Chef Evan Rich on his culinary inspirations, signature recipes

The Dish: Chef Evan Rich

Evan Rich is a chef whose start in the food business was truly an accident. Rich had just started to drive when he wrecked his parent's car and was forced to get a job as a dishwasher to pay down the damages. That led to other restaurant jobs, a degree from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, and a career as an executive chef.

Then came the time to create a place of his own. With his wife Sarah, he opened San Francisco's Rich Table and then followed it up with "RT Rotisserie" which has a second location opening this spring. A few months ago they published their "Rich Table" cookbook. 

Here are some of Rich's signature recipes: 

Grilled New York strip steaks with green bean chimichurri and fried shallots

Ingredients

For steak

4 boneless New York strip steaks, each about 12 oz [335 g] (ask for a hefty fat cap) 
Salt 
Freshly ground black pepper 
Vegetable oil 
Fleur de sel, for finishing 

For green bean chimichurri and fried shallots:

1/4 cup [40 g] finely chopped shallots, plus
1 shallot, peeled
1/4 cup [60 ml] champagne vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tsp espelette pepper
1 cup [40 g] minced fresh cilantro
1 cup [130 g] thinly sliced green beans
1 cup [240 ml] extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup [20 g] minced fresh parsley
Salt
1 cup [90 g] thinly sliced shallots
1/4 cup [35 g] Wondra flour
2 cups [480 ml] vegetable oil, for frying
Salt 

Directions

• Before cooking, prepare any sauces and toppings that need more than 45 minutes to make (see the recipes that follow). At least 30 minutes before cooking, remove the steaks from the refrigerator, season generously with salt and pepper, and let them sit at room temperature. In this time, you can set up a grill or cast-iron skillet for high-heat cooking and make any quick toppings. Once your cooking surface is smoking hot, clean it and rub with a little vegetable oil. Place the steaks down and cook, flipping frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes or until medium-rare (125°F [52°C]). Transfer to a cooling rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to seal in all the juices. Top each steak with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and serve with your choice from the toppings that follow.
• To make the chimichurri: In a small bowl, combine the chopped shallots and vinegar. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the shallots and the vinegar separately.
• Using a mortar and pestle, pound the peeled shallot, garlic, and espelette pepper to form a paste. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the reserved shallots, cilantro, green beans, olive oil, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and the reserved vinegar. The sauce should be high in acid but bright and balanced. Once the vinegar is added to the sauce, it should be used within 2 hours. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, finely chop the whole shallot and garlic and then use the back of a knife to press and scrape them together into a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the espelette pepper.
• Smashing them ensures that you are getting lots of surface area to crisp up when you fry them. The potatoes can be cooked and smashed up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
• To make the fried shallots: In a medium bowl, toss the thinly sliced shallots with the Wondra flour. Shake off the excess flour and transfer to a plate. Be careful not to let the shallots clump up.
• In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil to 350°F [180°C]. Add the shallots and fry, stirring constantly to keep them separated, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel- lined plate. Season with salt. Slice each rested steak into bite-size pieces across the grain and place on four serving plates. Generously cover the steaks with the chimichurri and a nice handful of fried shallots. Serve immediately. 

Spaghetti with peas, lime, goat cheese and duck fat

Ingredients

2 lb [900 g] English peas, in the shell (see Note)
1/2 yellow onion, peeled
12 cups [2.9 L] water
8 oz [225 g] goat cheese
1/4 cup [60 ml] whole milk
3 Tbsp [8 g] thinly sliced mint leaves
3 Tbsp [45 ml] lime juice, plus the zest of 1 lime
2 Tbsp [30 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
8 oz [225 g] pea shoots, tough stems removed, or baby spinach leaves
12 oz [335 g] dried spaghetti
1/4 cup [55 g] duck fat 

