Chef Michael Leviton got a boost in his culinary career from his mother, Roberta Leviton, herself a noted chef and author of the “Jewish Low-Cholesterol Cookbook.”
He's the chef and owner of the top-rated Lumiere in Newton, Mass., as well as the popular bakery-coffee house Area Four in Cambridge. In 2013 he started the A-4 Truck, which is Area Four’s mobile counterpart serving a rotating lineup of piadina, Italian flatbread sandwiches and baked goods.
Leviton is a seven-time James Beard Foundation nominee and was named a best new chef in America by Food and Wine magazine in 2000. Lumiere was awarded best new restaurant by Bon Appetite magazine in 1999 as well as best restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine in 2002.
He's also a leader among chefs committed to using locally grown ingredients and encouraging sustainable farming. In 2010 he was appointed as chair of the Chefs Collaborative, a national nonprofit network of chefs committed to local foods and fostering a sustainable food supply.
The chef visited "CBS This Morning: Saturday" and shared his ultimate dish, slow-roasted duck with gilfeather turnip puree, green olives, preserved lemons and parsley.
Slow-roasted duck with gilfeather turnip puree, green olives, preserved lemons and parsley
2 5-pound Long Island ducks
About 20 sprigs of thyme
About 10 sprigs of Italian parsley
1 head of garlic; separated into cloves, not peeled but excess skin removed
Wings, neck and gizzards (but not the livers) from trimming ducks
1/4 cup onion; coarsely chopped
1/4 cup carrot; coarsely chopped
1/4 cup celery; coarsely chopped
10 sprigs of thyme
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cut off the wing tips from the duck and reserve.
3. Remove the paper sack and the neck from the cavity of the birds. Cut open the sack and take out the contents (liver and gizzards) and set aside.
4. Cut off the fatty neck flaps and the edges around the cavity of the ducks. Poke the skin of the birds all over with a fork.
5. Place one half of the herbs and garlic into the cavity of each bird. Season the birds well with salt and freshly ground black pepper (inside the cavity too).
6. Set the birds on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour the chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting pan to keep any drippings from burning.
7. Roast for about 3 1/2 hours, turning the pan once halfway through the roasting. The ducks should be dark brown and rendered of just about all the fat. Let rest 20 minutes before carving. If you are going to serve the ducks later, allow the birds to cool completely. Then carve the breast and wing off of each side of the each duck and then remove the legs.
8. Do not throw out the stock and fat from the bottom of the roasting pan. Strain it through the finest strainer you have and then place it into a tall, thin container and place the container in an ice bath. When the fat has risen to the top and congealed, remove the fat cap, reserving a few tablespoons for the sauce. Save the stock for the sauce making process.
9. For the sauce: chop the wing tips and neck into 1-2 inch pieces.
10. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil and then the bones and cook (turning when each side is browned) until lightly browned on all sides. Pour off any excess fat.
11. Add the gizzards, vegetables and thyme and continue cooking until golden brown.
12. Add the chicken stock reserved from the roasting process, bring the sauce to a boil and cook until the liquid has reduced by about half. Strain.
13. Place the sauce in a clean pot and simmer until there is about 3/4 cup left or until you get to a not too thick sauce consistency. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and reserved duck fat if necessary. Keep warm.
14. To serve, heat two large frying pans with a 1/8-inch film of canola oil. Place the ducks skin side down in the pans. Cover and cook over low to medium heat until the skin is crisp and the meat is heated through about 7 minutes.
Gilfeather turnip puree
1 1/2 pounds gilfeather turnips; peeled and cut into one inch dice
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups water
Kosher or fine sea salt
1. Combine the turnips, water and cream in a medium stock pot. If the turnip is not fully covered by the liquid, add cream and water in equal amounts until covered.
2. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
3. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the turnips are very tender, about 45-60 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and drain, reserving the cooking liquid.
5. Puree the turnips in food processor as finely as possible and pass through a chinois or other fine strainer.
6. If the puree seems too stiff, add a little bit of the cooking liquid. Adjust the seasoning with salt.
Green olives, preserved lemons and parsley
1/2 cup pitted and coarsely chopped picholine olives
1 preserved lemon; rinsed, flesh and pith removed, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/3 coarsely chopped Italian parsley leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
1. Combine the first three ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix well.
2. Add enough olive oil to achieve a salsa-like consistency.
Shaved brussels sprouts salad with Tuscan kale, peppered hazelnuts, pecorino & lemon
1 pound brussels sprouts (outer layer of leaves and/or any discolored leaves discarded)
Kale (stems removed and discarded, leaves washed and dried)
1 cup peppered hazelnuts (coarsely chopped - recipe follows)
1 red onion (sliced paper thin)
3 ounces pecorino romano (shaved paper thin on a mandolin or by using a peeler)
1/4 cup lemon vinaigrette
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Starting at the top and working downwards toward the stem, finely slice, either with a very sharp knife or with a mandolin, the brussels sprouts – about 1/16 of an inch thick. Reserve.
