Chef Scott Conant is one of the best known chefs in America. He is the vision behind the famed Scarpetta restaurant, which opened in New York City in 2008, and has outposts in Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Toronto.
Conant was born in Waterbury, Conn., and attended vocational school. His first choice of studies, plumbing, was taken, so he studied culinary arts.
His list of awards is almost as long as his list of restaurants and his third cookbook, "The Scarpetta Cookbook," features 125 of the restaurant's signature dishes.
Conant is also a judge on the Food Network’s competition show “Chopped.”
Conant visited "CBS This Morning: Saturday" and shared his ultimate dish, molasses and balsamic-glazed slow-roasted pork.
The below recipe is reprinted with permission from the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, from "The Scarpetta Cookbook" by Scott Conant.
Molasses and balsamic-glazed slow-roasted pork
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, quartered
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup chicken reduction (recipe attached)
1 cup unsulfured molasses
2 tablespoons dry mustard
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 (5-bone) pork loin roast, about 4 pounds, preferably
Berkshire pork, chine bones removed
2 small sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1. Heat just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and 1 sprig of the thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes to develop the flavors.
2. Add the vinegar, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook until reduced to about 1/2 cup, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken reduction and continue to cook until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Stir in the molasses, mustard, and crushed red pepper.
3. Heat a convection oven to 500 degrees or a conventional oven to 525 degrees. (If you have a second oven, heat it to 250 degrees for convection and 275 degrees for conventional.)
4. Set the pork on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. If the pork has its fat cap on, lightly score the fat using just the weight (no additional pressure) of a very sharp knife. Season the pork lightly all over with salt. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the molasses mixture for serving and coat the roast with the rest. Let stand for 30 minutes, occasionally brushing the molasses that runs off the meat back over it.
5. Roast the pork in the 500 degree oven (525 degrees conventional oven) for 10 minutes.
6. If you do not have a second oven heating, reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees (275 degrees for a conventional oven).
7. Take the pork out of the oven and carefully add water to the bottom of the pan to keep the meat moist as it continues to cook. Top the roast with the remaining 4 sprigs of thyme, the rosemary, and the garlic slices, and season again lightly with salt. If you have a second oven already heated, put the pork in there. If not, allow the oven temperature to reduce for 10 minutes before returning the roasts to the oven.
8. Continue cooking, basting the meat occasionally and adding a little more water as needed, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast registers 145 degrees, about 2 hours. Remove the pork from the oven and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before serving.
9. Serve the pork as either bone-in chops or boneless slices. For the latter, cut the entire loin away from the bones in one piece, and then slice across the grain. Brush the chops or slices with the additional reserved molasses mixture and serve.
3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, halved and gently seeded
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more if needed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
At least five hours ahead and up to five days before serving:
1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. Toss the tomatoes with enough olive oil to coat them liberally (about 1/4 cup) and lay them cut-side down on a sided baking sheet.
3. Sprinkle the oregano, rosemary, and sugar over them and season lightly with salt and pepper.
4. Cook the tomatoes until they are quite concentrated with a very deep red color; this will take 3 1/2 to 4 hours. You are not trying to dry the tomatoes completely; they should look quite dry on the outside but should retain some moisture within.
5. Cool at room temperature, peel away the loose skins, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
1 large or 2 small bulbs fennel, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1. Heat a convection oven to 375 degrees or a conventional oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice the fennel vertically through the core to get 4 slices, each 1/2 inch thick. (Reserve any remaining fennel for another use.)
3. In a roasting pan or baking dish just large enough to hold the fennel in a single layer, drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle the crushed red pepper over the bottom. Lay the fennel planks in the pan and season lightly with salt.
4. Add 1/4 cup water, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and bake until tender, about 30 minutes. (The fennel can be braised 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
5. Caramelize as directed in the black cod recipe on page 187, or simply reheat in a low oven.
3/4 cup finely sliced bacon
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups Creamy Polenta (recipe follows), at room temperature or cold
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1. Line a shallow baking dish or rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or plastic wrap. In a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat, cook the bacon until it starts to brown.
2. Add the shallots and thyme and cook until the shallots are well browned, about 10 minutes.
3. Remove the thyme sprig, season with salt, and transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix in the polenta, panko, flour, egg yolks, chives, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
4. Transfer to the baking dish and spread 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for 2 hours. (The polenta can be made up to 2 days ahead; keep it covered and refrigerated.)
5. When ready to use, cut the polenta into 2-inch squares.
4 cups heavy cream
4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup coarse polenta
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. In a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the cream and milk until warm, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the salt and keep whisking until the liquid is very frothy (like a cappuccino) and hot. While still whisking, slowly rain the polenta into the pot.
2. Continue to whisk until the granules swell, about 8 minutes. At this point, switch to a wooden spoon to stir the polenta. (It will get too thick for the whisk.)
3. Keep stirring until the polenta has begun to thicken, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until it evenly begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until cooked through and the liquid has reduced about 1 1/2 hours. The polenta might look “done” sooner, but it does continue to soften, so be patient. During this time, a skin might form on the bottom of the pan, which is fine.
4. Just before serving, raise the heat to medium-high, stir in the butter and the cheese, and cook, stirring, until the butter is melted, then take the pot off the heat. If the polenta looks thin, don’t worry, as it will thicken as it cools.
Hazelnut and brown butter cake
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
4 ounces hazelnuts
3/4 cup (3 ounces) all-purpose flour
3 cups (12 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup egg whites (from about 8 large eggs)
1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, and continue to cook it until it turns brown and smells quite nutty, being careful not to let it burn, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool almost to room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, heat a convection oven to 325 degrees or a conventional oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of a 10-inch round cake pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap the hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub them together vigorously to remove most of the skins. (It’s fine if some is left on.)
3. Chop about 1/4 cup of the nuts finely. Grind the rest of the toasted nuts in a food processor until finely ground.
4. Sift the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt together into a large bowl. Add the ground nuts and whisk to combine. Add the egg whites and whisk them together well with the dry ingredients. Slowly add the melted butter, whisking constantly until it is completely incorporated and no butter is floating on top of the mixture.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the reserved chopped nuts. Bake until the cake feels solid but still gives slightly when touched, 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a serving plate.
Scott’s spiced Gianduja hot chocolate
For the spices
1 tablespoon whole Szechuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 teaspoon crumbled whole cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
5 whole star anise
1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
For the hot chocolate
6 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces dark chocolate, preferably Valrhona 70%, chopped
1/2 cup gianduja paste (see Note)
2/3 cup Frangelico
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1. For the spices: Combine all but the salt in a medium sauté pan and toast over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool, then grind with the salt in a spice grinder. (The spices will keep, tightly covered, for several weeks.)
2. For the hot chocolate: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, cocoa powder, brown sugar, and vanilla extract, and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar.
3. Meanwhile, put the chocolate, gianduja paste, Frangelico, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spices in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream over and let sit for 3 minutes to melt the chocolate, then whisk everything together until silky smooth. Transfer the hot chocolate to a clean saucepan and heat gently over low heat.
4. To serve: Whisk the heavy cream and sugar together until medium-soft peaks form. Using an immersion blender, froth the hot chocolate. Ladle it into mugs and serve topped with the whipped cream.