Focus on Meat with Wolfgang Ban & Eduard Frauneder

Posted on May 25, 2014 02:38 pm

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This guest blog post comes to us from food blogger Layla Khoury-Hanold of Glass of Rosé. Follow her adventures in eating, cooking and drinking on Twitter @glassofrose and Instagram @theglassofrose. 

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This duo of Austrian chefs, better known as Edi and Wolf, returned to De Gustibus for a third time, this time to "Focus on Meat." Though I was worried that the class might be too meat-heavy (is there such a thing?), I was delighted to discover that it wasn't, and that the food surpassed all of my expectations and pre-conceived notions of Austrian cuisine.

I wasn't surprised that the food was delicious - the pair met in culinary school in Austria in 1999 and their much lauded New York restaurants include Seäsonal, a fine dining restaurant near Central Park South, and Edi & the Wolf, a more casual spot in the East Village.

The chefs make a great team, taking turns demonstrating and often joking around like an old married couple. The recipes they gave us would make for a most elegant dinner party, though there are some dishes that I'll be running to their restaurants to have again for rather than tackle them myself. Here's a rundown of the menu with key tips sprinkled in for good measure.

Ramp Veloute Soup & Mountain Cheese Crostini

This dish is based on one of the classic French sauces, brought into seasonal focus with leeks and ramps, with a distinctly Austrian flourish in the way of a beer cheeze pretzel loaf crostini. The grated Austrian Mountain Cheese gets a boost of complexity from lager beer (preferably Stiegl, though Brooklyn Brewery is a good substitute) and Hungarian paprika. The dish exhibits a delicate balance of creamy texutres but as Edi counseled us, "Don't be afraid of the white powder!" He likes Kosher salt for the cooking process and a coraser one for finishing seafood and meats, like Maldon or sea salt.

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White Asparagus

Mostly everything the chefs cook with at their respective restaurants is sourced locally. The exception to that are Austrian-imported white asparagus. They're milder and sweeter than their greeth brethren, and the preparation differs as well. The stalks' outside layer is significantly more fibrous and you need to peel the outside layer. To get a super smooth texture and beautiful presentation, Wolf uses the scrubby side of a sponge to sand the edges post peeling. When testing for the quality, Wolf advises pressing the bottom of the stalk gently; if juice comes out, it has been harvested one or two days ago but if it's dry, it means it's been sitting there awhile and therefore less fresh. Our super fresh white asparagus were plated with mashed potato parsley puree, hollandaise sauce, South Tyrolean Speck (a dry cured ham from Northern Italy) and an accent of mixed micro greens. 

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Slow Poached Egg with Lobster

This dish was created in Seäsonal's first year and quickly became a staple; it's the kind of dish that customers would be outraged about if it was ever taken off the menu. Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I have a weakness for yok porn. It doesn't always have to be completely runny, as is the case with the gorgeous golden center of a soft poached egg, achieved by a 45 minute sous-vide bath. It's accompanied by tender pieces of lobster meat finished in beurre blanc, topped with pumpernickle crumbs, drizzled with porcini oil and lobster foam. Because of the number of components, this is one of the dishes that I'll defer to the pros on and will absolutely have me running to Seäsonal.

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Beef Tenderloing Steaks a la Zwiebelrostbraten with Black Garlic

Notice that this is the first appearance of meat! I almost think that they purposely called their class "Focus on Meat" so that they could dispel the myth that not all Austrian food is heavy roasted meats, schnitzel and spätzel. During this course, the chefs wax poetic about the lost art of the pan sauce. "Everyone likes to reduce, reduce, reduce. It's the overcomplication of cooking." And remember that note about not wasting anything in cooking? A pan sauce is the easiest way to use absolutely everything you've accumulated during the cooking process. You deglaze the pan with red wine, reduce it and add beef or veal stock, picking up the herbs, garlic and juices. It's this simple pan sauce, along with the sweet-savory black garlic sauce, that takes seared tenderloin steaks to the next level.

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Apfelstrudel

What Edi loves about strudel is that its range extends beyond dessert. "It's extremely versatile and there are endless possibilities, savory too." As it relates to sweet endings, there are differing schools of thought: nuts or not (he likes chopped walnuts), pre-toasted crumbs or not (toasted, in butter), cinnamon or no cinnamon (a hint, because classical dishes should be executed classically). Layers of store-bought Filo dough sheets and melted European butter make up the base and peeled, thinly sliced apples make up the filling. Depending on the type of apples used, you may need to add more or less sugar, which is why you should "always taste!" You don't have to tell me twice, especialy when it comes to dessert. A dusting of powdered sugar, fresh berries and a vanilla custard offset the tart-sweet flavor profile for a decidedly Austrian finish to the meal.

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