MyNorth.com, the online home of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, challenged Northern Michigan chefs to prepare a dish that is made with 95 percent Michigan products. We call it the Chef Showdown: Local Foods. Northern Michigan’s chefs, including Chef Eric Nitollo of the Boathouse Restaurant, responded with gusto.
The rules? Prepare a dish of your choice, savory or sweet, but 90 percent of the ingredients must be either raised, grown or foraged in Northern Michigan and an additional 5 percent must be raised, grown or foraged somewhere in Michigan. Additionally, the chefs agreed to provide our readers with their recipes and list of local ingredients—so the MyNorth audience could shop local and prepare the dishes themselves at home.
With so much goodness coming from so many restaurant kitchens we sent MyNorth Media videographer Kris Riley to capture the action in high-definition video. Click to watch the video of Chef Nitollo preparing this dish. To watch the other videos in this series go to MyNorth.com and type “Chef Showdown: Local Foods” into the search bar.
Wild Leeks (Ramps)
Rack of Lamb
Peel and dice parsnips. Place with butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stirring slowly so they don’t burn cook until parsnips turn a pale white. Add cream and cook until cream is reduced and parsnips are very tender. Remove from stove and cool for 15 minutes. Place in a blender and puree, season with salt and pepper.
In a medium saucepan combine the raspberry vinegar and sugar. On high heat, reduce by half. Add huckleberries and allow to sit in hot mixture for 30 minutes. Turn heat back on and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool, then puree in a blender until smooth. Place the mixture back in the saucepan and cook until reduced by half again. This should be a semi-thick liquid, not runny.
Sauté morels in fresh unsalted butter, hit with a little brandy (always pull away from flame), ignite and season with salt and pepper.
Combine mint leaves, water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Strain and reserve with a pastry brush
Melt butter in a medium saute pan then quickly place ramps in pan and bring them to a sizzle. Remove immediately, season with salt and pepper.
Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper (holding the seasoning high as you sprinkle allows you to get better surface area coverage). Coat the bottom of a sauté pan with virgin olive oil. Heat pan until smoking. Place lamb rack in the pan, meat side down. Sizzle two minutes, flip and sizzle for another minute. Remove and allow to sit on counter for ten minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the lamb on a cookie sheet and put in the oven for about 10 minutes—or until lamb is medium rare. Brush on wild mint sauce. Cool lamb for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat parsnip puree and Huckleberry Gastrique. Set out four dinner plates and ladle several spoons of parsnip puree and 1 spoonful of huckleberry sauce onto each plate. Slice lamb into quarters and place carefully on top of the parsnip puree and huckleberry sauce. Garnish with morels and wild leeks. Serve immediately.