Chicken Wings, Cheesecakes, and the Self–Made Man
by Tejal Rao
Chef Noah Tuckerís menu at Brick reflects an interest in the evolutionary process of classic and contemporary American dishes. Tucker was inspired to cook by his mother, but not in the way one would expect. “She was such a terrible cook and I really enjoyed eating. As soon as I realized that food could be a real profession, I got into it.” Tuckerís confit buffalo wings begin with slow-cooking wing, leg, and thigh meat in duck fat, fragrant with garlic and rosemary stems. The meat is then pulled, wrapped around the clean bones, and bound with caul fat. On the plate, Tucker finishes them with a drizzle of cider vinegar-habanero gastrique and a dollop of gorgonzola foam for a sophisticated faux-chicken wing. But hot wing purists neednít worry - under the confit shreds maintain a certain level of Americana: the “wings” are deep fried and slathered in Frankís Red Hot Sauce
If the wings arenít immoderate enough, get a load of Tuckerís butter bath - the pinnacle of American culinary excess: “I rest my rib-eye, and other meats too, in a 112įF butter bath, infused with thyme and garlic, for about 10 minutes. It adds so much flavor!” After its quick soak, the rib-eye is served with an espresso-beef jus and chocolate-Maldon salt.
Pastry Chef Matt Tinder began his career at 12 cleaning grease traps at local restaurants. After flipping burgers at 14 in Kauai, Hawaii, Tinder worked in Charlie Trotter, Jean Joho, and Paul Kahnís savory kitchens before dabbling in ice creams and sorbets and reading up on techniques in On Food and Cooking. Now heís taken over Tuckerís pastry kitchen where he builds desserts with the daring of a savory chef. His take on the all-American cheesecake (the chevre-cake) has got it all going on: sweet and sour syrup of hibiscus and molasses, herbaceous basil buds, and a mild pistachio crŤme Chantilly. The tender cube of cake, which is only mildly sweet, feels more like part of a composed cheese course. This isnít unusual in Tinderís repertoire where strong cheeses, horseradish, pancetta, and pickled fruits all elbow their way in with delicate vanilla-scented grits or shortbreads. “You can always change your mind,” Tinder says, when asked about his culinary philosophy, “but you wonít know if you donít try.”
This Memorial Day, in the spirit of all things American Ė chicken wings, the self-made man, cheesecakes Ė hereís a modern American menu from Brick in San Francisco:
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