COUTURE CUISINE

 

Cozy, charming La Chasse has a new chef in the kitchen and exciting new culinary creations on the menu. Nancy Miller shares a taste of Kristina Dyer’s delicious and daring new direction.

Kristina Dyer isn’t a new name on the Louisville food scene. She has worked at Café Metro, Le Relais, Seviche, Butchertown Grocery and other high-profile restaurants around town. Now the executive chef at La Chasse, she’s taking on her most formidable challenge yet, and she’s loving it.

“I like the creative freedom I have at La Chasse and I enjoy the fast pace,” she says. “There’s nothing better than introducing people to foods they may not be familiar with. Not everyone is an adventurous eater, but if you can turn them on to something like sweetbreads, that’s awesome.”

If she hadn’t jumped on the chef track, she probably would have become a teacher. Her inner educator still flourishes as she patiently takes time to explain to her kitchen staff her vision for a particular dish and the intricacies of preparing it and taking it to another level.

She believes that kind of relationship is essential to a successful kitchen. “The restaurant business has moved past the time where it was acceptable for a chef to yell or throw things, and when owners were crazy,” she says. “Here, there’s no slamming or cussing or temper tantrums. I have a very polite kitchen staff and Isaac Fox is the nicest owner. At many restaurants, there’s a stark distinction between the front and back of the house. Here it all flows really well. We say please and thank you and we’ve built an environment that isn’t hostile. It’s very family-esque.”

In her new role, she’s veering slightly away from La Chasse’s initial concept of Southern French/Spanish fusion, although distinctly French options such as cassoulet remain. To coordinate and complement her menu in relation to Fox’s seasonal craft cocktails, she cocoons in her living room, with six notepads, a laptop and cats by her side. From that behind-the-scenes planning comes dishes such as lamb Porterhouse with curried cauliflower and fingerling potatoes, duck confit and waffles, and ricotta gnocchi. She rarely has time to eat an entire dinner before service begins, but given the chance, she might opt for the scallops with curried lentils with butternut squash, cucumber-garlic labneh and lemongrass beurre blanc.

As a young child, she learned a lot about cooking from her grandmother, who was a stickler about the timing of meals. Lunch was served at noon, dinner promptly at five o’clock. “I remember helping her make ebelskivers in a cast-iron skillet. They’re almost like donut holes but are the consistency of pancakes. I thought it was so much fun pouring the batter in the skillet and cooking them into little balls. We would also take trips to an Asian market where everyone knew and loved her. Then we would go home and make pork fried rice in an electric wok,” says Dyer. “Those are great memories.”

Will pork fried rice and ebelskivers appear on her La Chasse menu? Maybe not, but a Country Pork Chop with Red Eye Gravy is a menu star. Lucky for us, she’s sharing it with TOPS readers.


Inside the Scoop - Kristina Dyer

Who is your culinary idol?

I have the utmost respect for Anthony Bourdain. His death was such a loss to the culinary community.

What’s the craziest request you’ve ever had from a diner?

Someone had recently undergone surgery and asked us to blend their steak. (It wasn’t at La Chasse.) We did little tasting cups of blended steak, vegetables and mashed potatoes.

Most of us can only wish to cook like a professional chef. Are there any cookbooks you can recommend to help us?

I enjoy On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. I like The Escoffier Cookbook because I like Old School Techniques. And the Culinary Bible is great.

You must have seen some disasters in the kitchens where you’ve worked. Want to tell us about one?

I once worked for a chef who, in the middle of the rush, dropped a whole sheet tray of short ribs. The kitchen went silent. He just walked out of the kitchen and left the restaurant. I said, “Let’s keep trucking.” He came back in 15 or 20 minutes.

What’s your idea of the perfect feast, if you didn’t have to prepare it?

I love tapas…a table full of different types of hummus, some dates, charcuterie…a huge spread of little bites. I get bored eating one plate of the same thing.

Do you cook much at home?

No. I’m single. Cooking for one isn’t fun. But if my mom comes over or my sister is in town, I’m the first one in the kitchen. On my day off, I’m tidying up the apartment, being lazy, watching television and opening the door to the pizza delivery.


Featured Recipe: Country Pork Chop with Redeye Gravy

Pork Chop

Vegetable or canola oil

6 14oz bone-in pork chops

Salt and pepper to taste

Korean chili flakes to taste

Preheat oven to 450°. Preferably in a cast iron skillet, heat the oil. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Sear chops on both sides until they are golden brown. Place them on a baking sheet. Bake until the desired temperature is reached (145°-150° for medium rare, 150°-155° for medium, 155°-160° for medium-well, 160° for well-done.) To serve: Place the grits on a plate. Top with a pork chop, redeye gravy, agrodolce and Korean chili flakes.

 

Fontina Jalapeño Weisenberger Grits

4 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup Weisenberger grits

½ red bell pepper, diced

½ jalapeño, brunoised

4 scallions, thinly sliced

½ cup Parmesan cheese

½ cup fontina cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, bring milk and cream to the point right before simmering. Whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low, continually stirring grits so they don’t scorch. When mixture reaches the consistency of slightly thickened oatmeal, add peppers and scallions. Remove from heat. Whisk in cheese, salt and pepper.

 

Mornay Sauce

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pinch of nutmeg

1 ½ cups heavy cream

Salt and pepper

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a small sauce pot, melt the butter. Whisk in flour and cook until a blond roux forms. Whisk in cream slowly to form a bechamel. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for three to four minutes. Remove from heat. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in cheese until it is completely melted. Set aside.

 

Redeye Gravy

½ medium yellow onion, julienned

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

4 ounces country ham, sliced and chopped

3 tablespoons espresso liqueur

4 ounces coffee

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup Mornay

Tabasco to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepot over low to medium-heat, sauté onion and garlic in oil until caramelization begins. Add ham; cook two to three minutes. Deglaze with espresso liqueur; reduce by half. Add coffee and brown sugar; bring to a boil. Add cream; return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Whisk in Mornay. Cook over medium-low heat until gravy thickness is achieved, stirring often as to not scorch the bottom. Add Tabasco, salt and pepper.

 

Agrodolce

1 Granny Smith apple, small, diced

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

¼ cup dried cherries

¼ cup butter-toasted hazelnuts

1 cup sherry vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Crushed red pepper to taste

In a small sauté pan, sauté the apple the oil. Add cherries and hazelnuts. Cook for two to three minutes. In a small skillet, combine sherry vinegar and brown sugar. Reduce by two-thirds. Deglaze the cherries and hazelnuts with four tablespoons of the cherry reduction. Reduce by half. Add butter and cook for one minute. Seasoned with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.


Posted on 2019-02-05 by Photos by Danny Alexander
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