I just had a chat with Chef Matthew Millar, who was recently named as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s 2013 Best Chef: Great Lakes award. Matt is one of 20 semifinalists who made the list. Beard judges (total disclosure here – I am one of the nominating Beard nominating judges for the Great Lakes region which includes Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois) will then winnow the list down to five final nominations to be announced on March 18th.
Matt, who owned the Journeyman Restaurant in Fennville and most recently worked at Reserve in Grand Rapids before leaving at the end of this January, is now embarking on another culinary project – opening St. Anthony’s, a restaurant with his business partner Brandon Joldersma.
“St. Anthony is a small, progressive yet traditionally grounded restaurant opening for service in Douglas, Michigan in the spring of 2014,” says their Website, restaurantstanthony.com. “The restaurant will include small-scale facilities for the production of charcuterie — with the possibility of limited wholesale — which will be an important aspect of menu formation. The restaurant’s culinary philosophy will take root in the character of West Michigan agriculture and local food history and culture. The wine program will extend out of the same philosophy as the culinary.”
A quick look at St. Anthony’s menu mockup shows dishes based upon seasonal and local ingredients (can’t wait to try the horseradish and potato pierogi with buttered peas and cold smoked duck breast with ragout of ferns, baby) as well as cheeses from Cathy Halinski’s Evergreen Lane Farm in Fennville.
“This terrine is the poster child for what I love about simple cooking,” Matt says about a charcuterie recipe he shares. “Five ingredients come together to make a very flavorful, soulful dish. Serve with a salad of bitter greens with a simple vinaigrette. This terrine takes a few days, so plan accordingly.”
As for his recipe for Fromage Blanc Gnocchi, Matt encourages people to visit Halinski’s farm to get the cheese needed for this recipe.
“It is dense and low in moisture which keeps the texture of the gnocchi light in texture,” he says. “And it has the full flavor of Jersey milk raised on pasture and a pleasant lactic tang.”
Chicken, Morel, and Black Truffle Terrine
2 three to four pound chickens
1 ounce fresh morel mushrooms, very carefully cleaned, briefly sautéed
in a little butter, and coarsely chopped
1 small black winter truffle, poached in olive oil and finely chopped
1 tablespoon roasted garlic puree
Bone the chickens by scoring down the back and removing the skin in one piece. Scrape the skin of excess fat and trim to square the pieces and reserve. Bone the breast and thigh meat taking care to remove anything but lean meat. Dice into half inch pieces. Calculate 2% of the total weight of the meat and weigh out your kosher salt. Add to the chicken with the remaining ingredients and marinate overnight.
The following day, preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a terrine with the chicken skin, overlapping slightly and allowing enough at the top to enclose the terrine. Pack the marinated chicken in the terrine, pressing gently to remove as much empty space as possible. Fold the skin over the top of the terrine, place in a hot water bath, and bake in the oven until the terrine reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Compress the cooked terrine and refrigerate overnight. The following day, carefully unmold and slice carefully. Serve cold.
Fromage Blanc Gnocchi
1 pound fromage blanc from Evergreen Lane Farm
1 egg, lightly beaten
a scant 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Knead the ingredients together lightly until well combined. Do not overwork. Pinch off a golf ball sized section and roll into a 1/2 wide snake. Cut into 1/2 pieces and roll on a gnocchi paddle. Poach the gnocchi in simmering water until they float and are set completely, about two minutes. Toss with a simple tomato sauce, butter and parmesan, pesto, olive oil and chili flake with anchovy, chopped spinach with garlic and crème fraiche, bitter greens with lemon and walnut, or whatever suits your fancy.