Flavor, joy, and open hearts: How exotic ingredients become the home cooking you’ll never forget.

With Chef McKee, we learned to elevate seafood with a compound butter. Make the secret your own.

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In the first of a series of videos coming from EuroCAST Kitchen Studios featuring some of America’s best chefs, you can find me helping — and hovering around — Chef Patrick McKee. An Iron Chef winner, Chef McKee has just launched his new concept, Estes, in an elegant “pop-up restaurant” location called Dame, in the highly-competitive food scene of Portland, Oregon.

Estes is a smash hit. And for good reason … the food tastes full-flavored, inspired, and approachable. I had the ravioli and risotto one recent night, dining with a friend as I prepared my thoughts for working with the chef. I peeked into his kitchen … and on racks, shelves, and the stove, I spied EuroCAST cookware, including a sautée pan designated as the ravioli pan for the night.

The next day, we prepared the ravioli and risotto together in his home kitchen … plus a spot prawns and clams dish inspired by his time with Arzak, one of the top restaurants in the world, with three Michelin stars (you can’t get more than three). Arzak is located in San Sebastián, in Basque Country nestled between Spain and France.

And in the middle of Chef McKee’s cooking and assembly of the prawns and clams dish, he slid a couple of large knobs of a compound butter into the broth. I love compound butter (I make my own all the time — you’ll find a Recipe of the Week from early last year on how to do it). His was amazing, full of citrus and herbs.

Simply put, it tasted like love.

Exotic food is strange only to you — so, eat like you’re traveling!

Last week’s Recipe of the Week featured sardines and anchovies in a classic Italian pasta from Sicily. And we got a bunch of comments from people who love sardines — sometimes feeling alone in their passion because friends and family were just a little nervous trying them.

Here’s a trick. Find some dish that includes sardines (or any exotic food) that is beloved somewhere else in the country or the world. Read all about it. What makes it authentic? What do you drink with it? What do you eat before or after?

The more you discover, the more you’ll easily imagine why people love it where and how they live and eat. And you’ll soon not be able to imagine a life without food of all kinds. You develop your palate through taste, imagination, and remembering that mind-blowing sensation that comes right before you shout out loud, “Now I get it!”

In my recipe this week, I’m going to give you yet another amazing way to enjoy sardines … with a compound butter inspired by Chef McKee.

Check out the video, and then start exploring the beautiful world of true Italian bruschetta … the ones they make in Sicily, or Calabria, or Rome, or Florence. Take that trip in your mind.

Then you’ll see: This bruschetta recipe is fully inspired by Italy, flavor, health, love, and Chef McKee.

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Habanero Compound Butter

If you think habaneros are too spicypants (I am almost finished with the copyright on that word, so don’t even think about it), bust a move toward the Fresno chili, Serrano chili or the longtime friend of so many recipes, the jalapeno.

The habanero and the Fresnos will give this butter its sienna hue.

Procedure

  1. Line a EuroCAST skillet with a small piece of aluminum foil and place the dry peppers on the foil in the skillet.

  2. Broil under high heat until the skins turn brown.

  3. Turn every three minutes with a silicone-tipped spatula or tongs to get all the sides.

  4. Remove and allow to cool.

  5. When cool enough to handle, remove the stem end.

In your food processor add:

  • 2 sticks salted butter room temperature

  • Zest from one orange (you can use a grater — but I love using a vegetable peeler to get the zest and some of the skin which adds a little bit of bitter)

  • 2 habaneros and 1 jalepeno (or 5 Fresno chilis)

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 cup parsley, including stems

Now, the easy, fun part.

  1. Pulse until the peppers are minced and well incorporated

  2. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and pulse again

Store in a container with a tight fitting lid.

Think of the uses! Not just in this recipe suggestion (on a baguette with sardines and wilted greens), but in seafood, on pasta, smeared with paté on toast.

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Paul WardComment