Just over a month ago, our friend Maria asked us to host a private dinner party for her birthday. Of course, we were incredibly honored and super excited about the opportunity. Here was a chance to wow some guests with a special (read: decadent) menu of amazing food.
Over the past couple of weeks, Joseph and I have been going over the menu for the party (again and again), making sure every course was spot on, the techniques made sense, and that the progression of flavors and textures worked.
What we ended up with was the following eight-course tasting menu:
Amuse: Stout poached oyster, roasted cipollini onion, caper cream, fried wonton [Recipe here]
Appetizer: Rabbit terrine, homemade bread, chive foam, coffee amaretto mustard, peach consomme, red pepper flake
Fish: Pan seared rouget, butter and pain d’epices, walnuts, honey, brown sugar, anise infused candied orange, basil
Palate cleanser: Traditional Limoncello
Meat: 48 hour short rib, celeriac and potato puree, port wine and chocolate reduction
Dessert: Biscotti crumble, chocolate amaretto mousse, granita di caffè, whipped cream
Cake: Vanilla cake, dark chocolate and orange ganache, butter cream
Cocktail: Rum, mango nectar, pomegranate, strawberry puree, black pepper
Closer: Cheese selection and fresh fruit
We adored this menu and it worked really well. The piece de resistance being the short rib, cooked sous vide for 48 hours in our own homemade DIY water circulator. Over the past few week, Joseph has been amassing all the parts to build this awesome addition to our kitchen arsenal. And, the results are stunning!
The short ribs, which we got from our favorite butcher, were huge with a great mixture of meat and fat. I just knew they were going to be amazing. Normally a tough piece of meat, the low and slow cooking made it melt in your mouth and fall off the bone. A little salt and pepper, vacuum sealed, and into the water bath they went. We cooked the ribs at 140 degrees for 48 hours. Yes. Forty-eight hours. The texture was divine.
Just before plating, we pan seared the outside to give a nice browning to the meat, but the inside remained a nice medium pink and was incredibly tender.
The sauce was a port wine reduction that we did with rosemary, roasted garlic and shallot. We strained out the aromatics, and melted some 70% dark chocolate into the sauce for a decadent accompaniment to the tender, creamy meat.
And then, to go one step further, we served it on top of a puree of celeriac and potato that we had cooked in duck fat, finished with a bit of cream.
The combination was incredible. Our dinner guests even offered a round of applause mid-course in appreciation. As far as serving this dish, I can only say it felt good to put it out.
Inevitably, as tends to happen whenever we host a dinner, we both come off the high of having worked for days on a meal, and want to cook more. It’s moments like these were we start to think about where we want our culinary passion to take us, and how we fit into the culinary world.
Hopefully, we’re on the path to figuring that out.