Everybody who's anybody in food knows about Gabrielle Hamilton's sexy little dish, radishes with sea salt and soft butter. At Prune (1st and 1st, NYC) It is one of the simple menu items that has helped to create the legend of Gabrielle. Her "I (long "I") like it, so I'm gonna serve it to my guests" attitude is what makes her place among the best in NYC.
It is what makes her a genius.
Note this guys:
Being a chef is about your cooking, (as well as a million administrative tasks)
Being a decent chef is about cooking very good things.
Being a good chef is having the understanding to cook within your personalty and style, to make your menu reflect your own vision of what is good to you, and to share it with ease. That is hard. It takes confidence and humility.
When I was beginning my first life as a musician, I didn't know that lesson. I tried to learn other people's songs that were very complicated for me, a novice. I studied songs with elaborate riffs and solos by Queen, Zepplin, Rick Derringer, Yes. I worked hard to learn the exact riffs that these highly trained and meticulous guitarists had laid to vinyl. I sounded ok, but I never quite got it right. It wasn't me. I was always struggling too hard to learn RIFFS and PARTS, not great songs. That I began to understand that was one of the great blessings of my artistic life.
All the Young Dudes, Sweet Jane, Sexy Sadie, It's Only Rock and Roll. There are easy to play Riffs but are great songs. It takes an ear and a sense of cool to lay back, write the song, leave the riffs alone and not over embellish and distract from the beauty of the hook. When I stopped trying to learn other riffs and began to write my own songs, I was myself.
It is not HOW GOOD you play, it is WHAT YOU CHOOSE to play.
Which brings us back to the radishes.
This is inspired by the radishes at Prune, but with my own sense of cool.
Cooked radishes, warm, soft, subtle and buttery.
Butter Poached Radishes
10-12 red radishes, trimmed of stem and greens
2 sticks butter, melted, about one cup.
salt as needed (if you have salted butter, you'll need less, obviously)
In a heavy skillet, arrange the radishes in a single layer, not on top of each other.
Add water to come up about 1/2 inch around the radishes.
Add the melted butter and sprinkle lightly with salt. The combined liquid should cone at least halfway up the radishes, maybe even a little more.
If not, add a little more water.
Bring heat under pan to medium and bring to a gentle simmer.
Control water butter mix heat as to not let the stuff boil very hard. Just a little simmer.
Taste the liquid. It there enough salt? It should taste slightly briny.
After a few minutes, turn a radish. If it is beginning to turn pinkish and it is starting to lose it bright red color, turn them all over.
Do the same once they are flipped.
Cook gently until the radishes are tender but not to soft.
Cut one in half. The center should be slightly translucent and just tender.
They are done. Serve the radishes AND he cooking liquid. It will be a great combo of salty pink water and bright yellow butter when it cools.
Arrange radishes on a plate and sprinkle with salt.
Drizzle with the butter-water mix. Top with a few radish sprouts if you have them.
If you find any other uses for the radish poaching butter-water, email me