Directions

• Shell the peas and place the shells in a large pot. Reserve the peas. (You should have about 2 cups [320 g] peas.)
• Add the onion half and 12 cups [2.9 L] water to the pot with the pea shells. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
• Remove the pot from the heat and let the stock cool to room temperature. Strain and discard the solids. Measure out 1 cup [240 ml] of the stock. Refrigerate or freeze the remaining stock for another use, such as vegetable soup.
• Meanwhile, in a food processor, process 6 oz [170 g] (about 3/4 cup) of the goat cheese with the milk until smooth and fluffy, about 30 seconds.
• Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Place the peas in a fine-mesh strainer and set the strainer in the boiling water. Blanch the peas until crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the strainer and rinse the peas under cold water until cool. Set aside 12/3 cups [265 g] of the peas for serving.
• Keep the salted water hot. In a medium bowl, coarsely mash the remaining 1/3 cup [55 g] peas with a potato masher. Mix in 1 Tbsp [3 g] of the mint, 1 Tbsp [15 ml] of the lime juice, half of the lime zest, and 1 Tbsp [15 ml] of the olive oil. Season with salt and set aside for serving.
• Remove any curly tendrils or small leaves from the pea shoots and set aside for garnish.
• Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp [15 ml] olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pea shoots and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and tender, 1 to 3 minutes. Season with salt. Transfer to a cutting board, coarsely chop, and set aside. Wipe out the skillet.
• Return the pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until not quite al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain immediately.
• Melt the duck fat in the now-clean skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cooked pasta, the reserved blanched peas, and the wilted pea shoots. Toss to coat in the fat, and then add 1/2 cup of the pea stock. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until a creamy sauce has formed around the pasta. Add additional stock as needed to make the sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp [5 g] mint and remaining 2 Tbsp [30 ml] lime juice. Season with salt.
• Divide the goat cheese mousse among four shallow serving bowls. Divide the pasta among the bowls, placing it on top of the goat cheese mousse. Crumble the remaining 2 oz [55 g] goat cheese in and around the pasta. Add a large scoop of the mashed pea mixture on top of the pasta. Garnish with the remaining lime zest and any reserved pea tendrils. Serve immediately.

Richilini with green garlic, squash blossoms, and mozzarella

Ingredients

2 small yellow summer squash
1 Tbsp [15 ml] plus 1/3 cup [80 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup [20 g] thinly sliced green garlic
1/2 cup [120 ml] water
20 fresh squash blossoms, about 6 oz [165 g]
Salt
Fresh pasta dough, cut into Richilini (RECIPE FOLLOWS)
8 oz [225 g] fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces 

Directions

• Trim the squash and slice in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds from the center of the squash. Thinly slice the squash into half-moons.
• Heat 1 Tbsp [15 ml] of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the green garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the squash and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent but not brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the water, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the water has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.
• Transfer the squash mixture to a blender. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/3 cup [80 ml] olive oil. Continue to blend until emulsified, 15 to 30 seconds. Blend in four of the squash blossoms until smooth, 45 to 60 seconds. Season with salt.
• Pull the petals off of each of the remaining squash blossoms and tear each into three to four pieces.

• Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, 20 to 30 seconds. Drain immediately, reserving 1 cup [240 ml] of the pasta cooking water.
• In a large skillet, heat the squash sauce over medium-high heat until bubbling. Add the pasta and 1/2 cup [120 ml] of the pasta cooking water. Cook, stirring constantly, until a creamy sauce has formed around the pasta.

