Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, Alinea’s Grant Achatz was transported by the lotus-root gelée Masato Nishihara makes at Kajitsu in New York. What’s caught your attention, Masato?
“I enjoyed the charcuterie platter at Bar Boulud. I particularly enjoyed the Tourte de Caille, with its combination of foie gras and apricot — the fruit enhanced the flavor of the foie. In all the pâtés I had, salt was used in the way that perfectly enhanced the flavor of the ingredients; it was used to extract flavor, not to please or satisfy our taste for savoriness, which I found similar in approach to Japanese cuisine. Also, the pâtés were not undercooked or overcooked, but done flawlessly. I was amazed at their craftsmanship.”
Chef Daniel Boulud explains the platter:
“On the tray we have five or six terrines, depending on the season, with different preparations for each based on the type of meat. Gilles Vérot , our chef charcuterie, is a third-generation charcutière. He learned from his grandmother and grandfather, so he developed especially for us a pâté grand-mère and a pâté grand-père, named for them — the grand-mère is pork-based with chicken liver and cognac; the grand-père is truffled foie gras with duck liver. We’ll do game in the fall, or a veal blanquette, and of course there’s the non-pork charcuterie: rabbit Provençal, tagine of lamb, a compote of beef cheeks with onion confit and pistachio. We also do a head cheese, which won an award in France for the world’s best pig’s-head terrine.
Because I’m a man from Lyon, we have a saucisson de Lyon — it’s just 100 percent pure pork, mostly belly, with some salt and pepper. We make our own jambon de Paris, which is a poached ham that’s house-cured for about 72 hours, and we massage it every five hours while it’s curing. We always have a dry ham, either a prosciutto or a Spanish Iberico. And of course there are the little hors d’oeuvres: In Lyon, the tradition is sometimes to start with these, like carrots in coriander cooked with a little harissa, or a celery-apple remoulade, a beet-and-horseradish salad, a mushroom à la grecque with white wine and spice. You need just a little taste — just a little bit to cut the richness of the charcuterie with some wonderful vegetables.”