2009 | Frank Bonanno

Yearly Archives: 2009

Monday Night Special: Chopsticks and Elbows

11.14.09

My favorite shift at the Osteria is Sunday nights, when Alex roasts the pigs. I love the way the rotisserie glows yellow and flares to orange when the fat hits the fire; the way suckling pig draws families and couples and foodies down the stairs and into the dining room; the way the pork smells permeate the empty spaces. . .

I’ve had it in my mind to do something similar at Bones, something to fill the tight room with families and couples and foodies on Monday nights—and I’ve been thinking whole roasted duck for two. A dish that’s fun, made to dig into and enjoy with wonderful, satisfying fixings. I’ve been imagining a duck that’s roasted with that super-crispy, tasty skin—-almost, but not quite Peking style. Where we implement every part of the foul–the liver as a pate to smear across toast points; the bones to make a nice, clear [ Read More ]

For an Amazing Cheese Plate

10.13.09

Last night, I had an amazing platter at Sushi Sasa—all of the kitchen elements worked in harmony: the caliber of chefs; the freshness, temperature, and perfectly sliced fish; the quality of rice and simplicity in seasoning. . .

That sushi plate got me to thinking about meat and cheese plates, because the same components can make or break one: the caliber of chefs; the freshness, temperature, and thickness of each slice, the quality of bread and simplicity in seasoning . . .

I was recently victim of a bad cheese plate at a restaurant up the road: yesterday’s bread, ice cold and week-old Burrata, cappicola cut so thickly that I had to chew it like an oily, meaty, wad of gum, prosciutto as fat as Oscar Meyer bologna. Here are these beautiful (or once beautiful) products, made in the manner they were a hundred years ago with real attention and care, and [ Read More ]

God I Love a Reuben

09.17.09

For a long, long time now, I’ve wanted to put a Reuben on the panini menu at the Osteria(O-stir-eeeee-ah). Finally, last week I was craving one for myself so badly I took action.

No, it’s not a distinctly Italian sandwich–but I will give Marco this one because of the artistry in every single element executed from from scratch. Cook, cure, and smoke the beef; whip the tomato aioli; dice the cabbage with radicchio and carrots . . .

A full five days after the craving hit (three days to brine, one day to air dry with spices, one day to smoke and roast), I finally have the sandwich that’s been chasing me. My wife wonders if I’m not sick of the whole idea by now, and hasn’t the longing passed . . .but, like pizza, it’s one of those foods I could probably eat every day. To me, there’s nothing quite as [ Read More ]

Comfort Food (BLT , Ramen and Such)

09.05.09

My favorite meals, and the most consistently popular ones at the restaurants, are tweaked versions of ultimate comfort foods–the Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese on the Mizuna menu, the BLT I recently wrote about, the Froot Loops soft serve ice cream at Bones. A couple of years ago, a food writer asked me if I could upgrade my middle-of-the-night weakness: ramen noodles. Of course. Add lobster.

It wasn’t until Bones opened that I had the opportunity to execute lobster ramen on a menu. Here it’s butter poached, with lobster stock, edamame, scallions, and lemon. It’s become a client (and wife) [ Read More ]

BLT on Mizuna September Menu

09.03.09

I posted my ideas on the perfect BLT a couple of weeks ago. Here’s Tony’s twist.
My favorite part: J Hill Farms raised a breed of tomato with a flavor profile designed to specifically compliment pork. We all taste-tested it. Unbelievable, slightly smokey, intensely moist and firm-skinned. Brioche beneath, cubed belly above, tender new arugula all around. I could eat that in a single [ Read More ]

Harvest Ravioletta with Brown Butter

08.29.09

When I’m making dinner for a group, I always include a pasta course–the simpler the better (4 ingredients or so)–and it seems there’s always something fresh to pull it off–tarragon, arugula, chives . . . Right now I have a bounty of perfectly ripe, juicy tomatoes from my home garden (golden cherries) plus a beautiful, knobby, multi-colored array from RR farm. My course at the Six89 Slow Foods dinner calls for about 150 pasta portions: I’m thinking ravioletta. That means I have about 7 hours of pasta making before me, the condensed version of which is this:

Last night I stirred and stretched 8 pounds of mozzarella and set on the counter to rest at room temperature. I roughly chopped the tomatoes, salted (to get rid of all those ripe juices) and loosely covered. Today, I will start the morning by working the pasta dough–15 pounds, more or less, 28 egg [ Read More ]

What do you do with a cow’s head, anyway?

08.27.09

The chill air of this August morning made me want to cook a whole animal—pig, lamb, goat—doesn’t really matter. There’s something about fall that calls for sacrifice, celebration and feast.

With that in mind, I’d like to share a recipe and brief thoughts on a movement.

First, the recipe: Pâté de Tête / Brawn
There is something beautiful to be had from the head of a veal. First, remove the tongue and the brain (which don’t require as much cooking time and can be enjoyed separately). Then, remove the cheeks (salt for guanciale).
Place what’s left of the head in a pot of cold water; bring to a boil; drain. Sauté the entire thing with a bit of mirepoix and olive oil, season liberally with salt and pepper, and brown up just a bit. Coat with a bottle of white wine, something good and dry, and top with water until the head is [ Read More ]

The Evolution of a BLT

08.20.09

I’m going to sneak into the dining room at Mizuna in a couple of weeks–not as a line cook, and not as the proprietor, but at table tucked into the back and set up as a makeshift cooking station. I won’t sell it as a “Chef’s Table,” because revenue’s not what I’m after, and I don’t want to focus on fancy, over-the-top cuisine, because I don’t intend to show off, either. What I want to do is use this table as a vehicle to connect with diners whom I love and basic foods that I love to cook. To create a setting where we are all inspired.
Lately, my nightly meditations have turned to what those foods should be. How can I change something very simple to make it extraordinary?
Last night I was consumed with the thought of a BLT.
Here’s how it works for me: a simple bacon lettuce and tomato [ Read More ]

Keep that chef away from the food

08.12.09

In this month’s Bon Appetit, Andrew Knowlton says high-visibility chefs should stay off the line and work the dining room. There’s such truth in that statement, but I’m back there cooking every week anyway — tossing pizza one night, different station, different restaurant the next (and so on)–disrupting the flow and the camaraderie and subtlety tweaking dishes as they pass before me. Why?
I love to cook. When I meditate, I imagine a slightly flawed apple or onion, slowly turning it until my mind clears (or I fall asleep). My bathroom is lined with cookbooks sandwiching my own notebooks and personal recipes. I love to cook.
I like it better than working the floor (though I do that, too, because some really great people come through those doors). I have three venues with open lines, so clients can see me back there sweating and burning myself, and they seem to think the [ Read More ]

Salumi: A Dangerous Beauty

06.22.09

Wild boar arrived at Luca a couple of weeks ago, but it’s not going to be on the menu for at least three more months. That’s because we’re grinding it, seasoning it, packing it, hanging it, slowly, slowly, s l o w l y, turning it into finocetta and capocola. In the seven years we’ve been crafting our own salumi at Luca, the wild boar’s a first–so it’s been great fun, but it got me to thinking about the recent popularity in curing meats . . .
A little while ago, a local cooking school asked if I would teach a class on making charcuterie. I declined. Because, while preserving meats is a great celebration of our ancestors and a return to a more natural, organic, aware form of cooking, it’s also cause for concern.
Making salumi—pork, generally, that is sugar and salt cured and air dried–is a big jump from [ Read More ]