Chef Jason Vincent’s food career began at the local pizza joint as a 15-year-old in Cleveland. He’d go on to a more serious food education at the Culinary Institute of America and at top restaurants in Spain and New Orleans.
When he broke out on his own four years ago, he was named Food & Wine magazine’s best new chef. But then, at the height of his game, he stepped away to become a stay-at-home dad. Last summer he returned with a bang, opening Giant in Chicago.
Here are some of Vincent’s signature recipes:
Giant’s sweet and sour eggplant
Yield: 2 qts.
Large, heavy-bottomed pot for deep-frying
Wide heavy-bottomed pot for marinade
Thermometer that reads up to 400F
Non-reactive container to marinate
A gram scale that reads up to 1kg
A fry basket or spider to remove eggplant from hot oil
Japanese Eggplant, sliced 2” thick, 500g
Sweet yellow onion, sliced 2” thick, 160g
Plums, just ripe, halved with the pit removed, 250g
Garlic, sliced thick, 50g
Lemongrass, just the tender part, sliced thin, 7g
Ginger, minced, 27g
Scallion, green and white, sliced thick, 13g
Fresh thai chili, whole, in cheesecloth (don’t substitute dried), 11g
Gochujang, hot, 66g
Soybean paste, fermented with mushroom, 24g
Rice wine vinegar, 230g
Chinese hot mustard powder, 16g
Fish sauce, 14g
Sesame oil, 3g
Green coriander (or fresh cilantro leaf), 15g
Peanut oil for deep frying (substitute any canola or vegetable oil if you like)
1. In a wide, heavy bottomed pot heat a few tablespoons of the peanut oil until it is almost smoking.
2. Add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and scallion all at once.
3.Let it sizzle for a few seconds and then move it around briskly (so cheffy) with a wooden spoon. Don’t let it burn or else a puppy will die.
4. Add the soybean paste and gochujang and continue to not kill puppies.
5. Once it smells deep and caramelized add the rice vinegar, sugar, and hot mustard.
6. Whisk all of the ingredients together and add the sachet of the chili. Bring to a boil.
7. Turn down to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens noticeably.
8. Turn off and let rest.
9. Fill another pot 1⁄4 of the way with oil and heat to 350F.
10. In batches, being very careful not to boil over, fry the eggplant and onions until golden brown.
11. Remove them from the oil and place directly into the marinade.
12. Once all of the eggplant and onions are in the marinade, transfer to a non-reactive dish and let come to room temperature.
13. Add the fish sauce, tamari, sesame oil, and coriander/cilantro.
14. Remove the sachet of thai chili and give it a good squeeze to get all of the juice out of it.
15. In a small skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil and cook the plums, cut side down, until the are almost black. Cut them into a large dice and add to the eggplant.
16. Let sit for a few hours before serving.
17. If refrigerating, make sure to let it come to room temperature before serving.
2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1⁄4 pound butter
3⁄4 cup buttermilk
1. Whisk together dry ingredients
2. Cut in the butter
3. Add buttermilk to bring it together
4. Shape dough into ragged balls (ha!)
5. Roll out on a floured board 3⁄4” thick
6. Brush with melted butter and bake in 400F convection oven for 16 minutes
Rittenhouse rye 2 oz.
Lemon, one thick slice
Ginger, one thin slice
Mint, four large leafs
Demerara syrup (1:1 dem:hot water), 1/2 oz.
Lemon juice 1/2 oz.
1. Muddle together sliced lemon, ginger, 3 mint leafs, syrup
2. Add lemon juice and whiskey. Shake with ice.
3. Double strain over ice.
4. Garnish with mint and bitters.