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, Masa chef-owner Masa Takayama discussed a Big Ass Pork Plate with Dinosaur Bar-B-Que founder John Stage. What say you, Stage?
Who: John Stage, founder, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
What: House-Smoked Duck Breast With Crispy Egg and Bitter Greens
Where: Ouest, New York
When: July 2009
“That’s one of my crave dishes. The first time I had it, I underestimated it, and the egg yolk spit all over my shirt. I think [Tom Valenti] poaches the egg really lightly, gently tosses it with panko bread crumbs, and deep-fries it for ten to fifteen seconds, because it’s still really yolky. He can’t be messing with for it too long. There are good acidic greens against the richness of the egg. It’s sloppy, deep, and crunchy. I’ve had it probably ten to fifteen times.”
Chef-owner Tom Valenti responds:
“That’s been on the menu since day one here, May 2001. It started as a ‘how to utilize all of the duck’ dish. The smoked duck breast was a component. We were going to use a duck egg (which was like frying something that’s already very rich); do a bit of duck sausage with the skin of the neck; and then — still on the plate — use an emulsified duck-liver vinaigrette. Once we got further along in testing, it occurred to us that in almost all the cases, less was more, so we stripped it down to its current form. We use a chicken egg. We poach the egg, cool it, then it’s simply breaded and fried. We get fresh Hudson Valley duck from D’Artagnan, put it on a wet cure — almost like a brine — and cold smoke it at the restaurant. I always like going after temperature contrast and textural contrast. You’ve got the warm fried egg with the runny yolk against the cool smoky meat. The duck-liver vinaigrette has mustard in it, so that’s the sharp contrast. We opted for baby arugula because it’s got a nice bite to it in a peppery aspect, and crunch. It certainly is a signature dish. We’ve tried to swap it off, and that’s met with great resistance.”
Read about a recent dish Tom Valenti enjoyed.