Another Day in Poe's Kitchen at The Rattlesnake

Chef Brian Poe shows you the world in the back of the house.

The Flavor of Friendship: Doughnuts

People have always been my favorite part of the restaurant business. Camaraderie is a source of warmth beyond the stove, and when I find a way to someone’s heart through food, it is always an inspiration. As the summer comes around again, we get to reunite with many an old friend—and their tastebuds—on the roof deck, at backyard BBQs, baseball games, and the beach.

Doughnuts I’m particularly fond of because they remind me of a dear friend I made when I first moved to Boston to run the restaurnat at the Boston Millennium Hotel, then called Seasons. It was a snowy Sunday night in January, and I was doing double duty as manager and chef. The snowstorm had gained momentum, so I sent my cooks and servers home early to beat the dangers of a Nor’easter. The restaurant had already closed for the night and as I did a pass through to turn off the lights and the stereo and lock up the wine, I looked up to see two people sitting at a table, menus and glasses of wine in hand.

I panicked, because not only did I have no servers, I had already put all of my mise en place away. I quickly called room service down to help me if need be. As I approached the table, I asked if I could be of assistance. I got the kindest response. The gentleman told me that that table was the one his mother had always sat at when she would came to Seasons, and that he and his girlfriend had just gotten engaged right there on the spot. Time for a celebration! They assured me they were not too hungry—but that they certainly loved food. So I took them back into the kitchen and we prepared a dish together. As we cooked, we began to exchange great stories about New England, especially its food.  Together we ate the dish that we prepared—which happened to include one of my first takes on the baked brie empanada!—and then I bade the lovebirds goodnight.

A few months later, the phone in the kitchen rang. It was Tom, the gentleman from that evening. He thanked me for the wonderful evening and asked if I would like to join him and his fiancée Alla on their boat over the summer. So we made a plan to meet up in mid-July.

Now, the girl that I was dating then was a little worried about this boat, picturing some tiny little fishing vessel, as was I. So we did a little research and, just in case, booked a room at the nearest hotel to the dock. But once we passed through the gates of the club, we found on the other side no little dinghy but an 80-foot yacht with 3 bedrooms! (Cancel that reservation please—we’ll be staying afloat tonight!)

The evening that followed was filled with great wine, incredible food, and fantastic conversation. Near the end of the meal, Tom turned to me and said, “You know, this is probably not something that I should share with a chef but I’ve got a really fun, great dessert…” After such a fun-filled evening, how could I say no?

So he snuck back into the cabin and came out with blueberry ice cream, some caramel, and, of all things—a box of doughnuts. I have to admit, I was a little confused.  But he just smiled—and turned on the grill. Within a matter of minutes we were plating up a messy, fun dessert of grilled doughnuts for everyone. There on the water, it was divine, and it has become one of my favorite summer treats—at home and now at Poe’s Kitchen!

Sure, we’ve added a little sass by making our own cheesecake, huckleberry, and chocolate chip ice creams, then topping it off with a champagne foam. But I’m not going to lie to you—I stay true to Tom and Alla’s recipe by using Dunkin’ Donuts! And they, in turn, have stayed true friends to me.

Now I invite you, new friends and old, to swing by the restaurant for a taste…

My Multi-Talented Morel Vinaigrette

At Poe’s Kitchen right now we’re serving my take on an empanada: a puff-pastry square stuffed and baked with brie, then drizzled with morel vinaigrette. It’s a dish I’ve served to everyone from Curt Schilling (see here) to guests of the Legacy Dinner that marked the closure of Seasons in 2007, where I cooked with Lydia Shire, Jasper White, Peter McCarthy, and other fellow chefs of the legendary restaurant.

In fact, I’ve been tweaking it since around 2006; what I love about it is the versatility of the components throughout the year. For example, when beets are at their peak, I roast them in jalapeno and citrus and add them to the dish in paper-thin slices for garnish. I also switch the mushrooms in the vinaigrette depending on the season; there are grilled portobellos in the version I serve with my warm portobello salad (see the regular menu here).

Here’s the recipe for the dressing; have fun trying different ‘shrooms like I do!

Morel Vinaigrette

1 lb. morel mushrooms, cleaned
1 t. chopped garlic
1 t. chopped shallots
1 t. chopped fresh herbs (I like oregano, thyme, rosemary and basil)
2 c. olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and sauté them in a pan; set aside.

Dip mushrooms into olive oil and shake off excess oil. Season with salt and pepper and sauté in the hot pan for about 5 minutes. Reserve juices and chop the caps with the stems.

