Delicacies Chef’s Table: April 1 - June 30, 2017
From humble beginnings in Birmingham, England, Chef April Bloomfield hit the New York scene in 2004 with the opening of The Spotted Pig, earned a Michelin star, and quickly built a fierce following of loyal fans. Now the co-owner and executive chef of top-rated dining establishments across the country, Chef Bloomfield is known for her commitment to nose-to-tail eating and her no-nonsense take on (delicious) food. Delicacies is honored to have Chef Bloomfield on our Chef’s Table.
The mission of Food Bank For New York City is to end hunger by organizing food, information and support for community survival and dignity.
Why I Love the Pig
By April Bloomfield
I adore pigs, and I love eating them and cooking them, and I love using the whole animal. After all, my first cookbook was called A Girl and Her Pig!
4 medium red onions (about 8 ounces each), peeled, stem ends trimmed, root ends trimmed but left intact
About 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Maldon or another flaky sea salt
1 head garlic
A small handful of small thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon leaves
½ cup Italian sausage (remove casing if necessary)
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Put the onions in a medium Dutch oven or other ovenproof pot with a lid. Drizzle some olive oil into your hand and rub it onto the onions. You’ll probably end up using about 2 tablespoons. Grab some salt and crush it between your fingers as you sprinkle it all over each onion, turning the onions to make sure the salt adheres to all sides. Put them in the pot.
Tear off the outermost layers of peel from the garlic head so the cloves are exposed. Put it in the middles of the onions and drizzle on a little olive oil. Scatter the thyme sprigs over the onions, and pour ⅓ cup water around the onions and garlic.
Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Cook just until the onions are lightly browned and soft enough that you can insert a knife into the center with barely any resistance, 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your onions. Let them sit covered, on the top of the stove until they’re cool enough to handle, so they get even softer. (Leave the oven on.)
Carefully transfer the onions to a plate or cutting board, leaving the liquid behind in the pot. Use a small spoon to scoop out a few layers of the insides of each onion, and stuff each one with about 2 tablespoons of the sausage. Add the scooped out onion bits to a 12-inch ovenproof pan or small baking dish. (When you add the cream and water, the liquid should come a little less than halfway up the sides of the onions.) Squeeze the soft flesh of the garlic cloves into the pan, and add the thyme leaves, cream, 1 cup of water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring the mixture to a full boil, add the stuffed onions, sausage side up, and baste them with the liquid for about a minute or so.
Pop the pan into the oven, uncovered, and cook, basting the onions every 10 minutes or so, until the sauce is thick but not gloopy, about 40 minutes. Taste the sauce and add a little more salt, if you’d like. Bring the pan to the table, spoon a little of the sauce over the top of each onion, and dig in.
Before moving to New York, April spent the summer of 2003 in Berkeley, California, at the legendary Chez Panisse. In February 2004, April and restaurateur Ken Friedman opened New York City’s first gastropub, The Spotted Pig. Under April's direction, The Spotted Pig earned one star from the Michelin Guide for ten consecutive years, and since 2010, April & Ken’s The Breslin Bar & Dining Room also earned a star in the esteemed guidebook. In fall 2010, April and Ken opened The John Dory Oyster Bar, which joined The Breslin at New York’s Ace Hotel and earned a glowing, two-star review from The New York Times. The duo opened Salvation Taco at the Pod 39 Hotel in December 2012, where April has created a menu of international tacos and bar snacks. In February 2016, April and Ken debuted their take on the classic fast casual burger joint: Salvation Burger at the Pod 51 Hotel, where everything from the burgers to the American cheese, pickles and buns are made in-house. They followed it up with the November 2016 opening of White Gold Butchers on New York’s Upper West Side.
On the West Coast, April and Ken took over San Francisco’s famed Tosca Cafe space in 2013, marking their first opening outside of New York City. Tosca Cafe earned a three-star review from the San Francisco Chronicle and was recognized as one of Bon Appetit’sThe Hot 10: The Best New Restaurants in America in 2014.
April’s first cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig, was published by Ecco in April 2012. She was honored as a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2007, and in May 2014, she received the coveted James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: New York City. In April 2015, April’s second cookbook, A Girl and Her Greens, was published.