1 June 2009

Chuck Hughes Makes Potato "Risotto" and Sausage on His Day Off

If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will know I have started a weekly feature to highlight Canadian Chefs. Through your TV networks, or perhaps on other blogs, or even just right here on More Than Burnt Toast you may have heard of some of our Canadian chefs. For those of you who haven't, I hope you will find it interesting to see what our chefs are up to, a little about their history and how they came to love what they do. For the next few months I will be featuring one of our Canadian chefs each week. There will be some chefs you have heard of and adore and some lesser known who are up and coming. As the eighth installment in my Canadian Chef series I introduce you to:

Chuck Hughes

Chuck Hughes is new on the Food Network scene this year hailing from Montreal in the province of Quebec. He may be new to his TV audience but he is well known and respected in the culinary world in Montreal. A love for food has always driven his passion. When he was 8 he insisted on being enrolled in a cooking class.

Like many of us it was clear he was crazy about the kitchen and all things "foodie" from an early age, but, he has taken it to the next step . This is made even clearer by his tattoos of lobsters, pomegranates, lemon meringue pie, bacon and even arugula. This suggests that maybe, just maybe, this guy REALLY loves his craft!!!

He started his career in something other than the culinary arts... in advertising... but quickly learned that he needed to turn his "affair with food into a full time relationship". He attended the prestigious culinary school at the Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec. While he was still in school, Chuck melded his passion for food with his love of rock 'n'roll by catering for the traveling punk rockers on the Vans Warped Tour. Years later, he ended up cooking for his favorite rock bands during the Coachella Music Festival, in the legendary Frank Sinatra Twin Palms mansion in Palm Desert Valley, California. Upon graduation he quickly started working in some of Montreal's hottest kitchens and hasn't looked back since.

The premise of his show Chuck's Day Off on the Food network is the question,

"What does the owner and chef of one the city's hottest restaurants get up to on his only day off?"

If you're Chuck Hughes, you cook!!! In every episode Chuck prepares good, honest food for his family, friends or staff while juggling the rock 'n' roll reality of running his own restaurant. In 2006, Chuck and his two best friends opened their restaurant, Garde-Manger in the heart of Old Montreal. His mom Francine makes all of the desserts as well. Chuck's playground is described as "a vintage crab-shack cum underground club" where he has full reign to put his magical spin on comfort food, and indulge his fantasy of creating decadent meals served up to his favorite rocking soundtracks. The name of the restaurant comes from his first job in a professional kitchen as a ''garde-manger,'' or pantry chef. The garde-manger's duties focus on salads, soups, cold food items, and dessert platings.

A little known fact is that he regularly competes in oyster shucking competitions and once shucked over 1000 oysters for a fundraiser.

I chose to prepare his Potato "Risotto" and grill up some sausages. Something about potato risotto just made me curious enough to give it a try. This is the most amazing dish I have prepared in my kitchen in a long time, and not just because potatoes are a passion of mine. I sauteed the mushrooms in the same pan as the lamb sausages so that the potato risotto would adopt their garlic flavours as well. All of Chuck's dishes are innovative and creative. Risotto of course is made with rice, but I will give Chuck license to call this risotto even if there is not a grain of rice within 100 yards of this dish, because it is prepared in the method in which risotto has been timelessly prepared. Sorry I had no leftovers.......
A year ago today I made..... Healthy Herbed Cream Fettuccine .

** Potato "Risotto" with Pan-Grilled Lamb Sausages**

6 large fresh lamb sausages
Water for boiling
1 T canola oil
A handful of fresh rosemary sprigs

Potato "Risotto"

6 – 8 large fresh mushrooms (like King Eringi or Shitake), sliced thinly
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, minced finely
A few good pinches of coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, diced in ½ inch cubes
3 – 4 cups stock (chicken, vegetable, mushroom or water)
1 cup loosely packed, freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
A couple of good nubs of butter
A handful of baby arugula or baby spinach, for garnish

Pan-Grilled Lamb Sausage: Parboil the sausages for about 5 minutes in a pot of boiling water. Drain. Place large pan on med-high heat. Coat bottom of pan lightly with canola oil.
Tear off rosemary needles roughly and toss into pan.

Add sausages and pan-grill till browned on all sides, turning as needed. By the time the sausages are ready, the risotto will be ready.

Potato Risotto: Wash and dice potatoes into small cubes. No need to peel. Put potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water. Add a sprinkle of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn heat down and simmer about 5 min till al dente. Drain.

Heat oil in heavy, medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add minced shallots, drained potatoes, sprinkle with salt, and one ladleful of stock. Cook stirring, until the stock is almost absorbed.

In a separate pan (or as I chose to do, in the same pan as the sausages), sauté mushrooms in a bit of olive oil and toss gently till they’re beginning to brown.
Continue to add your stock to potato mixture, one ladleful at a time.(Unlike the traditional risotto, the stock can be warm or cold, it won’t matter) until potato is tender and creamy on the outside, about 5 -10 minutes. (Test it. If it’s too soft, you won’t need to add any more liquid. If it’s still got a bite in the middle, you can add a bit more stock)

Add mushrooms, and cheese, stir. Add butter and continue stirring, adding a bit more stock if needed. Begin to ‘press down’ into the risotto with your spoonula so that some of the potatoes get mushed which will help to build that ‘creamy’ texture.

Finally, add a handful of washed baby greens (arugula or baby spinach) and stir till just wilted.
Taste for seasoning. Adjust if needed.

