Lunchbreak: Ampersand Wine Bar Chef Darren McGraw makes smoked salmon belly

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Darren McGraw

Ampersand Wine Bar
4845 N. Damen Avenue
(773) 728-0031

Smoked Salmon Belly

6 4 oz portions salmon belly
1 quart soy sauce
1 pint honey
1/4 cup coriander
1/4 cup black pepper
1 cup apple wood chips

In a sauté pan on medium heat, toast the coriander seeds and black pepper separately. Course grind the spices.  In a medium pot add the soy, honey, and spices together and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Then strain through a fine mesh strainer, cool in an ice bath. In a 1 gallon Ziplock bag gently place the salmon belly inside then pour the soy mixture over it.  Force out the air in the bag and seal it.  Refrigerate for 16 hours to marinate. Once marinated, drain and pat dry the salmon.  Place on a rack inside the refrigerator near the fan to for a pellicle that will help the smoke adhere to the fish. Start the wood chips with a blowtorch, or in a sauté pan over high heat.  Add the wood chips to the bottom of a 6 inch 1/2 hotel pan. Place a 1/6 pan of ice in the center of the pan, then the rack of fish on top.  Plastic wrap the entire hotel pan completely. Cold smoke for 2-3 hours. Remove fish from rack and roast at 350F until cook through.

Leek Confit

3 leeks
salt, to taste

Cut the ends and green tops off of the leeks and remove the first layer. Cut the leeks into 1 inch rounds, and soak in water for 30 minutes. Drain from the water and toss with salt to coat lightly, let sit for 15 minutes. In a medium sauce pot add the leeks and cover with oil, cook on low-medium heat for 30 minutes or so until the leeks at tender. Cool inside of the oil.

Charred Green Tomatoes

1 lb green tomatoes
salt, to taste
1 clove garlic

Wash the tomatoes and dry thoroughly, blowtorch the green tomatoes until blackened. Dice into 1/2 inch pieces, then microplane 1 clove of garlic over them and season with salt. Mix well.  Reserve until service.

Sauce Bearnaise

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 sprigs tarragon
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 star anise
1 sprig thyme
1 garlic clove, smashed
3 egg yolks
1 lb butter
salt, to taste
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 oz chive rounds

In a small pot add the vinegar, tarragon, black pepper, star anise, Thyme, and garlic. Reduce the vinegar till au sec then remove from heat and refresh with a Tablespoon of water.  Strain directly into a Vitamix. Melt the butter over medium low heat, while melting, add the egg yolks salt and lemon juice to the blender with vinegar reduction, and blend on high.  Once the butter is melted and hot, slowly pour into the blender on high to form the sauce. Stir in the chives and check seasoning.  Hold in a thermos to keep hot. For a thinner Béarnaise add less melted butter.


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