As a competitor on Top Chef and Top Chef Masters and the owner of five restaurants—including the ever-expanding Family Meal—Bryan Voltaggio certainly knows his way around a professional kitchen. But what does the husband and father of three children like to cook during his downtime?
In his gorgeous new cookbook Home (out this week), Bryan is serving up dozens of his favorite recipes to make when he's not at work. The book, which includes dishes for weekend brunches, Sunday suppers, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and more, "are recipes I make when I'm gathering around with family and friends," Bryan tells the Daily Dish. "They're dishes that are approachable and not technically driven."
Many of the recipes are favorites of Bryan's from over the years, including a meatloaf inspired by the one his mother made when he was a child. "She had a lot of veggies in the mix," he says. "I don't know if it was because meat was expensive or if she was just trying to hide are vegetable in there, but it's delicious!" There are also recipes he likes to whip up for his wife and children, such as a parfait with granola, coconut and yogurt. "It's a grab-and-go breakfast," Bryan says. "And I make it in a mason jar so that my wife can put it in her cup holder. It's a favorite."
Bryan says that you don't need a culinary degree to create these dishes, either: "You can find all the ingredients in the grocery store. There's nothing obscure or anything like that, but you'll still learn a lot of techniques. I want people to use this cookbook and get this thing dirty!"
To celebrate the release of Home, Bryan's offering up three recipes: asparagus and barley, Bryan's burger, and glazed bacon biscuits. Check them out below.
GLAZED BACON BISCUITS
1 pound / 454 grams thick-cut bacon (12 slices)
¼ cup / 85 grams strawberry jam
1½ teaspoons / 9 grams sriracha
2 cups / 300 grams all-purpose flour
¼ cup / 50 grams sugar
1½ teaspoons / 9 grams fine sea salt
2 teaspoons / 12 grams baking powder
½ cup / 113 grams unsalted butter
1½ cups / 340 grams buttermilk
2 tablespoons / 28 grams unsalted butter
2 tablespoons / 30 grams honey
¼ teaspoon / 0.75 gram ground cinnamon
For a fresh take on bacon, I make a quick glaze with strawberry jam and sriracha sauce. Sriracha is a slightly sweet Asian hot sauce punctuated with chiles and garlic that pairs beautifully with strawberries. I brush it on the bacon and cook it in the oven until it is crisp. While the bacon is cooking, I mix up a batch of biscuits and pop them into the oven too. The bacon comes out first and crisps as it cools. When the biscuits are done, I split them and stuff them with the bacon.
Keep in mind it would not be a stretch to add a fried egg or scrambled egg in between. The contrast between the intensely flavored bacon and the soft, tender biscuits is brilliant. It’s the best kind of breakfast: flavorful, comforting, and portable.
Make the Glazed Bacon:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set a rack on top of the parchment. Lay the bacon slices out on the rack; they can be touching one another, since the bacon will shrink.
Put the pan in the cold oven, and turn the oven temperature to 425°F (220°C). Put the strawberry jam and sriracha in a small bowl and stir them together with a small spoon. Set aside at room temperature. Once the oven comes to temperature, remove the bacon and spread the glaze over the slices, dividing it evenly among them. Return the bacon to the oven and cook until the bacon is a deep reddish brown color and dark brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes more.
Remove from the oven, transfer to a pan lined with paper towels, and keep in a warm spot. The bacon will crisp as it cools.
Make the Biscuits:
Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Put the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and use a whisk to combine. Cut the butter into small dice and add it to the flour mixture. Use your fingers to work the butter into
the flour until there are no lumps and the mixture looks sandy. Stir in the buttermilk. The mixture will be very sticky. Continue to work the mixture with your fingers until it comes together
as a dough. Dump the dough onto a countertop and bring together into a large ball. Roll the ball into a 9-inch round, about 1 inch thick. Cut the dough into 8 triangles, like pie slices, and transfer them to the prepared cake pan, reassembling the round inside the pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
Make the Biscuit Topping:
Melt the butter, honey, and cinnamon together in a small pot over low heat or in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Brush the biscuits with the honey butter, return them to the oven, and bake for 3 more minutes. Remove the biscuits from the pan and let cool for 5 minutes. Split the biscuits horizontally and stuff each with 11/2 pieces of the glazed bacon. Serve immediately.
BRYAN'S BURGER (Makes 8 Burgers)
3 ½ pounds / 1.6 kilograms boneless chuck
8 ounces / 227 grams pepperoni, sliced
1 ¼ teaspoons / 7.5 grams fine sea salt
1 tablespoon/ 14 grams light olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons / 28 grams unsalted butter, divided
Hamburger Buns (page 48) or store-bought, griddled or toasted (optional)
8 slices pepper Jack cheese
8 slices Monterey Jack cheese
Fried eggs (optional)
Meat grinder or meat-grinding attachment for stand mixer.
A great burger starts with good meat. The chuck shoulder is made up of a perfect blend of muscles and fat that grinds into an ideal burger. I enjoy the process of breaking down a chuck shoulder, separating the muscles, and removing any sinew or silverskin. If you follow the lines of the meat, it is pretty easy to do. That said, I understand that not everyone has the time or the inclination to butcher his or her own meat, and so this recipe calls for boneless chuck. The important thing here is grinding your own meat. The flavor is so much fresher and deeper – the burgers really taste like the beef they are made of. Try it once and you’ll understand why I recommend that you do this; and you’ll make a point of doing it again, because it tastes so good.
