Is there anything as fun as a crush? That little moment of frisson when you see or think of that special someone, that special pair of shoes, the first pitch of baseball season. As it is February, with Valentine’s Day sitting right there in the middle of the month, Still Hungry decided to ask three chefs what ingredient they currently have a crush on, and just what they’re planning to do about it. Read on to find out what’s cooking in Albuquerque. As for the assignment? I think these chefs crushed it!
Chef Cristina Martinez of Artichoke Café
Fried Artichoke and Sunchoke Salad
Chef Cristina Martinez at Artichoke Café is crushing on the sunchoke (also known as Jerusalem artichoke). “They were always this mysterious thing in the past,” the chef says. “I thought, ‘How do I use these dirty little tubers that are hard to clean and peel?’” But suddenly faced with a farmer who was looking to get rid of an overly abundant crop, Cristina rose to the challenge. “They were huge and really clean, and I was challenged to use a bunch of them.” She found that raw sunchokes had a smoky flavor and a clean, crisp quality, like jicama, and that roasted with the skin on, they “cook up like a buttery baked potato,” she says. Her Fried Artichoke and Sunchoke Salad combines the bitter tanginess of the fried artichoke, the saltiness of the sardines, the creamy zestiness of the roasted sunchoke and the crisp, clean flavor of the raw tuber with the peppery flavor of the arugula, which is a hearty enough green to “stand up to the other elements on the plate.” According to Cristina, “The best part of cooking is ingredients and finding cool stuff.”
For the salad:
2 cups canola or vegetable oil
2 cups canned artichoke hearts, halved
Arugula for four salads
10 medium-sized sunchokes, half roasted, half raw, unpeeled and thinly sliced
16 white anchovies
1 teaspoon butter
For the vinaigrette:
⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup olive oil
1 small shallot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Butter for simmering
To make the salad:
Heat canola or vegetable oil in a deep pot to 350°F. Fry artichokes till dark golden brown and slightly crispy.
Put arugula and roasted sunchokes on the plate. Add fried artichoke hearts and anchovies, lightly spoon on the vinaigrette, garnish with the sliced sunchoke.
To make the vinaigrette:
Add vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar and olive oil together in a bowl and whisk together. Blend in shallots and garlic. Melt butter in a sauté pan, add capers, add vinaigrette and slightly simmer.
Artichoke Café is located at 424 Central Avenue SE in Albuquerque, 505.243.0200, artichokecafe.com.
Chef Eric Stumpf of the Corn Maiden at Tamaya
Arepas and Cochinita Pibil
“Arepas are corn pockets stuffed with savory fillings,” Chef Eric of the Corn Maiden explains. “They are eaten across the country and across all socio-economic groups. They come in various sizes, from bite size to meal size and anything in between. Some people make them thick and remove the moist dough inside before stuffing; some are thin and crunchy.” This versatile food can be food-truck casual, hand-held or dressed up and eaten with a fork and knife. The chef says arepas “can be grilled, fried or cooked in an oven.” They can be vegan; they can be stuffed with meat—in fact you can fill them with just about anything. “The arepa provides endless possibilities in all food categories, making it a food to have a ‘crush’ on and want to create some passion towards in 2016.” Eric was kind enough to also give Still Hungry a recipe for one of his favorite fillings.
For the arepas:
3 cups warm water (warm from the tap about 135°F)
1 cup sweet corn puree
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 pound Harina P.A.N (pre-cooked corn flour, other brands like Maseca or Masarepa can be used, too)
To make the arepas:
In a large bowl, mix by hand by combining water and corn puree, salt and shortening together first, then slowly adding the flour, mixing quickly to avoid lumps. Alternatively, in an electric mixer, combine all ingredients and mix on medium/low for 2 minutes until shortening is completely combined. Keep dough covered with a moist towel and let dough rest for 10 minutes. Once rested, portion dough into a 6-ounce ball and flatten it as if making a burger patty or hockey puck. The arepa needs to be thick enough that it can be sliced and stuffed like a pocket. An approximate size is about a half-inch thick and four-and-a-half inches in diameter. Rest all arepas on a sheet tray.
To cook the arepas:
First seal the arepa on a flat griddle that has been previously oiled for 2 minutes on each side. To finish, place the arepa on the hot grill for 5 to 8 minutes on each side. Alternatively, it can be cooked in the oven at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes. The arepa is ready when it sounds hollow when tapped. It needs to be crunchy. Using a serrated knife, slice through the middle halfway, making sure that the bottom part is not sliced open (fillings will fall out otherwise). Stuff generously with your favorite filling and serve immediately!
For the cochinita pibil:
½ cup orange juice
2 cups passion fruit juice or puree
8 ounces achiote paste
3 limes, juiced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons dry oregano
3 teaspoons cumin seeds, fresh ground
2 teaspoons allspice, fresh ground
1 pork butt, 1½-inch cubed
4 banana leaves
To make the filling:
Puree all ingredients (except pork and banana leaves) in a blender until achiote is smooth. Toss the pork in the marinade and let sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking dish with banana leaves so it drapes up the sides and hangs over the edge. Place pork in the banana leaves and cover with more leaves until pork is entirely encased. Cover with foil and bake for 2-2½ hours until pork is fork-tender. Remove and fill into your arepa. “This is a fantastic filling that can be dressed up with smashed avocado and black beans,” Chef Eric says. “We use this here very often and it is an item that just came off of our summer menu.”
The Corn Maiden is situated in the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa at 1300 Tuyuna Trail in Bernalillo, 505.867.1234, tamaya.hyatt.com.
Chef Carrie Eagle of Farm and Table
Sorrel Potato Soup
Since the sorrel is the star ingredient in Chef Carrie Eagle’s soup she wanted Farmer Ric Murphy of Sol Harvest Farm (which is on-site at Farm and Table) to join the conversation and let me know why they both have a crush on it. Just what is sorrel? Ric: “It’s a perennial herb; it has a heavy citrus flavor and looks like a tall piece of spinach.” Ric is able to grow it year-round at Sol Harvest, as it “can survive a mild winter.” Carrie says she “shied away from it initially,” but now embraces it. “It can brighten up any soup that has cream or fat in it. It lifts it and gives it a beautiful citrus, lemon flavor.” While a chef’s herb garden is not uncommon among local restaurants, few of them have an entire farm in the backyard. “The farm informs most of the menu,” Carrie says. “It’s one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs.”
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 cups leek whites (bottoms without the root hairs) diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ cup white wine
6 large russets, peeled and diced
3 quarts vegetable stock
½ pound Sorrel
1 quart heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté leeks until translucent and fragrant, add garlic. Deglaze pot with white wine; add potatoes, stock and cream. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer until potatoes are cooked all the way through, but not falling apart. Divide the sorrel into four portions. Place sorrel, one portion at a time, in the bottom of a sturdy blender. Cover sorrel with potato mixture, careful not to fill more than 75 percent of the blender. Pulse until homogenous. Pour blended mixture back into pot, whisk over heat and season to taste.
Farm and Table is located at 8917 4th Street NW in Albuquerque, 505.503.7124, farmandtablenm.com.
Story by Caitlin Richards