“I’m not wearing a chef coat,” said Scott Schroeder of South Philly Tap Room, “I’m a cook, not a chef.”
In defense of our “ask” which prompted that response, we were filming the event, and many of our nights so far have had a clean, classy vibe that we have worked hard to maintain. We were (thanks to Scott’s bawdy tweets) a bit nervous that the Mifflin street meat marauder might let a comment or two slip that would, let’s say, go straight to the out-take reel.
A chef coat was our key to best behavior.
“But his tattoos are the food he’s serving!” I said. An oyster on the half shell on the right arm with Tabasco, a pig on the shoulder, a ready-to-be-grilled heart on the left arm. This was beer and sausage night, and “We can’t ask him to cover his style in our coat. We have to let him do his thing.”
And boy did he ever, even if in a t-shirt. Within the first twenty minutes of prep our pristine kitchen-classroom filled with smoke and spattered bits of oil, fat, and meat as racks of lamb were seared and sausage stuffings were prepped.
Gene Muller, Founder and GM of Flying Fish Brewing Company, joined us shortly thereafter with the goods: a secret stash of Exit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout that had been aging in a dark corner of the brewery since discontinued nearly two years ago. We were set. The oyster stout paired with some Misty Point mollusks on the half shell with a dill pickle mignonette were a big hit, even for the one oyster virgin at the table.
Garlic and beer sausage came next, paired and made with Flying Fish’s Extra Pale Ale. Local celebrity (and all-around consumer of far too many foods to be so thin) Drew Lazor of Philadelphia City Paper was enlisted by Scott to do some choppin’ and grindin’ while Scott demonstrated his tender affection for intestinal lining. (Looking on that night, too, were Audrey’s proud papa, Norton, and the ladies of La Copine, who make the exclusive mustard, orange marmalade and strawberry balsamic jam we sell at COOK).
The concluding lamb course (the recipe is below and Audrey’s described it as her “best ever lamb”), served at a delightfully bloody rare-to-mid-rare alongside a baby spinach, goat cheese, and warm mushroom salad was a sophisticated caveman’s delight. A Belgian Abbey Double and a few minutes later, the crowd was nearly chanting for more.
But there was no more food to be cooked.
After much casual nagging, Twitter harassment, and email grumping, we still hadn’t gotten Scott to agree to do a dessert. But as the lamb was cleared and the Q + A began, Scott let slip the tale of his legendary fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the potentially incriminating details of which we may hope that some around the table, including Audrey’s father (!), were not paying sufficient attention to hear.
Within five minutes Audrey had returned from 7-11 with the list of ingredients: white bread, peanut butter, jelly, and Frosted Flakes. Pans smoked and more oyster stout was poured as Scott performed the chef’s cook’s equivalent of a rockstar encore and treated our guests to an oldie but a goodie, the one that brings you back – the fried pb+j.
Don’t worry – we see yet another encore performance at COOK in Scott’s future.
Roasted Rack of Lamb
Baby Spinach, Goat Cheese and Warm Mushroom Salad
- 2 racks of lamb, well seasoned with salt and pepper
- olive oil and butter for cooking
- 2 bunches watercress, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 red onion, smalled diced, soaked in ice water for about a half hour and drained well
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced thin
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 12 mint leaves, chopped rough
- 3 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- 1 1/2 pounds shitakee and oyster mushrooms, stems removed and torn
- about a half stick of unsalted butter
- extra virgin olive oil for cooking
- salt to taste and plenty of black pepper
for the lamb
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Get a cast iron pan very hot, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the
pan. Add the lamb and about 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Do not move it around, let it sear until its
nice and brown. Flip it and baste it with the oil and butter in the pan. place it in the oven for 10-12 minutes
or until it reaches an internal temperature or 120-125. Pull it out and let it rest at room temperature on a
plate while you make the salad.
for the salad
Place all the ingredients except for the mushrooms and butter in a large mixing bowl. Get a large enough
pan to hold all the mushrooms evenly in one layer hot. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the
pan. Add the mushrooms evenly to the pan. Again resist the urge to move them around, add a few pats of
butter on top and let them get crispy. When they start to get crispy stir them a little and add a little more
butter. Keep doing it until they are very crispy and you’ve used all the butter. Sprinkle lightly with kosher
salt and dump the mushrooms with the now browned butter over the salad. Toss, check for salt and serve
Slice the lamb racks into individual chops and serve next to the salad.