Fire in My Belly
Fire in My Belly
by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim
Photographs by Angie Mosier
Contact: Emily Farris
“Cooking is figuring out the great qualities of any food and making those qualities shine.”
That’s the inspiring message of Fire in My Belly by Top Chef Fan Favorite Kevin Gillespie. Fire in My Belly celebrates good ingredients with more than 120 hip, accessible recipes presented with 350 images in a distinctive design by renowned photographer Angie Mosier. This book taps into our national obsession with knowing where our food comes from, and it helps us eat better. Kevin’s Southern charm, passion, and funny stories guide you through one-of-a-kind chapters, such as “Foods You Thought You Hated,” “When I Want to Eat Healthy,” “My Version of Southern Food,” “World Classics Revisited,” and “Junk Food.” You’ll find recipes ranging from bacon jam to sage-battered mushrooms with cheddar fonduta, and from closed-on-Sunday chicken sandwich to peach melba Foster jubilee. This is not a chef’s book filled with difficult dishes served at Kevin’s restaurant. Only a few of those recipes make cameos throughout the book. Instead, Kevin fills an entire year with seasonal recipes specifically for today’s home cook. He also pulls back the curtain to reveal the home life that inspired him to cook for a living, to show you a few crazy things he’s done over the years, and to share his insights into truly satisfying food. Fire in My Belly encourages you to have fun in the kitchen and gives you fresh ideas for what to do with farmers’ market ingredients, while providing a backstage pass to the life of a rising culinary star.
About the Authors
Chef Kevin Gillespie’s true passion lies in incorporating fresh, organic, and sustainable ingredients into all of his dishes. He is a Georgia native who worked at several top Atlanta restaurants after culinary school before finding a true connection to Woodfire Grill, where he became executive chef in 2008. Gillespie soon earned a spot on Bravo’s sixth season of Top Chef, winning Fan Favorite, and was one of the final three cheftestants. Since 2010, Gillespie has been named a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year three years in a row, nominated for Food & Wine’s People’s Best New Chef, and named one of Forbes’s 30 Under 30 for his outstanding accomplishments in the restaurant industry. Outside the restaurant, Gillespie can be found participating in culinary events around the country and donating his time to organizations such as the Southern Foodways Alliance and Georgia Organics. Click here for a list of Kevin’s upcoming appearance dates. www.chefkevingillespie.com
David Joachim has authored, edited, or collaborated on more than thirty-five cookbooks, including the multi award-winner The Science of Good Food and the IACP award-winning The Food Substitutions Bible. His book Mastering the Grill, coauthored with Andrew Schloss, was a New York Times best-seller, and his A Man, a Can series of books has sold more than one million copies. He collaborated with James Beard–award winning chef Marc Vetri on two cookbooks, Rustic Italian Food and Il Viaggio di Vetri, and his writing and recipes have appeared in national publications such as USA Today, Men’s Health, Cooking Light, Cook’s Illustrated, Fine Cooking, and Bicycling. He is the cofounder of Chef Salt, a line of artisanal salt seasonings, and his favorite cooking tool is a leaf blower.
Cast-Iron Skillet Chicken with Farro and Brussels Sprouts
Feeds 4 Hungry Folks
Semi-pearled farro, preferably Anson Mills
a generous pound, about 32 golf ball-size sprouts
2, about 4 pounds each
Salt and ground black pepper
3 cloves, shaved on a mandoline
2 cups, warm, preferably homemade
Tahini sauce (recipe follows)
about 1/4 cup
1. Preheat the oven to 500°F.
2. Soak the farro in the water for 30 minutes. Drain off the water and rinse the grains with cold water. Put the farro in a 2-quart saucepan and add enough fresh cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then cut the heat down to low, cover, and simmer until tender yet still chewy, about 20 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid and spread the farro on a baking sheet to cool. You should end up with about 2 cups of cooked farro.
3. Meanwhile, peel off the outer green leaves of the Brussels sprouts until you have 4 cups. Reserve the inner heads for another use.
