During the year and a half it took for Josh Hebert to start up his experimental, interactive restaurant, Posh, he says, "it was killing me to try to come up with ways to explain it."
His choose-your-dislikes approach and ingredient-driven non-menu proved harder than expected to put into one nice, sweeping phrase.
Until he went to a comedy show at The Improv one night.
"Comedians do this on the spot," he thought to himself. "And I was like -- wait a minute! That's what we're doing! It's improvisational cuisine."
And so it is: Improvisational, on-the-spot, off-the-cuff, freestyle or just plain cool. What Hebert and his crew of chefs do every night in their open kitchen is not far from what a comedian does at The Improv -- just replace the stage with a kitchen.
Today, Hebert offered up not one, but two of his very own, improvised recipes for your cooking enjoyment. Just track down some kangaroo and get cooking!
Pan Roasted Kangaroo with Okinawan Yam and Coffee Demiglaze
2 4-ounce kangaroo steaks
Salt and white pepper
1 large Okinawan yam
Olive oil for cooking
1 whole shallot
2 tablespoons decaf espresso powder
2 cups red wine
1 tablespoon trimoline (an inverted sugar found in a pastry supply shop)
1 cup pitted cherries
2 ounces butter
½ cup reduced veal stock
The kangaroo will come without any fat or sinew, so season and set aside. Toss the yam in a little oil and place in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. Check with a knife to see if it is done, (the knife should meet no resistance in the center). Set aside to cool slightly.
For the sauce, in a saucepot, caramelize the shallot in a touch of oil. Add the cherries, coffee, and red wine. Simmer for 15 minutes and strain. Return liquid to the heat. Add trimoline and reduce until almost a glaze, but do not burn or scorch. Add veal stock and set aside.
For the kangaroo, sear on medium heat in olive oil, 2 minutes per side. Place in oven for 6‐7 more minutes, and when finished cooking, allow for it to rest for 2 minutes. Slice yam into 4 or 5 pieces and place on the bottom of the plate. Cut the steak in half, and place on top of the yams, add the two ounces of butter to the warm sauce and stir in carefully. Drizzle sauce over kangaroo and yams, and enjoy!
Shrimp Chorizo with Hibiscus Water and Squash Blossoms
8 ounces shrimp
1 egg white
Pinch smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, smashed and toasted
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 grind of black pepper
While very cold, chop shrimp or run through a meat grinder (you can use a food processor, but go slowly -- you want ground shrimp, not paste!). Chill again. Beat egg white a time or two to mix, and fold into shrimp. Add seasonings with the last few folds. Chill again. (If you like it really spicy you can go heavier on the cayenne).
When chilled, mold into a loaf, or roll into a log. Chill again, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, several times. (If you have a vacuum sealer, go to town). Chill again. Bring a vessel of water that will fit the log or loaf completely submerged to the temperature of 158 degrees. Add log and cook for approximately 12 minutes (more for a thick log, less if it is thinner). When finished cooking, submerge in an ice bath immediately.
2 cups clean water
8 hibiscus flowers
1 tablespoon trimoline (pastry supply shop)
Juice of ½ a lime
Combine all ingredients except the lime juice, and add to a non‐reactive sauce pot.
Bring to a low simmer and cook for 12‐15 minutes. Remove from heat, strain and cool. Add lime juice. Adjust seasonings.
To eat, slowly reheat a few slices of chorizo in a pan with a touch of butter. Keep the heat low, or the chorizo will discolor. Add a few whole squash blossoms. Place on a plate when all ingredients are warm, and drizzle a little hibiscus water in the center of the plate. Serve and enjoy!