TO SERVE: Make a nice mound on plate, top with a single large juicy lamb sausage, and serve warm.

Serves 6 as an appetizer, 3 as a meal.

Still speaking of food Lisa Orgler generously agreed to create an art piece from one of YOUR food photographs and donate it to be auctioned for Art Auction with a Twist over at BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine . Her love for food, art and journaling have brought her to blogging to combine all of her loves and driven her to create art from food creations. On her blog Lunchbox Project Lisa reaches out to fellow bloggers to create a masterpiece from your own photography. Thank you to all who submitted a recipe and a photo of your dish for this event.

And the winner is.........drum roll please...... Hummus and Roasted Pepper Sandwich by Hopie of Hopie's Kitchen!!!! Congratulations Hopie on the immortalization of your dish!!!

When completed the final artwork piece that Lisa has so generously donated to BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine will be displayed on the site for silent auction with the proceeds to the School Meals program. Stay tuned!!!!
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  1. Huge congrats to Hopie on a brilliant win :0)

    I do like your idea of weekly feature to highlight Canadian Chefs - this rocks!! Potato Risotto and sausages sound perfect to me mmmmmm.

  2. I am a fan of this show too, I didn't think I would be but his enthusiasm is infectious.
    What an interesting concept - a potato risotto - I have never had anything like it.

  3. Maybe it's the German in me, but I think you can never go wrong with sausage and potato.

  4. It's such a fancy version of bangers and mash!

  5. Chuck Hughes is very good looking. He could cook for me any time, especially if he's making potato risotto and lamb sausage!

  6. Ooooh, I've never had lamb sausage! Gosh does that sound good! I just happen to have some yukon gold potatoes patiently waiting to be used. Guess what I'll be making? Yep, potato risotto!!! YUM!

  7. Great post! I've started watching his show, I like his rustic, non-complicated approach to food. And most of his meals seem to me like comfort food. Perfect!
    I think this is a great series you run here: it's important to discover our local talents, since we're so often bombarded with cele-chefs from south of the border!

  8. Potato risotto? That's a really new idea. How come we don't get clever cooks like this on our Food Network?

  9. This is a terrific idea, Val. I'd love to get to know Canadian chefs. When I was in Vancouver a couple of years ago, every meal I had was truly wonderful.

  10. I love any dishes with potatoes. I was surprised to see it in risotto. That must be so yummy.

  11. Wow, what an awesome idea! And with such a great endorsement from you, I'm going to have to give this one a try.

  12. I kept saying to myself: potato risotto? Now I get it after reading the recipe. What a wonderful idea!

  13. Yum, sounds absolutely delicious...and congrats to Hope...this is such an amazing thing!

  14. AnonymousJune 01, 2009

    Great to learn about this chef. I love the idea of a potato risotto!

  15. What an interesting-sounding recipe - I'm intrigued. Would love to see a pic to know what I'm aiming for!

  16. Mmm potato risotto sounds amazing!

  17. Potatoes are my favorite...risotto is my favorite...combined it must be heavenly!!!

  18. Cute name for the restaurant.
    Potato risotto, great idea!

  19. Love the whole idea of comfort food with a rock and roll spin. as a newly hip mother i feel i should be letting more rock and roll into my life. great recipe too, and interesting to read about other cooks, their similarities and differences.

    Also well done to lisa and all participating in blogger aid!

  20. What a delightful combination of potato and sausage.

  21. Despite Chuck being very popular with the female audiences, I do admire his show, his dishes and that he really runs a restaurant.

    His show is one of the few I watch on Food Network.

  22. This potato dish really was amazing and not a grain of rice in sight (although I love rice too) Thanks for the support guys:D

  23. Thanks for share Valli , mostly for me, Is a very interesting looking for traditional dishes and many others that I had discovered in your posts.
    Nice idea ...Potato risotto, I like it

  24. How interesting and delicious! Thank you for sharing his recipe. For an old school Italian used to just traditional risotto.. I am surprised at the wonderful flavors this recipe gives! :) A must try.. !

  25. Mmmm Yum - Love this!
    Potato risotto is looking and sounding deee-lish!

  26. A great meal to eat on a free day!



  27. Oh my goodness that potato risotto looks amazing!

  28. 1000 freaking oysters!! I would be bored after about 10. Kind of cool that he still cooks on his day off too. Most chefs I know hide and sleep.

    Love reading this section because I get a ton of good information about a wide range of individuals.

  29. I know, I know, I need to get to Garde Manger for dinner sometime soon.I'm probably the only Montrealer who doesn't watch his show.

  30. That looks soooo good Val! I love the combination of potatoes and sausages - they just go so well together!

  31. Isn't he just a different character - reminds me of a trucker cum chef and loaded with tats. A great recipe and not hard on the budget either.

  32. I have never heard of Chuck before, but the potato risotto sounds delicious!!

  33. Hi Valli, love this potato risotto!Hope you wont mind,I'd love to guide our readers to your site, just add this foodista widget to this post and it's all set to go, Thanks!

  34. Congratulations to Hopie on this win. Very deserving.

    Thank you for continuing to introduce us to new chefs. Bravo to Chuck. He can spend his day off in my kitchen any day.

  35. What a beautiful blog.
    I will be back often. Enjoyed reading your blog today. I am still finding my way around blogland....I always love making new friends..I am posting about Disney so hope you will stop by. Commenting automatically puts you in the drawing for the June giveaway.

  36. Val, thanks a million for bring this to our attention. I have bookmarked it to try.


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