More Fall Comfort Food Classics from Baltimore Chefs

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Comfort Food Recipes
Photo provided by True Chesapeake Oyster

We’re serving up even more comfort food specialties you can prepare at home with the following recipes. Find more recipes from these Baltimore-area chefs in the Baltimore Style November 2020 edition.

Recipe by Chef Zack Mills from True Chesapeake Oyster Co.

Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Clams

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups bacon, diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
Coarse salt, for seasoning
2 cups vegetable stock
1 pound dried spaghetti
24 middleneck clams
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced chives

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place a pan over medium-high heat. Add bacon to pan and reduce heat to low. Cook bacon until crisp; drain fat from bacon into a bowl as needed. Once bacon is crisp, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess fat. Set aside.
  2. Season squash with salt and place in a large pot. Add vegetable stock. Bring stock to a simmer over medium heat and cook until stock becomes golden and is infused with the flavor of the squash, about 30 minutes. Strain the stock and set aside. The stock can be infused ahead of time and refrigerated.
  3. Fill a large pot with water and season water with salt until it tastes like the sea. Place pot over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
  4. While spaghetti is cooking, pour butternut squash stock into a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Add clams and cover. Cook, swirling the pan until all clams have begun to open. Once clams are open, remove lid and add 1 to 2 ounces of the pasta cooking water and butter to the saucepan. Once butter emulsifies into the sauce and the spaghetti is cooked, drain spaghetti and place in the pan.
  5. Fold in Parmesan cheese, chives and reserved bacon. Serve immediately.
Comfort Food Recipes
Photo provided by True Chesapeake Oyster

Recipe by Chef Zack Mills from True Chesapeake Oyster Co.

Chicken Fried Steak

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

For the Steak:

4 six-ounce portions top sirloin
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, for seasoning
4 cups seasoned flour
8 large eggs
4 cups panko bread crumbs

For the Potato Puree:

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
Coarse salt, for seasoning
6 ounces (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

For the Sauce Diane:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, for seasoning
2 cups cognac
1 small bunch fresh thyme
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 cups heavy cream
1/4 ounce dried mushrooms, such as porcini
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

DIRECTIONS

For the Steak:

  1. Place pieces of plastic wrap on a hard surface. Place steak on top and cover with pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet (or a heavy pan), pound steak out to about ¾-inch thickness. Season steaks evenly and fully with salt.
  2. Prepare breading station by placing seasoned all-purpose flour in one mixing bowl, whisking eggs together with salt and pepper in a second bowl and mixing panko bread crumbs with coarse ground pepper in a third. Prepare a sheet tray for breaded steaks. Place each steak first in the flour, coating well and knocking off any excess flour prior to moving forward. Move steak to egg wash to thoroughly coat and place steak in bread crumbs. Once steaks are fully coated, place steaks on the sheet tray and refrigerate to set the coating.

For the Potato Puree:

  1. Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Season water with salt to the point where the water tastes like the sea. Bring potatoes to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the potatoes come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain and return potatoes to the pot.
  2. Mash cooked potatoes by hand with a potato masher or run them through a food mill set over a pot. Once potatoes are mashed, stir in remaining ingredients using a wooden spoon until potato puree is fully homogenous. Taste and season with more salt if necessary. Keep Potato Puree warm.

For the Sauce Diane:

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots and garlic to the pan and season with salt. Cook until fragrant and translucent. Increase heat to high and remove pan from the stove. Pour cognac into the pan. If using a gas range, turn pan sideways slightly to ignite alcohol and reduce temperature to low to allow all the alcohol to burn off. If working with an electric stove, you can use a stick lighter to ignite the cognac
  2. Once cognac flames have disappeared, return pan to stove. Reduce liquid to one-third and add thyme and Dijon mustard. Stir in Dijon mustard and cook for 1 minute. Add heavy cream, black pepper and dried mushrooms. Stir to combine and reduce by one-quarter.
  3. Remove thyme sprigs and add minced chives.

For Serving:

  1. For medium rare steaks, place into a 350o fryer for 3 minutes. You can also cook them in a cast-iron pan with oil one-quarter of the way up the sides of the pan for roughly 4 minutes per side. Once golden brown and crispy, remove steaks and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Place a layer of Potato Puree on a serving plate. Cut steaks in half, place on top of Potato Puree and drizzle with Sauce Diane.

Recipe by Chef Derrick J. Purcell, partner and director of operations for Ida B’s Table

Vegan-Smoked Eggplant

Makes 4 servings

Comfort Food Recipes
Photo by David Stuck

INGREDIENTS

For the Eggplant:

3 large eggplants

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating

1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds

1 tablespoon ground guajillo chile pepper powder

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tomatoes, chopped

Pinch of pink salt

For the Garnish:

Vegetable oil, for pan

1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and finely diced

1 small eggplant, finely diced

Pinch of pink salt

Pinch of pepper

DIRECTIONS

For the Eggplant:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350o Coat two of the eggplants with oil, place on a sheet pan and roast for approximately 45 until the inner flesh is soft. Cut the eggplants in half and remove the flesh from the skin. Roughly chop the eggplant’s flesh and set aside. Take the remaining eggplant and slice into four equal steak-cut pieces. Brush eggplant pieces with oil and sear in a sauté pan until cooked completely through. Keep warm for later use.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the ground guajillo chile pepper powder and allow to darken in the pan. Do not burn. Stir in the chopped garlic and sauté until browned. Add the ginger and onion to the pan and cook until the onion pieces have caramelized.
  3. Add the spice powders and sauté for approximately 5 minutes, stirring well. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down. Add the chopped eggplant flesh. Season well and cook for about 5 minutes or until the flesh has warmed through completely. Keep warmed until ready to use.

For the Garnish:

  1. Add a small amount of oil to a sauté pan. Place pan over medium heat until hot. Add the diced red peppers and cook briefly for about 1 minute. Place another small amount of oil in the pan and add the diced eggplant. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the eggplant is soft. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.

For Serving:

  1. Place one of the eggplant steaks on each plate and evenly fill with the warm eggplant mix.
  2. Top the dish with the diced eggplant garnish and finish with the sesame seeds and fresh cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Chef Derrick J. Purcell, partner and director of operations for Ida B’s Table

Stuffed French Toast with Strawberries and Banana Caramel Sauce

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

6 eggs

1 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar

2 tablespoons coconut sugar

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

4 thick slices brioche

1 cup fresh strawberries, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, for frying

Banana Caramel Sauce, for serving (recipe follows)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine eggs, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and coconut sugar in a shallow bowl. Whisk well until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and juice until smooth and well combined. Place cream cheese mixture in a pastry bag.
  3. Make a 4-inch cut lengthwise into 1 slice of brioche to create a pocket in the bread. Pipe 1/4 cup (about 2 ounces) of the cream cheese mixture into the pocket. Place a single layer of strawberries on top. Pipe another 1/4 cup (about 2 ounces) of cream cheese on top and press firm to close.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Dip each “sandwich” in egg mixture until fully coated. Quickly transfer French toast to the hot, greased skillet. Cook each side for about 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with Banana Caramel Sauce (recipe follows).

Banana Caramel Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

2/3 cup dark-brown sugar

3 1/2 tablespoons cognac

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 medium bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise and crosswise

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in sugar, cognac, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Simmer until the mixture turns a caramel color.
  2. When mixture begins to simmer, place bananas in pan and heat bananas in the sauce. Serve immediately over the stuffed French toast.
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