Filet Mignon of Beef “Swellington” at L’Opossum (Photo by Jay Paul)
Filet Mignon of Beef “Swellington”
$30 at L’Opossum
This is your parents’ special occasion dish, with a twist. Chef David Shannon trims whole tenderloin to filets, but instead of wrapping those steaks in puff pastry, he tops them with a phyllo dough purse crammed with foie gras. It takes hours to make those little satchels, filling them with butter, mushrooms and duck liver creamed to a mousse-like consistency, but what really eats up the week is the pink peppercorn port sauce. That’s a six-day affair, beginning with roasting veal bones overnight and finalized by a cook coming in on Sunday, when the restaurant is closed, to top off the port reduction they’ve been whispering to for five days.
Once plated, port drippings, thick as syrup, jive across the plate with pink peppercorns kissing the dense meat. During white truffle season, they’ll shear off a hefty portion of Piedmont truffles for an additional $18.
TOTAL TIME: Six days — plus 10 months for the next batch of Italian truffles
Ramen Bowl at Heritage (Photo by Jay Paul)
$12 at Heritage
Available for brunch only, this dashi broth is dressed with noodles, kimchi, poached egg and pork belly. Turnip tops start training for kimchi fermentation two weeks out. The soup’s support, salted, hickory-smoked Autumn Olive Farm pig bones, are holdovers from Heritage’s charcuterie game. Those scraps, as well as teams of duck and chicken carcasses, are what inspired Chef Joe Sparatta to up his ramen game; a block-and-tackle approach to utilizing the whole animal.
A “mother” stock from the previous weekend kicks off this week’s simmer. It takes days to get the opaque, almost milky broth just right. Early Sunday morning, dried seaweed or chili and semolina strands are freshly made, then dunked to order. The ramen kit is then assembled, with scallion, toasted nori, Tokyo turnips, six-hour-braised pork belly and half of a six-and-a-half-minute soft-boiled egg, all lined up and ready to steamroll through your bowl.
TOTAL TIME: Two weeks; available Sundays, with only 30 orders
Goat Birria at Shelly’s Food, Comida Latina (Photo by Jay Paul)
$10 at Shelly’s Food, Comida Latina
Birria is a spicy lamb or goat stew from Jalisco, Mexico, where it can be found at food carts, weddings, parties and underneath the face of anyone with a hangover.
Chef “Shelly” Lagunes makes hers with goat, which tastes like pot roast with a subtle gaminess. Her birria begins with butchering the goat, then stewing the meat with a king’s ransom of garlic, onion and bay leaf. Beans are cooked separately for a silky side you’ll want to spread on everything. The next day, tiny guajillo peppers are boiled, peeled and deseeded, then added to a second cook that begins with water and the meat, now falling off the bone. Pinto beans are mashed with onion and jalapeño and fried to a paste. Red hot sauce — gringos are offered green, but you’ll want the red to cut through the rich meat — is emulsified with sharp chiles de árbol. That seasoning alone takes two hours to blend. When your plate arrives, it’ll be brimming with goat over rice, refried beans, hot sauce, lime, chopped onion and hand-mixed corn tortillas, grilled to order and wrapped in foil. Ask for a side of the “soup,” the heady cooking liquid.
TOTAL TIME: Two days; available Saturdays and Sundays
House-made pastrami at Camden’s Dogtown Market (Photo by Jay Paul)
$13 per pound at Camden’s Dogtown Market
What sets this pastrami heads and shoulders above the grocery store model is that Chef Andy Howell uses a Rubenesque piece — the brisket — for his. Most commercial pastrami comes from cheaper, leaner carvings, such as top round, and you can tell the difference. “The fat just melts down into your bread,” Howell says. “That’s what it’s all about.”
He begins by trimming some of the chub from the briskets and brining them with pink salt, sugar, pickling spice and a whole lot of garlic. The brine is heated, then cooled, before the meat submerges in it for a week. Every other day, Howell turns the brisket. After seven days, it’s removed from its bath, dried, coated with coriander and black pepper, returned to the fridge, this time elevated, to catch the breezes for two days. Finally, the meat is mesquite-smoked for eight hours and cooled overnight before it’s ready to be thinly sliced for sandwiches.
TOTAL TIME: 12 to 14 days; available in “sweater weather” only