By Cheryl Radkiewicz
Thousands of guests poured into the Sands Casino Event Center in Bethlehem for the recent 8th Annual Lehigh Valley Food and Wine Festival. The three day event opened with a cooking demonstration by Chef Emeril Lagasse and presentation of the awards for the Northampton Community College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management competition.
Winners of the event are given the opportunity to work alongside chefs, sommeliers and restaurant managers in three of Emeril’s restaurants in New Orleans, Emeril’s New Orleans, NOLA, and Emeril’s Delmonico.
The Grand Tasting afforded guests the opportunity to savor some of the specialty dishes featured by area restaurants. Those included: 187 Rue Principale, 904 West Restaurant and Lounge, Aunt Wendy’s Kiffles, The Bayou, Bell Hall, Broadway Social, Buddy V’s Ristorante, Carlo’s Bake Shop, Carnegie Deli, Centro, Chocolate Works, The Dime, Fiesta Ole’, Grain, Hampton Winds, Hellertown Bakery, Kingfish, Maxim’s 22, Mitzi’s Table, Paxos Restaurants, Queen City BBQ, Sette Luna, Sodexo, Steelworks, Spinnerstown Hotel, Villa Italian Kitchen, The Vineyard, Twisted Olive and Yianni’s Taverna.
In addition, Emeril’s Chop House featured a Loaded Potato with house-cured bacon powder, crisp shallots and cheddar crackers along with Chimichurri Marinated Arrow Prime Steak with crisp yucca and jalapeno. Emeril’s Fish House served a Miniature Blue Crabcake with cream corn, tomato jam and micro-greens and a Petit Banana Cream Tart with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and rum sauce. And, last, but certainly not least, Burgers and More by Emeril offered Crisp Buttermilk Chicken Slider with sundried tomato-balsamic jam, arugula, roasted peppers and mozzarella, and a Lamb Slider with goat cheese spread, cucumber, curry-mint aioli and micro watercress.
For his presentation, Emeril opted for two of his most popular dishes:
My Way Grouper Chowder:
2 1/2 lbs. grouper, monkfish, tilefish, monkfish, cut into 1″ pieces
1 Tbsp. Emeril’s Creole Seasoning or other Creole Seasoning
1 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. salt pork in 1/4″ dice
3 cups yellow onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 lbs. large russet potatoes (about 3 large), peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
2 1/2 quarts fish stock (recipe follows)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
NOTE: You can use any type of firm white fish fillets for this dish.
Season the grouper with the Creole seasoning, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. Heat the oil and salt pork in a large pot or cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the salt pork, stirring as needed, until crisped and its fat is rendered, 8-10 minutes.
Add the onions, celery and bell peppers and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and cayenne and cook 1 minute. Add the potatoes and stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15-20 minutes. Add the grouper and simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the parsley, season with salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the cream, if desired, and serve.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Bones and head (gills removed) from a 5- 5 1/2 lb. grouper or other firm white fish, rinsed
2 onions, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 head garlic, halved
1 cup dry white wine
3 quarts cold water
2 lemons, halved
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, including stems, coarsely chopped
8 bay leaves
1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 tsp. black peppercorns
Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the bones, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and water. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pot and add the rinds, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and peppercorns. Increase the heat to medium-high; when it begins to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool a bit.
Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into another container. Use the stock immediately, or let it cool and refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze for 3 months.
Spaghetti Carbonara with Fresh Duck Eggs:
4 large duck or chicken egg yolks, beaten (use highest quality, freshest eggs)
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1 Tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 lb. thickly sliced pancetta or guanciale
3 Tbsp. minced shallot
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked until al dente and drained, reserving 3/4 cup pasta water
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh peas, blanched 2-3 minutes, or frozen, thawed
In a large bowl, briskly whisk together the eggs, pepper, salt, cheese and parsley until well combined. Set aside.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta, stirring as needed, until crispy, about 6 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the cooked pasta, reserved pasta water, and peas, and toss well, coating the pasta fully with the hot fat. Cook, stirring to keep the pasta from sticking to the pan, until most of the water has evaporated, about 1 minute.
Add half of the pasta to the bowl and quickly toss it with the egg mixture. This will temper the egg yolks so they do not get scrambled from the heat of the pasta, but instead will end up evenly coating the strands of pasta. Working quickly, add the remaining pasta to the bowl and toss until everything is thoroughly combined.
Portion the pasta into warm shallow bowls and offer a pepper grinder and more grated cheese, if desired.