Staib: Chef In A Time Machine

Philadelphia's historic City Tavern was once a favorite spot of George Washington and other Founding Fathers. Today, more than 200 years later, City Tavern is once again a popular restaurant, thanks to executive chef Walter Staib.

Staib, who aims to help his diners to "taste history" through his re-creation of 18th-century food and ambiance, is turning his attention to The Saturday Early Show Chef on a Shoestring, creating a meal for four on our budget of $40.

The City Tavern was built in 1773 and became the unofficial gathering spot for the First Continental Congress in the summer of 1774. The Tavern became a favorite spot for George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin and other Founding Fathers.

The Tavern was destroyed in a fire in the mid-1800s. Then, Congress commissioned the Tavern to be rebuilt in time for the country's Bicentennial.

Chef Staib came to the restaurant in 1994. Both the National Park Service and Chef Staib have made every effort to faithfully recreate the Tavern as it operated during the American Revolution. Diners eat with pewter-style flatware and goblets, and the staff is attired in Colonial garb. Chef Staib has won a number of awards for his work at City Tavern.

Here's his menu for Chef on a Shoestring: Char Siu Chicken Napoleon (page 2), Paupiettes of Brook Trout (page 3) and Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble (page 4)

Chef Staib fills a trout fillet with almond stuffing, and then shows us how to wrap it in a leek. He will then cook the fish in white wine, and show us how to tell when it's done. He finishes the fish with a simple sauce, and serves it with sauteed snap peas.


Char Siu Chicken Napoleon
Serves 4

2 pounds chicken thighs or legs
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon finely chopped lemon grass (white part only)
1/2 teaspoon ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Pinch red Thai pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup Char Siu sauce
2 large golden beets
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
(After using, reserve this oil to fry the leek garnish on the Stuffed Trout Paupiette.)
16 rice sticks
3 green onions, cut on a bias

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place the chicken thighs in a baking dish, sprinkle with salt, white pepper and half of the ginger. Place in the oven and bake, uncovered, until the skin becomes golden brown, about 15 minutes.
3. Cover and continue to bake for 10 minutes more until the juices run clear.
4. Remove from the oven and let cool enough to work with it.
5. Remove the skin and pull the meat off the bones in large pieces. Set aside until ready to use. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, lemon grass, ginger and Thai pepper. Bring to a boil slowly over low heat, stirring frequently. Cook until reduced by half.
6. Stir in the Char Siu sauce and cook 1-2 minutes longer to heat through. Stir in the pulled chicken, set aside and cover to keep warm.
7. Roast the beets in a 350 degree F oven for 40-45 minutes, or until they can be penetrated easily with a bamboo skewer. Remove from the oven and allow to chill.
8. Peel and cut into quarter-inch slices. Then, using a 2-inch cutter, cut out perfectly square slices from the center of each beet slice.
9. In a large skillet, heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Carefully fry the rice sticks in the oil until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. (Reserve the oil to fry the leek garnish on the Stuffed Trout Paupiette.)
10. Place one of the beet squares in the center of the plate.
11. Place 1-2 tablespoons of the Char Siu chicken on top of the beet square, then top with another beet square. Repeat on each plate until each plate has two layers of beets and one layer of Char Siu chicken.
12. Carefully penetrate the top beet layers in four places with a bamboo skewer. Then, insert the rice sticks so that they stand up to make a tall garnish.
13. Garnish with the green onion.

Paupiettes of Brook Trout
Serves 4

1 large leek, white part only, green parts reserved
Two whole brook trout
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
4 large button mushrooms, julienned
1 cup white wine
1 cup half & half (or whole milk, if desired)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt to taste
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
Fried Leek Garnish

1. Poach the white part of the leek in salted water until just firm enough to bend. Fillet the two trout into four fillets, removing all bones and skin.
2. Place the former skin side up and lightly score across with a sharp paring knife.
3. Take a quarter of the Almond Stuffing (recipe below), place in the center of the trout and roll tightly. Wrap the entire stuffed fillet in the white part of the leek.
4. Poach one long green part of the leek and use to tie around the leek package so that it stays together. Repeat until all four trout fillets have been prepared. Chill for 2 hours.
5. In a large sauté pan, cook the shallots in the 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat, just until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid has released and evaporated.
6. Deglaze with the white wine and add the trout. Cover and cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 7-10 minutes, until cooked through. Do not overcook. (You will know the trout is cooked through if you peel back the leek and see white specks on the trout.)
7. Remove the trout and keep warm in a covered baking dish or warm oven. Using your fingers, knead together the butter and flour to make a beurre manier.
8. Add the half & half to the pan, mix in the beurre manier a bit at a time until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Add the parsley to the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper.
9. Place the trout in the center of the plate and top with the sauce.
10. Top with the Fried Leek Garnish and serve immediately.

Almond Stuffing
Serves 4

1/2 medium French baguette (one to two days old)
1/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon butter
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dill
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 ounces slivered almonds, toasted

1. Slice the bread into 1/8-inch cubes and place in a mixing bowl.
2. In a medium sauté pan, heat the butter, add the shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the parsley and sauté one minute more. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. Add the eggs, yolks, cold shallot & parsley mixture, dill, nutmeg, salt, freshly ground black pepper and toasted slivered almonds to the bread.
4. Heat the white wine over low heat, then pour evenly over the bread, just until the bread is moist. You may not use all of the wine.
5. Combine thoroughly and let sit for 30 minutes before using.

Fried Leek Garnish
Serves 4

1 large leek, julienned (white part only)
Reserved 1/2 cup vegetable oil from rice sticks

1. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a small saucepan. Carefully add the leeks and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown.
2. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

Sautéed Snow Peas
Serves 4

1/4 pound snow peas
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt to taste
freshly ground white pepper to taste

1. Heat the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.
2. Add the snow peas and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until heated through.
3. Season with the salt and white pepper.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble
Makes 4 six-ounce ramekins

Ingredients For Filling:
1 pound rhubarb, cleaned and chopped
1 pint strawberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
Juice and zest of one lemon

Ingredients For Crumble Topping:
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the Filling: Peel the rhubarb and chop into quarter-inch pieces.
2. Remove the stems from the strawberries and slice into quarters.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the rhubarb and strawberries with the sugar, corn starch, lemon juice and lemon zest. Allow the mixture to macerate for at least 10 minutes.
4.Prepare the Crumble Topping: Slice the butter into quarter-inch cubes.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt on medium until combined.
6. Add the butter and mix well, until the texture becomes crumbly.
7. Evenly distribute the fruit mixture into the ramekins and top with the Crumble Topping.
8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden and the mixture starts to bubble through. Remove and cool on a wire rack.