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Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook

Alfred Portale's Gotham Bar and Grill Cookbook

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by Alfred Portale, Gotham Bar and Grill Staff
Home cooks rarely have the chance to learn about cooking firsthand from one of the nation's most revered chefs.  But in this cookbook, the first of its kind, Chef Alfred Portale offers his readers the opportunity to do just that.  The chef of the Gotham Bar and Grill offers not only recipes, but also a peek into the mind of a chef--sharing a host


Home cooks rarely have the chance to learn about cooking firsthand from one of the nation's most revered chefs.  But in this cookbook, the first of its kind, Chef Alfred Portale offers his readers the opportunity to do just that.  The chef of the Gotham Bar and Grill offers not only recipes, but also a peek into the mind of a chef--sharing a host of suggestions, anecdotes, and advice designed to release the reader from recipe dependence and inspire him or her to think like a chef at home.

With Portale at the helm, the Gotham has won praise from the critical world (four consecutive three-star reviews from the New York Times), the public (rated among New York's top five restaurants in the last six Zagat surveys), and the culinary community (Portale was named Best Chef in New York by the James Beard Foundation in 1993).

In this book, Portale reveals the secrets that led to this success.  More than a hundred dishes, comprised of over two hundred recipes, await the reader.  But more than that, Portale has loaded these pages with notes on variations and flavor building that indicate how the recipes might be changed by a substitution of ingredients or enriched with additional elements.  There are also ample "thinking ahead" tips, and bountiful advice about special ingredients and techniques.

Portale also offers both restaurant and family-style presentation tips--magnificently brought to life by more than two hundred photographs--and explains the inspiration for many of his dishes, and how he turned that inspiration into culinary reality.

As he says in his introduction, "My hope is for you to beable to master these recipes and confidently use them in a variety of dishes and contexts of your own design, perhaps creating your own signature dishes."

After graduating first in his class from the Culinary Institute of America, Alfred Portale lived in France and worked in some of its most famous kitchens.  Shortly after he returned to the United States, he took the reins of the Gotham Bar and Grill, where he promptly established himself as one of the most influential figures in New American Cuisine.  He divides his time between New York City and East Hampton, Long Island.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Here are three new cookbooks from popular restaurant chef-owners. Peel and Silverton are the husband-and-wife team behind Campanile, the popular Los Angeles restaurant, and its adjunct, the La Brea Bakery. Peel is the chef, Silverton is the baker, well known for her desserts and delicious breads (Breads from the La Brea Bakery, LJ 5/15/96). They've already written about the simple food they like to cook with their kids (Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton at Home, LJ 2/15/94); now they present their favorite dishes from the restaurant, including earthy, flavorful, often Mediterranean-inspired food that is more sophisticated but not pretentious: Roasted Chanterelle Salad, Crisp Flattened Chicken with Wilted Parsley Salad, Rustic Cherry Pie. Although some of the recipes take time, they are clearly written and thoroughly accessible to the home cook. Recommended for most collections. [BOMC Good Cook Selection.] New York City's three-star Gotham Bar & Grill is known for Portale's flavorful, often visually stunning food; his elaborate, tiered, stacked dishes are often described as "architectural food," and the color photographs in his cookbook show why. This is elegant food to be sure -- Roast Lobster with Beet Couscous and Baby Bok Choy, Duck and Foie Gras -- and some of it is probably better enjoyed at the restaurant, but not all the recipes are complicated or extravagant, and the instructions are clear and often include advance prep suggestions. The headnotes, however, are rather stiff and pedantic, sometimes sounding more like a publicity release than anything else. For area libraries and other collections where chefs' books are popular. Lagasse (Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking, LJ 3/15/93) is the exuberant chef at Emeril's and two other New Orleans restaurants and one of the TV Food Network's most popular personalities. With Bienvenu, he presents four festive menus for the holidays, from Christmas Eve Dinner for Ten, featuring Truffle Risotto and Beef Tenderloin with Fresh Horseradish, to New Year's Day Supper Family Style, with Jiffy Pop Firecracker Shrimp, Roasted Skillet Duck, and Chocolate Bread Pudding. There is also a selection of his other favorite holiday dishes as well as Stocking Stuffers, gifts from the kitchen. Recommended for most collections.

Product Details

Broadway Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.46(w) x 10.29(h) x 1.03(d)

Read an Excerpt

Penne with Manila Clams and Chorizo Sauce

One of the most exciting developments in American cuisine has been the incorporation of international influences into our nation's culinary consciousness--a fitting reflection of our melting-pot heritage.  This recipe is a good example of a Portuguese-influenced dish (a departure for me), as well as an illustration of how to turn a culinary experience into the inspiration for a new dish of your own.

In the mid-1980s, I spent time vacationing in the Algarve, the coastal fishing region in the south of Portugal.  Just about every night, we sat down to eat at a dockside restaurant on the pier that served simple grilled fish and an immensely satisfying native dish called cataplana, a garlicky pork and clam stew served in a hinged copper cooking vessel.  The wait staff would deliver this sealed to the table and open it like a giant clam shell, releasing a burst of steam emanating the rich aromas of seafood and spices.

