimed restaurant dine on foie gras and truffles. The staff eats Smothered Pork Chops. Customers swoon over the signature seafood sausage. The staff, elbows on the table, cheerfully tucks into Singapore-Style Curried Rice Noodles. And while customers end their meals with a fantasy of ganache and crisp tuiles, the staff, gearing up for work, passes around Spiced-Up Honey Cake or a luscious Blackberry Cobbler.

Cooking the 4:45 staff meal at Chanterelle gives David Waltuck, one of America's best chefs (Gourmet), an outlet to serve up with a twist the down home dishes that have made families happy forever. Macaroni and Two Cheeses (Mr. Waltuck uses sharp cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano). Chili made with venison, for its stronger and more distinctive taste (as well as being leaner and lower in cholesterol). Crispy Orange Beef, with the tangy-sweet sauce and stir-fried marinated beef prepared separately for convenience. A surprisingly sumptuous Summertime Creamed Corn, made with fresh corn and Bechamel sauce.

It also allows him to share the full range of his chef's knowledge. Copiously included are dozens of techniques and tips straight from a four-star kitchen: How to save a separated butter sauce. Why always to boil potatoes in their jackets. The benefits of braising. Sweating vegetables. How to ripen avocados. Testing fish for doneness. Making crisp croutons. Cutting up a whole chicken. The best bay leaves. Facts about fresh ginger.

Day in and day out, the staff at Chanterelle may just be the best-fed people in New York. Now join them, no matter where you work or cook, in the pleasure of a meal that nourishes body and soul.

David Waltuck opened Chanterelle with his wife, Karen, when he was 24. Since then he's established himself as one of this country's most respected and knowledgeable chefs, while Chanterelle continues to dazzle as one of New York's great restaurants. The Waltucks and their two children live in New York City.

Melicia Phillips was sous chef at Chanterelle for years before moving on to become chef at the Red Hook Inn in Red Hook, New York. She is also co-author of Working a Duck and author of Sides.

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Sloppy Joes

The name says it all. Neatness doesn't count here, but ketchup certainly does. In fact, sloppy Joes are pretty much a defining moment for ketchup-how many other recipes can you think of that call for 2 cups of it? At our staff meals we're not unaware of the culinary irony represented by sloppy Joes. After all, they're the polar opposite of the refined, sophisticated dishes for which

Chanterelle is so well known. With a whisper of chili powder, some garlic powder, a few hot red pepper flakes, and a dash of red wine vinegar to unite the flavors, this mildly seasoned version makes both children and adults happy. You'll probably cringe about the inclusion of garlic powder or granulated garlic, but it's a must in this recipe. Of course, for a more sophisticated flavor you might add several dashes of Tabasco sauce.

Makes 8 to 10 sandwiches, depending on how sloppy you are

1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil

1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 pounds lean ground beef

2 cups ketchup, or more as needed

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic

1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Coarse (kosher) salt, to taste

Red wine vinegar, to taste

8 to 10 hamburger buns, toasted

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes.

2. Add the ground beef to the skillet, breaking it up well with a spoon, and cook until the meat has lost its raw color, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to break up any clumps.

3. Pour off and discard any juices and fat that have accumulated in the skillet. Add 2 cups ketchup, the chili powder, garlic powder, pepper flakes, and salt and stir well to mix. Cook, uncovered, until the meat is cooked through and the flavors are blended, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. The mixture should be loose, with enough sauce to bind the meat. If it gets too dry, add more ketchup or a bit of water and cover the skillet during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Stir in a splash of vinegar, then remove the skillet from the heat.

4. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then spoon onto hamburger buns and serve.

Macaroni and Two Cheeses

Every family should have a mac-and-cheese recipe. At Chanterelle the staff and I like ours ultra-cheesy, ultra-creamy, and as rich as possible. Some cooks make theirs in a deep casserole, but I prefer to fix macaroni and cheese in a wider, shallower baking dish so there's plenty of the delightfully crusty top layer to go around. Serve this with a simple tomato salad on the side, or arrange some sliced tomatoes on top during the last 20 minutes of the baking time (the staff calls this the fancy version). Serves 6

Coarse (kosher) salt

1 package (16 ounces) ridged elbow macaroni

3 cups heavy (or whipping) cream

2 1/2 cups grated sharp yellow Cheddar cheese (about 10 ounces)

1 small onion, minced

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Dash of Tabasco sauce

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs (see box, page 279)

1. Preheat the oven to 400*F.

2. Bring a large stockpot of water and G cup of the salt to a boil over high heat.

3. When the water is boiling, add the macaroni and cook, stirring occasionally, until flexible but very al dente, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain, then let the macaroni stand in the colander under cold running water until chilled. Drain again, then transfer to a medium-size baking dish or shallow casserole and set aside.

4. Bring the cream to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the grated Cheddar, onion, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, pepper, and salt to taste. Stir over low heat just until the cheese is completely melted, then remove the pan from the heat and taste and adjust the seasoning; the flavor should be strong.

5. Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni in the baking dish and stir thoroughly to coat. Sprinkle first the grated Parmesan, then the bread crumbs, over the mixture and bake until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden brown and crusty, 30 to 40 minutes. Let stand a minute or two before serving.

Chicken with Black Mushrooms and Chinese Sausage

This nearly effortless one-pot meal was inspired by a steamed chicken dish I've often enjoyed in Cantonese restaurants, where it's usually made with either sausage or mushrooms, but never both. Expanding the combination of ingredients results in a dark-colored, rustically flavorful dish perfumed with the earthy undertones of the shiitakes and the slightly sweet Chinese sausage. It's long been a favorite with both the staff and my family. Our kids, Sara and Jake, are quite fond of it. In fact, for reasons I've been unable to pin down, so are most kids. Be sure to use a casserole with a very tight-fitting lid; if it seems a bit loose, tightly cover the top with foil before putting on the lid. This dish tastes best the day it's made. The steaming creates plenty of delicious sauce, so a big bowl of plain white rice is the only essential accompaniment. Serves 6

25 dried shiitake mushrooms

1 chicken (3 to 3 1/2 pounds)

6 Chinese sausages (see box, page 161), cut diagonally into 1/8-inch slices

1/4 cup Chicken Stock (page 39) or canned low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup oyster sauce, plus additional for serving

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and cut into

3/4-inch lengths, plus additional for serving

1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, peeled, cut in half crosswise, and very finely julienned

1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil

2 tablespoons good-quality soy sauce, such as Kikkoman

1. Place the shiitake mushrooms in a large bowl with very warm water to cover. Let soak for 30 minutes to soften. Lift the mushrooms from the water, leaving the grit behind. Leave the mushrooms whole, trimming away any stems. Set the caps aside. Strain the soaking liquid through a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Cover, refrigerate, and save for use at another time.

2. Preheat the oven to 400*F.

3. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water, removing any excess fat. Cut the chicken into 10 pieces (see box, page 159) and pat dry with paper towels.

4. Combine all the ingredients in a single layer, if possible, in a large, heavy casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Bake for 1 hour, then uncover and bake for 10 minutes more.

5. Remove the pan from the oven and skim off as much of the fat as possible. Sprinkle several tablespoons of oyster sauce and a small handful of scallion pieces over the top and serve.

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