Valerie Phillips: Local chef Matthew Lake spills secrets on his dishes

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 7 2012 4:07 p.m. MDT

To go with the scallops, Lake made a Romesco sauce from blanched slivered almonds and parsley. Don't roast the almonds. "I am looking for the brighter flavor, not the dark roasted flavor."

His Pecan Pork dish uses a "confit" cooking technique, where a dish is surrounded by fat and cooked at a low temperature. He uses a pork shoulder, or butt, and covers it with duck fat, bakes it at 300 degrees for three hours. The result is a pot roast-like tenderness. "Most of you are probably not going to find 5 pounds of rendered duck fat, so you can use canola oil," he said, adding that the oil can be strained, refrigerated and re-used for things like frying French fries.

He believes in supporting local products as much as possible. "But the quality has to enter into the equation."

Recipes should be considered as guidelines. "You should taste often as you go, and trust your palate," he said. "A mistake is to follow the recipe to the letter and then tasting at the end and thinking it needs something."

Here are a couple of the recipes Lake showed us:

Almond Romesco

Lake serves his seared scallops on a bed of this sauce.

2 cups blanched almonds

1 bunch flat leaf parsley

1 clove peeled garlic

3/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil

About 1 cup bread crumbs

In a food processor, combine the nuts, garlic and parsley. Blend until coarsely ground. Add the lemon juice. Slowly add in the olive oil and puree to a loose pesto consistency. Remove the mixture from the bowl and place in a clean mixing bowl. Slowly stir in the bread crumbs to lightly bind the mixture. Season with salt and set aside. Sauce may be made up to two days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

— Matthew Lake, Zy Food Wine & Cheese

Tender Pecan Pork

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder

6 whole shallots, peeled

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon whole black pepper corn

Rendered duck fat or canola oil, enough to cover the pork

Pecan Crust

2 cups pecans

1 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Portion pork shoulder into four 8-ounce pieces. Place the pork in a baking dish deep enough to cover the pork with the fat.

Add the shallots, bay leaf and pepper corn. Cover with the fat. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake at 300 degrees for three hours, until tender.

To make crust, place pecans, brown sugar and salt in a food processor. Grind until the consistency of wet sand. Top the pork with the pecan mixture.

— Matthew Lake, Zy Food Wine & Cheese

Valerie Phillips is the former Deseret News food editor. She blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com. Email: vphillips@desnews.com

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