Meeting a great Top Chef Master in person and having him cook for you gratis is not something that happens every day.
So you can imagine that when Chef Marcus Samuelsson came to town for a cooking demo, a very numerous and enthusiastic crowd showed up to enjoy it. This happened thanks to Macy’s Culinary Council and Macy’s South Coast Plaza, where the event was held last Monday February 25th.
As it turns out, Mr. Samuelsson couldn’t be more charming, more knowledgeable and more talented. It’s a real treat to watch him in action, the passion for cooking is evident just by the way he speaks and works. You may know him from Top Chef, from the cookbooks, or from his restaurant, Red Rooster in Harlem. Michelle Obama recently said it is one of her favorite restaurants, so that’s a great endorsement! (You can read more about him in this New York Times article.)
There were about 200 people attending the event, where he prepared three signature dishes he shared with everyone. Since it’s still February, he mentioned he thought of the menu in honor of Black History Month. There was the Dirty Rice and Shrimp; the Coconut Fried Chicken with Collards and Gravy; and the Catfish and Grits with Salsa Verde. Everything was amazing, he puts his diverse background and love for spices to work and comes up with sabores bien especiales. He even used a bit of habanero chiles in one of the recipes. ¡Orale, OC peeps! Pa’ que suden mucho y sepan lo que es bueno pues!
There was a Q&A session at the end, where one fellow foodie mexicana asked Marcus if he had a favorite Mexican dish. He responded that he loved braised scallops with a hint of lime, very simple, but just perfect, which he enjoys when he visits Ixtapa, Mexico. And then he added, “Mexican food is perfect, unlike what they do to it in this country, which is to keep messing it up.” ¿Que tal?
It was so nice to meet you, Chef Marcus Samuelsson. Thank you for the recipes and for being so kind and gracious with everybody. We’re all going to have to book a trip to Harlem to come to Red Rooster soon. It’s definitely on my list for the next visit to New York.
Catfish and Grits (recipe compliments of Chef Marcus Samuelsson)
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons paprika; 2 tablespoon oregano; 2 tablespoons berbere; 2 tablespoons dried harissa; 1 tablespoon ras-al-hanout; 1 tablespoon tandoori sauce; half teaspoon salt; half teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper; 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar; 4 (6 ounce) catfish fillets; 3 lemons cut into wedges; 2 tablespoons butter; 2 tablespoons olive oil. To garnish: caperberries, arugula, diced chorizo.
To make: Combine the paprika, oregano, bernere, dried harissa, ras-al-hanout, tandoori spice, salt, pepper, red pepper and dark brown sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of fish with the paprika mixture. Heat oil in a large pan over high heat. Add fish, cook three minutes on each side. Squeeze lemons onto dish and add them to the pan. Finish with butter.
Grits: 1 cup cream; 1 cup milk; 1 cup Anson Mills grits; salt to taste; 4 ounces grated Parmesan.
Combine cream, milk, grits and salt into pot and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Stir in Parmesan gradually, until completely integrated.
Salsa Verde: 3 tablespoons olive oil; 2 garlic cloves; 2 jalapeños; 2 poblano chile peppers; 2 tomatillos; 1 teaspoon capers; 1 avocado; 2 teaspoons mint, chopped; 2 teaspoons cilantro, chopped; 2 teaspoons parsley, chopped; juice from 2 limes; 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar.
To make: In a pan, over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic, jalapeños and poblanos and sauté until golden, then add the tomatillo and sauté for another 5 minutes. In a bowl, add the capers and avocado and mash together with a fork. Add the sautéed contents of the pan and the avocado mixture to a blender along with the mint, cilantro, parsley, lime juice and red wine vinegar and blend.
To serve: Divide grits between four plates and top with catfish. Spoon salsa verde over top. Garnish with caperberries, arugula and chorizo.
Yields 4 servings.