2. Stack the kale leaves and slice crosswise about 1/16 of an inch thick. Reserve.
3. Combine all of the ingredients in a salad bowl, season well with salt and pepper, and mix well. Divide evenly among four plates and serve immediately.
1 cup toasted hazelnuts
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon simple syrup (2 parts sugar:1 part water)
1. Preheat the oven (convection is best) to 350 degrees, low fan. Place the nuts on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Cook for 5 minutes or until the nuts are very lightly toasted.
2. Turn the oven down to 250 degrees.
3. When the nuts are cool, toss with the remaining ingredients (make sure the simple syrup is room temperature or colder) and place on a lightly oiled parchment paper lined sheet pan. Return the nuts to the oven until the simple syrup is almost dry, about 5 minutes.
4. The nuts will feel a little soft and sticky when you remove them from the oven. Let them cool. They will harden and crisp up as they cool. If they don’t seem crispy enough return them to the oven for another few minutes.
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 ounce white wine vinegar
3 ounces lemon juice
8 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces canola oil
1. Combine the dijon, lemon juice and vinegar.
2. Mix well with a whisk; keep whisking while slowly adding the oils.
Whole roasted carrots with spiced yogurt and harissa vinaigrette
12 medium sized carrots (about 2 1/2); 3 ounces each, peeled and tops trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves
1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 – 3/4 cup coarsely chopped peppered pistachios (recipe follows)
1 cup spiced yogurt (recipe follows)
1/2 cup harissa vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Place the carrots in a mixing bowl. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and toss the carrots around a bit to make sure they are well coated. Season well with salt and pepper and toss again.
3. Place the carrots on a parchment paper or aluminum foil lined sheet pan and roast (turning them over every 10 minutes or so) until very tender – about 45 minutes.
4. Place 1/4 of the yogurt on each of four plates. Toss the carrots with 1/2 of the vinaigrette and place 3 carrots on each dollop of yogurt. Sprinkle the herbs and nuts over the carrots and then drizzle the remaining vinaigrette around.
1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin; freshly toasted and ground
1/4 teaspoon ground caraway; freshly toasted and ground
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Combine above and whisk, thinning with olive oil and water as needed to achieve a smooth, spreadable consistency.
3 1/2 oz ancho peppers; soaked and passed through tamis
3 1/2 oz guajillo peppers; soaked and passed through tamis
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons caraway seeds; toasted and ground
2 teaspoons coriander seeds; toasted and ground
1 red bell pepper; roasted
Extra virgin olive oil
1. Combine the above to make a paste.
2. Mix in 4 oz water, 2 oz extra virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 oz lemon juice, 1 oz Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
6 tablespoons harissa
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1. Combine harissa, lemon juice and both vinegars and mix well. Slowly whisk in the oils. Reserve.
Caramelized apple-cranberry crostata
1 pound granulated sugar
4 ounces dark brown sugar
2 1/2 cups apple cider
1 vanilla bean; split
1. In a heavy bottomed stainless steel sauce pot over low heat, lightly caramelize the granulated sugar. Carefully add the remaining ingredients, and raise the heat to medium.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat a bit and cook until the liquid reduces by one-half.
3. Remove from heat and reserve.
1 quart apples; peeled and cut into large dice
1 cup cranberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine the above ingredients with the cider syrup in an oven-proof dish.
3. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the apples are tender and the cranberries have popped.
4. Remove the dish from the oven and let the fruit cool slightly in the cooking liquid. Then drain the fruit, reserving both the fruits and the sauce.
5. Strain the sauce through a fine chinois, and if it doesn’t seem thick enough, reduce it a bit until it does.
8 oz cream cheese; cubed
8 oz butter; cubed
2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Caramelized apples and cranberries
2 egg yolks
The day before:
1. Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.
2. Combine the cream cheese, butter and vinegar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
3. Mix on low for about 30 seconds to just combine the butter, cream cheese and vinegar.
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until the dough just comes together. Remove the dough from the mixer, knead a few times and form into a ball.
5. Wrap very tightly in plastic wrap shape into a round, wrap and chill overnight.
6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
7. Mix the egg yolks with 1 teaspoon of water. You now have egg wash.
8. On a lightly floured surface roll chilled dough to 1/4 inch thick round.
9. Place the dough circle on a parchment paper lined sheet pan.
10. Pile the apple-cranberry mix into the center. Fold and crimp up the edge all the way around. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
11. Bake until golden brown and bubbly. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Maple sugar ice cream
3 cups cream
3 cups milk
300 grams maple sugar
2 grams salt
1. Bring the cream and milk to a boil with half of the sugar.
2. Let steep 1 hour.
3. Whip the yolks and the remaining sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture becomes a pale yellow and creamy. Temper in the cream-milk mixture and return to the stove.
4. Cook over a double boiler, stirring constantly, until about 180 degrees.
5. Strain, cool and freeze according to ice cream machine manufacturer’s directions.