WCL: Sepia's Executive Chef, Andrew Zimmerman

Sepia was one of 21 restaurants in Chicago that was given a Michelin Star award this year, one of the highest honors in the culinary world.

. Sepia's head chef, Andrew Zimmerman, stopped by the studio today and showed us how to prepare some of his Michelin worthy dishes at home! You'll find his full recipes below but if you'd like to try out Chef Zimmerman's cooking firsthand, be sure to book a reservation at his award winning restaurant, Sepia: http://www.sepiachicago.com/

Apple Cider Braised Pork Shanks, Sauerkraut, Apples and Potatoes

Serves 4-6 (depends how hungry you are)

4 skinless pork hind shanks, about 1 ½-2 lbs each
1 batch spice rub (recipe below)
4 tbsp duck fat, pork fat or vegetable oil.
1 granny smith apple, quartered
1 medium onion, large dice
2 medium carrots, peeled, large dice
2 celery stalks, large dice
1 head garlic, top cut off
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cloves
2 star anise
1tsp fennel seed
2 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 sprig rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
2 quarts apple cider
2 cups chicken stock (homemade or low sodium canned)
3 tbsp unsalted whole butter, diced


First, rub the pork shanks with the spice rub. If some falls off don't worry. Put the shanks in a non-reactive pan and let them rest 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. The next day rinse the shanks under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen towels. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Heat two tbsp of the duck fat in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shanks in batches of one or two depending on how large your dutch oven is, and carefully brown the shanks thoroughly. Be careful not to allow the delicious caramelized juices in the bottom of the pan to burn. (If they look like they are going to burn add a splash of the cider or water, scrape up the browned bits from the pan, pour it all into a small bowl, wipe out the pan and add more of the duck fat. Return to browning the shanks and save the pan drippings for later.) When you have finished browning the pork shanks add the celery, onions and carrots and cook them until they take a nice light brown color. Return the shanks to the pan, add the apples , the garlic, the cider and all of the herbs and spices (it is a good idea to put the herbs and spices in a cheese cloth bag?easier to pull them out later)

Put the whole pot, covered, in the oven and cook for about 2-2 ½ hours or until the meat is fork tender. Carefully remove the shanks and put them on a platter. Tent the shanks with foil to keep them warm. Strain the braising liquid through a fine sieve into a sauce pot. Discard the vegetable and spices. Skim the fat off the top of the braising liquid and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and reduce the braising liquid by about half. Whisk the butter into the sauce and taste it to see if it needs any salt or pepper. Pour the sauce over the shanks and serve.

3 Cinnamon Sticks
2 Whole Star Anise
1 1/2 tbsp Black Peppercorns
1tbsp Coriander seed
2 tsp Fennel seed
6 Whole cloves
1/2 cup Salt
1/4 cup Sugar
2 Medium cloves garlic, minced


For the Saeurkraut, Apples and Potatoes:

Lightly butter a casserole dish. Peel 2 granny smith apples and cut them into six pieces each. Cook the apples in 2 tbsp of butter in a non stick pan until they start to brown all over. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Slice 8-12 fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise and cook them for about 3 minuts in boiling salted water. Drain the potatoes and set aside. Rinse 4 cups of sauerkraut (homemade is best) under cold water for a minute, drain it and put it in the buttered casserole dish. Tuck the potatoes and apples in the sauerkraut and add a splash of apple cider. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

Cod baked with Leeks, Potatoes, Miatake and Black Truffle Butter

Serves 4

4 pc line caught cod fillet, 6oz each (or other white fish such as sea bass)
8-12 fingerling potatoes, cut in ¼ inch slices length ways, blanched in salted water for about 3 minutes
3-4 leeks, white part only, cleaned and cut into large dice, cooked in 2 tbsp butter until just tender
1 bunch Miatake (hen of the woods) mushrooms, cut into medium peices
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup white wine
2-3 tbsp crème fraiche
2-3 tbsp black truffle butter
Salt and pepper

Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large casserole dish arrange the just cooked leeks, the blanched potatoes, the mushrooms, the thyme the butter and the white wine. Season the cod with salt and pepper and put the fish on top of the vegetables. Lightly oil one side of a sheet of aluminum foil and tent the casserole dish lightly with it butter side down. Bake for about 7-8 minutes or until the fish is just warm in the center. Carefully move the fish to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Move the vegetable and sauce to a sauté pan. Remove the thyme stems. Bring everything just up to a boil and quickly whisk in the crème Fraiche and the truffle butter. Season with salt and pepper and divide among four warmed dinner plates. Top each with a piece of fish and serve.

Spice Lacquered Duck Breasts, Baby turnips, Turnip greens

Serves 4

4 pc boneless duck breasts, fat scored, about 7 oz. each
16 baby turnips with tops
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and pepper as needed
1 recipe glaze for duck (see below)

Put a pot of water on to boil and season it with enough salt to make it taste like the ocean. Have a bowl of ice water nearby as well. Take the greens off the turnips and set aside. Trim the turnips leaving about ½ inch of the green stem attached. Peel the turnips, keeping them as round as possible. Cut the turnips in half or quarters depending on how big they are. Blanch the turnips in the boiling water until they are just tender and then shock them in the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the turnips and dry them on kitchen toweling.

Clean the turnip greens by separating the leaves from the stems. Discard the stems and wash and dry the leaves. Set aside for later. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper and put them skin side down in a cold sauté pan. Turn on the heat to medium high and begin cooking the duck. As the duck skin cooks it will generate some fat. Pour it off if it starts to come too high up the sides of the duck. Cook the duck breasts for about 7 minutes until the skin is well browned and crisp. Put the duck skin side up on a rack over a cookie sheet and brush on the glaze.

To finish the duck, put the glazed breasts in the oven for about 5 minutes to cook to medium rare (127 degrees) and allow the duck to rest in a warm place for at least 4 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the garlic clove and allow it to flavor the oil. DO NOT LET THER GARLIC BROWN. Add the turnip greens and a pinch of salt. Saute them quickly just to wilt them.

Add the blanched turnips, the chicken stock and butter and cook just until the turnips are hot and the stock and butter are glazing the vegetables.

Slice the duck and arrange one breast on each of four plates , arrange the turnips and greens on the side.

Glaze for the duck:

1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp Thai fish sauce
Juice and zest of 2 oranges
2 cinnamon sticks
4 pices of whole star anise
4 bay leaves
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 of a fresno chili, minced, no seeds
1 tbsp crushed coriander seeds
1 tbsp crushed fennel seeds

Combine everything but the coriander and fennel seeds in a pot and cook just to reduce by half. Strain through a fine sieve and add the coriander and fennel seeds to the strained glaze. Reserve.