My Best Meal Ever

Alleia // Eric Pippert

Biscuits & Gravy with an Over-Easy Egg

My first memory of eating biscuits and gravy with an over-easy egg was in my early twenties at Corner Kitchen in Asheville, North Carolina. I worked as a line cook there for years, and on my days off, I’d come in to eat at the counter. Fellow line cook and friend, Mark Jamison, would cook my sausage biscuit breakfast and deliver the plate. He always pierced my yolk before I could get to it. It drove me mad at the time, but I laugh about it now.

It’s such a perfect meal. It satisfies all the senses. Nice, peppery sausage gravy on top of a fluffy biscuit with the added richness from a runny egg yolk… this dish requires a runny yolk.

1 lb. ground Mexican chorizo (no casing)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 qt. whole milk, room temperature or slightly warmed
2 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup loosely-packed chopped cilantro
4 farm-fresh eggs
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
Your favorite homemade biscuit recipe or frozen Pillsbury Southern Style Biscuits

Preheat oven for biscuits.

Cook chorizo in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, rendering fat, until broken up and crispy. Reduce to medium heat and sprinkle flour onto chorizo, stirring constantly, scraping up fond (brown bits) from the bottom of the pan.

Once you begin to smell the nuttiness from the flour cooking with the fat (your roux), begin adding the milk in 1/2 cup increments, whisking constantly. Once gravy is at desired consistency, bring to a low simmer, whisking frequently, for 20-30 minutes. Adjust liquid as needed, adding more milk if gravy becomes too thick. Finish by whisking in lime juice and folding in cilantro.

While gravy is simmering, bake biscuits. Remove from oven and brush with butter.

Crack eggs into four individual ramekins or cups. To cook eggs, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and swirl around in pan to coat. When the butter stops foaming, add eggs one at a time, cooking for one to two minutes before flipping and cooking to desired doneness.

Split biscuits on plates, top each with gravy, and transfer over-easy eggs to finish.

Photos by Lanewood Studio.

The Five Point Square // Mathew Callahan

Coconut Milk Curry

My first experience with this dish was during “family meal” back when I was a line cook at St. John’s Restaurant and Meeting Place. Back then, I worked with some of the most awesome guys I’ve ever been around. Everyone was skilled and talented – we didn’t have a weak link. Every Saturday, before we were too busy with prep, someone took a turn and cooked for everyone. Whenever Shane Stone cooked, he always made vegetables with coconut milk and curry over rice.

The Thai flavor combo conjures up feelings of nostalgia. Even if some of those memories were of Shane trying to light us on fire by pushing how hot he could make the meal. You could even say I learned how to truly cook and become a chef because of Daniel Lindley and the staff I shared this dish with. Now that I have my own restaurant, I took the flavors from those family meals and applied them to Southern comfort food. This is easily my favorite dish, and it’s because of all the good memories associated with those meals almost a decade ago.

Sauce

coconut milk
heavy cream
yellow curry
garlic
crushed red pepper
salt and white pepper
peeled and deveined shrimp
asparagus
carrots
red onions

Poach shrimp in coconut milk and curry sauce with vegetables. Pour over Riverview Farm Stone Ground Grits.

Grits

Riverview Farm Stone Ground Grits
white onion
half and half
water
salt and white pepper

Cook grits in boiling water and half and half. Add white onion and season with salt and pepper.

*Matthew uses ingredients to taste—use as little or as much of each as you’d like.

Photos by Rich Smith.

Stir // Scott Eiselstein

Chili Seared Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Barbecue Sauce

I’ve had a ton of amazing food – food is my passion, after all. But to single out one experience isn’t how my head works. The exposure to food from an early age and the way that I developed as a chef when I began cooking professionally taught me that the ingredient is the most important element. I try to make dishes that I remember from life’s experiences – like my mom pickling vegetables and canning fruits that she’d harvested from our garden. This dish is an example of that, and how I look at food overall.

Pork

1 8 oz. pork tenderloin
1 1/2 Tbsp. Sriracha seasoning
1/2 oz. canola oil

Drench pork tenderloin in Sriracha seasoning. Add canola oil to a medium hot skillet and place seasoned pork tenderloin into skillet to sear all sides. Place pork into oven and cook to desired temperature. Remove pork from skillet and let it rest a minimum of four minutes before slicing into four even medallions.

