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Food & Entertaining

A Taste of Home

Author: Christina Barrueta
Issue: July, 2017, Page 82
Photo by Rick Gayle

Chef Chuck Kazmer first brines then smokes salmon for the main course of his flavorful summer menu.
Family Memories and Fresh, Local Ingredients Combine in a Southwest Summer BBQ With Texas Roots

For Chef Chuck Kazmer, life and global destinations have guided and cultivated his culinary viewpoint. The Texas native’s 25-year career with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts began with an apprenticeship in Austin before leading him to Boston, Dallas, Houston, Chicago and, most recently, Amman, Jordan, in the Middle East. “Part of what has shaped me has been all my moves,” he recognizes.

Chef Chuck Kazmer
Although never having been to the Grand Canyon State before joining the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North as its executive chef in December 2016, Kazmer was drawn to the Valley for many reasons. “Obviously, the proximity to home—Texas—and family. I also have a long history with Southwestern and Mexican cuisine, having worked in Dallas, Houston and Austin, so there’s a regional influence in what I do. It’s in my blood.” He even draws interesting parallels between his new home state and Jordan, where he spent the last three years. “Jordan is surprisingly similar to Arizona in some ways. You have citrus, dates, olive oil and various microclimates at the different elevations. It’s a strange familiarity.”

His vision of a perfect summer meal reflects both his travels and his Lone Star roots. Brisket is a natural choice, but for this July barbecue, “I thought I would lighten it up with a more modern Texas-style approach,” he says with a smile. The main dish is a salmon gently perfumed with rosemary and coriander and smoked to supple perfection. It is also an homage to Kazmer’s late father. “My dad really enjoyed smoking food, which he got into after he retired,” he recalls. “It’s how we would spend our Saturdays or Sundays, and it is one of my favorite things I used to do with my dad. This salmon very similar to a dish we used to make together, so it brings back some great memories.” For a burst of added smoky flavor, Kazmer recommends adding rosemary stems and leaves to the fire.

To accompany, a salad of crisp haricot verts tossed with cremini mushrooms, Arizona olives, roasted red peppers and cubes of tangy goat’s milk feta cheese is graced with an aged sherry vinaigrette and crowned with fried shallots. Kazmer points out that this is a fresh approach to a classic comfort side dish. “It’s basically a green bean casserole like Mom used to make. You have the green beans, the mushrooms and the crispy onions, but it’s a more modern, healthful take.” His colorful BBQ Beets dish features baby beets roasted on the grill with fresh herbs and orange zest. It’s partnered with Arizona citrus, a crunchy celery root and apple slaw, and a dressing made of quark (a fresh, creamy cheese) from Buckeye-based Crow’s Dairy spiked with horseradish. Because this summer feast is designed as a harmonious blend of flavors, the various components work equally well in their intended recipes or as stand-alone items. “The slaw was intended as a complement to the BBQ Beets, but its bright acidity is also nice with the fish, as is the quark with the little bit of horseradish,” Kazmer notes. And don’t be scared to pair the side dishes with other entrees, as well. “Both the green beans and the beets would go with any kind of barbecue,” he adds.

Exploring regional specialties is a gratifying pleasure for this talented chef, who notes, “There is something very rewarding in searching out ingredients. It’s especially satisfying.” He enthusiastically talks about the maple syrup used in the basting spray for the smoked salmon; he prefers syrup from Burton’s MapleWood Farm in Indiana and recalls meeting the owner, Tim Burton, in Chicago. He points out that the bean salad vinaigrette is made with an Oregon barrel-aged sherry and olive oil from local Queen Creek Olive Mill—“which I adore,” he adds. “The most important thing is to work with the freshest locally available ingredients you can find. Ultimately, these are simple dishes, but care and love go into each ingredient, and that’s how I approach cooking.”

