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 Jeffrey's in Austin, Texas, executive chef Rebecca Meeker serves a whole quail, stuffed with farro, alongside a crêpe made with farro flour, itself stuffed with rhubarb and fig confit. On a recent Sunday off, inspired by this dish and preparing to feed brunch guests, Meeker devised a version more suited to mid-morning entertaining, swapping out the bird for ham, eggs and goat cheese, and leaving the figs fresh and pairing them with sweet Sungold tomatoes, marjoram and honey.
"It's always something of a juggle to get two consecutive days off, but when I do, or even if I'm working in the evening, I like to have friends and family over for brunch," says Meeker, an Austin native who helped open restaurants for Joël Robuchon in New York and Taiwan before returning to her hometown as chef de cuisine at Congress, where she worked until taking the reins at Jeffrey's, an Austin institution recently given a total reboot by the McGuire Moorman Hospitality group.
Meeker's recipe allows some room for thinking on your feet, no matter what time of year. "Sungold tomatoes and figs are at the height of their season right now in Austin, but you could of course use other varieties of tomatoes, or rehydrate dried figs," she says. "If you can't find farro flour, you could use the same proportion of buckwheat flour or fine cornmeal."
June Rodil, who worked alongside Meeker at Congress, and is now the beverage director for McGuire Moorman, chose Éric Texier's Rouletabulle Petillant Naturel 2012, made with the Swiss Chasselas grape, to pair with the dish. "It's a wonderful brunch wine," says Rodil. "Oftentimes, brunch items have savory and sweet components, so it's great to have something off-dry to balance the sugars. It has great floral aromatics to enhance the marjoram and juicy, succulent Bosc pear note and sweet honeysuckles to play off the prosciutto and figs. The natural bubbles and low alcohol are also great to wake up your palate to start the day." For those who prefer a dry, still wine, we find that a balanced, fruity French rosé can also play well with the classic Mediterranean flavors of fig, tomato, marjoram and chèvre in the dish.
Recipe courtesy of Rebecca Meeker, executive chef of Jeffrey's, Austin, Texas
Sommelier June Rodil's Wine Pick: Éric Texier Rouletabulle Petillant Naturale 2012
Wine Spectator Alternates: Domaine de la Mordorée Tavel Les Vestides 2013 (89, $26)
Les Vignerons de Tavel Tavel Cuvée Royale 2013 (89, $20)
For the crêpe batter:
1. In a stainless-steel bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 24 hours.
2. On low to medium heat, butter a crêpe pan (or a non-stick pan), and pour 2 ounces (1/4 cup) batter into the warm pan, tilting gently to make sure the batter covers the pan evenly. Cook until golden-brown, about 2 minutes, then gently flip the crêpe and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes. Place the cooked crêpe on a plate and continue with the remaining batter. (You will have enough batter to make 14 crêpes, so if you tear a couple in the flipping, you'll still have enough for 6 guests to each get 2 crêpes per plate, if desired.)
For the filling:
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
2. As each crêpe comes off the pan, spread about 1 tablespoon chèvre across the center. Lay two slices of prosciutto (or 1 slice ham) across the cheese, fold the crêpe in half and arrange on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Repeat with the remaining crêpes, chèvre and ham, using two trays if necessary, then transfer to the oven and cook just until the cheese is bubbling, about 7 minutes.
3. While the crêpes warm in the oven, heat the olive oil or butter in a large frying pan or skillet. Carefully crack the eggs into the pan and cook to sunny side up. Remove from the pan and hold on a warm tray until ready to plate.
For the salad, and to finish the dish:
1. In a bowl, toss together tomatoes, figs, marjoram leaves, honey, olive oil and salt. Place 1 or 2 crêpes on each of 6 warmed plates. Add an egg and a portion of salad to each plate, and serve immediately. Serves 6.