North Shore chef makes Thanksgiving stress free

November 14, 2012 9:40:47 AM PST
Michael Lachowicz has spent most of his career surrounded by fine French food. But this time of year, the kitchen at his namesake - Restaurant Michael, in Winnetka - is humming with the side dishes that define Americana.

"You know it's Thanksgiving. It's not a French holiday. I'm not French. I'm Polish and Italian, so there's the conflict of interest out of the gate here. So I just decided I was gonna take all of my grandpa's recipes and modify 'em into a family-style meal and it took off, it was huge," said Lachowicz.

Lachowicz goes old-school with his grandfather's stuffing recipe; starting with ground beef, onions and celery.

"It's ground round and it's 20 percent fat, so it's the fat that gives it that flavor anyway; and celery and onion and sage and poultry seasoning. We use poultry seasoning because it's rosemary, thyme and sage," he said.

Eggs are added, and the stuffing is mixed by hand, before being baked; it's almost like a savory bread pudding. There are also creamy, whipped mashed potatoes, of course, but also, a luxurious sweet potato and celery root gratin, which Lachowicz always has on his regular French menu.

"We do that with the venison, so to this day I still do the gratin potatoes, sweet potato with the venison," said Lachowicz.

Green beans are a staple, but Lachowicz amps them up by combining brioche bread crumbs with garlicky herb butter. Those rich bread crumbs are then tossed with the green beans, which are definitely more American than French.

"I don't use haricot vert, these are not baby French green beans, they're just pole beans," he said.

For something sweet and tart, cranberries, of course. But Lachowicz says they're a little more advanced, with the addition of Gran Marnier and toasted walnuts.

"This is, you know we never made cranberries, we had the one that was shaped like the can when I was a kid so this has definitely been modified. This is a little bit more refined," he said.

Restaurant Michael 64 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka (847) 441-3100

-Dine-in reservations: will be taken for any size party from 1pm until 6pm (The restaurant will remain open in order to enjoy your celebration until 8pm) -Carry-out orders: will be available to pick-up from 11:30 am until 1:00 pm

Dine-in & carry-out will be just $45.00 per person (plus gratuity and tax) (Children under 10 will be half price for dine-in)

Restaurant Michael's Family Style Thanksgiving Menu

Everyone will receive: -Restaurant Michael's Signature Warm Gougeres -Warm Baguettes & Whipped Honey Butter -Candied Squash Bisque w/Toasted Brioche Croutons -Tossed Baby Greens w/Choice of Honey Truffle or Herb Dressing

Each party will have a choice of two (2) of the following entrees: -Brown Sugar Brined & Roasted Locally Farmed Turkey w/ Pan Gravy -Slow-Cooked Beef Short Ribs Bordelaise -Roasted Tenderloin of Berkshire Farms Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary Jus -Roasted Rack of New Zealand Lamb w/ Truffle-Scented Natural Jus

Each guest will enjoy an unlimited amount of all of the following side dishes: -Sage & Angus Ground Beef Dressing (Stuffing) -Creamy Whipped Mashed Potatoes -Sweet Potato & Celery Root Gratin -Green Beans Tossed w/ Garlic and Brioche Bread Crumbs -Grand Marnier, Toasted Walnut Cranberry Compote

Each guest will enjoy all of the following desserts: -Individual Upside Down Caramel Apple Tarts -Individual Roasted Pumpkin Pie Tarts -Cinnamon-Nutmeg Gelato -Grand Marnier Chocolate Truffles -Toasted Almond Biscotti

ALL CARRY-OUT ORDERS: Please call Chef Michael @ 847-404-6916 ALL DINE-IN ORDERS: Please call the restaurant directly @ 847-441-3100 OR online at opentable.com

Recipes:

Grand Marnier Cranberry Relish

-1 bag (16 oz.) raw cranberries -6 oz toasted walnut halves -juice from 6 oranges -zest from 6 oranges (zest only, no white pith) -4 oz honey -10 oz 10x sugar -2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract -2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger root -1 cup grand marnier liquor -3 envelopes powdered gelatin, bloomed and fully dissolved in 4 oz. tepid water. -1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Method:
Combine all items in a large, non-reactive pot with the exception of the bloomed gelatin. Bring to a simmer and cook gently over medium heat until a majority of the cranberries have burst and released their juices. Remove from the heat and while still very hot, stir in bloomed gelatin. Cool as quickly as possible to 120 degrees. Chill overnight.

Gee's Sage & Ground Beef Dressing

-3 loaves stale white bread -1 # freshly ground round steak (80% lean) -1 # unsalted butter -1 head of celery, medium diced -1 large Spanish onion, medium diced -3 tablespoons kosher salt -1.5 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper -2 tablespoons poultry seasoning -2 tablespoons ground dry sage -4 whole eggs -tepid water to soak bread

Method: In a large pot, melt butter and add celery and onions. Cook slowly until translucent over medium heat. Add ground beef to onion, celery and butter mixture and continue to cook until all pink color has left the beef. Be sure to stir regularly to insure the beef is well broken down. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly and remove to an oversize mixing bowl. Gently soak slices of bread in tepid water and squeeze out all excess water. Add soaked and squeezed bread to ground beef mixture. Add all seasonings to the bowl and mix by hand squeezing the mixture between your fingers as the eggs are added one at a time. In a lightly buttered 10 X 13 X 2 inch deep baking dish place the well mixed stuffing and smooth to an even top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Also mentioned:

L. Woods Tap
7110 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincolnwood
(847) 677-3350

Choose from mashed potatoes, apple and sage stuffing, green bean casserole, candied sweet potatoes, glazed carrots, macaroni and cheese and creamed spinach. Half orders (8 to 10 servings) and full orders (16 to 20 servings) range from $18 to $48.

Salads include the restaurant's house rendition, signature chopped salad (bacon, blue cheese, pasta, tomatoes and scallions) or caesar with croutons and parmesan. These serve 6 to 8 or 12 to 16 people starting at $18.

Orders will be taken until Monday, November 19 by calling (847) 677-3350. Pick up is November 21 during regular business hours at the Back of the Woods, the restaurant's separate carry out section at the rear of the restaurant.


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