Buttermilk-fried Sheepshead Cheeks, Brain Ravioli, Red-eye Gravy Consommé, and Gremolata

Adapted by StarChefs.com
November 2013
Yield: Yield: 4 servings


Pickled Sheepshead Gremolata
One 8-ounce sheepshead fish fillet
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 tablspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 tablespoons choppes chervil
Newsome’s 21-month country ham bone, lightly roasted
1 quart strong coffee
1 quart roasted pork stock
2 egg whites
1 cup chopped leek tops
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 sprigs thyme
black pepper
lemon juice
Brain Filling
1 hog brain, rinsed
½ teaspoon curing salt
black pepper
Rye Pasta
1 cup rye flour
1 to 2 eggs
olive oil
12 quail eggs
egg wash
Buttermilk-fried Sheepshead Cheeks
4 sheeshead fish cheeks
1 cup buttermilk
black pepper
smoked paprika
fryer oil
½ cup rye flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch cornstarch
To Assemble and Serve
olive oil


For the Pickled Sheepshead Gremolata:
Place fish fillet in a metal pan. In a small sauce pot, bring vinegar, water, sugar, kosher salt, coriander, and black pepper to a boil. Pour liquid over fish and pickle 24 hours. Remove pickled fish from brine and freeze fillet at least 2 hours. In a small mixing bowl, finely grate 2 tablespoons pickled fish and mix with chives, chervil, lemon zest, and sea salt.

For the Consommé:
Place the country ham bone in a stock pot with coffee and pork stock. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove ham bone and reduce stock liquid by half. Remove from the heat and cool overnight. Place 3 cups infused pork stock in a medium pot and heat over a medium-high flame. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup stock with 2 egg whites, chopped leeks, carrots, celery, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper. When stock comes to a full boil, transfer the vegetable mixture into the hot stock and allow to boil for a few minutes, stirring the whole time. Reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes. While simmering, use a ladle to pop a hole in the crust that forms on the top of the liquid. Ladle the broth over the raft that has formed to allow the raft to fully set. After 15 minutes, remove consommé from heat and strain through a chinois. Season with lemon juice. Cool and set aside.

For the Brain Filling:
Cover hog brain with cold water, add curing salt, and soak overnight in refrigerator.  Drain hog brain and pat dry. Set in smoker and smoke for 20 to 30 minutes. Place smoked brain in a mixing bowl and mash with a whisk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture into a piping bag and refrigerate.

For the Rye Pasta:
In a mixing bowl, mix eggs into rye flour, adding olive oil and kneading dough until it is thoroughly mixed. Rest dough 1 hour. Using a pasta machine, roll dough down to setting 2 to create long sheets 3 inches wide. Lay a sheet of pasta on a clean, dry surface and pipe Brain Filling at regular intervals down the length of the dough, slightly off-center, leaving 2 inches between each filling. Make a small well in the top of each mound of filling and place a quail egg yolk in the middle. Dip your finger in water and run it in a square around the filling. Fold the sheet of pasta over on itself and press firmly to remove air bubbles and seal individual ravioli. Cut the ravioli out with a pasta cutter or ring mold. Brush each ravioli with egg wash and transfer to a sheet tray sprinkled with flour. Refrigerate.

For the Buttermilk-fried Sheepshead Cheeks:
In a medium bowl combine fish cheeks, buttermilk, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika; refrigerate overnight. Heat oil in a cast iron pan to 325°F. In a medium bowl, mix the rye and all-purpose flours, cornstarch; season with salt and pepper. Remove fish cheeks from buttermilk and dredge in flour mixture. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

To Assemble and Serve:
Fill a small pot of water with water and add a pinch of salt and a tiny bit of olive oil; bring to a rolling boil. Cook Brain Ravioli 1½ minutes, then drain. Separately, heat Consommé until warm, but do not boil. Set Brain Ravioli in a serving dish and ladle 4 ounces Consommé over. Place hot Buttermilk-fried Sheepshead Cheeks on top and garnish with Pickled Sheepshead Gremolata.