In In the Kitchen with..., Restaurant on February 21, 2013 at 8:02 pm
We snuck in through the back entrance of The Painted Burro, since the front of the restaurant was under construction due to the impending expansion of the bar into the former Spike’s space. There, chef Danny Bua was eager to greet us and welcome us to into his kitchen. Chef Bua talks quickly and passionately, excited about his ingredients and the food he prepares, he can’t wait to share with us the secret behind his ever popular Yucatan Meatloaf.
Originally from East Boston and born into an Italian family, chef Bua worked at the famed Mistral for years before settling in as executive chef at one of Somerville’s hottest restaurants. The kitchen is glistening and Bua’s sous chefs work diligently on their prep list for the day. The three of us are tucked away at the far end of the kitchen, stock simmering and the smell of onions and garlic work their magic on the neighboring burners. Chef Bua explains the ingredients and process behind the meatloaf, with more than a few aces up his sleeve that you’d never expect but we promised not to share. He buzzes around the kitchen, balancing a lively conversation with us as he whips together the mise en place with ease, describing some of the choices he made with the meatloaf and the process behind all things chipotle in adobo, chorizo and pickled jalapenos. We go on to discuss the differences between authentic Mexican food and just plain-old good food, and while Chef Bua would never make the claim of serving up legit authentic Mexican, he is proud of the great food he is putting out at The Painted Burro, as he should be. Just as our conversation starts to wrap up, Chef Bua presents us with the Yucatan Meatloaf. Tall in stature and resting atop a thick slab of Texas Toast and a brick-red pool of house made mole, the whole dish is topped off by two fried eggs and a delicate strand of cilantro. Spicy, beefy and downright satisfying, we can see why this is a popular item on the menu.
We stopped at The Painted Burro on one of our food crawls not long ago, and we instantly fell in love with the fun vibe, decor and food while snacking away on a few bites from the bar. If you haven’t been here yet be sure to do so for either some killer cocktails and bites from the bar or more of a substantial meal in the dining room.
In At Home on January 29, 2013 at 7:34 pm
Lately we seem to be getting the random urge to cook things out of nowhere. It used to be that we’d study our nerdy notebooks filled with things we wanted to try, study it and think about if for days before letting loose. I’ve had the urge to make Charceuterie for a while but never got around to it and knew I wanted to do it myself especially with all the harm fast food can cause. Maybe it was inspiration from Katz’s or I was just “in the mood” sort to speak, but after trying my hand at homemade Corned Beef, I knew I wanted to venture out a little further. Corned Beef and Pastrami are essentially the same thing with a few minor tweaks. Both are brined for a few days (so plan ahead) with similar ingredients, but the Pastrami is ultimately smoked then braised, whereas the corned beef is only braised until tender. We have an indoor smoker, which is a fantastic tool that we like to use for smoking salt, vanilla beans, potatoes and everything in between. The pastrami fit snugly in the smoker before we put it to the heat in a combination of Alder and Hickory woods. After an hour or so of our apartment starting to smell like a campfire (in the best way possible) it took a bath in water and more pickling spices for a couple of hours until it was barely tender. We let it sit in the braising liquid all week and happily sliced, diced and chopped the pastrami in every which way imaginable, finding its way into simple dinners, egg-based breakfast dishes and late night cravings with friends. Of course we had plenty of rye bread and spicy mustard at the ready too, you know, just in case.
In In the Kitchen with..., Restaurant on January 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm
Chef Carolyn Johnson
It’s always most interesting to hear the paths that people to take to get to the kitchen. Some know from the start and head right to Culinary School or to gain experience in a kitchen, others simply fall into it either through family or just naturally, and yet others start out on a very different path before winding up on the line. Carolyn Johnson belongs to the latter of the three, graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in Economics before eventually discovering her passion for food and the kitchen. “I don’t like to make fussy food” she says as she gracefully moves around the open kitchen, “no tweezers in my kitchen” she jokes, “My style is a bit more rustic”.
Prepping the Lamb Belly
Sauteed Spinach and Butter Beans waiting to be plated
The Skinny Beet made the prep list!
Carolyn built an impressive background before taking on the Executive Chef position at 80 Thoreau, working at such famous spots as Icarus (formerly located in the South End) and Arrows in Ogunquit, ME before spending seven years at Rialto. “I never got bored because it just seemed as soon as I felt I had gotten the hang of something, there was something new to learn” she says of her lengthy stay at Jody Adams’ famed Harvard Square restaurant. Now she runs the show, and what most impressed us was the versatility and ease in which she prepares her dishes. Forget nose-to-tail, Chef Johnson takes it further than anyone we’ve encountered, literally using every component of produce, seafood and the like in every way possible.