Tuesday, October 2, 2012

4 Quick Questions with Chef Brian Huston of The Publican in Chicago

Last week, we heard about a dish called Sweet Potato and Pecan Piccata secondhand -- thanks, Kelly! -- and just had to attempt to make it. Now here's the man behind the idea, Chef Brian Huston of The Publican, located in Chicago, and his very own recipe. 

The Chubby Vegetarian: The crew at The Publican seems to give an equal amount of thought and care into an eggplant or corn dish as they do into shrimp or sweetbreads. Each vegetable item on the menu looks like a stand-alone dish rather than a side dish. I made a version of your Sweet Potato and Pecan Piccata based on a friend's description, and it was fantastic. Thank you for the inspiration! So, care to share the real recipe with our readers, or give them some professional advice on making this dish at home?

Chef Brian Huston: Roast a whole sweet potato until tender (about 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven). Let cool and cut into 1/2-inch discs. Heat a pan big enough to hold the slices of sweet potato. Add about 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan and lightly brown the sweet potatoes on both sides. Add a pat of butter and equal amount of brown sugar, a pinch of chile flakes and a sprig of thyme. Once the sweet potatoes have caramelized, deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Place potatoes on a plate and top with piccata mixture.

For the piccata, pulse a stale loaf of bread, crust removed, in a food processor until it forms a rough crumb. Place crumbs in bowl. Massage the crumbs with olive oil and toast in a 300 degree oven until brown, about 45-60 minutes. While it is hot out of the oven, add freshly chopped garlic, chopped mint, and orange zest. Finish by adding toasted pecans.

TCV: What's the most unusual vegetable you've ever pickled and served at The Publican?

CBH: Watermelon rind and okra. (I know, not that unusual...)

TCV: I love seeing radishes with salt and butter on the menu. Is there anything simpler or better? One of my favorite things in the world is a tomato sandwich in the summertime with tomato, salt, pepper, and mayo. What other simple but outrageously good combinations can you think of off the top of your head?

CBH: Broccoli and olives, green beans and almonds, and eggplant and honey.

TCV: Any new techniques that you have been playing around with or any ingredients that have you smitten? 

CBH: New techniques such as shaving raw butternut squash and marinating it in a garlic vinaigrette, chryo-vacing melon to brighten the color and intensify its flavor. For a new ingredient, I love raw ground cherries in salsas. 

No comments: