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Comfort Us with Curry
See below for a how-to photo gallery.
At home, BRIAN HUSTON whips up a thing he calls refrigerator chili, which is chili made with whatever he finds in the fridge. “When it turns out really good, my family gets mad because I can never remember what’s in it,” says the chef at The Publican (837 W. Fulton Market; 312-733-9555). Similarly, he improvised this lamb stew off a recipe he learned many years ago from his longtime boss, Paul Kahan. It uses Indian spices and Sriracha sauce in an overnight marinade for the meat. The result will amaze everyone you invite for dinner—and you’ll be able to tell them how it’s made.
CURRIED LAMB STEW (Serves 6 to 8)
1. Cut 3 pounds of boneless lamb shoulder into 2-inch chunks and, in a bowl, mix with 1 chopped onion, 8 cloves of sliced garlic, 1 heaping tablespoon Indian curry powder, 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce, and 1 tablespoon salt. Cover and let marinate overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a 6-quart Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat and brown the lamb in batches, being careful to shake off the onions and garlic from the marinade. After you finish browning the meat, set it aside and use the same pot to sauté the onions until translucent. Stir in 1 teaspoon sugar, then 1 tablespoon flour. Add 1 cup red wine and reduce by half. Empty one 15-ounce can of whole plum tomatoes into a bowl and crush by hand. Add the tomatoes (with juice) and meat to the pot. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until fork-tender, about 2 hours.
3. Stir in one 15-ounce can of chickpeas that have been drained and rinsed; warm through on the stovetop. Scatter pickled raisins over the top (recipe at chicagomag.com/winter2011), drizzle with plain yogurt that has been stirred to liquify, and garnish with sprigs of cilantro.
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
1 arbol chili
1 bay leaf
1 1/3 cup golden raisins
3 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
1 teaspoon salt
Pop the mustard seeds over medium heat in a saucepan; add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer until reduced slightly, but don’t allow the liquid to completely cook away. Cool and preserve in refrigerator.
AND FOR DESSERT . . .
When tossing cubes of brioche with egg and cream for a bread pudding, do not overmix. This is advice from PATRICK FAHY, the pastry chef at Café des Architectes (Sofitel, 20 E. Chestnut St.; 312-324-4063), who explains that too much mixing will break up the bread and produce a dense dessert. His recipe yields a wonderfully luscious version, made even more decadent with a scoop of ice cream.
BRIOCHE BREAD PUDDING (Serves 8 to 10)
See below for a how-to photo gallery.
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. With a serrated knife, trim the crust from a loaf of brioche and save for another use or discard. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes (there should be about 9 cups), and place them in a large bowl. Combine 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon mace, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, and ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom. Break 7 eggs into a medium bowl, add the spice-sugar mixture, and whisk together immediately. Add 2 cups milk, 2 cups heavy cream, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Stir to combine.
2. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes and add 1 cup golden raisins. Gently mix until well coated and then transfer to a buttered 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Sprinkle ¼ cup turbinado sugar evenly over the top. Cover the pan with foil. Bake for 45 minutes; when done, the pudding should be puffed and set in the center. Remove the foil, sprinkle a little extra sugar on top, and broil for a minute to caramelize. Serve right away.
Photography: (lamb stew, bread pudding, Huston) Anna Knott; (Fahy) Esther Kang