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A Meal Worthy Of Philly's City Tavern

The Saturday Early Show chef Nov. 2 is from the City of Brotherly Love. Walter Staib is the executive chef at Philadelphia's historic City Tavern, and he has once again accepted the "Chef On A Shoestring" challenge.

The following is his $30 three-course meal for four: Chestnut Fritters;
Pan-Braised Pork Medallions With Chive And Red Pepper Spaetzle; and for dessert,
Bananas Appleton.

Terminology:

Demi-Glace (DEHM-ee glahs): A rich espagnole sauce, which is slowly cooked with beef stock and Madeira or sherry until it's reduced by half. The result is a thick glaze that coats a spoon. This intense mixture is used as a base for many other sauces.

Espagnole (ehs-pah-NYOHL) sauce: A rich, reduced brown stock containing herbs, tomato puree or fresh tomatoes and a mirepoix of browned vegetables, all thickened by brown roux.

Mirepoix (mihr-PWAH): A mixture of diced carrots, onions, celery, and herbs sauteed in butter. Sometimes ham or bacon is added. Mirepoix is used to season sauces, soups and stews, as well as for a bed on which to braise foods, usually meats or fish.

Roux (ROO): A mixture of flour and fat that, after being slowly cooked over low heat, is used to thicken mixtures such as soups and sauces. There are three classic roux -- white, blond, and brown. The color is determined by the length of time the mixture is cooked. Brown roux is fuller flavored. It can be made with butter, drippings, or pork or beef fat. It's cooked to a deep golden brown and used for rich, dark soups, and sauces.

Spaetzle (SHPEHT-sluh; SHPEHT-sehl): Literally translated from German as "little sparrow," it is a dish of tiny noodles or dumplings made with flour, eggs, water or milk, salt, and sometimes nutmeg. The spaetzle dough can be firm enough to be rolled and cut into slivers, or soft enough to be forced through a colander with large holes. The small pieces of dough are usually boiled before being tossed with butter or added to soups or other dishes.

Here are Chef Staib's recipes:

Chestnut Fritters
From the City Tavern Cookbook ©1999 by Walter Staib
Running Press Book Publishers, Philadelphia and London
Serves 4

Ingredients
3/4 pound raw chestnuts
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped by hand
6 ounces lean raw bacon, finely chopped*
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon five-spice powder (cinnamon, cloves, ginger, anise & nutmeg)
1 teaspoon City Tavern's 18th Century Herb Rub
2 tablespoons City Tavern's 18th Century Herb Sauce
12 slices thinly sliced lean raw bacon*
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped, for garnish
4 sprigs fresh watercress, for garnish
12 pieces star anise, for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, for garnish

*Note: total amount of bacon is 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds, depending on how thinly sliced

Method

  1. To bake the chestnuts, preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Using a small paring knife, penetrate the skin of both sides of each chestnut, first vertically, then horizontally, and bake for 35 minutes.
  3. When cooked, remove the chestnuts and peel while still warm. Let the chestnuts cool, then chop them finely by hand or in a food processor.
  4. To prepare the fritters: Place the butter in a small skillet and cook shallots over medium heat for 2 minutes, until golden brown. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cooked shallots, the chopped bacon, parsley, cilantro, five-spice powder, salt, pepper, Herb Rub and Herb Sauce.
  5. Add the chopped chestnuts and mix thoroughly.
  6. Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions.
  7. Cut each bacon slice in half and place on a work surface. Lay two bacon slices on top of one another so that they form a cross. Place one portion of the chestnut mixture in the center of the crossed bacon slices and fold each end over the middle.
  8. Flatten each fritter with the palm of your hand and place them on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 to 20 minutes.
  9. Place the fritters 1/4 inch apart in a large non-stick skillet and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes per side, until golden and crisp.
  10. Place on a rack on an oven proof baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 5 minutes.

To serve, arrange three fritters in a triangle shape in the center of the plate. Garnish with the watercress and star anise, top each fritter with a pinch of coarsely ground black pepper then sprinkle the plate with the chives.

Pan-Braised Pork Medallions
From the City Tavern Cookbook ©1999 by Walter Staib
Running Press Book Publishers, Philadelphia and London
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds pork loin, fat trimmed and silver skin removed
2 cups (8 ounces) dark beer (porter or stout)

1 teaspoon City Tavern's 18th Century Herb Rub
All-purpose flour, as needed
2 cups vegetable oil
1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into fine julienne
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium shallots, finely hand chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely hand chopped
1 bunch broccoli rabe, rinsed and cut into 3-inch pieces
2 sprigs fresh thyme (not hothouse)
1 1/2 cups demi-glace, or brown sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons City Tavern's 18th Century Herb Sauce
1 red bell pepper, finely diced, for garnish

