A menu created by Chef Paquette is full of surprises. She understands the desire to impress guests and make their whole experience the best it can be. Each detail of the menu she has prepared does that and more, from the butter tasting to the cinnamon buttered almonds and raisins on top of the sopapilla.
Preparing the Butter Tasting
This popular dish is ordered nightly at Etch. Chef Paquette chooses to use Plugrá specifically for the flavor it adds and carries throughout the tasting. Butter works very well as a flavor carrier for spices and other ingredients, making this appetizer a great way to showcase Plugrá Butter.
For the Smoked Plugrá Butter, Chef Paquette recommends using Alder Wood Chips. These aren't too heavy and the natural sugars and sweet overtones work very well with the butter. The flavors that Chef Paquette matched with the butter don't overwhelm the flavor of the butter, they just enhance it. Use unsalted butter and just add a "titch" of salt to the dish to help bring out the richness and the fruitiness of the butter and the seasonings.
With all of the flavored butters, warm the Plugrá to room temperature before adding other ingredients and then chill before serving.
Preparing the Sriracha Honey Butter Rutabaga
This under-utilized vegetable can be found quietly sitting in the produce section with the other root vegetables. A cross between a turnip and a cabbage, rutabaga can be prepared in many different ways, but the addition of the Sriracha Chili Sauce in this variation makes this dish very trendy…and spicy.
When selecting a rutabaga, look for the ones that are 3-5 inches in diameter—the smaller they are, the sweeter they are. Make sure the rutabagas feel firm, smooth and heavy with no cracks or soft spots. You may also find them covered in a wax coating. This prevents moisture loss and gives them a longer shelf life. When you bring rutabaga home, store it in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator unwashed, where it will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.
Preparing the Duck Breast with Ginger Grits, Sweet Potato Guava Sauce
Most duck breasts come frozen so look in the freezer section of the supermarket. Buy boneless breasts with the skin on and make sure they are not smoked or precooked. Chef Paquette recommends 4-5 ounces of meat per guest. If you prefer, ordering online is also an option. If you're thinking of a replacement for the duck itself, use venison.
The duck recipe from Chef Paquette uses the stove for easy preparation. It allows you to take your time and focus on the technique and doneness of the duck. If you are feeling adventurous, try the duck on the grill, but be careful of flare ups from the duck fat.
In many situations substitutions are just fine, but when preparing the pear butter be sure to stick with Bartlett pears. These pears will break apart and disintegrate into the butter mixture. With other pears, you'll need to add an extra emulsion step.
This dish has many layers. You can prepare your sauces and butters the day before and leave the duck and grits for the day of the dinner.
Preparing the Potato Brioche Sopapilla with Brown Butter Goat Milk Ice Cream
Chef Paquette only uses Plugrá for the ice cream because of its high butterfat content. She feels the flavor it adds and how it browns is un-matched by any other butter. Goat's milk is another ingredient that is critical to this dish. Chef Paquette prefers goat's milk for the ice cream because of its flavor.
She is also a believer in quality. Research ingredients and recipes before you start so you know that you are getting the best. If you buy an inferior product, your end product will reflect that. You want people to leave your dinner party asking for the recipe, so find the ingredients that enhance your product and make you look good!
Additional tip from Chef Paquette
Always have a "Plan B." If you run into challenges finding certain ingredients be flexible. Either be willing to try something else or know a different way to get the ones you want whether online, a local specialty shop or maybe the town next to yours.
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