The Clever Root

Fall / Winter 2015

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1 8 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t THE COMBINATION OF DELICATESSEN AND ITS SIBLING MACBAR, situated in the groovy enclave of Nolita (read: "North of Little Italy") is a New York deli reconsidered, modernized, and minimalized for a constant crowd of social x-rays, fashion victims and terminal trendies—the population of the wildly hip cusp of SoHo and Tribeca in Lower Manhattan. It's where foodies go for a clambake made with Chinese sausage, for eggplant parmigiana with burrata cheese, and for slow cooked spareribs with hoecakes. And chef and partner Michael Ferraro says he couldn't do it, without his much loved 45-gallon steam jacket kettle. Merrill Shindler: How'd you start using the steam jacket kettle? Michael Ferraro: Back in the day when I was going to the CIA they had them. It was what you learned on. You work in a professional kitchen that has any amount of volume, and it makes life a lot easier. MS: But not all restaurants use them . . . MF: They're pretty expensive, $15,000 to $30,000 depending on the size. And space is always an issue in New York restaurant kitchens. We had to carve out an area inch by inch. Things get very tight. MS: So . . . a bro-mance with a steam jacket kettle? Is that strange? MF: It's so versatile. I use the steam kettle for large batches of sauces, soups, and reduc- tions. And because it's steam heat, you don't risk the chance of burning any of them. It's also a great tool for saving time, since you can allow stocks to slowly simmer over night, freeing the kettle for prep and production time the next morning. I also use the steam kettle for brining large proteins like turkeys, chickens, and racks of pork. MS: So, what doesn't it do? Aside from skateboarding . . . MF: Well, you can't use it to sear meats. It won't do anything that involves getting color into the food. It's exactly what the name says—a jacket of steam. But it will stew anything. You can even use it for sous-vide. It's an ancient form of cooking. As they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It's been around a long time. The electric panel is new, but otherwise, it hasn't changed that much. MS: How about something a little smaller? MF: Well, I am fond of the egg topper. MS: Seriously? MF: It's got a very specific use. It allows you to use an eggshell in many different ways. The topper removes the top part of the egg shell in a perfect circle allowing you to use the shell as a baked custard vessel, or my favorite: soft-scrambled eggs with caviar. MS: Anything a little less outré? MF: Well, for any chef, knives are the one thing we have to have. Good knives. Doesn't matter if we're cooking in an RV—we need good knives. I hate having to check them at the airport—some of my knives are irreplaceable. But that doesn't impress security. I also love my microplane. Not just for cheese or spices. I did away with my old school truffle slicer, because microplaned truffles look better and have more flavor. They spread over the palate more evenly. When working with truffles, you want to maximize the experience. Full Metal JACKET JACKET story by Merrill Shindler / illustrations by Diane Henschel ■cr TOOLS OF THE OF THE TRADE The Problem: Make stock and soups, brine, and stew with one piece of equipment The Solution: The steam jacket kettle The Problem Solver: Michael Ferraro, Chef/Partner, Delicatessen/Macbar, New York City 1 8 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t PHOTO: LIAM ALEXANDER

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