One of the most interesting demos I attended at the Food & Wine Classic, starred Top Chef contestant Richard Blais, who partnered with McCormick for a "Flavor Forecast 2009." The theme was new spice/flavor trends, and our morning started off with one such combo; a smoked paprika and agave nectar margarita.
Note to anyone planning an early morning cooking demo: start with a strong margarita. As we sipped the spicy, yet delicious breakfast-of-tequila-loving champions, Blais went on to describe the dish he was preparing. We were about to taste lamb ribs braised with root beer and toasted sesame.
As he explained his thought process for matching these ingredients, and the cooking methods he uses in his kitchen to achieve the best results, he made it clear he does not like the term "molecular gastronomist." He said it sounds soulless, and too clinical. Fair enough.
He then went on to use the term at least a half-dozen times during the demo. I'm not sure if this was done tongue-in-cheek, or if there just isn’t a decent term that's synonymous, but either way, I was amused.
This video recipe is my version of the spiky-haired chef's dish. I used easy-to-find lamb shoulder chop steaks instead of Colorado lamb ribs, which were quite delicious, but maybe a bit hard to track down.
As far as the root beer and toasted sesame glaze goes, when I first heard it, I have to admit it didn't strike me as a great combination, but at the end of the demo, as I sat eating the tender lamb with the sweet, aromatic, nutty sauce, I was a believer.
As if the lamb, root beer, and toasted sesame combination wasn't different enough, Blais served it with a coleslaw ice cream. That's right, he used the sweet, tangy juices from a traditional coleslaw recipe, and with the help of liquid nitrogen, he created a surprisingly delicious frozen side dish.
I'll try and figure out how to make it without the chemistry set, since I'd love to show you that video recipe also. It was a strange and wonderful combination. Enjoy!
1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 large lamb shoulder blade chops, about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds
1 bottle (12 ounces) good quality root beer
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup toasted sesame seed
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chipotle
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 cup water
additional toasted sesame seeds to garnish
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions