I have been a fan of Andrew Carmellini’s Urban Italian cookbook, which has killer recipes for Potato Gnocchi and Rigatoni Pugliese. He opened a new American restaurant this year called The Dutch, which was the New York Times’ Dining Critic Sam Sifton’s #1 restaurant of 2011. So naturally I was excited when I heard he had a new cookbook entitled American Flavor. American Flavor features some recipes from The Dutch, but it is also a collection of recipes from Chef Carmellini’s experiences growing up in Cleveland and traveling through the South to Miami with his father. There is an insightful introductory chapter that recounts some of these stories and makes for a fun read and provides an understanding of the selection of recipes included in the book, which are quite eclectic and represent the melting pot that is American food. For example, the soup chapter includes a recipe for Cream of Mushroom Soup, a nod to the staple Campbell’s Soup of Midwestern home kitchens, but also soups like Coconut-Curry Butternut Squash Soup with Lemongrass and Cilantro Yogurt, and Tomato-Chile-Mango Gazpacho. There are many recipes with Southern influence, like Hoppin’ John and Green Grits, but there’s also room for Korean Steak, Pierogies, and Spam Musubi.
I have tried two recipes so far, the Black Eyed Pea and Kale Chili and the Chipotle-Bacon Cornbread. Both actually contain chipotle chiles and bacon, which makes for efficient shopping, but the two dishes complement each other nicely instead of having too similar flavor profiles. The Chili has really fresh flavors with quickly cooked celery, onion, tomatoes, black-eyed peas, and kale in chicken broth. There is a depth of flavor with the smoky bacon, chipotles, plus mustard, honey, cumin, and coriander. The cornbread has a perfect crumb with ribbons of cheddar, bacon, honey, and chipotle running through it. Both are doable in a home kitchen. The success of these two dishes make me look forward to cooking more from this book. Mexican Baked Apples with Ancho Caramel, Chicken Pot Pie, and Macaroni and Cheese-Stuffed Meatloaf look amazing and are on my to-do list.
Link to chili recipe here.