It occurred to me that this ingenious combination of pork and clams, brimming with spicy, bold flavors, would make a fun and unconventional pasta sauce.  To accompany it, I settled on penne; with its ridged surface and short length, it makes an ideal vehicle for the sauce and its size complements the pieces of chorizo and seafood, allowing each mouthful to include morsels of all three.

Makes 6 appetizer or 4 main-course servings

Thinking Ahead: The sauce may be made in the morning before the day of final preparation, covered, and refrigerated.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup finely choppedcelery
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 cups dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
5 dozen Manila or 3 dozen littleneck clams, well scrubbed

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, garlic, and parsley.  Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the wine and peppercorns.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the wine is reduced by approximately one third, about 10 minutes.  Add the clams and cover.  Cook until the clams open, 3 to 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a small bowl.  When cool enough to handle, remove the meat, discarding the shells, and set the meat aside.  Let the clam broth stand for 10 minutes, then decant it through a wire strainer into another bowl, leaving any sand behind.  Set the clam broth aside.

Chorizo Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces chorizo or other spicy smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 (28-ounce) can imported Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
2 ounces smoked ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 sprig thyme
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the chorizo and cook, stirring often, until the sausage is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.   Add the onion, carrot, and celery and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute.  Add the reserved clam broth, the tomatoes with their juice, the ham, thyme, bay leaf, and crushed red pepper; bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by about one fourth, approximately 40 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.


1 pound dried penne
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, about 9 minutes.  Drain well and transfer to a warmed serving bowl.

If necessary, reheat the sauce.  Just before serving, add the clams.  Pour the sauce over the pasta, add the parsley and basil, and toss well.  Serve in individual soup bowls.

Whole Roast Red Snapper with Tomatoes, Lemon, and Thyme

This fish dish--quick, delicious, and presented whole--makes an impact.  It requires just 15 minutes of preparation and 30 minutes of cooking time.  The ingredients are simple.  Just prep the fish, place it in the oven, and--presto!--it actually makes its own colorful sauce, replete with Provençal flavors.

I learned this recipe on my first day working in Michel Guérard's three-star restaurant in France.  Toward the end of the morning's preparation, the chef stunned me when he handed me a whole snapper and casually told me to prepare lunch for him and the entire staff.  Lunch for the whole staff .  .  .  at Guérard's restaurant?  I was, to say the least, terrified.  When I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, a young French chef showed me the simple preparation for this dish, as well as his method for boning cooked fish.  I've made my own adjustments over the years, but this still remains very much as he taught me.  The recipe was tested with a 6-pound snapper, but you may also make it with a group of smaller fish, cooking them in the same pan.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 (6-pound) whole red snapper, cleaned and scaled
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped ripe tomatoes (or use canned tomatoes if ripe are not available)
1 small lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
1 tablespoon coarsely cracked coriander seeds
4 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley; plus 2 tablespoons chopped, for garnish
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Lightly oil the bottom of a roasting pan large enough to hold the whole fish.  (If necessary, trim the fins with scissors to get a better fit.)  Rinse the red snapper inside and out with cold running water and pat it dry with paper towels.  Slash 4 X's about 1/4 inch deep into the thickest parts on both sides of the fish to ensure even cooking.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Place the fish in the roasting pan, and scatter a few of the shallots and garlic in the cavity.

Strew the tomatoes, lemon, the remaining shallots and garlic, the coriander seeds, thyme and parsley sprigs over the fish, and drizzle with olive oil.  Cover with aluminum foil.

Roast until the fish is cooked, 35 to 40 minutes.  To test the fish for doneness, make a small incision near the head.  It should be just opaque near the bone.  Using 2 large metal spatulas, transfer the fish to a warmed serving platter.  Spoon the vegetable garnish over the fish, sprinkle with the chopped parsley, and present the whole fish at the table.

To serve, use a long, thin-bladed knife to cut vertically through the top fillet to the backbone.  Make an incision down the backbone, and remove the back and dorsal fins.  Use a large fork to lift off the 2 portions of the top fillet and place on warmed dinner plates.  Lift off the bone structure and head and discard.  Cut the bottom fillet in half horizontally.  Transfer to dinner plates.  Serve with the vegetables.

Variations: Substitute a whole wild striped bass for the red snapper.  Or use smaller, farm-raised striped bass (about 2 pounds each), cooking the smaller fish for 20 to 30 minutes.

Flavor Building: Niçoise or green olives enhance this dish very well; use approximately 1 cup pitted olives.  Sage, rosemary, and/or thyme may also be added to taste.

Lamb Shanks with Creamy White Beans and Yellow Turnip Puree

Braising lamb shanks properly makes the meat so tender that it comes off the bone with just the tug of a fork.  It's impossible to overemphasize the importance of slow-cooking the shanks to achieve this effect, checking them every 15 to 20 minutes to be sure they are simmering ever so slightly.  The slower, the better.  If the heat is too high, the meat will contract and dry out.

