Syracuse Wild Turkey and Brook Trout Tartare

The idea for this recipe came to me last weekend, when I went hunting for wild turkey, and came home with three brook trout. The spring turkey hunt with Wayne was rather tricky this year: the gobblers didn’t gobble, and the ones we saw didn’t show much interest in our languorous hen calls. Having read an article in New York Game and Fish about trout fishing in Ninemile Creek, I decided to try my luck there while I was in the area. What I didn’t know is that Wayne happens to be friends with one Mike Kelly, who A) wrote the article I read, B) has been fishing Ninemile Creek for most of his life, and C) was generous enough to spend his Saturday afternoon showing me around with his friend Paul, despite having already hunted turkey and caught his limit of trout earlier the same day!

Hunting and Fishing - WIld Turkey and Trout Tartare

So, while I wasn’t completely successful in my little cast-and-blast trip, I thought it would still be interesting to create a Syracusan sportsman’s perfect May appetizer, a recipe that would highlight the delicate flavors of both trout and turkey, and at the same time showcase some spring produce.

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Berlin Restaurant Report: DDR-Restaurant Domklause

In addition to my New York restaurant reviews, I’d like to share with you my thoughts on random Eastern European restaurants I visit during my various trips. These posts may not always have the depth of my traditional reviews, so I won’t provide any ratings. I’m also unlikely to write about a place if it’s not noteworthy in some capacity.

Berlin - DDR-Restaurant Domklause

DDR-Restaurant Domklause is located next to the DDR Museum in Berlin (to clarify the acronym: DDR = Deutsche Demokratische Republik. / GDR = German Democratic Republic). This also happens to be the former block of the infamous Palasthotel, the hard-currency-only, Stasi-filled hotel where Party dignitaries once received their distinguished foreign guests. As a matter of fact, the current restaurant recreates the hotel’s original recipes from the glorious days of communism, when ersatz meat was king.

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Keuka Lake Fishing and Lake Trout Tartare

On a visit to the Finger Lakes last weekend, we spent a morning trout fishing on Keuka Lake with Fisherman John. When he’s not teaching freshwater angling and fly fishing at Cornell University, John is on the lakes nearly every other day all year long, and you can trust him to figure where and when the action is. We had a slow start, but around 10 am the bite picked up for about an hour, which was long enough for us to land 5 nice lakers, all between 18 and 24 inches!

Just like my Quick Seared Trout with Smoked Trout Rillettes, this tartare recipe is simple to make and emphasizes the flavor of the fish. If you want to experience ultimate piscine freshness, you can even mix all the ingredients, put them in a plastic container, take it on the fishing boat and mix in the chopped trout as soon as you catch it! If you prefer the comfort of your dining room, serve the dish with some oven-roasted potatoes and a glass of Keuka Lake Riesling, like this one from Bully Hill Vineyards.

Fennel dice
Yields 2 servings

1/2 oz butter
2 oz small-diced fennel

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the fennel, season with salt, cover and cook until soft, stirring regularly. Let cool and refrigerate.

Zucchini dice
Yields 2 servings

1/2 oz butter
2 oz small-diced baby zucchini
2 thyme sprigs, stems removed

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the zucchini and thyme, season with salt, cover and cook until soft, stirring regularly. Let cool and refrigerate.

Tomato dice
Yields about 2 servings

2 vine tomatoes
piment d’espelette

  • Mark an X into the bottom of each tomato with a knife, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds, then shock in ice water. Peel, cut into quarters and seed. Cut the flesh into small dice, measure exactly 2 oz and reserve the rest for another use. Season with salt and piment d’espelette and refrigerate.

Lake trout tartare
Yields 2 servings

10 oz skinless, boneless trout fillets
1 tbsp top-quality olive oil
black pepper, ground
2 tbsp lemon mayonnaise
2 half egg shells
2 tsp trout roe
fennel dice
zucchini dice
tomato dice

  • Chop the trout fillets into small dice. Mix with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Spoon the mayonnaise into the egg shells and top with the trout roe.
  • Arrange all the elements on the plates and serve immediately.

Veal Dubrovnik

This dish is inspired by a recipe called “Veal Escalops Dubronik Style” that I found in All Along the Danube, by Marina Polvay — someone who has managed to both present a food show called Cooking with Elegance and pen The Dracula Cookbook. Her veal recipe distinguishes itself by an unusual technique: after preparing a sort of mushroom risotto, Polvay purées it in a blender, mixes it with whipped cream and pipes it on top of veal cutlets. But even more interesting is the fact that nowhere else, in Croatian cookbooks or on the Internet, have I found any trace of this Veal Dubrovnik. Marina, if you ever read these lines, please enlighten us!

