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Corby's Table
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Persian Appeal

Lobster and Corn Bisque
Grilled Sweet Potato Salad
Grilled Jerk Chicken
Barbecued Ribs
Spicy Coleslaw
Buttermilk-Chile Corn Muffins

July 14, 1999

To know Patrick Clark was apparently to love him, judging by the new Cooking With Patrick Clark: A Tribute to the Man and his Cuisine. I never met him, and so I wasn't one of the many who prized this big, warm, food-loving chef who served as a model for many young African-Americans; finding work in the higher levels of kitchen staffs is not as easy as it should be, especially in New York.

When Clark died at the age of forty-two while waiting for a heart transplant, the professional food world, a tough one, went into mourning -- and also into action. Charlie Trotter, the Chicago restaurateur who is as ambitious as he is successful, mobilized the team that has produced his own series of lavish books, and Ten Speed Press responded with handsome layout and photography. In a warm introduction Trotter says that Clark was a model to him as a "loving husband and father" of five children, even more than he was as a chef. The essay by Clark's widow, Lynette, includes an affecting paragraph about the couple's children, whose educations will be funded by the profits from this book.

Discuss this column in Post & Riposte.

Previously in Corby's Table:

Persian Appeal -- June 1999
Corby Kummer on Najmieh Batmanglij's A Taste of Persia, and the subtle yet persistent spices of Iranian cuisine.

Help! My Child Is a Vegan! -- April 1999
Stephanie Pierson's useful new guide for teenage vegetarians, and those who love them anyway.

Seasons and Seasonings -- March 1999
A seasonal guide to cooking from the garden by Amanda Hesser, a young woman who knows and loves food.

Seductions of Rice -- January 1999
Selections from a new guide to the universal grain's many flavors.

A Passion for Pastry -- December 1998
Two books that will have you dreaming of the perfect holiday dessert.

Soup With Style -- November 1998
A look at the new book by Barbara Kafka, a cook who takes a fearlessly original approach to soup.

Mangia, Mangia in the Mountains -- October 1998
A trip to Abruzzo with Anna Teresa Callen, whose new book draws on culinary memories of this less-traveled Italian region.

Adventures in Grains and Greens -- August 1998
Paula Wolfert's latest Mediterranean explorations.

Vegging Out -- July 1998
The ultimate guide to eating your vegetables.

America's Favorite Crustacean -- June 1998
Jasper White gets up close and personal with lobster claws, tails, and tomalley.

More by Corby Kummer in Atlantic Unbound

Obviously, Clark's generous spirit and fondness for big flavors inspired fellow chefs to produce recipes in kind. Although many of the recipes in the book call for multiple ingredients and techniques that require a great deal of patience or a large staff, there are relatively simple recipes too. I've chosen several from the first half of the book, Clark's half, to give an idea of his own style; they were assembled from notes Clark made toward a cookbook and also recipes he wrote to keep busy during several hospitalizations.

Lobster and corn bisque, with its cream and bacon, might not seem exactly light and summery, but the prime ingredients are at their best in the summer. Grilled sweet potato salad with chile and ginger takes advantage of outdoor summer techniques to make a big, lush, main-course salad (okay, there's no protein, but I believe in living chiefly on carbohydrates); the grilled jerk chicken gives an unusually easy and powerful spice marinade that can serve for fish, too, and be an all-purpose grill marinade for protein-loving guests. And I would utterly trust Clark's barbecued ribs -- the sauce alone is worth the price of the book, and if you can find tamarind paste you'll understand why you'll never need to rely on bottled sauce again. There are plenty of autumnal recipes too, but to get them you'll have to get the book -- and, not so incidentally, help Clark's family in the process.

    -- Corby Kummer

Excerpts from Cooking with Patrick Clark: A Tribute to the Man and his Cuisine, conceived and coordinated by Charlie Trotter

Lobster and Corn Bisque

Extra lobster stock can be frozen for several months.

Serves 10

4 1-pound lobsters 6 ears sweet corn
4 bay leaves 8 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon black peppercorns Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 l/2 cups heavy whipping cream 3 thick strips bacon, julienned
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch dice 1 onion, chopped
4 teaspoons chervil leaves 1/4 cup butter

To prepare the lobster: Cook the lobsters in boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly underdone. Remove from the water and let cool slightly. Remove the lobster meat from the shells, reserving the meat and the shells. Coarsely chop the lobster meat.