4. Cut up the chickens into leg-thigh and breast-wing portions with the skin still attached. For each leg-thigh portion, bend the leg away from the body, cut down to the joint, then bend the joint to break it. Cut between the ball and socket, then down around the carcass to remove the entire leg-thigh portion. For each breast-wing portion, cut down along one side of the breastbone, then run the knife along the contour of the rib cage and around the wishbone to begin removing the breast from the body. When you get to the joint connecting the wing to the body, grab both wing and breast together and cut through the wing joint to remove breast and wing in one piece. Score the meat around the next wing joint closest to the breast, cutting down to bone and scraping with the knife so the bone is fairly clean. Bend the joint to break it and remove the wing. The resulting boneless breast with the first wing bone attached and exposed is called an airline breast. It looks nicer than the boneless breast by itself, and the wing bone helps keep the meat moist during cooking.
5. Cut off any excess flaps of skin and pat the chicken very dry with a paper towel. Generously season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat two large cast-iron skillets over medium heat. Add enough grapeseed oil to coat the bottom of each pan. Put the chicken legs in one pan, skin side down, and put the breasts in the other pan, also skin side down. Crank the heat up to medium-high and cook until the skin is nicely browned, about 4 minutes. No need to peek; just let the chicken cook undisturbed. When the skin is browned, it will release easily from the pan and the meat will start to pull away from the bone. Turn the leg-thigh portions and cook for 1 more minute skin side up, but let the breasts cook skin side down the entire time.
6. Place both skillets in the oven and roast for 5 minutes. Carefully pull out the pan with the legs, turn the legs skin side down once again, and return to the oven for 3 more minutes. The breasts will still be skin side down, remember; they do not get turned at all. After a total of 8 minutes, carefully pull both skillets from the oven, transfer the chicken to a large plate, and tent with foil to keep warm.
7. Using mitts, carefully pour out and discard the accumulated fat from the pans. Heat one pan over high heat until smokin’ hot. Add the cooled farro to the pan, spreading to evenly cover the bottom (save any leftover farro for another use; it makes a great salad). Again with the mitts, grab the handle and shake and toss the farro so it heats through evenly. After about 3 minutes, the farro will begin to caramelize and puff. Add the Brussels sprout leaves and stir nonstop for 1 minute. Add the garlic and warm chicken stock, then shake and toss the mixture for 2 more minutes, until almost all of the liquid is gone. The farro will absorb the stock and release its starch to thicken the remaining liquid, creating a creamy mixture.
8. Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and any accumulated chicken juices from the plate. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed; with all that lemon juice in the farro, the dish screams for salt to balance it out.
9. To serve, drizzle a circle of tahini sauce in the center of the plate, and top with a scoop of farro and a chicken breast and leg.
Makes about 1 cup
1 clove, mashed to a paste, about 1 teaspoon
about 1/3 cup
a drop, if needed
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the tahini, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, the garlic, and salt until the mixture is very thick or “tightened.” It will get so thick that you’ll have trouble stirring it. Keep stirring; your arm will get tired, but keep stirring for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in just enough water—2 to 3 tablespoons—to bring the tahini back to its original spoonable consistency. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth. When you taste the sauce, you should detect a dry bitterness with a touch of acidity. If the sauce tastes flat or overly bitter, add a little salt and just a drop of honey. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Tahini note: You can find tahini, or ground sesame paste, in most grocery stores these days; but the quality varies wildly. Some brands taste mild and nutty; others taste nasty and bitter. When adding lemon juice and salt, let your taste buds guide you. You want to add just enough to balance out any bitterness. Or look for Lebanese tahini, which is consistently less bitter than tahini from other origins.