Anyway, this gave me an idea. Everybody knows about veal Milanese, Genoa cake, Wiener schnitzel, or paella Valenciana in Western Europe. The U.S. boast the Philly cheese steak sandwich, New York cheesecake, Chicago pizza, and Boston cream pie.

What does Eastern Europe have?

  • Chicken Kiev, a greasy mess that isn’t really from Kiev, or even Ukraine for that matter.
  • Hortobagy pancakes, a delicious dish that is unfortunately almost unheard of outside of Hungary.
  • Some preparations of “Prague this” and “Moscow that” that have never really made a name for themselves.

This is unfair, but you and I, my dear readers, can change this! Let’s spread the word that there’s a new dish from the Adriatic. Post adapted versions of the Veal Dubrovnik on recipe web sites. Whenever you eat in a Croatian restaurant, tell the owners you would like to see Veal Dubrovnik on the menu. Inform the Croatian National Tourist Board that their overview of local gastronomy is incomplete without a mention of Veal Dubrovnik!

My rendition of Veal Dubrovnik is a kind of elaborate tartare. It is best enjoyed with toasted bread or French fries. The osso bucco and the risotto cream can be prepared a day in advance. Have bottles of Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, olive oil and balsamic vinegar on hand to let your guests finish the tartare to their liking.

Veal osso bucco
Yields 4 servings (8 oz meat) + extra stock

1 3/4 lb veal shanks
black pepper, ground
olive oil
3 oz celery, large dice
6 oz carrot, large dice
6 oz onion, large dice
1 garlic clove, minced
4 thyme sprigs
1 clove
8 oz white wine
1 qt veal stock

  • Season the shanks with salt and pepper, and sauté with olive oil in a pot over high heat until brown on both sides. Reserve.
  • In the same pot, sauté the celery, carrot, onion and garlic with a bit more olive oil until soft. Add the thyme, clove and white wine, and cook until reduced by half. Add the veal stock and enough water to cover the meat and vegetables and bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and cook in a 200 F oven for about 3 hours, until the meat is very tender. Let cool for 30 minutes.
  • Take the shanks out of the cooking liquid. Remove the bones, reserve the meat and bone marrow in a plastic container, cover with cooking liquid and refrigerate.
  • Pass the remaining cooking liquid through a chinois and reserve.

Risotto cream
Yields 4 servings

7 oz osso bucco liquid
1 1/2 oz olive oil
1/2 oz Arborio rice
1/8 oz dried porcini
leaves from 1 thyme sprig
black pepper, ground
2 oz heavy cream

  • Reheat the osso bucco liquid and reserve.
  • Heat 1/3 of the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Add 1/3 of the osso bucco liquid with the dried porcini, thyme, pepper and salt, and cook over medium heat until the liquid is fully absorbed, stirring constantly. Add another 1/3 of the liquid and simmer over low heat until fully absorbed, still stirring regularly. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the risotto to a blender, add the heavy cream, the rest of the olive oil and the remaining osso bucco liquid, and process until smooth. Pass through a chinois, transfer to a plastic container and refrigerate.

Yields 4 servings

16 oz veal tenderloin
4 oz chipollini onions, brunoise
2 oz butter
6 oz cremini mushrooms, brunoise
black pepper, ground
2 oz parmesan
8 oz osso bucco meat and marrow with 1 tbsp liquid, room temperature
risotto cream, room temperature
4 egg yolks in half shells

  • Place the veal tenderloin in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onions with half of the butter, season with salt and cook until golden brown but still slightly crunchy. Reserve.
  • In another saucepan over medium heat, sauté the mushrooms in the rest of the butter, season with salt and pepper, and cook  until the rendered liquid is fully reduced. Reserve.
  • Finely grate the parmesan and reserve.
  • Chop the veal tenderloin into a fine brunoise and transfer to a bowl. Shred the osso bucco meat and marrow between your fingers and add into the bowl with 1 tbsp of osso bucco liquid, and mix well. Arrange the plates as pictured, with the tartare on a bed of risotto cream, topped with an egg yolk and surrounded with the garnishes. The dish should be cool but not too cold.