Monday, May 23, 2011

Cadillac Culinary Challenge

This Saturday, Cadillac, Bon Appetit and Epicurious hosted the first of thirteen "culinary challenges" planned for the next few months at King of Prussia Mall. The idea is to pit a local chef (the tour will also hit California) against a celebrity one for a one-dish competition. Representing Philly was Walter Staib of City Tavern; faced off against David Burke, who owns Townhouse and six other restaurants in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Chicago. The audience tries both plates and two crowd-members are randomly selected to be part of the judging panel. At the demonstration I attended a professional poker player was the third judge.

The two men had an easy rapport: Staib commented that he was glad to be standing beside Burke because it didn't make him look fat, to which Burke quipped, "at least I didn't know Ben Franklin personally." (Staib's not only gray-haired and bearded; he also runs a restaurant that was founded in 1772.) Burke was the clear winner, although not by popular vote-- he might not be a native, but his take on the Philly cheesesteak was flavorful and strikingly plated.

A slab of dry-aged beef sat atop a slider bun, with a heaping pile of caramelized onions (cooked in barbecue sauce) and melted provolone. The beef is aged for 55 days in a room where the walls are literally made of blocks of salt, absorbing moisture and keeping bacteria out. It was tender and though rare, not at all bloody. The mushroom chips were a favorite; Portobellos sliced thin and fried. They're not really crispy (more wilted), but they taste great. Staib made an angel-hair frittata and chicken on a bed of dandelion greens. Dandelion greens are very bitter--it's a strong flavor that needs to be balanced, and Staib's relatively bland chicken couldn't stand up to it. The frittata was tasty in its own right, but the dandelion greens absolutely overwhelmed its nuances.

Walter Staib's Angel Hair Pasta Frittata

1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
8 eggs, beaten
4 cups cooked angel hair pasta, chilled for 30 minutes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon stemmed and chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in large skillet over medium heat, add garlic, onion, and bell peppers and saute until softened. Put in refrigerator to chill. Stir eggs, pasta, cheese, thyme, basil, oregano and sauteed vegetables in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and the rest of the oil over medium high heat in a small skillet, add 1/4 of the egg mixture, shaping it into a 1 inch thick cake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter with your hands. Cook until browned.

David Burke's Dry Aged Cheesesteak

32 ounces of dry-aged beef, sliced thin
4 slices of aged provolone cheese
1 large onion, sliced
2 shallots sliced thinly, fried
6 tablespoons oil
4 slider buns
salt and pepper

Heat skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to the pan, saute the onions. Remove oil, add remaining oil, and saute the beef quickly on both sides. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place beef on bun with provolone and shallots.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely ADORE David Burke. I had *the* most delicious and memorable brunch at Townhouse several years ago. The space was amazing, and the food was even more so. David Burke is definitely a culinary artist.



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