Warm Banana Pudding
My great-grandmother on my mother’s side always hosted Thanksgiving when I was a kid. It was a family reunion with 70 to 100 people at her house in Fayetteville, Georgia. There was always banana pudding. But there was only one big baking dish of it, and it was hidden somewhere in the house. When it was announced that it was time to look for the banana pudding, whoever found it got the first bowlful. There was never enough for everybody. When I was about eight years old, watching TV in my uncle’s basement apartment downstairs, I opened the cupboard to get a water glass and saw the banana pudding. I climbed on the counter and pulled it down. This was hours before the main meal. I knew it was well before the time to hunt for the pudding, but I did the only thing an eight-year-old could do. I ate the whole damn thing! This was the first time I ever tasted the banana pudding because I was way down the family totem pole. My mom and I were joking about this incident a few years ago, and I asked her, “Who has the recipe?” She said it died with my great-grandmother. But the dish was pretty clear in my head after eating the whole thing that one time. The pound cake. The vanilla pudding from scratch. The meringue. I added a couple of things: I toast the pound cake so it doesn’t absorb as much pudding. And I brush brewed coffee over the cake because I love coffee and bananas together. Otherwise, this is built from my flavor memory of my great-grandmother’s banana pudding. My mom tells me it’s spot-on.
Feeds About 12 Folks
1 1/2 teaspoons
2 1/2 cups
All-purpose f lour
6 tablespoons, cut into chunks
1 store-bought loaf, about 12 ounces
Strong brewed coffee
about 1/2 cup
8 to 9 very ripe ones, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins
Cream of tartar
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a large saucepan, combine the half-and-half, milk, vanilla bean and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla extract and heat over medium-high heat until bubbles start forming around the edges of the pan, about 4 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat. Fish out the vanilla bean and use a paring knife to scrape the vanilla beans and pulp from the pod into the milk mixture. Discard the pod.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the whites using the three-bowl method: one small bowl to separate the eggs over, one large bowl for the yolks, and a third bowl to collect all of the whites. Crack one egg at a time, straining the white into the small separating bowl and placing the yolk in the yolk bowl. If the yolk did not break, transfer the white to the white collection bowl. This method ensures that no broken yolk gets into the main batch of whites. If you break a yolk, you’ll only lose 1 white instead of the whole batch. For meringue, it’s imperative to have whites with absolutely no yolk at all or the whites won’t whip up properly.
4. Add 2 cups of the sugar to the yolks and whisk until very thick and light yellow, about 1 minute. Pour the flour into a strainer over the yolk bowl and shake the flour into the yolks. Whisk the flour and salt into the egg yolks until smooth. Slowly whisk 3/4 cup of the milk mixture into the yolk mixture to gradually warm the eggs so they won’t scramble; this is called tempering. Whisk all the yolk mixture into the milk mixture and return the pan to medium heat. Cook the mixture until it thickens, about 8 minutes, stirring nonstop. There will be some lumps, which is fine. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, until it’s all incorporated. Blend the pudding with an immersion blender for 1 minute. Press the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any remaining lumps.
5. Slice the pound cake 1/4 inch thick and arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until they are lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Flip the slices and toast again until lightly browned, about 4 minutes more. Remove the toasted cake from the oven and brush both sides with the coffee.
6. Spoon about 11/2 cups of the pudding into the bottom of a 2-quart deep casserole dish. Layer the pound cake and bananas on top of the pudding and repeat the process, ending with a layer of pudding.
7. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cream of tartar to combine. Whip the egg whites in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until they are thick and frothy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar mixture to the egg whites. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat until the mixture holds soft peaks when the whisk is lifted.
8. Mound the meringue on top of the pudding and spread to completely cover and seal at the edges. Using the back of a spoon, swirl the meringue into peaks. Bake until the peaks are browned, about 5 minutes. The top should be brown while the center of the meringue stays soft and creamy. Let the dish cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm.
These Recipes may be reproduced with the following credit:
Recipes from Fire in My Belly by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim. Photographs by Angie Mosier. (Andrews McMeel; October 2012; $40.00/Hardcover: ISBN-13: 978-1449411435). http://www.andrewsmcmeel.com/.