For the second episode of Cooking with Scott Cumpstone we we're both inspired by the Spring season, utilizing some vegetables from my garden down the street and incorporating all local ingredients from the freshest establishments in Philly. Scott put together a refreshing menu for those who are craving a BBQ without the grill.
" I have mixed feelings about Memorial Day weekend. Probably because a good portion of my memories consist of extremely long days in a sweltering, beach-town kitchen, followed by extremely late nights of one-too-many whiskeys. Running that restaurant in Avalon, NJ was hard, it was tiring, it was the kickoff to three months of very little time off, but it was certainly fun as hell. Now, a little bit older, maybe a little wiser, I’ve come to enjoy the peaceful time off during the holiday weekend. While I might not be cooking 120 covers in a 40 seat BYO, I still like to get the gang together and make some damn good food.
Memorial Day Weekend is considered by many to be opening day for Grilling Season. When you put food on the grill, those flavors, that smell, it simply feels like summer. However, sometimes you find yourself without the backyard BBQ. Fret not! Summer has not passed you by. All you need is a sauté pan and stove top, and you’ll be in good shape. Just make sure someone brings some whiskey and ice." - Scott Cumpstone
Protein and Eggs - Primal Supply
Bread - Lost Bread Co.
Vinegars - Keep Well
Grilled Asparagus just screams Memorial Day weekend to me. This dish is so flavor packed, and it hits all the notes of savory, fatty, acidic, salty, sweet, and heat. I started this dish by making chimichurri, which is a coarse blend (or fine chop) of green garlic, shallot, jalapeño, cilantro, parsley, and mint, whisked together with fresh squeezed lemon and olive oil. I cleaned the ends of beautiful green and purple asparagus, and coated it with the chimichurri. I then dropped the asparagus onto a smoking hot pan (preferably cast iron) and rotated until tender. While the Asparagus cooked, I whipped up a hollandaise made with smoked paprika butter and seasoned with cayenne and fresh squeeze lime (Just an FYI, I season EVERYTHING with salt, at every step of the process, so I’ll leave that out for the sake of avoiding redundancy). I finished the dish with red onions that were quick-pickled in Keep Well Viognier Vinegar and spooned some fresh churri on top of the asparagus. This is a home-run dish that will satisfy your vegetarian friends and even surprise the carnivores.
Potato Salad, Coleslaw, Macaroni Salad, basically anything with mayo and vinegar I will absolutely devour at a BBQ. As much as I love these staple side-dishes, by the time I stack up a plate and inhale them, my appetite is bust, and I find myself wallowing in an unyielding food coma, trying desperately to ingest another beer, overcome with self-loathe and regret, all the while, ignoring the reality that the main food hasn’t even left the grill. Luckily, there is another path to the promise land of side-dishes.
This is a really simple, easy-to-prepare item, and it’s all about the garnish. I composed the salad out of sliced cucumbers and shaved radish (picked from Brianna and Julian’s garden) and tossed them in an acidic dressing made of mirin, sesame oil, fresh lime, bitter-lemon vinegar, minced fresh ginger, and lots of chili oil. I finished the salad with cilantro, fresh mint, pea shoots, roasted peanuts, and toasted sesame seeds. Unbelievably fresh, and incredibly flavorful. A great dish that will keep you light, or at the very least, leave you room to pig out on the rest of the food.
This might be controversial, but I’m going to come out and say it..I’m not the biggest fan of the baked-potato. Don’t worry, I can already hear you screaming at me through your phone. Honestly, I think this dispassion originated from my days as a kid, eating some dried out, under seasoned, under buttered, baked potato that sadly sat on the top of the grill for about 3 hours. With-that-said, no Memorial Day meal is complete without some sort of hot potato side.
This is dish is an Italian play on Patatas Bravas. There are a lot of components to this one, but they all work quite harmoniously. I started by par-boiling some beautiful mixed potatoes, and while they cooked, I roasted some insanely good spicy Tuscan sausage from Primal Supply. Once the potatoes were boiled to just soft, I deep fried them so the outside was crispy yet leaving the inside is delicately fluffy. The sausage was sliced on a bias and tossed with the potatoes in a vinaigrette made of fresh thyme, dijon, lemon juice, and viognier vinegar (Side-note: potatoes pair really well with vinaigrettes. The acid cuts the starchiness of the spud, and although you’re still getting fat from the oil, it’s much more delicate than butter.) I finished the dish with a tried-and-true roasted garlic aioli, fried capers, picked Fresno Chili, and parsley. This is a potato dish that your friends will love, and hopefully, a substitute to the drab, tin-foiled wrapped baked potato that ruined your childhood.
If you want a dish in your pocket that will blow everyone the fuck away, this is it.
I’ve made a lot of good dishes in my life. I’ve also dreamed up my fair share of misses. Everyone once in a while, you just make something that is great. I liken it to a PB&J or a BLT, where the flavors marry together so perfectly, it almost feels like fate. The flavors of this dish come together so intimately, that you just feel happy and have the urge to eat more. So here it is...
The frontman of this dish was absolutely the steak.
I went down to Primal Supply’s new shop in Brewerytown where they were kind enough to butcher me up a skirt steak in the back. They informed me that this time of year is when the cows switch from hay to fresh grass, thus rendering a fattier and more tender beef. I marinated the steak over night in orange juice, soy, olive oil, and little viognier vinegar. Usually with a skirt steak you want an aggressive marinade to break down the tough flesh and fat, but this beef was tender enough that I was able to pull back on the astringents. Once the steak was ready to go, I brought up a ripping-hot cast iron and seared both sides, creating a caramelized crust from the sugars in the marinade. I removed the beef and added two slices of buttered Lost Bread Seedy Grain right into the pan which mopped up the fond and received a perfect toast.
Next I made the arugula salad was simply dressed with an emulsion of basil, grated fresh horseradish, lemon juice, and vegetable oil. I sliced the skirt steak, layered the side of the plate with with the salad, tore up some toast with my hands, and finished with red onion that was marinated in sorghum molasses vinegar. Crazy good.