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Recipes from My Dinner Party with Grant Achatz

The city’s most famous chef helped me throw a dinner party. Now, I can share my (his) recipes with you.

Chicago’s Carrie Schedler wanted to become a better home cook, so she invited the city’s most famous chef to help her. Much to her surprise, he said yes. You can read all about it in the October issue, or online here.

Check out these recipes that he shared with us, plus wine pairings from Devin McKinney, the sommelier at Alinea. (Don’t worry, every bottle is affordable and readily available—we bought everything from Binny’s.)

Click below to jump to any of the courses:

Fruits and Endive Salad | Lamb with Herbed Crust | Fennel with Orzo and Olives | Mushrooms with Madras Curry | Molasses Cake

Mango, Crab, and Lime Canapés

Photos: Lucy Hewett

Yield:24

Pair with: Aubry Brut Premier Cru, NV ($37). “This Champagne is great in the fall—nutty and saline, but still super-refreshing,” McKinney says. 

3 Steamed and chilled king crab legs
1 Lime, sliced paper thin
1 Champagne mango, peeled and cut into paper-thin one-inch squares
2 Thai chilies, sliced paper thin
5 to 6 Mint leaves
  Mayonnaise, ideally packaged in a squeeze bottle
  Salt
  1. To prepare the crab, begin by cracking the legs at the joints using a firm, swift movement, so that the feathery cartilage connecting each section remains intact. Once all sections are separated, open the shell of each section by making two parallel cuts, half an inch apart, along the length of the white side of the leg using a pair of kitchen shears. Remove the strip of shell and crack open the remaining shell to extract the meat. Repeat with remaining sections.
  2. Slice leg meat into half-inch-thick pieces. Spread out pieces on a serving tray.
  3. Trim any oversize slices of lime and mango so they’re roughly the same size as the pieces of crab.
  4. Assemble: Place a slice of lime atop a round of crab, followed by a slice of mango. Add a pea-size dollop mayonnaise onto the mango, then add a slice of chili and a small piece of torn mint leaf. Repeat with the remaining crab pieces.
  5. Top all with a generous sprinkling of salt. Serve.
 

Orchard Fruits and Endive Salad with White Miso Dressing

Yield:Serves 8

Pair with: Loimer Grüner Veltliner, 2014 ($19). “Grüner Veltliner has a white pepper note to it, along with an orchard fruit component. It’s a dream come true when it comes to pairings,” McKinney says.

Salad  
2 to 3 Plums, underripe, thinly sliced
2 to 3 Granny smith apples or Asian pears, thinly sliced
2 to 3 Peaches, underripe, thinly sliced
8 Radishes, thinly sliced
2 Cucumbers, thinly sliced
6 Endives, leaves separated
2 to 3 heads Radicchio, leaves separated
  A few handfuls of frisee, leaves separated
Dressing  
½ block Extra-firm tofu, drained and blotted to remove excess water
2 heaping Tbsp. White miso
One 6-ounce jar White sesame seeds
6 Tbsp. white soy sauce or coconut aminos
¾ cup Grapeseed oil
½ cup Hot water
  White pepper, to taste (appx. 1 tsp.)
  Juice of 1 lemon
2 large pinches Salt
  1. Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss to mix.
  2. In a blender, puree all the dressing ingredients until smooth, then taste and adjust seasonings as needed—you want just a slight burn from the white pepper.
  3. Add dressing to the salad ingredients and toss to coat.
 

Lamb with Herbed Breadcrumb Crust

Yield:Serves 8

Pair with: Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot, 2013 ($20). McKinney loves the wine’s “blueberry flavors, with notes of roasted coffee. It’s a great Cabernet alternative for lamb.”

