By Sylvie Bigar
As wintry winds blow into town, the city’s chefs are launching their winter menus.
At DB Bistro Moderne on West 44th Street, Chef Olivier Muller often looks back to his Alsatian roots for winter dishes such as the “Sunday in Alsace” menu. When you think of winter, fish does not spring to mind but Muller cooks a hearty roasted Atlantic cod he makes into a brandade and bakes in the oven. To celebrate the season, he also offers a creative chestnut orecchiette dish with venison ragout and wild mushrooms. But if you enjoy pig’s feet, the stuffed pig’s trotter is a must. Not to worry, the dish does not come with a Manolo, the meat is ground and caramelized, and served with black truffle jus.
Dan Levy, chef de cuisine at Brasserie Aix on Broadway and 88th Street, is stretching apple season as much as possible, and serves a lamb loin with New York State honey crisp apples and chestnuts with a grainy mustard sauce. He pairs duck breast with Alsatian style sauerkraut served with parsley spaetzle and a fragrant Tanqueray juniper sauce. On the dessert front, how about a chestnut pie with cinnamon ice cream on the side?
Entrepreneur and chef extraordinaire David Burke loves winter dishes. At the new David Burke at Bloomingdale’s, he prepares what he calls an “angry and spicy hen in law,” a whole roasted Cornish game hen served with whipped potatoes complete with a knife in the back. For the heartiest of appetites, try the “millionaire’s meatloaf,” a king size portion served with lobster whipped potatoes and lobster bordelaise sauce. “When you’ve been around a few years, people trust you,” said Burke. “In the winter, we sell squabs, venison, and even pheasants.”
Game fan? Terrance Brennan has devised the ultimate wild game tasting menu at the newly refurbished Picholine on the Upper West Side: Start with a saupiquet, a delicious cold terrine followed by pheasant boudin blanc. Follow with a red-legged partridge from Scotland and then a wood pigeon poached in game consommé. Save some room for the wild Scottish hare, served with parsnip bread, and finished with chocolate.
At Eleven Madison Park, Swiss-born Chef Daniel Humm knows about winters. He explores a parsnip and pear velouté, which he purées before adding diced pears and parsnips. He then places butter poached sweet Hawaiian prawns in the luscious mixture. Humm also offers a gorgeous suckling pig confit with plum chutney and five spice jus. And if you are a serious carnivore, the Black Angus beef tenderloin with braised oxtail will satisfy your wildest meat cravings.
On the Upper East Side, Chef Philippe Bertineau of Payard plays at matching some of his dishes with the sweet creations of the patisserie. At lunch he creates a potato tourte layered with goat’s milk brie, caramelized onions, mushrooms and walnuts, as well as a warm thin tart of duck confit, parsnip purée, and lardons. For the chic ladies of the neighborhood, the fragrant bouillabaisse is a perfect meal in itself, with Chilean sea bass, mussels, clams and squid. Need something to keep you warm? Bertineau’s twice-baked upside-down cheese soufflé with parmesan cream sauce and white truffle oil has become a classic.
For a different kind of winter, head to Chelsea for a whiff of the West at The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro where Chef Tim Love offers a grilled rib rack of New Zealand red deer served with manchego mac-and-cheese topped by corn fried artichoke hearts. His lamb three way—a shank, a grilled chop and a goat cheese and lamb empanada—emphasizes variety, and if you are still hungry, you have to try the Ancho chili chocolate cake made with the famous organic Dagoba chocolate.
Twice Baked Upside Down Cheese Soufflé
For the Cheese Soufflé:
1 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 cup Gruyere, shredded
1 ¾ cups milk
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
pinch nutmeg, freshly grated
salt to taste
white pepper to taste
For the Parmesan Cream:
1 ¾ cup cream
½ cup milk
1 cup Parmesan, grated
Preheat the oven to 350° F, and bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil.
For the parmesan cream, bring the cream and milk to a boil and pour into a blender with the grated parmesan cheese. Blend until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Reserve for later use (the parmesan cream can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 3 days).
In a small pot place the milk with the garlic and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and bring to a boil. In a separate pot, melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a roux, cook for 3-4 minutes, and then strain the milk into the pot with the roux and bring back to a simmer, whisking continuously. Place the cooked milk mixture in the mixer with a paddle mix on low speed and add the Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites in a small bowl with a whisk until they reach stiff peaks. Once the cheeses are incorporated, add the egg yolks. Fold the whipped egg whites into the mixture by hand, using a spoon.
Spray the aluminum cups generously with the cooking spray and place the cups about 1 inch apart in a pan with high sides. Fill the cups with the cheese mixture using a spoon or a pastry bag. Place in the preheated oven and fill the pan with the hot water ¾ to the top of the ramekins. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. The cheese soufflé should be firm on the outside when cooked but very soft and springy to the touch on the inside. Carefully turn the cheese soufflés upside down into 6 soup bowls and gently remove the aluminum cups. Place the soufflés under a broiler for 1-2 minutes until they brown on the top. Pour the warm Parmesan cream around the sides of the soufflé. Place a drop of the white truffle oil on each of the soufflés and serve hot.