In a mixing bowl, combine all remaining ingredients with a wire whip; add the diced mushrooms and juices. Reserve at room temperature. Can be refrigerated for up to one week.

On Going Wild with John Dory: A Year in Poe’s Kitchen

What a difference a year makes.

As I was beginning to revamp the menu for spring, I happened to look at my inventory sheets from March 2009:

MEAT
Chicken tenders
Burgers
Hot dogs

PRODUCE
Lettuce
Tomato
Onion

FISH
Calamari
Cod

MISC.
Premade pizza shells

My list this year reads:

MEAT
Rattlesnake               Leg of lamb
Duck                           Buffalo
Boar                            Alligator
Venison                     Sweetbreads
Wagyu                        Veal bones
Ribeye                        Beef tenderloin
Chorizo                      Speck
Foie gras

PRODUCE
Peruvian potato        Yukon Gold potato
Watercress                 Frisée
Baby arugula             Baby tatsoi
Chocolate mint         Purple asparagus
Chiles: cascabel, guajillo, ancho, Anaheim, poblano, jalapeno, serrano, habanero

FISH
Cod                              Salmon
Tuna                           Shrimp
U/10 scallops          Mussels
Clams: Wellfleet, Ipswich
Oysters: Cape, Duxbury
Lobster

With all of these ingredients, we can go in most any direction our culinary hearts desire. My staff and I are constantly trying to push ourselves forward; we do our damnedest not to repeat anything on the Unleashed menu (though we have some favorites that bring us comfort each season).

Even so, every time I look at an inventory sheet, I ask myself what might be missing—and then I try to fill the gaps in ways that will be as fun for us in the kitchen as they are exciting for you in the dining room.

Take last night. At midnight, I called in my meat and fish orders—and at the end of both messages, I said, “I don’t wish to confuse matters, but if you could just do me one favor—please send me 5 pounds of the freshest ingredient you have in stock. I don’t care what it is—surprise me!” Then I called the produce company, and asked them to send me 1 pound each of 5 surprise ingredients.

This morning is wild; we’re gearing up for a busy lunch. There’s a photo shoot with Tony Caz of the Patriot Ledger on the roofdeck before all hell breaks loose on the line. We cook like mad until 3:15 pm, and now I’m looking at my grab bag of surprises. Yes—there’s a little John Dory, some morels….I’ve got it!

First I’ll season the fish with shiitake dust, wrap it in ramps, and grill it. Then I’ll serve it on a brioche bun with watercress and tomato. On the side, 3-potato salad with Meyer lemon, purple asparagus–morel salsa, and crumbled feta in a smoked Kalamata olive vinaigrette. Voilà—my new fish sandwich.

The opportunities I’ve had this past year to surprise my coworkers, customers, and even myself by transforming classic bar snacks into a wild new category of eclectic eats have been tremendous. Thanks to all who’ve accompanied me on this crazy culinary journey! That includes the exciting new crew who’s helping me make jalapeno sugar for our white chocolate ganache cheesecake with jalapeno lime and strawberry sauce as well as a habanero-infused margarita; for the complete current Unleashed menu, click here!

Super Bowl Sunday Menu: Alligator Tacos, Oyster Poe-Boys, & More!

Whether you’re hooting for the Saints or hollering for the Colts, you’ll need to keep your energy up with hearty eats! 

Bucket of Beer ~ 12
4 Leinenkugel Classic Ambers on ice 

Jalapeño–Black Bean Chili ~ cup/6 ~ Super Bowl/10
Beef & sausage chili with cayenne oyster cracker & jalapeño cheddar 

Chipotle Wings ~ 9
With smoked jalapeño-scallion & poblano–blue cheese dipping sauce 

Grilled Corn Bread ~ 7
With Hatch chiles, Guadalajara butter & queso fresco 

Nacho Mamas  ~ 12
Beef, chicken or veggie with refried beans, signature cheese blend, aqua fresca & salsas

Tailgator Tacos ~ 12
Buttermilk-marinated, fried alligator with “Manning Up” habañero sauce & sea “Brees” salsa of cranberry, Key lime & grapefruit 

Oyster Poe-Boy ~ 12
Flash-fried oysters with remoulade & French Quarter–style Poe-tato salad 

Chipotle-Smoked Baby Back Ribs ~ 15
Half-rack of ribs smoked & roasted with jalapeño cole slaw

Game Dawgs ~ 10
Two spicy grilled wieners with Sriracha ketchup and jalapeño mustard

Love Unleashed: V-Day menu at Poe’s Kitchen, 2/10–2/17

While Boston’s lovebirds are mooning quietly over candlelight, we at Poe’s Kitchen have created a special menu in honor of all the single ladies—and gentlemen—out there. Come on in and celebrate Independence Day—er, Valentine’s Day—with us! (Of course, you happy couples are invited too!)

