At-home recipes from local chefs

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Cafe Aion

So, we’re all stuck at home. Hopefully, you’ve checked out our list of the Boulder County restaurants offering delivery/takeout during the coronavirus shutdown (boulderweekly.com/cuisine/restaurant-listings), but if you are finding yourself with some time on your hands — and we know you are — try one of these cherished recipes from our local chefs.

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ocked at home and hungry? Check out the Boulder County restaurants offering delivery/takeout at boulderweekly.com/cuisine/restaurant-listings, or try one of these recipes from local chefs.

McDevitt Taco Supply’s Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

McDevitt Taco Supply has suspended to-go operations for the time being, but you can still visit mcdevitttacosupply.com to donate to its employee fund (which has raised $4,600 so far) or buy merch.

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos (husked)
  • 3 fresh serrano chiles (remove the stems)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Roast 3/4 of the tomatillos in the oven under the broiler until soft and slightly charred (about 10 min.). Then place on counter and cool to room temperature. Once tomatillos have cooled, add all other ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust salt to taste. 

Bonus: Add 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1/2 cup chicken stock, heat it up and you have an amazing enchilada sauce.  

Salt’s Roasted Organic Butternut Squash Soup with Toasted Almonds and Nutmeg Cream

From Chef Roy Benningfield of SALT. Make this at home and enjoy a SALT entrée as the restaurant has closed for to-go orders for the time being.

  • 2 lbs organic local butternut squash, washed and cut in half
  • 1 lb organic yellow onions, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 1 lb organic carrots, medium diced
  • 4 oz olive oil
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 oz almonds
  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • Sugar to taste (approx. 1/4 cup)
  • Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash, cut side down, on a baking tray lined with oiled parchment paper for easy cleanup. Roast until tender in the “neck.” Lower oven temp to 250 degrees to toast the almonds.

Meanwhile, sweat the onions and carrots starting on high heat, then lowering the flame to sweat until softened and not colored. Add 3 quarts of water and simmer.

Remove squash from the oven, scoop out the seeds while holding squash with heavy kitchen towel. Scoop out the roasted squash and add to the onion and carrot mixture. Add the cinnamon and half the nutmeg. Simmer 20-30 minutes.

Place almonds on a sheet tray and toast in the oven at 250 degrees for 8 minutes, checking every 2 minutes make sure they don’t burn.

Let soup cool, then place in blender. Fill the blender only two-thirds full, cover and pulse to start so it doesn’t explode. Continue blending until all the soup is smooth. Finish soup with 3/4 of the cream, salt and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. (The trick to this soup is to create a balance between the salt, the sugar and the spices.)

Place the remaining cream and 1 tsp of nutmeg in the saucepan with a pinch of sugar, and bring to a boil. Place the soup in a warm bowl. Drizzle with the nutmeg cream and sprinkle toasted almonds on top.  

Big Red F

Doug Query’s Chili Recipe

A family favorite courtesy of Dave Query, founder and chef of Big Red F Restaurant Group. Buy a gift card or order takeout/delivery at select Big Red F restaurants at bigredf.com/our-restaurants.

Big batch — Make this on the weekend and feed off of it all week like a family of lions working a water buffalo in the Serengeti. My Pops used to serve it with a side of spaghetti, like they do at Skyline Chili in Cincinnati. 

  • 1.5 lbs course ground beef
  • 6 hot Italian sausage links, cut into 10 pieces each
  • 8 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions (any type except red), small rough dice
  • 1 large green pepper, small rough dice
  • 2 jalapeños, chopped fine (seeds OK; the more seeds, the hotter the chili)
  • 2 medium cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 medium cans pureed/crushed tomato
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can sweet white corn
  • 1 can good beer (minus 2-3 ounces) 
  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. hot chile powder
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. your favorite salt
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • water

In a big ole pot with a little bit of oil, sauté ground beef and sausage roughly 6-8 minutes. Meat should be browned on the outside and still pink in the middle.

At this point, add the garlic, onion, green pepper and jalapeños. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently until vegetables are tender. Add all spices.

Turn heat to low and cook, stirring constantly so that the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn, for 5 minutes. This will give the spices time to toast and release all of their lovely and fragrant oils. But don’t let them burn, that’s not lovely. Give it a big whiff — it should smell like chili. 

Deglaze the pot with one can of good beer at this point. Don’t use all the beer; save enough to take a good pull off of it. Hopefully you’re making this early in the morning. A good pull off a good beer early in the morning is a good thing. Simmer for 3 minutes.

Add all canned tomatoes, corn, beans (add the liquid from the cans), and tomato paste. Take one of the chopped tomato cans, fill with cold water twice and add to chili and stir. Chili should have the consistency of finished chili. If it is still too thick for your tastes, add another can of water, but it will reduce. If it gets too thick after cooking, add some more water. The canned products are high in salt, but maybe not enough for your mouth. Check seasonings and make it right for your mouth. 

Cook low and slow on a simmer for at least 2 hours, but it’s better if you go for 3. Serve with chopped onions, sour cream, your favorite cheese and crackers.