To prepare the corn: Husk the corn and remove the corn from the cobs, reserving the corn, cobs, and half of the husks.

To make the bisque: Place the lobster shells, corn cobs, husks, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and peppercorns in a stockpot and add enough water to barely cover. Simmer for 45 minutes and then strain through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the solids. Place the broth in a large saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes, or until reduced to 1 1/2 quarts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place half of the corn kernels in a small saucepan and add the heavy cream. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the cream is reduced to about 1 cup. Remove from the heat and purée until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the bacon over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the fat is rendered but not brown. Remove the bacon from the pan and discard. Sauté the remaining corn, the potatoes, and onion in the bacon fat over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain any fat from the pan, add the puréed corn mixture, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until thick. Add the lobster stock in small additions until the desired consistency is reached. Add the lobster meat to the pan and whisk in the butter just prior to serving.

Ladle the soup into 10 bowls and sprinkle with the chervil leaves. Top with freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

with Chile and Ginger Vinaigrette

This delicious variation of a traditional green salad is simple to prepare.

Serves 6

2 large sweet potatoes 2 teaspoons canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper I/4 cup minced green bell pepper
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced 1 teaspoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar I/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup 3/4 cup olive oil
3 cups mesclun greens  

To prepare the salad: Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the tines of a fork can be inserted about 1/2 inch into the potato, but the centers are still firm. Remove the potatoes from the water and let cool completely. Peel and slice in 3/4-inch-thick slices. Brush the slices with canola oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Grill on a moderately hot fire for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through.

To prepare the vinaigrette: In a bowl, whisk together the green and red peppers, jalapeño, scallions, ginger, vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place a mound of mesclun greens in the center of each plate. Arrange the sweet potatoes around the greens and drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and on the potatoes.

Grilled Jerk Chicken

with Caramelized Vidalia Onions and Sweet Potato Cakes

You can minimize the heat of the Jerk Spice by patting the chicken dry after marinating.

Serves 6

2 pounds chicken thighs 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper Jerk Spice (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons canola oil 2 tablespoons butter
6 large Vidalia onions 1 pound sweet potatoes, grated
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup minced onion 1 egg, beaten

To prepare the chicken: Rub the chicken thighs with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken with the Jerk Spice in a resealable bag until completely coated and refrigerate overnight.

Cook the chicken on a hot grill for 10 minutes, turn the chicken over and cook for 10 minutes more, or until completely cooked. Keep warm until ready to serve.

To prepare the onions: Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil, 1 tablespoon of the butter, and the onions. Cook for 10 minutes, add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and cook for 6 to 9 minutes more, or until the onions are golden brown and caramelized. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To prepare the sweet potatoes: Combine the sweet potatoes, flour, baking powder, minced onion, egg, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Form the mixture into 12 cakes. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the sweet potato cakes for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon some of the onions on one side of each plate. Place 2 sweet potato cakes next to the onions and lay the chicken pieces on the onions and leaning against the cakes.

Jerk Spice


1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds 5 whole cloves
6 cardamom pods 10 allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns 2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 stick cinnamon, crushed into small pieces 4 cloves garlic
8 jalapeño peppers, toasted and seeded 1-inch length of fresh ginger, peeled

Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine all of the dry spices on a small baking pan and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until their aromas are released. Purée the spices with the garlic, jalapeños, and ginger, adding small amounts of water to form a paste. Remove the mixture from the blender and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Barbecued Ribs

with Spicy Coleslaw and Buttermilk-Chile Corn Muffins

The extra barbecue sauce may be kept in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Serves 6

1/4 cup paprika 2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 tablespoons chile powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder 2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar 1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 slabs of pork ribs (3 pounds or less), underflap removed Patrick's Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)
Spicy Coleslaw (recipe follows) Buttermilk-Chile Corn Muffins (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons chopped chives  

To prepare the ribs: Sift the spices, salt, and sugar together into a bowl. Combine the spice mixture and vinegar to make a paste. Rub the paste into the meat, cover, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 250°. Unwrap the ribs and place on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan. Bake for 3 1/2 hours. Do not turn the meat.

