Lynn Rinaldi offers a very similar approach for preserving tomatoes: slow roasting at low heat and storing them in olive oil. She also stores her charcuterie the same way. As with rillettes or confit, fat acts as a time capsule.
Baver relates how doomsday prepping would be very similar to any other day on the job.
“We go into the walk-in box and see something is starting to go, we may start juicing stuff. Say, I see Tuscan kale is starting to go, I’ll say let’s make a juice. Let’s reduce the juice and make a sauce. And you incorporate that into a special. So if Tuscan kale is breaking down and the oranges are breaking down,” he says we would find a way to utilize these disparate elements on a plate.
“I’ve got Tuscan kale, I’ve got earthiness. With the oranges I’ve got acid and sweetness. So I’ll juice everything and make a reduction. Then I’ll say alright, let’s do a crudo with that. Let’s make it really sexy. When I see things are starting to go, I respond, but it doesn’t happen that often because we really turn everything over. We order small and we try to utilize everything. Sure, stuff gets thrown away and it breaks our heart. We don’t want to throw product away.”
As an example, he mentions breaking down a whole salmon for dinner service.
“When you break down a whole fish, you’re going to have ‘scraps’. So we say okay, what I get from scraping the bone, I’m going to run that as a salmon tartar. And it’s still fresh protein. Or, if it’s the belly from a tuna, I’m going to do a smoked tuna taco. I may not call it a taco here[at Pardiso], but I’m going to smoke something here with excess tuna belly,” Baver says.
Thinking on your feet is a must in preventing said waste.
“My walk-in box is basically like a supermarket,” Baver says. “I have so much stuff. So, I have to figure out how I’m going to utilize all of it. I see celery root. I see leeks. I see this and that, so I have an idea of what I’m going to do. I might make a soup and it’s going to be sustainable for several days. It’s something grandmothers would do.”
There’s a simple elegance to your options in prepping vegetables for the long haul amidst the cacophony of moans from the ever growing undead hordes outside your restaurant: “Without refrigeration, there’s not that much you can do. You’re fucked. Curing, pickling, canning,” Baver says.
But the problem isn’t that daunting when it’s something you grew up with.
“We didn’t have a fridge. My Mom cooked everything we had. She made vegetables into jams, escabeches,“ Jimenez says.
“In Mexico we eat a lot of crystalized fruit,” he says, referring to a common preservation method that involves double blanching before cooking down in a heavy syrup. The fruit is then crusted with sugar and left to dry overnight. Growing up in Mexico, his mother would leave trays on the roof to dry in the sun.
“We do it here [The Ranstead Room] for the cheese plate and charcuterie. Like this ginger [referring to the sugar coated ginger at the bar] it’s crystallized. The Italians, they do it with mostarda. Same thing, but mustarda comes with a liquid,” Jimenez says,
He also makes dried fruit—such as the chunks of papaya, apricot, and pineapple he places inside his chili nogada—by first blanching in sugar water and then leaving the diced fruit in the oven overnight with just the pilot on.
Escabeches (pickled vegetables) are served with the lamb burrito at El Rey, while pickled jalopenos come with the nachos.
“While I still had the burners, I’d use them for fruit preserves and vegetable jams,” Magee says. CONTINUE READING >