Every so often, a cow gets dropped off at the Moda Hotel. Actually, it’s a side of a cow, but it still weighs about 680 kilograms, measures close to three metres long, and takes five people to carry into the kitchen. That’s where Faizal Kassam, executive chef of the hotel’s Cibo Trattoria and Uva Wine Bar (900 Seymour Street), takes over.
“Every animal has a different set of prime cuts, but the majority is approached the same way: take the legs off, focus on the belly, and then go into the ribs,” he tells the Georgia Straight. “When I did my apprenticeship, there was a lot of butchery involved, but the majority of my butchery knowledge comes from [former executive chef] Neil Taylor. We used to get whole lambs, goats, rabbit, venison, pigs, wild boars, and cows.”
Kassam is passionate about local, nose-to-tail dining and sources most of his ingredients within a 100-kilometre radius. Abbotsford’s Campagna Farm—which raises cattle on a diet of all-natural hay and red wine—supplies the restaurant’s beef.
After attending the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, the Lynn Valley–raised chef developed his appreciation for local ingredients through working at restaurants such as Bacchus at the Wedgewood Hotel, Bin 941, and Hawksworth. Despite his training in French techniques, he’s partial to Italian cooking.
“When it comes to rustic Italian flavours, they’re bold and in your face,” he explains. “I think it’s more like real food, and you don’t fuss about pretty shapes or ring moulds or fancy little garnishes.”
This recipe for hunter-style braised beef is one Kassam learned from Taylor. Kassam explains that it’s named after the hunters who, centuries ago, carried red wine, garlic, and pepper to whip up this dish with game and wild rosemary. He’ll cook a similar dish at Cibo for a Campagna Farm beef dinner event on April 2 ($99 per person for four courses and wine pairings).
Kassam notes that braising—cooking in liquid over a long period of time at a low temperature—is a simple way to use less expensive, tougher cuts of beef. The horseradish crème fraîche softens the pepper bite of the sauce, and the beef is tossed with fresh handmade pasta.
He suggests pairing the dish with a Negroni cocktail. “The orange and grapefruit complement the dish, and the bitterness from the Campari cleanses your palate.”
Faizal Kassam’s hunter-style braised beef with pappardelle and horseradish creme fraiche
⅓ cup (90 mL) crème fraîche
3 Tbsp (45 mL) fresh horseradish, grated
1 Tbsp (15 mL) red wine vinegar
2.2 lb (1 kg) beef chuck, cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) canola oil
10 garlic cloves, peeled
5 sprigs rosemary
1 fresh bay leaf
¼ cup (60 mL) cracked black pepper
6 cups (1.5 L) red wine
Pappardelle pasta (see recipe below)
- In a small bowl, combine crème fraîche, horseradish, and vinegar. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 300 ° F (150 ° C).
- Season beef with salt. Fill a shallow dish with flour, lightly dredge the meat, and shake off excess flour.
- To a large, oven-safe pot over high heat, add the oil and cook the meat for about 2 minutes on each side until brown. Add garlic cloves, rosemary, and bay leaf, and cook for 30 seconds until garlic starts to brown. Add black pepper and red wine. Cover the pot with a lid, leaving room for steam to escape, and transfer pot to oven. Cook about 1.5 hours or until beef is tender.
- Remove pot from oven and stir in horseradish crème fraîche. Add cooked pasta and toss until just combined. Divide between 6 plates.
2 cups (500 mL) semolina flour
2 cups (500 mL) Tipo 00 flour
8 large eggs
1 cup (250 mL) coarse polenta
- In a large bowl, mix together semolina and Tipo flours. Carefully pour onto a clean work surface, form a mound, and create a well in the centre.
- With 5 of the eggs, separate the yolks from the whites. (Save the whites for another use.) Pour egg yolks into the flour well, and crack the 3 remaining eggs into the well. Using hands, mix egg in a circular motion, bringing in the sides of the well to combine flour and eggs. Continue until paste forms. Knead until smooth.
- On a floured work surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin until about 1 cm thick. With a pasta machine on its highest setting, feed dough through, turning the handle with one hand while supporting the dough with the other. Reduce the setting by one notch, and roll the dough through again. Dust the dough with polenta as it becomes tacky. Repeat the process until arriving at the No. 4 setting.
- Fold the sheet of dough lengthwise until its length matches the width of the pasta machine. Feed the dough through the machine on its highest setting, widthwise rather than lengthwise. Repeat process, reducing the setting each time until dough is about 1.5 mm thick.
- Place the dough on a floured work surface, and cut the sheet lengthwise into noodles about 1.5 cm wide.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook for about 3 minutes, or until al dente.
Yield: 6 main-size servings.
Recipe has not been tested by the Georgia Straight.