I am so pleased to announce that my oldest son, Erick, Executive Chef at Sato Sushi in Vail, Colorado is joining me to teach a select group of Teen-Chefs in Figs, Foie Gras, and Falconry in Southwest France this summer.
We were recently in Colorado with Erick and Kayla when they had just returned from Japan. Kayla had to jump right back into life as she had left it, work and school. While Erick had a few days off. One of Kayla's tasks was taking an Anatomy and Physiology test after her long first day back and first day back at work! And so while we waited for her return and conquering of the outside world, we did what our family does. Cook! For me cooking together is one of the ways that we connect, reconnect, remember, share stories, laugh, swirl, and taste. Its always fun cooking with either one of my sons and their girlfriends as it turns a mere moment into a memory.
With Erick it becomes a fun sort of "Chopped" episode at times. And I fondly recall the time when he was a teen and already working at the Carolina Inn with Brian Stapleton and he challenged me to a cook off. But that's another story. As far as slicing and dicing, Erick's long since passed me in speed and precision, as Executive Chef at Sato Sushi.
Erick brought back some black garlic (fermented cured garlic) and so, believe it or not, that was one of the reasons for making the dish along with a new cookbook Erick picked up at in Edwards at the Bookworm, Asian American by Dan Halde.
It was a delicious Colorado night, set against the aspens swaying in the breezy night and the gaining moon, while we listened to Erick's stories of ramen, rented cars, sunburn, dumplings, and cheese in Japan we ran outside to the grill and then back to stir at the stove. And when Kayla returned we toasted and sat down to eat and listen to the tale of the rigors of her test.
Veggies to grill
1 small butternut squash, seeded, peeled and sliced
1 eggplant, quartered
Untoasted sesame oil
Veggies and meaties to curry
2 tablespoons butter or sesame oil
12 large mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, thin-sliced
Fresh ginger, 2 inch minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch fresh turmeric, minced
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised and thrown in
1 leg smoked turkey – meat sliced off, maybe 3 cups total
2 qts chicken stock (1 low sodium, 1 regular)
2 tablespoons red curry paste
Meaties to grill
1 pound each ground pork and turkey
Fresh ginger, 2 inch minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Fresh turmeric, minced
3-4 cloves black garlic, minced
Coconut grits with butter fried onions and sambal (slightly adapted from the book Asian American by Dan Halde)
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion minced
½ bag grits/polenta
2 ½ cups of regular milk
1 can coconut milk
2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons sambal
½ cup hot water
For the shallots
2 shallots, sliced thin
1 ½ c rice vinegar
1 tsp chile garlic paste
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
toasted sesame seeds
Pickle the shallots
Slice shallots and set aside. In a small saucepan heat the rice vinegar with the sugar, just till melted, do not boil. Add remaining seasonings and taste, adjust if necessary.
Begin the curry
Slice the butternut squash and the eggplant. Drizzle with a bit of untoasted sesame oil. Set aside in a grilling basket set on a sheet pan.
Mince all the ginger, garlic and turmeric that you’ll need for both the curry and the meatballs and set aside in different bowls. Bruise the lemon grass stalk with your knife and throw that in the bowl with your minced garlic, ginger, and turmeric for the curry. Slice the mushrooms and the onions and throw those in the bowl too. Slice the meat off of the smoked turkey leg, and slice into bite size pieces. When ready to cook heat a large heavy soup pot on medium high on the stove. When hot add the sesame oil/butter and when this is sizzling add the bowl of onions, mushrooms, and minced garlic ginger and turmeric along with the lemongrass. Stir with a wooden spoon and give it some time. Let the onions get translucent, while the ginger, garlic, and turmeric perfume the air. Let this go a little farther and gain some color, caramelizing, and then deglaze with the chicken stock. Stir well and add in your red curry paste, and stir well again. When thoroughly incorporated add in the smoked turkey meat and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let simmer for about 40 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and adjust with salt and pepper or more curry paste.
Make the meatball mix
Add your ground pork and turkey to the bowl with ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Mince the black garlic and add that as well, crack an egg over the top, and then combine it all together with your hands. Once well mixed; form meatballs or slightly flattened into patties if you prefer. Refrigerate until time to grill.
Grill the meaties, and the eggplant and squash
Heat your grill till fire-y hot. And when it is grill half the eggplant and squash at a time in your basket, removing to the sheet pan as it is done. Grill meat patties over high heat. Set aside on a platter.
Lastly, make the grits
Combine the milk, coconut milk, and 2 tsp salt in a small pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the grits about a quarter at a time, stirring constantly. Bring back to a boil and stirring and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook stirring almost constantly or only occasionally if you prefer less creamy grits. To cook completely this will take 15-20 minutes. Add sambal
And season to taste. Covered, the grits will stay warm for about 30 minutes.
Now the moment you’ve waited for. Bowl up.