Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

An Interview with Jan Birnbaum

Sally and Antonia interview Jan Birnbaum, Chef and Owner of Catahoula Restaurant and Saloon in Calistoga, California.

MP3 Interview MP3

Interview time (23:15)

Corn Pudding

1/2 cup Cake Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 Cornmeal
1-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 cup Buttermilk
3 Eggs
1/8 pound Butter, melted

Combine dry ingredients. In seperate container combine eggs and buttermilk with whisk. Combine wet and dry.
Whisk in melted butter.

Pour onto parchment lined sheet pan and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes.

Cool and turn out.

Corn Custard

2 cups Cream
4 Egg Yolks
1 Jalapeño with seeds, minced

Whisk together cream and yolks. Add jalapeños just before baking.

Bake corn bread and cool. Make custard base. Prepare 4" rectangular loaf/cake pan with butter. Place and fit one layer of corn bread. Pour 1/2 of the custard. Place and fit another layer of corn bread. Pour the second half
of the custard. Place and fit the third layer of cornbread on top of the second layer of custard. Do not push too firmly so that the custard does not come above the third layer of the corn bread. Cover and cook in waterbath at
350° F for approximately 45 minutes or until custard has set.

Spicy Rooster Gumbo

1 5-7 pound Rooster or roasted chicken if don't have access to a rooster,
cut into 8 pieces, do not remove back bone
2 pounds Andouille sausage, sliced into 1/2" thick rounds
2 smoked ham hocks
5 red bell peppers, cut into large dice
5 yellow bell peppers, large dice
5 green bell peppers, large dice
8 large yellow onions, large dice
3 cups + 3 cups high gluten flour
3 cups rendered chicken fat
5 bay leaves
4 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 gallons rich chicken stock
2 cups pilaf rice
1 cup sliced scallions
2 pounds okra, sliced
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups cornmeal
fryer oil


4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander

Place chicken stock in pot twice as large as its volume. Place on back burner, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Mix all of the spice ingredients and reserve.

Prep meats and vegetables as required in above descriptions.

Place the ham hocks in the stock to simmer.

Place half of the onions and all of the green peppers as well as the chopped garlic and bay leaves in a large flat pan to prepare for the roux making.

Season the chicken parts with the spice mix to generously cover. Dust the chicken parts in seasoned flour.

In a cast iron skillet, heat the chicken fat almost to smoking. Fry the chicken parts over high heat to crisp the outside but not cook the inside of the chicken. Drain and add to stock.

Cut the sausage. In a few drops of oil, roast the sausage at 300° F so as to render out the fat and caramelize the surface of the sausage. Remove and reserve.

In a large flat cast iron skillet, bring the chicken fat almost to smoking. Very carefully whisk in the flour. Lower the heat to medium. Whisk the flour into the roux and continue to whisk in a circular motion around the cast iron pan. The flour will move through a range of colors from hazelnut to brick red and on to dark brown. When you have reached a deep red brown color, carefully pour the hot roux over the prepared peppers, onions and spices stirring constantly until sizzling stops.

Every 5 minutes add the roux to the stock a few spoonfulls at a time. Add half of the seasoning mix. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until rooster is cooked and tender.

Strain back into a large pot. Saute balance of vegetables and add to stock. Pick cooked chicken. Add chicken pieces and sausage rounds. Place gumbo in serving bowls and finish with a spoonful of pilaf rice and sliced scallions.

Balsamic Basil-Cured Salmon

1 salmon filet (approximately 2 1/2 pounds, skinned)
1 1/2 pound kosher salt
12 ounces granulated sugar
10 ounces brown sugar
1 ounce black, freshly ground pepper
8 zests of lemon
4 bunches basil
2 bunches Opel basil
2 heads fresh garlic, slivered
1 cup reduced balsamic vinegar

Cut 3 to 4 incisions into the skin as shallow as possible. Cut a piece of cheese cloth approximately 2 feet wide and 3 feet long. Lay it into the length of a large perforated pan or platter. Cover the cheese cloth with half of the salt mixture. Place the fillet on the salt mixture. Cover the fish with the remaining half of the salt mixture. Wrap the fish in the cheese cloth. Place the perforated pan over another pan of approximately the same size. This is done so that as the fish cures and gives up its moisture, the liquid can drip away from the fillet. Place a third pan at least as big as the fillet on top of the fish and place a weight on top. Allow to cure for 48-60 hours in the refrigerator, or until the flesh becomes fairly firm. Rinse the salt mixture from the fish and immediately pat it dry. Brush the skin of the fish with the balsamic reduction and leave for 2 hours.

The gravlax is now ready to slice paper thin.

Gravlax is an incredibly versatile and durable ingredient. Its shelf life is in excess of two weeks when properly stored, although it is best eaten within the first 10 days. It also has a lot of applications. It can be used on a delicate little amuse-gueule ( French slang "to amuse the palate" or a simple starting course) with creme fraiche and some thinly sliced red onion. Gravlax is great on a bagel or served with a salad and special crackers made in the Catahoula wood oven.

Red Beer Soup with Spicy Cabbage Kraut

For the Soup:

1 1/2 pounds bacon lardons
8 medium onions
1 cup honey
10 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 head cabbage
6 jalapeños
1/2 gallon Rougue Red Beer
1 gallon light chicken stock
1 gallon dark chicken stock
3/4 cup malt vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Render bacon slowly. Just before bacon begins to crisp, add onions and cook slowly until they soften and begin to caramelize. Add garlic and jalapeños. Cook until soft and then add honey and cook until toasty color and
carefully add beer. Allow to reduce by half. Add chicken stocks. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to cook 30 minutes. Strain.

For the Cabbage Garnish:

2 green cabbages, sliced
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup honey
5 jalapenos, seeded and julienned
1 teaspoon walnut oil
2 teaspoons malt vinegar

Assemble and allow to ferment in fridge for 2 days.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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