Hot Recipes From Hot Spots

Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck presents a tray of goodies at the 79th Academy Awards, Feb. 25, 2007.
Grilled Chicken With Tarragon Butter
From "Welcome to Michael's" by Michael McCarty (Little, Brown)
Serves 4

This dish was one of the most popular on our menu when we opened Michael's Santa Monica back in 1979. The tasty caramelized chicken breast, the hot tarragon butter, the mound of pommes frites, the crisp green watercress, and the side of Dijon mustard evoked fond memories of Parisian bistros.

4 skin-on boneless chicken legs with boneless thighs attached
4 skin-on boneless chicken breast halves with the wing bone attached
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pommes Frites (see below)
6 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 bunches watercress, tough stems removed

1. Preheat the grill.

2. Lightly season all chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Place the pieces on the grill, skin side down.

3. Grill the leg thigh pieces for 8 minutes, then turn and grill for an additional 8 minutes or until cooked through but still moist and pink near center. Grill the breasts for 5 minutes and then turn and grill for 2 minutes or until cooked through but still moist. Halfway through the grilling of the skin side, rotate the pieces about 90 degrees to create attractive crosshatch grill marks.

4. While the chicken is grilling, fry up the pommes frites.

5. Remove the chicken from the grill, place on a platter, and keep warm.

6. Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.

7. Add the tarragon and season lightly with salt and pepper.

8. Cook just until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

9. Place an equal portion of watercress in the center of each of 4 dinner plates.
Place a big mound of frites at the top of each plate. Place a chicken leg-thigh
and a breast at the bottom of each plate. Spoon some warm tarragon butter over the chicken on each plate and serve immediately with any remaining tarragon butter on the side.

Pommes Frites
From "Welcome to Michael's" by Michael McCarty (Little, Brown)
Serves 4

Believe this! I use frozen French fries to make my world-famous Michael's pommes frites. (Lamb's Supreme Mor-Fries is my brand of choice, but any good-quality shoestring cut will do.) I find frozen fries to be extraordinarily dependable for making crisp, golden deep-fried potatoes.

This is not to say that you can't make great fries from scratch, but you have to cut them, soak them, and then triple-fry them. There is one more secret to great pommes frites: I use a mixture of rendered beef suet and canola oil for frying. (You can use only canola oil if you prefer.)

Enough rendered beef suet and canola oil, in equal amounts, to fill a deep-fat fryer to a depth of at least 5 inches
2 pounds fine quality frozen French-fried potatoes
Sea Salt

1. Line a backing pan with a double layer of paper towel. Set aside

2. Place the suet and oil in a deep-fat fryer over high heat

3. Bring to 375 degrees F on an instant read thermometer

4. Working in batches, add the potatoes to the hot fat without crowding the pan. Fry for about 5 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

5. Transfer the potatoes to the paper towel-lined pan to drain excess fat. Continue frying until all of the potatoes are cooked.

6. If necessary, place clean paper towel on the baking pan to keep the potatoes from reabsorbing the oil. Sprinkle with sea salt just before serving.

Asian Steak Salad
Courtesy of Wolfgang Puck
Yield: Serves 4

1/2 cup (125 ml) white wine vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fine-shred orange marmalade
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup (125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Ginger Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup (125 ml) seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup (80 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Asian-style toasted sesame oil

Steak and Salad:
2 New York steaks, each 1/2 pound (250 g)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound (250 g) fresh shiitake or portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps cut into slices 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick
4 cups (1 l) mixed baby salad greens
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Make the Marinade: In a saucepan, stir together the vinegar, orange juice, marmalade, ginger, garlic, and a little salt. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the marmalade has dissolved and the liquid has reduced to 1/2 cup (125 ml), 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Stir in the olive oil.

Make the Ginger Vinaigrette: In a bowl, stir together the rice wine vinegar, shallot, ginger, and salt and pepper to taste. Stirring continuously, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and sesame oil. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary, with more salt and pepper. Set aside.

Brush the steaks generously on both sides with the marinade and leave them at room temperature while you preheat an outdoor or indoor grill or the broiler. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill or broil them at medium-high heat until done to your liking, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. When they are done, transfer them to a platter, cover with foil, and keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, put the greens in a salad bowl. Add any juices that have collected in the meat platter and toss the greens with enough of the vinaigrette to coat them lightly but thoroughly. Mound the salad greens in the center of four dinner plates. On a cutting board, use a sharp carving knife to cut the steaks diagonally into slices 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Fan the steak slices on top of the greens and top with the sautéed mushrooms. Garnish with chives and serve immediately, passing extra dressing on the side.