Recap – Creole in the West Loop

Posted on 02/24/10 in Past Events, No Comments

March 25th, 2010

Ok we have to do this again. This menu is pretty solid now. I tried it last year for the first time, with the help of Garland Green, then chef of Quench the Experience soul food (now cooking at XOCO).

By the way, as you can see from the photos, we were in a restaurant for this dinner party. Being accustomed to cooking in tiny apartment kitchens, it felt so luxurious to have 10 burners, 2 ovens, a flat top, a salamander broiler, and a dishwashing machine! L-U-X-U-R-I-O-U-S

If you’re curious about where we were, it was Ina’s place on Randolph. The lovely breakfast queen opened up her famous AM dining spot for an evening of speakeasy dining. Thanks to the Gipsy Trio for serving up the hot jazz.

The first dish was super fresh. Super fresh in that the chickens were slaughtered that morning in Indiana at Gunthorp’s place. I had to meet the delivery driver in some back alley off Wacker Drive to get the birds that afternoon. I knew I was cutting it close, but it was well worth it. The chicken was seasoned, seared, then braised for just a couple hours. The sauce started with a dark roux, then some white wine and mire poix. A long simmer and reduction produced a very nice sauce. The waffles were topped with a rosemary infused maple syrup.

The highlight of the evening, to me, was the mushroom consomme, and the sauteed oyster mushrooms. This fungus was from River Valley Ranch in Burlington, WI and these oysters could rival any wild morel out there. I trimmed the rubbery stems off the clusters and added these to a pot with water, leeks, onions, and whole star anise. This mushroom tea simmered for about 6 hours before I strained it and clarified using coffee filters. This was done the day before the dinner. Once we arrived at Ina’s, I simmered the mushroom stock and reduced by half, producing a concentrated, rich, and aromatic consomme. Throw some butter fried oyster mushrooms in there and it’s mushroom heaven.

For the cobia etouffee, I also started with a dark roux and mire poix, but for this I added plenty of lemon juice, cajun spices, and fish stock. I used all the skin and trimmings from the cobia filets to make a nice sweet fish stock. I also used the same fish stock to cook the barley. Yum.

Last but not least, Blueberry Luna Pie! Blueberries from Seedling in Michigan, and dark chocolate from Blommer’s on Milwaukee Ave, homemade marshmallow, nuff said.

Should this menu happen again? Let me know!

Here’s the menu and the photos:

  • Coq au Vin Blanc Chicken and Waffles
  • Baby Mustard Greens w/ Peach and Pecans
  • Crab ravioli, Oyster Mushroom consomme
  • Cobia Etouffee w/ Pearl Barley
  • Blueberry Luna pie, Blueberry Ice Cream

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