Inside the DBGB Kitchen with Chef Eli Collins
In the European tradition, aspiring chefs would learn their trade through apprenticeships. Even in this age of professional culinary schools, all ICE graduates fulfill this traditional on-site training as part of their graduation requirements.
Daniel Boulud's DBGB is just one of the Dinex Group restaurants where ICE Culinary Arts and Pastry & Baking Arts students serve as externs. Executive Chef Eli Collins represented the group at a recent cooking demo, featuring DBGB's "Espagnole" - a fresh chorizo sausage with piperade and basil oil.
Central to the creation of said sausage is Chef Charcutier Aurélien Dufour, who joined Collins for the live demo. Dufour manages the production of more than twenty signature sausages for DBGB alone, in addition to overseeing the entire charcuterie program for Chef Boulud's other New York locations. As Chef Dufour began to grind the pork shoulder and belly for the chorizo links, Collins explained that he chose the piperade because it was a traditional recipe, featuring simple ingredients, elevated by skill and technique.
While preparing the tomato concassé, for example, he described how different ways of cutting vegetable changes how they cook, affecting the taste of the finished dish. He also reflected on the importance of an apprenticeship, in that it provides the opportunity to perfect a technique or the flavors of a dish through repetition. For example, small details - like cooking tomato paste long enough to reduce its bitterness or gently puncturing sausage with a fine casing pricker - can determine the ultimate success or failure of even the most rustic dish.
As the room filled with the smells of sautéing midnight vegetables, Dufour deftly twisted the fresh sausage into links, with the metered regularity of a true craftsman. It was a pertinent demonstration of the skill one only gains through repetition, of the progression from apprentice to master. The finished piperade was, as promised, a comforting classic. But far from the simple home-cooking of France's Basque Country, it had transformed into a restaurant-worthy dish. Even under the unfamiliar time constraints (and the watchful eye of forty aspiring chefs), Chefs Eli and Aurélien produced a truly enviable plate.
- 2 Roma tomatoes
- 3 tbsp chorizo oil
- 5 piquillo peppers
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium red onions, cut in large dice
- 1 tbsp piment d'espelette
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 red bell peppers, peeled, seeded and cut in large dice
- 4 yellow bell peppers, peeled, seeded and cut in large dice
- 5 piquillo peppers, seeded and cut in large dice
- 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 tbsp chopped oregano
- salt and ground white pepper
- 6 fresh chorizo sausage links
- 1/4 cup basil oil
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat, and set a bowl of ice water on the side.
- Using a small knife, remove the stem of the tomatoes and score the ends. Boil tomatoes for 10 seconds, then chill in the ice water.
- Peel the tomatoes, cut in half, remove the seeds and cut the remaining flesh into a small dice.
- Warm the chorizo oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and gently sweat for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add espelette pepper and paprika and cook, stirring to toast, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, peppers and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, until softened.
- Stir in the sherry vinegar, basil, oregano and diced tomatoes, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
- To serve, grill or sear the sausages in a large saute pan until cooked through. Serve on top of warm piperade with drizzled basil oil for garnish.