Cut the boneless chuck into pieces that will fit into your meat grinder. Grind the meat through a 1/8-inch or 1/4 –inch diet into a medium bowl. Divide the meat in half and put half of the meat through the grinder again, with the pepperoni. Season the ground meat mixture with the salt and mix gently with your hands. Form eight 8-ounce (225-gram) patties that are slightly larger than the buns and lightly indented in the centers, because the will shrink slightly and expand in the middle as they cook. Lay the prepared hamburgers on a large plate or baking sheet as you finish them.
Set a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom. When the oil begins to shimmer but not smoke, add 4 of the hamburger patties. You can do this in 2 batches or you can get 2 skillets going at the same time. Carefully flip the burgers every 30 seconds, cooking them for a total of 3 minutes. After 6 flips, add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan and baste the burgers continuously for about 30 seconds, until the butter begins to brown and stops foaming.
Remove he burgers from the pan and put each on the bottom of a bun. Return the pan to medium heat and add avocado slices. Cook 2-3 minutes until the tops are golden brown as well. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Top each burger with 1 slice of the pepper Jack. Add a fried egg, if using, and a layer of avocado slices. Add the top of the bun and serve immediately with condiments like ketchup, mustard, and mayo alongside.
ASPARAGUS AND BARLEY (Serves 6 to 8)
4 ounces / 113 grams pecorino cheese
11/4 cups / 250 grams pearled barley
1 teaspoon / 6 grams fine sea salt, divided
6 tablespoons / 84 grams olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon / 3 grams smoked paprika
1 bunch green asparagus
1 bunch white asparagus
1 cup / 240 grams buttermilk
1/4 cup / 15 grams sorrel, thinly sliced, plus several leaves to garnish the platter
2 ½ tablespoons / 35 grams fresh lemon juice
It may seem excessive to use two pots of water to blanch the asparagus, but it is necessary. The green asparagus makes the water green, and if you blanch the white asparagus in the same pot they will turn green as well. The white asparagus make the water bitter, so if you blanch the green after the white, the green vegetables become bitter too. You can use the same pot; just give it a good rinse between vegetables.
We created the smoked pecorino for this dish at my Italian restaurant, Aggio. In Italy they have very strict rules about what can be done to and with their cheeses. You will never see smoked pecorino there, which is a shame, because it is amazing. Sheep’s milk cheese tastes more like the animal than any other variety. When I taste pecorino, I can taste lamb. Adding the smoke bumps up the meaty flavor while contrasting it with the creamy, salty experience of eating the cheese. Sprinkling it over the two very different types of asparagus and the earthy, tender barley makes for an unforgettable side dish.
Place wood chips in the bottom pan of a stovetop smoker and set over medium high heat. When the wood begins to smolder and smoke, turn off the heat, put the base tray in place, and put the cheese in the smoker. Put on the lid and smoke the cheese for 10 minutes.
Remove the cheese and turn the heat on under the smoker to rekindle the wood. You don’t want the cheese to melt in the smoker. When it is smoking again, turn off the heat and add the cheese. Leave the cheese in the smoker for 10 minutes.
Remove the cheese again and turn the heat on under the smoker to rekindle the wood. When it is smoking, turn off the heat and add the cheese. Leave the cheese in the smoker for 10 minutes, for a total of 30 minutes. Remove the cheese and chill it.
Put the barley in a bowl and cover with 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons (500 grams) water. Cover the container and let it hydrate overnight.
Rinse the hydrated barley in cold water, drain, and put it into a medium pot. Cover the barley with 1 inch of cold water, add 3/4 teaspoon (4.5 grams) of the salt, and set the pot over medium-high heat. When the barley comes to a boil, remove from the heat and drain in a colander. Put the barley into a large bowl and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 grams) salt, 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of the olive oil, and the smoked paprika. Stir everything together to coat the grains and cool the mixture down.
Set a large pot of salted water over high heat. Prepare an ice bath. Remove the small triangular leaves from the stalks of the green asparagus. Sometimes there is a bit of dirt and grit hiding beneath them. Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water for 2 minutes, and then transfer to the ice bath. Set a fresh pot of salted water over high heat and, when it comes to a boil, repeat with the white asparagus. Cut the asparagus stems into 1/4-inch rounds, leaving the tips 2 inches long. In a bowl, mix the barley with the buttermilk and add the asparagus rounds, sliced sorrel, and lemon juice.
Set a large sauté pan over medium high heat and put 3 tablespoons (42 grams) of the olive oil in the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the white asparagus tips and sauté for 1 minute. Turn the
tips in the pan and sauté for 1 minute more. Transfer the white asparagus tips to a plate to keep warm. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon (14 grams) oil to the pan and then add the green asparagus tips. Sauté them for 1 minute, flip them over, and sauté for 1 minute more.
Transfer them from the pan to the plate with the white asparagus tips.
Put the barley mixture onto a large platter. Top with the warm asparagus tips, shave the smoked pecorino on top, and garnish with sorrel leaves.
Recipes courtesy Little, Brown and Company. Copyright © 2015 by Bryan Voltaggio. Photo Credit © Ed Anderson.