Pilfering the Bar and Cooking with Bitters

By Lisa Elbert | Megan Swann

By

Lisa Elbert
Megan Swann
Chefs are looking to the bar for flavor and adding bitters to their mise en place.
Chefs are looking to the bar for flavor and adding bitters to their mise en place.

Chefs, your mise en place isn’t complete without the newest old-school aromatic modifier around: bitters. At San Francisco’s Rich Table, Chef Brandon Rice uses bitters (and gin, and Campari) for a cocktail-themed foie composition. “I always thought it was cool that bartenders would use just a drop or two of bitters to completely change the flavor profile of a drink. I wanted to do that with food,” says Rice. “In California, we have a wide variety of citrus, and I thought it would be interesting to season citrus with bitters.” Rice can be spotted eye-dropping Angostura bitters into a kumquat-Campari-vermouth jam that sits atop his gin-cured foie gras torchon

“You have to be careful. Bitters are strong, and if they’re over-used, they can overpower the whole dish and really turn people off,” says Rice. Unctuous, fatty foie is a ready-made vehicle for the fragrant, bittersweet jam. “When foie came back to California, the idea of a Negroni just kind of came to me. We tried the dish with and without the bitters, and bitters really tie it all together. Without the bitters, the dish just doesn’t make sense.”

 

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