Pasta dough ingredients

1 1/2 cups [210 g] all-purpose flour
12 large egg yolks

Directions

• 1 In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour and egg yolks on medium speed until the dough comes together into a ball that is moist but not sticky, about 5 minutes. (If there are still stray bits of flour in the bowl at this point, turn off the mixer and knead the dough by hand, still in the bowl, for a minute to encourage the flour to incorporate.) Raise the speed to medium-high and continue to knead until the dough is shiny and elastic, about 5 more minutes. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
• Divide the rested dough into four pieces. Cover three pieces with plastic wrap. Roll one piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/4 in [6 mm] thick. Roll the rectangle through the thickest setting of the pasta machine, leading with a short side. Place the dough on the counter, with the long side facing you. Fold the rolled dough up like a letter: Fold the right side of the dough over, a little past the center. Fold the left side over to slightly overlap the right edge. Roll the dough through the thickest setting of the machine again. Repeat the folding and rolling through the thickest setting once more.
• Now reduce the thickness of the pasta machine by one setting, and roll the dough through the machine again. Continue to roll the dough through the machine, reducing the thickness each time. Dust the dough lightly with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Stop after running the dough through the third-to-last setting, unless you're making lasagna, which you'll roll to the second to last setting. The dough should be about the thickness of two postcards, or 1/32 in [0.75 mm] thick.
• Now you're ready to cut the dough into any pasta shape you please.

• To store shaped pasta, freeze the shaped pasta on a baking sheet until fully frozen. Transfer the frozen pasta to a zipper-lock bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 weeks. Cook the frozen pasta directly from the freezer.
• To make Richilini: Lay the stack of dough sheets on the counter with the short end facing you. Use a fluted pastry cutter to cut the dough into strips about 1/4 in [6 mm] wide. If you don't have a fluted pastry cutter, you can substitute tagliatelle in recipes calling for Richilini.

Toss the pasta in a little flour and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining sheets of dough. Let the pasta rest on the baking sheet, uncovered, until ready to cook.

Porcini doughnuts with raclette dipping sauce

Ingredients

Doughnuts
1 1/2 cups [360 ml] water
2 1/2 tsp [8 g] active dry yeast
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 2/3 cups [510 g] all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
6 to 8 cups [1.4 to 1.9 L] vegetable oil, for frying
Umami Seasoning
2/3 cup [20 g] dried porcini mushrooms
2 Tbsp [22 g] shiitake mushroom soup seasoning (see Note)
1/2 tsp sugar
Raclette Sauce
2 Tbsp [30 g] unsalted butter
3 Tbsp [30 g] all-purpose flour
2 cups [480 ml] whole milk
2 cups [190 g] grated raclette cheese
2 1/4 tsp salt 

Directions

• To make the doughnut batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the water and yeast. Whisk in the eggs. Add the flour and salt and, using your hands, mix gently until just combined. The dough will be very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 1 hour.
• Meanwhile, prepare the umami seasoning: In a spice grinder, grind the mushrooms to a fine powder, in small batches if necessary. Sift the powder into a small bowl, discarding any large, hard pieces. In the spice grinder, combine the mushroom soup seasoning and sugar and grind to a fine powder. Transfer to the bowl with the mushroom powder and stir to combine. Set aside.
• After the batter has been rising for 45 minutes, pour the oil to a depth of about 2 in [5 cm] in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot. Place the pot over medium-high heat and begin heating to 350°F [180°C]. Preheat the oven to 250°F [120°C]. Place a cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet and place the sheet in the oven.
• While the oil heats, prepare the raclette sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is foamy, whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture just begins to lighten in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking frequently, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes.
• Turn the heat to low and stir in a small handful of the cheese. Once the cheese melts and is fully incorporated, add another handful, repeating until all of the cheese is added and the sauce is thick and creamy. Stir in the salt. Keep warm over low heat.
• To fry the doughnuts: When the oil reaches 350°F [180°C], fry the doughnuts. Using two small spoons, scoop and scrape five spoonfuls of batter measuring about 2 Tbsp [30 g] each into the hot oil. The batter will be very stretchy and sticky, so don't worry if the doughnuts aren't perfectly round (see Note). The doughnuts should immediately puff to about 3 in [7.5 cm] in diameter. Fry, flipping occasionally, until just golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately transfer the doughnuts to the prepared cooling rack. Dust with the umami seasoning and return to the oven.
• Repeat with the remaining doughnut batter, bringing the oil back to 350°F [180°C] after each batch. Serve the doughnuts hot out of the oven with the warm raclette sauce.