Both my mom and dad’s fathers were from near Milan, landing in the U.S. in the ’30s. We ate a lot of good food. Simple food, but made with a lot of love and passion, leaving an impression. This chili is one of those memories. Enjoy! — Dave Query

Verde

Verde Take-and-Make Fajitas

For a quick kitchen exercise, check out Verde’s take-and-make fajita kits. The proteins and veggies come factory-sealed and you can add whatever spice and accompaniments you have on-hand. Just add oil to a skillet, cook the protein and veggies and be on your way. And if that is too much, just order out from Verde: Boulder at verdeboulder.com and Louisville at verdeeatdrink.com.  

Gastronauts

Gastronauts Cripsy Broccoli with Sriracha Aioli

This crispy broccoli with sriracha aioli is a fan favorite at Gastronauts, the walk-up restaurant inside Gravity Brewing in Louisville that serves unique, innovate fare that shatters one’s perception of “pub grub.” Order takeout and delivery during the shutdown at thegravitybrewing.com/gastronauts/.

Crispy Broccoli 

  • 1 lb bite size broccoli florets 
  • 2 cups rice flour 
  • 2 cups water 

Heat canola oil in a deep fry pan (cast-iron works well) to 350 degrees. Mix rice flour and water to make a slurry. This should be the consistency of crepe batter, thinner than pancake batter. Adjust water as needed to make a thin slurry. Toss the florets in slurry until lightly coated. Fry small batches in hot oil for 3 minutes, turning once or twice during frying. Remove from oil and drain. Fry remaining broccoli in batches. Serve with sriracha aioli. 

Sriracha Aioli 

  • 2 cups high quality mayonnaise 
  • 1/4 cup sriracha 
  • Juice of 1/2 lime 
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar 
  • 1 tbsp. garlic purée 
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 

Blend all ingredients to a smooth consistency. Serve on top of broccoli or on the side for dipping.

Cafe Aion

Cafe Aion’s Paella

Order takeout/delivery from Cafe Aion at cafeaion.com.

Paella is one of those dishes that benefits from imperfections. To me, those endearing burnt edges and crunches make a dish so much more soulful and singular than a perfectly sous-vide piece of protein. (Not to worry, though, I don’t believe anyone is trying to sous-vide paella right now.) The Spanish even have a word for the coveted burnt crust which forms on the bottom of the paella pan: Socarrat. A socarrat is to a chef as the red cape is to a matador — very, very important; without it you’ve just got soggy rice in a pan, or a horn ornament on a bull.

It might seem counterintuitive to work for 30 minutes to achieve a layer of burnt rice. After all, your grandmother did it with Uncle Ben’s on Sunday, right, so what’s the big deal? Well, we’re not talking about “throw it all in, crank the burner to high, and blacken it. It’s more about finding a Zen place with your rice and adding in just the right amount of stock over just the right heat to slowly achieve the perfectly crispy, crunchy, deeply caramelized crust of rice, onions, tomatoes and saffron. 

The very best paellas are made outside over a wood fire, where consistency and a controlled environment are not your friend, so let loose, use your instinct, and enjoy the paella process. And remember, if you burn the shit out of it you can always try pulling the socarrat explanation on your dining companions — Chef/Owner Dakota Soifer

  • Paella pan (14”) 
  • 1 large link of fresh chorizo or other spicy, smoky sausage you really like
  • 1 lb mixed chicken pieces on the bone
  • 1 small red onion, julienned
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 8oz. canned tomato
  • Saffron a nice, three-finger pinch
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3/4 cup Spanish paella rice or similar short-grain white rice
  • 1 1/2 qt. chicken stock
  • 1/2 lb. mussels
  • fresno chili, minced
  • flat leaf parsley, chopped 
  • lemon wedges

This will take a little bit, don’t rush it. Make sure everyone, including yourself, has nibbles (lomo, chorizo, hummus, manchego, olives…) and wine to hold them over for the next hour. The nice thing about this dish is that you don’t need to stand over it the whole time — it’s not risotto. Actually, you never really want to stir the paella once your stock is in, just don’t totally forget about it.

Over a medium high flame, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil has reached its smoking point, add in the chicken and sausage, turning every now and then to achieve a nice sear on each side. Add in the onions and garlic, keeping an eye on the heat as you don’t want them to burn, but with too low a heat, it will go limp and sad. Once the onions have caramelized, add in the rice. Stir, allowing the rice to toast to golden brown. In go the tomatoes (squeeze them through your fingers into the pan to break them up) and the saffron. Turn up the heat a bit and let it all reduce to a thick consistency. 

This is when you hit the rice with a liberal splash of wine, being careful of any possible flare-up. Give the pan a little shake to even out the distribution of rice. This will be the last real movement of the rice; let it be to develop the socarrat for the duration of the cooking. Ladle stock around the edge of the pan until the liquid level is just that of the rice’s. Reduce the heat to achieve a slow bubbling on the pan and let the magic unfold. You may have to add a bit more stock at times. If you do, use that moment to taste for seasoning as if it is needed; the salt will be better distributed if it is introduced with a flush of liquid. 

When the rice is just al dente and the liquid has just about evaporated and absorbed, it is time to add the mussels. Arrange them standing on their hinge just set in the rice. Ensuring that there is a touch of liquid left to steam open the mussels will be very helpful for having them cook and open in a timely manner. Once they all pop open, it is pretty much time to eat. Pull the paella off the heat, top with chopped parsley, fresno chili and a generous drizzle of great olive oil. Salud! — Chef/Owner Dakota Soifer