Sauce

7 oz. red onions, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 oz. canola oil
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
1/2 cup George Dickel
1 cup ketchup
28 oz. blackberries

In a heated saucepan, add red onions, sugar, and canola oil. On high heat, blister onions until they are almost burnt in appearance. Add thyme, rosemary, and George Dickel to set a flame. Continue to cook until fire has cooked out but some liquid still remains. Remove from heat. Add ketchup and blackberries. Using a hand blender, blend sauce until smooth.

Place sauce in the center of a plate, using back of a spoon to smear across the plate. Place pork across sauce and garnish with blackberries.

Photo by Med Dement.

Broad Street Grill // Adam Roe

Venison Meatloaf

Having grown up in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, my fondest memories are of outdoor activities with my family. Some of the best meals I can remember began long before we sat down at the table, with a day spent in the woods or at the lake hunting or fishing with my father. Over time the components of this dish have grown and evolved from the memorable home-style meals created by my mom into versatile dishes meant to incorporate different components of what was available seasonally. Some of the best meals are those that are created simply but with a great deal of love and care. This is one of them.

1/3 lb. Applewood smoked bacon
heavy cream
1 lb. ground venison
2 oz. onion, diced
2 oz. bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 oz. Worcestershire sauce
2 oz. ketchup
1 oz. Dijon mustard
1 oz. Sriracha
4 eggs
panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Dice bacon and blend in food a processor. Add heavy cream until mousse forms while processor is running.

In a mixer combine all ingredients with the exception of bread crumbs. When mixer is homogenous add bread crumbs with mixer on low speed until mixture begins to fall from the sides of the bowl.

Season to taste and roll mixture in parchment approximately three inches in diameter, crimping ends. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.

Photos by Rich Smith.

Bald Headed Bistro // Eric Fulkerson

Pork Belly Carbonara

I recently cooked dinner for family friends who were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. My parents, who live in Santa Barbara, California, were at the dinner and don’t get to eat my food often, as well as a gentleman named Pete Taylor who was my first inspiration to be a chef. It was important to me to make a great dish that was inspired by some of the very best meals throughout my life. Carbonara is a favorite of my mom’s and something she made often when I was growing up. Scorpion fish was added because my dad is a huge fresh seafood fan. I wanted to give them the very best of the two.

1/4 pound braised pork belly or guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl) or pancetta, cut into 1/3 inch cubes
6 large farm egg yolks (farm eggs give better color and richness)
1 pound bucatini
kosher salt
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
freshly ground black pepper

Put pork belly in a large skillet and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until fat renders but pork belly is not browned, about five minutes. Pour into a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl; reserve drippings.

Transfer pork belly to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Add egg yolks to bowl; whisk to blend. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.

To pork and egg mixture, immediately add bucatini, two tablespoons pasta cooking liquid, and one teaspoon guanciale drippings; toss to coat. Separate Pecorino into thirds. Working in three batches, gradually add Pecorino, stirring and tossing to melt between batches. Add white pepper (or one and a half to two teaspoons black pepper); toss until sauce thickens, adding more pasta water by the tablespoon if needed. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Divide among bowls and garnish with Pecorino.

Photos by Amy Kenyon Photography.

Hennen’s // Jay Henderson

Chicken Fricassee

This is a dish that permeates my childhood. This is the first meal I can remember that caused me to wonder, ‘how was that made?’. Being the youngest of three boys, it was nice to have something that my mother, who is an excellent cook, made that I loved and my brothers only slightly enjoyed. I knew it was the one meal that I had a shot at getting leftovers of. This, in my life, is the definition of comfort food.

2 airline chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. rice flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, medium dice
2 carrots, rough chopped
1 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
1 cup white wine
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. tarragon leaves
1 tsp. ground clove

Dust chicken with flour. Add a tablespoon of oil to a pan and brown chicken for around two minutes per side. Remove chicken and add remaining oil, onion, and carrots. Cook about five minutes until vegetables begin to get tender. Add garlic and cook two additional minutes. Return chicken to pan and add white wine and reduce by half. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil, and place in 350 degree oven, uncovered, for 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and place chicken on separate plate. Return pan to stove and add cream, egg yolk, tarragon, and ground clove, and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened (approximately four to five minutes). Plate with starch of your choice. I prefer a long grain rice, but you really can’t go wrong.

Photos by Lanewood Studio.

Shares