*

~LOVE UNLEASHED~

Love is nature’s way of tricking people into reproducing.

SAVORY

Guac Blocker
Lime-zested chips & salsa with a trio of guacamoles: mango~beet~traditional

Sexual Healing
Farofa-dusted oysters fried in vanilla bean oil with chocolate stout molé

99 Problems But a Fish Ain’t One
Pancetta-wrapped cod on acorn squash puree with sundried strawberry-balsamic reduction & strawberry sea salt

Strapping Young Buck Tacos
Peppercorn-braised venison with watercress in aqua fresca, smoked peach-cilantro salsa & brie

Cougar’s Delight
Lobster, black truffle & goat cheese–stuffed petite tenderloin of beef with corn-infused potatoes, Thai peanut–veal stock teduction, coconut-lemongrass broth & flash-fried frisée

The Cheetah!
Mark Sanford Sirloin of “Kobe” beef rubbed with Argentine chimichurri & slow-smoked  South Carolina–style! Accompanied by Tiger Woods’ Angry Wife Salsa with wood chip–smoked habañeros and Bill Clinton Tobacco Chile Glaze

In tennis, LOVE = a score of zero to zero.

DESSERTS

Booty Text
3 AM Chinatown-style deep-fried green tea ice cream with cornflake & Ritz cracker crumbs

Cupid’s Chokehold
One heart-shaped brownie, one heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie with cayenne & chocolate fondue

Feel-Me-Up Buttercup
Peanut butter cups topped with vanilla mousse & berries

DRINKS

Silver Fox
Our signature margarita with Patron Silver 

Drink Me Pretty
Beija Cachaça~SoCo~Jack Daniels~Malibu Rum~Midori~pineapple & cranberry

Beer Goggles
This Guinness-Absolut Vanilla-Chambord milkshake brings all the boys to the yard! 

The Alternative Girlfriend
White Chocolate Godiva-Absolut Vanilla-Kahlua martini with a dark chocolate rim

Latin lesson: “Semper Ubi Sub Ubi” = Always where under where.

Put Your New Year’s Resolutions Where Your Mouth Is

The current Unleashed menu at Poe’s Kitchen sneaks a little healthiness into every dish. But don’t worry, you won’t even notice!

                    Thai tuna salad with seaweed & baby tatsoi in peanut vinaigrette


Quinoa-crusted salmon salad with berry-chipotle salsa & sweet potato “croutons”

        
        Grilled portobello mushroom salad with pickled onions & St. Andres blue cheese

Revel at the Rattlesnake TONIGHT!

We’re serving up some brand-spanking-new specials to ring in the New Year, along with a few recent favorites. Hey, you’ll need sustenance for all the dancing you’ll be doing—2 DJs on 2 floors are in the house tonight! $20 cover. 

CHILI CON CARNE EN FUEGO!!
Spicy beef & black bean chili con carne with cayenne oyster crackers and jalapeño cheddar
7/cup 10/bowl

HAPPY NEW YEAR NACHOS!
Tasso, pork loin & ham braised in Chilean olive oil, Hoppin’ John’s black-eyed-pea salsa, fried Swiss chard & Vermont cheddar sauce
14

TRUFFLE & HEN OF THE WOODS PIZZA
Grilled tortilla with artichoke-lime puree, mozzarella, pepperoni, black truffles, hen of the woods mushrooms & chervil
16

PRIME RIB POE DUNKER
Peppercorn-rubbed, shaved prime rib sandwich served French dip style with horseradish-sage mayo, Brie & onion dipping sauce, black lava sea salt & jalapeño powder
14

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CHOCOLATE CAKE
Chocolate chiffon sponge cake with peanut butter Italian buttercream & chocolate ganache
6

APPLE-RAISIN-CINNAMON EMPANADAS
With apple cider ice cream
6

COCONUT-JALAPEÑO SORBET
It’s cool, then hot! With cinnamon-dusted tortillas
6

CHOCOLATE TACO
Berry & marshmallow vanilla bean ice cream, graham crackers, chocolate drizzle & seared marshmallow–white chocolate “salsa”
6