You will find the recipe for creamy white beans to be a highly versatile addition to your repertoire.  The beans are softened in their cream mixture, creating a combination of flavor and texture that complements a wide variety of dishes.  They work just as well in this winter entrée as they do with, say, grilled shrimp in the summertime.

If you've ever wondered what to do with those big, wax-covered yellow turnips or rutabagas found in many markets, here is one answer.

Makes 6 servings

Thinking Ahead: The beans must soak in water overnight.  Everything but the puree may be prepared well in advance, or timed to be cooked while the shanks are braising, which takes several hours.

Lamb Shanks:
1/4 cup olive oil, or as needed
6 (1-pound) lamb shanks, trimmed
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
1 large head garlic, cloves separated, unpeeled
2 cups dry red wine
1 1/2 cups brown chicken stock
1 1/2 cups water
4 sprigs thyme
3 (4-inch-long) strips of lemon zest, removed from the lemon with a vegetable peeler
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Preheat the oven to 300° F.  In a large, flameproof casserole or roasting pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper.  In batches, without crowding, cook the lamb shanks, turning occasionally, until nicely browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrot, and garlic.  Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables brown deeply, about 10 minutes.  Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Cook until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 10 to 15 minutes.  Return the shanks to the casserole.  Add the stock, water, thyme, lemon zest, and peppercorns and bring to a boil.  Tightly cover the casserole.

Bake until the lamb shanks are very tender, about 13/4 hours.  Turn the shanks occasionally and check that they are not cooking too fast--the braising liquid should be barely simmering.  Lower the oven temperature, if necessary.  Continue cooking for approximately 45 minutes longer until, when tested with a fork, the meat easily separates from the bone.

Creamy White Beans:
1 cup dried white beans (cannellini), soaked overnight in water to cover, drained
1 medium onion, halved
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
2 sprigs thyme
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or herbed garlic butter

In a medium saucepan, combine the drained beans, onion, garlic, and thyme.  Add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Season with the salt and continue cooking until the beans are just tender, about 15 minutes more, depending on the dryness of the beans.  Drain the beans, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Return the beans and the reserved liquid to the saucepan.  Add the cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the butter, and season with salt and pepper.

Yellow Turnip Puree
3 medium yellow turnips (rutabagas), peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the yellow turnips and return to the boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the turnips are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30 minutes.  Drain well.  Return to the saucepan and place over medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the excess moisture has evaporated and the turnips begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low.  Add the butter and mash the turnips with a potato masher.  Season with salt and pepper.  (If making ahead, leave the butter out; reheat the puree in a double boiler over boiling water, then stir in the butter, salt, and pepper just before serving.)

Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
6 sprigs thyme, for garnish

Transfer the lamb shanks to a large platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.  Spoon off the fat on the surface of the braising liquid, and place the casserole over high heat.  Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and cook until richly flavored and reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes.  Strain the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Place a lamb shank in the center of each of 6 warmed dinner plates.  Holding the meaty end with one hand, bring up the shank bone into a vertical position with the other hand, pressing down so the meat releases from the bone at the meaty end to form a base for the shank to stand in.  Place a mound of turnips at the ten o'clock position, and a spoonful of beans at the two o'clock position.  Spoon the sauce over and around the lamb shank and garnish with a sprig of thyme.  Or, leave the lamb shanks on the platter and garnish with the thyme.  Place the turnip puree and beans in individual serving bowls, and pour the sauce into a warmed sauceboat.

Variations: Creamy polenta may be substituted for the turnips to provide a very different counterpoint to the lamb and beans.  Also, peas and pearl onions make an effective springtime alternative to the white beans.

Lighter White Beans: If creamy white beans are too rich for your taste, follow this method to create a lighter, no-less-satisfying alternative: Using a conventional blender or immersion hand blender, pour 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid from the pot in which the beans were cooked into the blender vessel.  Blend, adding up to 2 tablespoons each of beans and extra-virgin olive oil, a little at a time, until the mixture reaches a creamy consistency.  Use this mixture in place of the recipe above that features butter and cream.

Lemon Cake with Crème Fraîche and Warm Berry Compote

There are not many baked desserts easier to make than this citrus-scented cake.  Its soft, moist crumb comes from the recipe's crème fraîche and the use of almond flour which give a tender, melt-in-your-mouth quality.  You can use sour cream instead of the crème fraîche with equally good results.  The warm berry compote is a delicious partner to the cake, as the cake soaks up the compote juices, making each bite a composite of summery fruit flavors.  If you like, serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Makes 8 servings

Thinking Ahead: The cake can be made as much as 1 day in advance, covered tightly with plastic wrap, and stored at room temperature.  The cake may also be served warm.  The raspberry compote sauce can be prepared up to 1 day in advance and reheated gently, but fold in the strawberries and blueberries just before serving.

Special Equipment: one 9-inch springform pan

Lemon Cake:
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/3 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated suga

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