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. After a few weeks eating through San Francisco’s Japantown, we’re rebooting the cycle with a detour to Philadelphia to check in with Zahav chef Michael Solomonov. What gets your juices going, Mike?
Who: Michael Solomonov, chef-owner Zahav, Xochitl and Percy Street Barbecue, Philadelphia
What: Bacon doughnuts with dulce de leche and coffee ice cream
Where: Traif, New York
“Traif is the Yiddish word for, like, un-kosher shit, and the chef Jason Marcus does everything that’s not kosher — basically everything [on the menu] is shellfish or pork. I think it’s awesome that this Jewish kid is rocking out all this non-kosher stuff. The bacon doughnuts with dulce de leche and coffee ice cream are, like, so fucking good. It’s a sugary doughnut with bacon fat in the batter and rendered bacon pieces in the doughnut itself. With the dulce de leche and coffee ice cream, it’s pretty kick-ass.”
Traif chef Jason Marcus explains the dish:
“When we opened the restaurant, I knew we would have to do a dessert with bacon. It began there, but I didn’t want to do something that didn’t have a purpose — no bacon just for bacon’s sake. So I asked myself, What does bacon enhance? The next thought was doughnuts: They’re a dessert that’s popular, nostalgic, sentimental, but it’s also one of those breakfast crossovers that makes sense with bacon. There’s a natural connection there in people’s heads or their hearts. And what would tie them together? Dulce de leche — there’s kind of a breakfast vibe there, and of course caramel and bacon go well together. Then the coffee ice cream, which also has that breakfast vibe.
The doughnuts are a really light, airy, buttermilk biscuit dough. We put dulce de leche glaze on top, and then we sprinkle on the bacon for crunch, the same way you’d sprinkle nuts on there. It adds the salty aspect, which makes sense, but also it serves a textural purpose — without the bacon, to me, the dish is too sweet, too soft — texturally, it isn’t too interesting.”