Method

  1. Slice the pork loin into twelve 1/4-inch-thick medallions (about 2 ounces each).
  2. Place the pork in a large shallow dish and add 1 cup of the beer. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Remove the pork from the marinade; discard the marinade. Pat the pork dry with paper towels, then sprinkle generously with Herb Rub. Dredge pork in flour and shake off excess.
  4. In a large skillet, heat the butter over high heat until light brown, then add the pork medallions and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until brown. Remove the pork from the skillet. Reserve.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and cook until golden brown. Add the shallots and cook until wilted. Add the remaining 1 cup beer to deglaze the pan, loosening any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the demi-glace and thyme. Return the pork medallions to the pan and cook over high heat about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half.
  6. Add the clean broccoli rabe, cover and simmer over high heat for another 3 minutes. Add the Herb sauce and stir until combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  7. Prepare the sweet potatoes: Pour the oil into a deep-fat fryer or a heavy medium saucepan. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350°F. Carefully add the potato julienne to the heated oil and cook, until crispy. Using a slotted spoon or a french fry skimmer, remove the potatoes from the oil and place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  8. For plating, divide the broccoli rabe into four portions and place one portion in the center of each plate. Lay three pork medallions over the broccoli rabe; then place sweet potato julienne in the center on top of the pork medallions. Place three portions of the spaetzle around the outside of the pork medallions. Sprinkle spaetzle with diced red bell pepper.

Chive & Red Pepper Spaetzle
Adapted from the City Tavern Cookbook ©1999 by Walter Staib
Running Press Book Publishers, Philadelphia and London
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, finely ground in a spice grinder
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons butter

Method

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour and eggs. Slowly beat in the water, a little at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Beat about 3 minutes more, until the mixture becomes elastic. Add the chives, red pepper, salt and nutmeg.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water and the oil to a boil over high heat. Place the dough in a potato ricer or a colander with large holes and press the dough through into the boiling water with a wooden spoon. Cook until spaetzle are tender but firm, approximately 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Using a sieve with a handle, remove the spaetzle and shock in an ice bath to stop them from cooking longer. Drain well
  4. Heat butter in a medium saute pan, then add spaetzle and saute about 1-2 minutes to make hot.

Bananas Appleton
A recipe by Walter Staib
Serves 4

Ingredients
Bananas
6 bananas, cut on a bias
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
Juice of 1 1/2 oranges (the same oranges used for zesting)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ounces Appleton rum

Appleton Sabayon
8 egg yolks
4 tablespoons sugar
1 cup coffee, boiled to reduce to 1 1/2 tablespoons
3 ounces Appleton rum

Zest of 4 oranges
2 cups vegetable oil

4 long cinnamon sticks, for garnish

Method

  1. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan and dissolve the brown sugar in the butter. Add the juice of 1 1/2 oranges and the cinnamon and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the bananas and saute for about 1-2 minute to caramelize.
  3. Deglaze and flame pan with the rum. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. Make the sabayon: In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the egg yolks, Appleton rum, sugar and reduced coffee.
  5. Heat mixture in double boiler over medium heat (make sure the water in the bottom pan does not come to a boil), whisking constantly until thick in consistency.
  6. Fry the orange zest: Drop orange zest in the reserved hot oil and fry, stirring continuously, until golden brown.

Plating
  1. Mound the equivalent of 1 1/2 bananas in the center of a bowl and top with 1/4 of the butter/brown sugar sauce in the pan.
  2. Drizzle the sabayon over the bananas and top with the fried orange zest.
  3. Garnish with the cinnamon stick.

Here are versions of City Tavern's 18th Century Herb Rub and 18th Century Herb Sauce you can make at home. You can also order the Herb Rub and Herb Sauce from City Tavern's Web site.

Homemade Herb Rub

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons of salt
3/4 teaspoons of dried basil
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Reserve in an airtight container.

Homemade Herb Sauce

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons A-1 sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons tamarind sauce

Method:
Whisk together, place in an airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days.


Chef Walter Staib lives in Philadelphia. He is the first culinary ambassador to the city of Philadelphia. He took over the City Tavern in 1994.

City Tavern has been part of Philadelphia's history since the 18th century. It was styled after a London tavern. In 1777 it was the place George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams drank their first toasts to the new nation's birth.

The restaurant was demolished in the 1850s. The National Park Service decided to reconstruct it in time for our nation's Bicentennial. However, it did not make enough money to succeed as a restaurant. It closed 1992 and was vacant until Walter Staib obtained the restaurant lease and reopened it July 4, 1994. Chef Staib worked closely with the Park Sservice to maintain the accuracy of this historical restaurant. Diners eat with reproduction pewter-style flatware and goblets.

The staff is attired in Colonial garb and have been trained in the Tavern's history so they can answer guests' questions.