It wasn't always a straight road to the kitchen for Marcus Paslay. During college, while he was working on his business degree, Paslay realized he wasn't happy. He left business school and soon enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America -- and the rest, as they say, is history. In 2013, he opened his own restaurant, Clay Pigeon, now a favorite of critics in Fort Worth.
Here are some of Paslay's signature recipes: Herb-crusted lamb, couscous salad with charred scallion vinaigrette, roasted beet and goat cheese salad, grilled asparagus and cashew cake.
▪ 2 racks of lamb
▪ ½ cup Italian parsley (finely chopped)
▪ ½ cup mint (finely chopped)
▪ ½ cup panko bread crumbs
▪ 4 tbsp. dijon mustard
▪ Salt & pepper to taste
1. Make sure the bones on the lamb rack are fully cleaned of any meat, sinew or fat.
2. Individually wrap each bone with a wet paper towel, then with foil.
3. Season the whole rack with salt and pepper and grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 115 degrees, then let rest for 5 minutes.
4. Put the panko bread crumbs into a food processor and process for 2 minutes or until very fine.
5. Add in the chopped parsley and mint and pulse until fully incorporated.
6. Using a pastry brush, brush the lamb rack with the Dijon mustard, then roll in the bread crumb mixture.
7. Slice the rack between each bone and serve.
Couscous & Squash Salad with Charred Scallion Vinaigrette
For the couscous salad:
▪ 2 cups dry Israeli couscous
▪ 2 ½ cups water (salted)
▪ 4 cups patty pan squash (cut into bite sized pieces)
▪ 2 cups cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
For the Charred Scallion vinaigrette:
▪ 20 scallions (cleaned & roots removed)
▪ 6 tbsp. tarragon (roughly chopped)
▪ 6 tbsp. Italian parsley (finely chopped)
▪ 4 tsp thyme (picked leaves)
▪ 4 cloves garlic (minced)
▪ ½ cup champagne vinegar
▪ 1 cup olive oil
▪ 4 lemons zested (micro plane)
▪ Salt and pepper to taste
Directions for the couscous:
1. Bring the salted water to a boil, then pour over the couscous in a mixing bowl large enough to hold both.
2. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes.
3. Season the squash with salt and sauté in a hot pan until ⅔ cooked, then set aside and allow to cool.
4. Combine the couscous with the squash and tomatoes.
Directions for the charred scallion vinaigrette:
1. On a grill (preferably wood burning), grill the scallions over high heat until soft and slightly charred in some areas, then rough chop scallions and let cool.
2. Combine all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, reserving the oil.
3. Whisk the oil into the mixture.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad
▪ 5 cups roasted beets, cut into bite sized wedges (see recipe below)
▪ 15 oz. goat cheese (whipped with 10 tsp of hot water)
▪ 5 bunches watercress
▪ 1¼ cup pine nuts (toasted and chopped)
▪ 10 tbsp white balsamic vinaigrette (see recipe below)
1) Smear the whipped goat cheese on the center of the plate.
2) Toss beets with a bit of vinaigrette using a separate bowl for each color beat. Then, place on top of the goat cheese.
3) In a separate bowl dress the watercress lightly with vinaigrette and place on top of beats.
4) Finally sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the top.
▪ 5 lbs. beets (washed very well)
▪ 2 quart water (room temp)
▪ ½ cup white wine vinegar
▪ 3 sprigs thyme
▪ 1 fresh bay leaf
▪ 1 tbsp. kosher salt
1. Combine all ingredients in an oven-safe container, then tightly cover with foil.
2. Roast in a 350 degree oven until the beets are fork tender (about an hour).
3. Once the beets are cooked, remove them from the liquid and let cool for 15 minutes then peel the skin off (while still warm but not too hot).
4. Use for roasted beet & goat cheese salad.
White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Yield: 1 pint
▪ ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
▪ 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
▪ 1 tbsp. shallot (minced)
▪ 1 cup blended oil
▪ ¼ cup parsley (finely chopped)
▪ 2 tsp. salt (kosher)
1) Combine all ingredients except the oil into a medium sized mixing bowl.
2) While vigorously whisking the mixture slowly add in the oil.
▪ 40 pieces Asparagus (medium size)
▪ 2 tsp. Vegetable oil
▪ 2 tsp. Kosher salt
▪ Parmigiano-Reggiano, as needed
1. Mix first three ingredients together making sure to only use enough oil to barely coat the asparagus.
2. Place on grill (preferably wood burning) and grill till ⅔ cooked. Rotate the asparagus often to avoid any heavy charring.
3. Once cooked, place asparagus on plate and using a vegetable peeler shave some parmesan cheese over the top.
About 12 Servings
Ingredients for the cake:
▪ 18 oz. sugar (granulated)
▪ 10 ½ oz. all-purpose flour
▪ 8 oz. cashews (roasted & chopped)
▪ 1 tbsp. baking soda
▪ 1 tsp. baking powder
▪ ½ tsp salt (kosher)
▪ 2 ½ cups buttermilk
▪ 5 oz. unsalted butter (melted)
▪ 5 eggs
▪ 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Ingredients for the frosting:
▪ 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
▪ 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
▪ ½ cup sour cream
▪ 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
▪ ¼ tsp salt (kosher)
▪ 3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
▪ 1 tbsp. or as needed whole milk (room temperature)
Ingredients for the garnish:
▪ Cashews (toasted & chopped), as needed
▪ Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
▪ Maldon salt (sea salt), as needed
Directions for the cake:
1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, and butter.
3. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir well.
4. Pulse the cashews in a food processor until the size of gravel.
5. Fold the cashews into the cake batter.
6. I prefer to bake in silicone muffin molds with straight sides. Pour about 4 fl oz. of batter into each mold or ⅔ way up the mold.
7. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Directions for the frosting:
1. In a double boiler melt together the chocolate, butter, vanilla & salt, making sure to mix well.
2. Transfer mixture to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk and slowly incorporate the sugar, sour cream and milk.
3. Once fully incorporated, run the mixer on high for about 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.
Directions for plating/garnish:
1. Smear the frosting over the top of the cake and place on plate.
2. Sprinkle some cashews and sea salt over the top.
3. Then, spoon a little bit of extra virgin olive oil over the cake and around the plate.