Heat a grill until very hot. Remove the ribs from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Place the ribs on the grill top side down for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the fat starts to sizzle. Turn the ribs over and brush with the barbecue sauce. Cook for 1 minute. Turn the ribs over and brush with barbecue sauce. Remove the meat from the grill and cut the ribs into 3- to 4-rib pieces.

Place a mound of coleslaw on the side of each plate. Arrange a piece of the ribs leaning against the coleslaw and place 2 muffins next to the ribs. Place a ramekin of barbecue sauce on each plate and sprinkle the coleslaw with the chives.

Patrick's Barbecue Sauce


1 onion, chopped 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
4 cups ketchup 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup cider vinegar 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons dry mustard 2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chile powder 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons tamarind paste 2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup butter

Purée the onion and 1/2 cup of the orange juice for 2 minutes, or until smooth. Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and stir in the onion purée. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Spicy Coleslaw


3 cups shredded green cabbage 1 1/2 cups julienned carrots
1 cup julienned jicama 1 sweet onion, julienned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 cup cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, sliced 3 shallots, chopped
10 black peppercorns 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
3 1/4-inch slices peeled fresh ginger 1 cup olive oil

Combine the cabbage, carrots, jicama, and onion in a large bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Combine the vinegar, garlic, shallots, peppercorns, jalapeño, and ginger in a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and whisk in the olive oil. Pour the liquid over the cabbage mixture and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Buttermilk-Chile Corn Muffins


1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk 1 1/2 teaspoons minced jalapeño pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Beat the eggs and buttermilk in a small bowl and add the jalapeño. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula until well mixed. Scoop the batter into mini muffin molds and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Aleia Clark, age 15

My dad used to come into my classroom every year and serve cheesecake to my classmates. One of the more memorable years was in the beginning of second grade, when we first moved to California. It was only the second week of school and I hardly knew anyone. The cheesecake was a great icebreaker. I remember going home with new friends and, of course, I was in good with the teachers. A couple of years ago he asked me when I wanted him to come to my school. I told him I was too old for that now. I wish I hadn't thought I was too old.

Jody Adams

Jody Adams emulated her mother's love of cooking, but it wasn't until she was in college that her interest in food took a professional turn when she took a part-time job with Nancy Verde Barr, a professional food writer and teacher Jody's culinary career began in Boston in 1983 at Seasons Restaurant under chef Lydia Shire. Three years later she became Gordon Hamersley's sous chef at Hamersley's Bistro. She moved to Michela's in 1990 and was executive chef there until early 1994. In the spring of 1994 Jody formed a partnership to open Rialto. Four months after the restaurant opened, the Boston Globe gave Rialto a four-star rating.

I became acquainted with Patrick at fundraisers, James Beard Awards events, and at various guest chef events. It may be something of a cliché to describe someone as an inspiration, but in a profession filled with hype, Patrick was the genuine article -- a great manager and a super cook. He was the calm at the center of the storm that is often the atmosphere of an off-site event. The orchestrator of many such events, he expected his participants to deliver their best.

Patrick set his own culinary standard. While not disdainful of dramatic presentation, he practiced a more modest style. He was an advocate of nuance. His food lay low on the plate, as though inviting diners to draw close, within whispering distance, to where a dish's virtues might be intimately appreciated.

Finally, it is as a chef with a family, as I am, that I remember Patrick. At the 1994 James Beard Awards he was sitting in front of me, with several vacant seats on either side of him. We both had been nominated, and I was churning with nerves, squeezing my husband's hand as the moment neared when the winner in my division would be announced. I wondered about his family. Some time later, when he visited Boston, he came to eat in my restaurant, and we had our first leisurely conversation. After he ordered, he produced photographs of his family. We shared our thoughts on how hard restaurant life is on family life. I imagined his wife and five children sitting together at home, waiting to hear whether he had won that night at the Beard Awards. And of course, he had won. When his name was announced, the room exploded with applause, as I'm sure it did in his home. We all had been holding hands for him.

Corby Kummer is a senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly and the author of The Joy of Coffee
More by Corby Kummer in Atlantic Unbound

Copyright © 1999 by Corby Kummer.
Recipes and links from Cooking with Patrick Clark conceived and coordinated by Charlie Trotter. Ten Speed Press: Berkeley, California, 1999. Hardcover, 240 pages. ISBN: 1580080731. $35. Copyright © by the Patrick Clark Family Trust and Charlie Trotter.
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