Iron Chef: Thanksgiving

“Iron Chef?” you ask. How hard can it be for a couple of line cooks to pull of 7 courses for 12 people in 2 days? Especially in San Francisco, where we’re gifted with beautiful produce and incredibly reputable butchers to fill our fridges and pantries…

Well, take a look at my kitchen:

That’s the challenge, my food loving friends. The 2nd annual Ally-Griz Thanksgiving comes out of a 6×6 foot kitchen equipped with a charming 4 burner electric range with a 2 rack oven that runs  50-100 degrees low (mostly, it does what it feels like doing). Good thing we decided on a course of 3lbs of grilled skirt steak.

In honesty, though, through the frustrations and drunken cooking, it’s a great challenge and it’s so much fun to cook our own menu with each other, for our friends and family.

Last year, we did a truffled duck with blackberry-ricotta stuffing, 12 Chimay Reserve braised lamb shanks, with piles of sides of I can’t even remember what else all in ONE DAY. This year, we started early. Tuesday we rummaged around the Ferry Building market for the beautiful veggies we needed, trampled around groceries stores, bodegas and produces markets for all we needed. Got it done. Except for the butcher – even though our order was put in to be picked up on Tuesday, it wasn’t there. We interupted our day of pre-cooking on Wednesday to go back, only for another disaster. But I won’t go into it. I’m starting to see red and relive a rage blackout, as I call it. I won’t name names, because he promised to make it up to us, come Christmas. If this happens, all is well. If not, you’ll hear all about it.

Over time, Griz and I have watched each other struggle through the pains of the industry, as well as watch each other develop our respective skill. This year, we really emulsified (a little culinary pun, if you will) our differing styles and techniques to creates some amazing dishes. The big winner, by far, was the first course:

    Chicken Liver Mousse with Quick Pickled Red Onions and Olive Oil Crostini

    Acorn Squash “Fondue” with Gruyere and Ementhaler, back by popular demand

    Then lighten it up with Tatsoi, Orach, Peppercress, Watermelon Radish with Satsuma-Champagne Vinaigrette



how bout that plating?

Roasted Game Hen in a Ham & Citrus Brine w/ Horseradish Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing w/ Roasted Delicata Squash, Heirloom Peppers, Rainbow Chard & Golden Raisins

Here’s the brine:

Here’s the little ladies moisturizing their skin with a gremolata butter, getting ready for their sauna:

And the last savory course..

Grilled Skirt Steak w/ Creamy Green Peppercorn Vinaigrette, Butternut Squash & Potato Gratin, Roasted Brussel Sprouts w/ Lemon, Chili oil & Black Cyprus Salt


Cranberry Stuffed Quince w/ Vanilla Ice Cream & Honey (no picture…sorry)

Fresh Pears & Honey (also no picture – we were sick of it by dessert)

Now, I can’t give recipes away because they’re special products of joint efforts, but I can give you vague hints. You gotta figure out the proportions. There’s also one super important ingredient in here that makes all the difference, but I’m not telling you which one it is. It’s in there, though. Here’s the vague recipe for the BEST liver you’ll ever have, courtesy of our perfectly blended techniques:

    Sweat finely minced shallots in butter, add livers, add good Bourbon, add cream. Let them reduce to sweeten, then puree in a food processor with a whole lot of softened butter, some salt and fresh ground pepper until it reaches the desired consistency.
    When you saute the livers, brown the outside of them, but make sure to leave the inside still pink (not raw) so they’re soft.
    Let cool and put into a piping back, or a large ziplock with the tip cut off.
    Serve with toasted crostini and pickles.

Now, I know you’re saying….there’s no duck fat in this Thanksgiving?! WTF dudes?! Well, I admit…I was saying that to myself only days before, while reviewing the menu. My heart pounded and my stomach turned at the thought of a holiday passing me by free of duckfat. It was a last minute addition, and I don’t have a photo, but some lovely purprle carrots were roasted in duckfat. Delicious, simple, and ducky.

So shuttup about the duckfat already! Geez, I think you have a problem….

Next year? Maybe goose? Nah. Venison! Goose stuffed with venison? Now that’s more like it….. Griz…..you know you’re excited. Venison ravioli with your new pasta maker?! Let’s start talkin’ Italian Christmas.