From Tom Colicchio, chef/co-owner of New York’s acclaimed Gramercy Tavern, comes a book that profiles the food and philosophy of Craft, his unique restaurant in the heart of New York’s Flatiron district, and winner of the 2002 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in America. From its food to its architecture and menu design, Craft has been celebrated for its courageous movement away from culinary theatrics and over-the-top presentations, back to the simple magic of great food.
Realizing that his own culinary style had grown increasingly unembellished, and gambling that New York diners were experiencing that same kind of culinary fatigue (brought on by too much “fancy food”), Colicchio set out to prove that the finest food didn’t have to be the most complicated. From its opening in March 2001, Craft offered diners simple, soulful dishes centered around single ingredients that went on to shake up many people’s ideas of what “restaurant food” should be like.
Craft of Cooking leads you through Colicchio’s thought process in choosing raw materials—like what to look for in fresh fish, or how to choose the perfect mushroom—to show that good food is available to anyone with access to a good supermarket, farm stand, or gourmet grocery. The book also features “Day-in-the-Life-of-Craft” portraits, which offer a fascinating, behind-the-scenes glimpse at areas of the restaurant beyond the dining room. These segments allow the reader to peer into the fast-paced prep kitchen, to witness the high drama of reservations, and to get a taste of the humor and empathy necessary to serve New York’s colorful visitors and foodies.
And then there are the recipes. Craft of Cooking presents 140 recipes that range from the simplest dish of spring peas to roasted fish; from lush but effortless braises to complex brining and curing of meat for homemade charcuterie, included to give the reader a “fly-on-the-wall” experience of visiting the Craft kitchen for themselves. Dishes are divided–like the Craft menu itself–into categories of meat, fish, vegetables, potatoes, grains, desserts, and pantry, and then further delineated by technique–roasting, braising, sautéing, etc.–with abundant suggestions and technical tips. Using Tom’s straightforward and friendly voice, Craft of Cooking offers recipes suited to any purpose—from a quick family meal to a festive dinner party for twelve.
As he did in his James Beard award-winning book, Think Like a Chef, Colicchio uses Craft of Cooking to teach, tell his story, and offer inspiration to cooks of any skill level. With more than 100 full-color and black-and-white photographs, Craft of Cooking is destined to become a staple of home cooks everywhere—the one “restaurant cookbook” they can’t live without.
Although I can get dogmatic at Craft about using fresh ingredients, in this recipe we use dried porcini. After reconstituting, you're left with a wonderful mushroom-flavored stock, which is then used in cooking the risotto; this adds just one more layer of flavor to the finished dish.Serves 6
9 cups chicken stock
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese to taste
Bring 1 cup of the chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms. Remove from the heat and set the mushrooms aside until they soften. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the stock. Strain the reserved stock through a fine strainer, then finely chop the mushrooms. Add the chopped mushrooms to the mushroom-flavored stock.
Bring the remaining 8 cups of chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Allow the stock to reduce by about 1 cup, then keep warm over low heat.
Combine the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large, high-sided skillet. Heat over medium heat until the butter foams. Add the onion and cook until it is translucent, about 15 minutes. Stir in the rice, thoroughly coating it with the onion, butter, and oil. Cook the rice until it is no longer chalky looking and begins to pop, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly until it has evaporated.
Add 1 cup of the warm chicken stock. Simmer, stirring, until the rice is almost dry. Repeat twice more. Stir the mushroom-flavored stock into the rice. Cook, stirring, until the rice is dry again.
Finish cooking the rice by stirring in enough additional warm chicken stock, a cup at a time, so the rice is just barely tender. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and add cheese to taste.
Excerpted from Craft of Cooking by Tom Colicchio. Copyright © 2003 by Tom Colicchio. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.