Boston chef Lydia Shire on cooking for Julia Child

Chef Lydia Shire on cooking for Julia Child

Chef Lydia Shire is a major force in Boston's culinary scene. Born and raised in the suburb of Brookline, her artist father loved to cook, and she'd help out in the kitchen. She went to cooking school, but may have learned the most from amazing mentors that include Julia Child and Wolfgang Puck. 

She returned the favor by mentoring a new generation of top Boston cooking talent, many of whom worked in the six Boston restaurants she's opened over the years. 

Here are some of Shire's signature recipes: 

Thanksgiving porchetta

Ingredients

For the stuffing:
3 cups cubed cornbread (homemade) toasted in a low oven 300 degrees until slightly dry
1 large Spanish yellow onion diced
2 cups diced inner stalks and leaves of a celery head
½ bunch curly parsley washed , dried and chopped
2 T Bell's seasoning
1 cup light poultry stock
1 + ½ cups lightly toasted pecans chopped coarsely
10 oz. fresh chanterelles wiped or washed of all dirt then dried. (Chop coarsely and sauté in 3 T. unsalted butter with 1 T. chopped fresh garlic.)
1 T chopped fresh garlic . 

Directions

1. Place the pork belly on your cutting board skin down and remove the rib bones. Save. Now turn the belly over, skin side up. With a very sharp knife I use a boning knife as the blade is thinner but rigid and extremely sharp with a very small sharp point. Prick the skin many many many times, all over . You simply want to puncture the skin , do not go to deep.Take your time , every square inch should be poked well . Now , please score the skin into a large diamond pattern approximately 2-inch diamond pattern . Again don't go too deeply, just go through the skin. Place the pork belly skin side up on a cake cooling rack over the sink at an angle .

2. Bring to a boil in a sauce pan 1 qt. water, 1+ ½ cup white vinegar , 3 T. salt and lastly 2 teaspoons baking soda (which you add to the boiling mixture just before you want to "wash" the poked + scored skin).

3. Once the pork belly is poked and put on a rack over the sink. Add the baking soda (it will bubble fiercely) and start ladling the boiling mixture all over the skin, you will see it turn a bit whitish. All this is for how your skin will be eventually crisp and will 'crackle' at the end .

4. Dry corn bread , sauté diced onion and celery in ½ stick butter until soft .. add the cooked mushrooms , Bell's Seasoning , the chopped pecans , and the freshly chopped parsley to the cornbread . Mix and add the stock. Taste for salt and pepper. Depending on your palette, you may want to add a bit more melted butter or stock. Refrigerate until cold, it will be easier to roll in the pork belly .

5. Place the belly skin side down and shape the stuffing into a log down the center lengthwise . Bring sides up to meet and tie securely with kitchen twine so that you have a long roll . Place on a rack with the reserved belly rib bones , a few carrots , onion and those outer stalks of celery under the rolled belly .. all this in a 300 degree oven for 1 + 1/5 hour or until it is tender or when a skewer is used to poke through easily . Remove from oven .. let rest while you increase heat to 500 degrees ( or 450 degrees ) . Place the pan back into the hotter oven and roast for approximately 15 or 20 minutes more , until the skin has POPPED !!!! and is a beautiful crisp texture and color .

6. Let rest before you slice it. This does not exactly need a sauce but if you want to deglaze the roasting pan with some white wine scrapping all those goodies, maybe adding a little meat stock. Reduce a bit and add some butter then strain and season. Beware though if the bottom of the pan is too burned , you won't be able to make any kind of a sauce that will taste good

Lobster Finnan Haddie Chowder

Ingredients

2 X 1+1/2 live lobsters blanched in salted water 5 min. then shocked , meat removed + cut into largish chunks ( save shells )
2 lbs. piece of bone in Finnan haddie
Butter
Whole milk
Heavy cream
Savory & James Amontillado Sherry or a good Cream Sherry
1 large Spanish Yellow Onion diced in ½ in. pieces
3 medium sized red bliss potatoes also diced into ½ in pieces
Fresh chopped curly parsley for garnish 
1 sliced onion
2 stalks celery cut into 1 in. pieces
2 bay leaves
Parsley stalks
2 T. black peppercorns
1 T. celery seed

Directions

1. Place the finnan haddie in a sauce pan and cover with 2 cups of milk, add veggies, peppercorns and celery seed. Place loosely on top a piece of aluminum foil. Put in a preheated 350 degree oven + bake until almost cooked through. Remove from oven, let sit til room temp. Flake the fish into largish flakes. Save the milk and bones and skin

2. Take a sauce/soup pot, add a big nugget of butter and sauté the lobster shells until bright red. Deglaze with 1+ ½ cup sherry, let reduce slightly. Add 1 + ½ cups heavy cream, 2 cups milk and the remaining Finnan Haddie milk. Let simmer gently, add all the fish bones and skin. Season with Sea Salt, freshly ground black pepper and a bit of paprika. Take off the heat after 20 min. Refrigerate overnight unstrained .

3. The day you serve , strain soup . Saute your diced onion in a nugget of butter til soft ( no color ) add diced potatoes , pour in the soup and bring to simmer. Stop the cooking as soon as the potatoes are just a tiny bit al dente. Basically don't overcook the potatoes until mushy.

4. In sauce pot , add big lump of butter and quickly sauté the lobster meat adding a little more sherry , add the flaked Finnan Haddie and ladle in the soup with the potatoes etc. Make sure it is hot. Ladle into hot bowls and garnish with more cold butter and freshly chopped curly parsley

French 75

Ingredients 

2 ounces gin
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
Champagne or sparkling wine
Garnish: lemon twist

Directions

1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake gin, lemon juice, and sugar in a cocktail shaker until well chilled, about 10-15 seconds. Strain into a champagne flute.

2. Top with Champagne float. Stir gently and garnish with a lemon twist.

Acorn squash

Ingredients 

1 medium-sized acorn squash (serves 2)
1 strip of your best bacon
Parsley

Directions

1. Split in half using a heavy chef's knife through the stem end and the pointed end . Place all halves cut side down on a sheet pan with sides. Do not remove the seeds. Add a small amount of water from the faucet (1/3 rd cup ) and place the squash in a preheated hot 400 degree oven , middle shelf .

2. Bake until tender (poke with a skewer) and you see brown juices flowing from under the squash. Flip over with a metal spatula to show the cut side, delicately spoon out the seeds and discard. Make some deep cuts into the flesh and plop an insanely lot of unsalted butter onto the flesh making sure it melts all over. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the squash and then put an insanely amount of light brown sugar onto the squash.  

3. Lastly cook 1 strip of your best bacon per half squash, cut into 4 pieces. Do not overcook the bacon. Scatter inside the squash with a few drops of bacon fat. Serve hot. Garnish with a little fried parsley.