Kazmer returns to Texas every summer for reunions and to reconnect with friends and family who have inspired this warm-weather repast. When asked what would be his ideal setting for enjoying this meal, he responds without hesitation. “This is a meal I would have cooked in Grandma’s backyard, under her peach tree. She had pecan and peach trees, and all summer long we would just gorge ourselves with peaches and pick up pecans,” he reminisces. “Those are great memories, and I could see us there with this family barbecue.”

Rosemary Hot Smoked Salmon
Rosemary Hot Smoked Salmon

4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 cups cold water
8 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 pounds side of salmon, skin-on
1 tablespoon black peppercorn, course ground
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
5 pounds 100 percent natural lump charcoal
1/2 pound hickory or applewood smoke chips, soaked overnight in water

Apple Cider-Maple Spray
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
 
In a large bowl, combine boiling water, salt, brown sugar, granulated sugar and rosemary. Stir until salt is dissolved. Add cold water and allow to cool. Place fish, flesh-side down, in a large shallow glass or ceramic dish, folding over thin tail end if necessary to fit. Pour in brine mixture to cover; weigh down fish to keep submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Remove fish from brine; rinse, pat dry and place skin-side down on rack. Sprinkle with pepper, coriander and chopped rosemary. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours until flesh is tacky to the touch.

Using charcoal, start fire in smoker. When charcoal is ash gray, drain wood chips and scatter over charcoal. Bring smoker to 200-225 F, regulating temperature by opening vents wider to increase temperature or closing slightly to reduce temperature. Place fish, skin-side down in smoker. Cover and smoke until fish flakes easily or internal temperature is 140 F, about 1-1½ hours. Spray with the apple cider-maple mixture when checking the temperature of the fire, about every 20 minutes.

Serves 6-8



BBQ Beets With Quark Dressing
BBQ Beets with quark dressing

2 pounds baby beets, whole, washed and trimmed (reserve beet tops if attached)
4 cloves garlic, whole
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh rosemary
2 oranges, peel only (reserve orange segments)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Heavy-duty aluminum foil

Quark Dressing
1 pint fresh quark
1 tablespoon horseradish root, freshly grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Pickled Apple and Celery Root Slaw
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 green apples, julienned
1 celery root, julienned

Combine beets with garlic, thyme, rosemary, orange peels, olive oil and vinegar and wrap in double layer of aluminum foil. Place on grill over medium heat for 1.5-2 hours, depending upon the size of the beets. To assess doneness, pierce a beet with a sharp knife. If the knife slides in and out easily, it is cooked thoroughly. Keep in foil package until cool enough to handle. When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove skins. Cut into halves and set aside. Combine quark and horseradish root; season with salt and pepper. Set aside. In small pot, bring sugar, water and vinegar to boil. Pour over apples and celery root. Allow to cool. To serve, spoon quark dressing on a plate. Place beets on the dressing, sprinkle with apple and celery root, and garnish
with reserved beet tops dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Serves 6-8



Green Bean, Mushroom and Pepper Salad
GREEN Bean, Mushroom and Pepper Salad

2 pounds haricot vert
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, sliced 1/8-inch thick
2 red bell peppers
1/2 cup local olives, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup goat feta cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil to drizzle
Salt and pepper to taste

Seasoned Flour Mix
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon salt
Pinch ground black pepper

Two hours prior to preparation, soak shallot slices in milk. Trim, blanch and shock haricot vert in ice water. Set aside. Sautee mushrooms in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Combine flour, chili powder, paprika, cumin powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a bowl. Remove shallots from the milk. Lightly drain. Separate rings and toss with the seasoned flour mixture. Fry to golden brown. Set aside. Char red peppers over open flame until fully blackened. Place in covered bowl or paper bag to continue to cook for 10 minutes, after which peel skin off peppers, remove ribs and seeds, and julienne. To serve, toss the cooked green beans, mushrooms and peppers with sherry vinegar and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Garnish with sliced olives, crumbled feta and a generous drizzle of remaining olive oil. Top with crispy shallot.

Serves 6-8
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