It's not as though Richmond needs further proof that its dining scene is booming, but last night at the D.C.-area Rising Stars Awards, chefs, restaurateurs and diners from as far north as Baltimore got a taste of the RVA experience and just how far the city has come.
StarChefs.com's Rising Stars Awards celebrate the country's finest up-and-coming culinary talent in cities across the United States, though the D.C.-area awards come but once every four years, give or take. Four years ago, only one Richmond chef was inducted: Jason Alley of Pasture and Comfort, but in 2014, four Richmond chefs — and Sub Rosa's Evrim and Evin Dogu — were added to the roster.
The print and online publication acknowledged and honored Lee Gregory of The Roosevelt, Phillip Perrow and Caleb Shriver of Dutch & Co., and Joe Sparatta of Heritage for their excellence as chefs in the industry, and the Dogus as artisans, and all for their exemplary work as "professionals who represent the vanguard of the contemporary American dining scene," according to StarChefs.com.
"I think it's a testament to how much the city and community has grown in the last four years," says Alley, who served his signature ham steak sliders at Monday night's Rising Stars honorees dinner.
We've got the recipe for Sparatta's flounder with smoked potato purée, as well as Alley's bourbon-and-mustard-glazed ham steak sliders with spicy mustard pickles.
For more recipes from 2014's winners, including Sparatta, order a copy of Rising Stars Magazine through StarChefs.com.
Joe Sparatta's Flounder with Smoked Potato Purée, Spinach, Lemon, Capers and Brown Butter
Ingredients, smoked potato:
- 6 large Yukon Gold potatoes with skin on, cut into 1/8-inch round slices
- 13 tablespoons of butter
- Hot vegetable stock
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
Ingredients, brown butter:
- 6-1/2 tablespoons of butter
- 3 tablespoons of nonfat milk powder
- 4 flounder fillets
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 3 cloves of garlic, 2 smashed and 1 thinly sliced
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- 3 bunches of spinach, rinsed and stemmed
- 1 Meyer lemon, zested
- Capers, rinsed
- Italian parsley chiffonade
Method, smoked potato:
Prepare and heat a smoker with hickory wood chips. On a half sheet tray with a wire rack, arrange the potatoes. Smoke on high for 20 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a medium-sized pot, and cover with water. Bring the pot to a boil and reduce it to a simmer, cooking until the potatoes are tender. Drain and transfer the potatoes to a blender with butter and enough vegetable stock to cover three-quarters of the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper; and purée. Keep them warm, and set aside.
Method, brown butter:
In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add your milk powder, stirring often with a rubber spatula, until milk solids turn golden brown. Strain through a chinois and cool.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm a thin layer of oil until very hot. Season the flounder fillets with salt and pepper, and sear on one side until golden brown. Flip the flounder and add thyme, smashed garlic, and 30 grams of butter. When the butter starts to foam, baste the fish and remove the pan from heat before fully cooked. Top the flounder with some brown butter and keep it warm. In a separate pan over medium heat, warm a thin layer of oil and sauté the sliced garlic until lightly brown and aromatic. Add the spinach, stirring often, until it is wilted. Drain off any excess liquid, and season the spinach with salt, pepper, zest, and your remaining butter. Toss to combine.
To serve, spoon a dollop of smoked potato. Add spinach and top with flounder. Garnish with lemon, capers and parsley, then drizzle with brown butter.
Jason Alley's Bourbon-and-Mustard-Glazed Ham Steak Sliders with Spicy Mustard Pickles
- 1 can orange juice concentrate
- 1cup fresh orange juice
- 1 cup bourbon
- 1/2 cup sorghum (or honey)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 pods star anise
- 2 pounds of pickling cucumbers, sliced
- 1/4 pound of sliced white onion
- 1/4 cup of pickling salt
- 1-1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of prepared mustard
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of dill seed
- 1 tablespoon of mustard seed
Ingredients, ham steak:
- One store-bought city ham steak, cut 1/2-inch thick, per sandwich. Ed. note: Alley recommends purchasing small deli hams and cutting steaks from these; using canned ham; using leftover holiday ham, provided it is not spiral-cut.
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce the liquid by two-thirds, and run through a fine mesh strainer. Reserve the glaze until ready to use; this can be made ahead and refrigerated.
Toss the onions and cucumbers with the salt, and allow them to sit for 1 to 2 hours. Then, combine the remaining ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring the contents to a boil. Drain and thoroughly rinse the onions and cucumbers, allowing them to drain well. Cover the vegetables with the hot brine, and allow them to come to room temperature. Refrigerate your pickles and use within one month.
Sear your favorite ham steak in a medium-hot pan with butter until sizzling and browned on one side. Once it has been flipped, cover the ham with the glaze in-pan, and let both heat through. Remove from heat and place the ham steak on a bun, spooning your glaze onto the ham. Top with pickles. Cheese is optional; Alley suggests American.