Chefs spend all week planning and overseeing the execution of elaborate dishes for the pleasure of the dining public. We have often wondered, what do chefs cook, eat and pour on their days off? In this series, Chefs Cook at Home, we visit the personal kitchens of some of our favorite chefs, to see—and taste—what they're up to in their downtime.
At Juni, a hushed fine dining restaurant tucked into the intimate Hotel Chandler in Manhattan, chef Shaun Hergatt serves thoughtful, highly focused and visually stunning dishes driven by his keen sense of micro-seasonality. Hergatt and his staff rotate in about 150 new dishes per year, planning each technique, seasoning and plating months in advance, and serving it for only as long as the star ingredient is at its peak.
It should surprise no one, then, that his approach to day-off entertaining is to prepare a polished, multicourse affair for the friends and former colleagues he rarely sees during his demanding work week; the menu will often include a stuffed pasta made from scratch, such as his artichoke ravioli recipe, below.
"I'm not cooking something to be held on your lap while you watch a movie in my living room," says Hergatt, a native of Cairns, Australia, who has been cooking in the States since 2000. He was chef de cuisine at Atelier at the Ritz-Carlton, Central Park and executive chef at The Setai in Miami before opening SHO Shaun Hergatt in Manhattan's financial district in 2009. Though critically acclaimed, the restaurant closed in 2012; Juni will celebrate its one-year anniversary in August.
To taste Hergatt's ravioli is to be astonished by the depth and nuance of flavor one can achieve by gently cooking an assortment of common vegetables and herbs. A creamy artichoke puree, made richer with a dab of whipped cream, plays against the gently herbal barigoule sauce used to coat the cooked pasta; the dish calls out for a wine that balances richness with some herbal acidity.
Daniel Beedle, Juni's sommelier, sees two approaches to pairing. First, he suggests R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rioja White Viña Gravonia Crianza 2004, a 100 percent Viura wine whose weight and herbal characteristics make it a seamless match for the artichoke pasta. As an alternative, he recommends Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Brut Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay Champagne Sélection Belles Années NV. "I really like the warmth, and the autolytic, rich character of it, while the precision makes it play very well with the dish," explains Beedle.
Though the dish and wine pairings are truly restaurant-caliber, home cooks can take a few shortcuts without sacrificing flavor. If you don't have the time, equipment or inclination to make your own pasta, substitute sheets of fresh pasta purchased from an Italian specialty store, or even eggroll wrappers or wonton skins. Frozen or canned artichoke hearts can be used in place of fresh artichokes.
Adapted from chef Shaun Hergatt of Juni in New York, N.Y.
Sommelier Daniel Beedle's Wine Picks: R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rioja White Viña Gravonia Crianza 2004
Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Brut Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay Champagne Sélection Belles Années NV (90, $45)
Wine Spectator Alternates: R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rioja White Viña Gravonia Crianza 2003 (93, $36)
Cheurlin-Panfilo Brut Champagne Le Medaillon NV (92, $50)
For the dough:
1. Place the flour on a wood or stone table, or in a very large stainless-steel bowl, and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well and add the salt. Mix the eggs in the well with a fork until they start to thicken from the flour, then use your hands to knead the dough. If it's too wet and sticky, add a bit more flour. If it's too dry and doesn't hold together, sprinkle in a little water. Knead the dough until smooth, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.
For the artichoke puree:
1. Heat the butter over medium heat in a medium-sized sauté pan. Add the onions and leeks and sweat over medium-low heat until just softened, taking care not to let them brown. Add the wine and stir to deglaze.
2. Add the peeled and cleaned artichokes (or thawed and drained artichoke hearts). Add the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the artichokes are softened, about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Strain the mixture, reserving the excess liquid, and purée the solids in a blender or food processor, adding some of the reserved liquid if necessary to achieve a silky consistency. Set aside until ready to fill the ravioli.
For the barigoule sauce:
1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepot, heat the butter until it foams and subsides. Add the onion, fennel, carrot, celery and garlic, and sweat over medium-low heat until softened, taking care not to let the vegetables brown. Add the wine and stir to deglaze.
2. Add the bay leaf and rosemary and continue to cook until the mixture is reduced by 1/4. Add the basil and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary. Puree the mixture with a hand blender or in a blender, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the olive oil and set aside.
To make and cook the ravioli and finish the dish:
1. Roll the pasta dough through a pasta-rolling machine, starting with the widest setting and working down to the narrowest setting. Lay the pasta sheets, one at a time, out on a well-floured cutting board or work surface.
2. Cut the dough into evenly sized rectangles and fill each one with 2 teaspoons of artichoke puree and 1 teaspoon of whipped cream. Fold to close, moistening the sides with water if necessary. As you seal them, transfer the ravioli to a sheet pan that's been dusted with semolina, which will keep the ravioli from sticking to the pan.
3. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil, and gently reheat the barigoule sauce until it simmers.
4. Cook the ravioli in the boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pot. Remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon or strainer and divide evenly among warmed serving bowls or plates. Top with barigoule sauce, drizzle with olive oil if desired and serve immediately. Serves 4 as an entree or 6 as an appetizer.