3 cloves Garlic, peeled
3 sprigs Fresh thyme
6 leaves Fresh basil
2 sticks Butter, room temperature
½ cup Olive oil
½ loaf Country white bread, roughly chopped into 2-inch chunks
4-5 lbs. Boneless leg of lamb
2 Onions, peeled and roughly chopped
4 Carrots, peeled and cut into rough 2-inch chunks
  Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine basil, garlic, thyme, basil, butter, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and mix until smooth and green, about 1 minute. Add a handful of salt and several cracks of pepper from a grinder, then mix again for a few seconds until well incorporated. 
  3. Place lamb on a large plate, with the side of the leg that was attached to the bone facing up. Coat the bone side of the lamb with a third of the butter mixture, ensuring that it’s spread evenly over the surface. Then, fold up the leg so the uncoated side faces out.
  4. Add a handful of the bread chunks to the remaining butter mixture and mix in food processor for 20 seconds. Then add the rest of the bread chunks and process until well combined, 20 to 30 seconds more. You may have to add the bread in batches, depending on the size of your food processor. 
  5. Generously coat the exterior of the lamb with the breadcrumb-butter mixture. (It will feel like a lot of butter, almost too much. That’s okay.) 
  6. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with the carrots and onions. Then, nestle the leg of lamb inside the pan, seam-side down. 
  7. Place in oven and cook for an hour to an hour and a half—Achatz says to budget 15 to 20 minutes per pound of lamb you’re cooking, until the exterior crust is golden brown. 
  8. Let meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving along with carrots and onions.
 

Fennel with Orzo and Olives

Yield:Serves 8

5 bulbs Fennel, halved lengthwise, fronds trimmed and reserved
½ stick, plus 2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Lemon
  Salt
  Sugar
1 Tbsp. Fennel seed
3 to 4 fronds Fresh thyme
one 16-ounce box Orzo
8 ounces Olives, pitted (any olive will work—we used a mix of niçoise and castelvetrano)
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  1. Place fennel bulbs, cut side down, into a Dutch oven, then top with ½ stick butter, three large pinches of salt and sugar (roughly a tablespoon each), the fennel seed, and the fresh thyme. Set over medium low-heat, uncovered, to braise, until fennel is soft and tender, about 1 hour.
  2. In the meantime, fill a medium pot with water and set to boil. Add whole box of orzo and parcook over medium heat, until al dente. Drain.
  3. Place orzo in serving bowl, then add two remaining tablespoons of butter, olive oil, and pitted olives. Stir to combine. When fennel is ready, add braising liquid to the pasta, then top the orzo with the fennel bulbs.
  4. Take the reserved fronds and slice off the frizzy ends. Sprinkle over top of orzo and serve.
 

Mushrooms and Shallots with Madras Curry

Yield:Serves 8

8 Shallots, peeled
1 stick Butter
¼ cup Grapeseed oil
4 Shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
4 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 Tbsp. Curry powder
  1. Warm an oven-safe pan over low heat, then add half a stick of butter and ¼ grapeseed oil. Stir until butter is melted and well-combined with oil.
  2. Add peeled shallots to the pan and let cook over low heat until shallots have begun to soften, at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. When shallots have softened, add quartered mushrooms and curry powder to pan and stir to combine. Place in oven and let cook for another 30 minutes, until mushrooms have softened to fork-tenderness. Serve warm.
 

Molasses Cake with Dried Fruit

Yield:Serves 8

Pair with: Emilio Lustau Pedro Ximenez San Emilia Solera Reserva ($26). McKinney selected this sherry because its dried-fruit notes matched those in the cake. “Lusciously sweet, and a small glass goes a long way.”

⅔ cup Raisins
⅔ cup Dried currants or cherries
⅔ cup Prunes, chopped into raisin-sized chunks
Zest of 2 Oranges
2 cups All-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp. Baking powder
¼ tsp. Salt
⅔ cup Toasted walnuts, chopped
1 tsp. Mace
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg
½ Vanilla bean, scraped
1 Egg
1 cup Whole milk
¾ cup Molasses
14 Tbsp. Butter, melted
4 Tbsp. Brandy
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Combine all wet ingredients in another medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour the wet ingredients into the well. Stir until well combined but still slightly lumpy.
  5. Pour batter into an oiled loaf pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  6. Serve warm. You can slice the cake or spoon it onto plates in scoops.

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