Appetizers are Brandt's Cafe (6525 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-727-3663) chef Matt Dawson's favorite menu category to tweak. Often his ideas come from "just sitting in a bar with friends, drinking and saying, 'How do you think this would be?'"
For example, Dawson has deconstructed jalapeño poppers, his main complaint being that they usually consist of "a big pepper with lots of breading, but all the cheese has oozed out." Instead, Dawson fries jalapeños, mixes in cream cheese, encases the whole in a wonton, which is then pan fried and served over a roasted pepper coulis. "Glorified bar food," he sums up.
For Gut Check Dawson offers his recipe for duck tacos, saying, "I love duck myself -- it should be on every menu. The easiest excuse to eat duck constantly is to have it on the menu. So I have it on our menu twice."
Duck Tacos Roast Duck Breast 1 boneless duck breast (6 oz., skin-on) 1 tsp olive oil Salt White pepper Granulated garlic
Rub duck breast with olive oil. Season with salt, white pepper and garlic to taste. In a 350-degree oven, roast the duck breast until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (about 20 to 25 minutes).
Tomatillo Salsa 1 lb. tomatillos 1 large red onion 4 oz. fresh garlic cloves, peeled 1/c cup red wine vinegar 1/2 cup water 1 tsp cayenne pepper - 1 tsp 1 handful cilantro 2 scallions Salt Black pepper
Dice tomatillos, red onion and garlic and add to a saucepan.
Add vinegar, water and cayenne and simmer for fifteen minutes or until vegetables are tender.
When cool, blend salsa until smooth.
Mince cilantro and scallions and add to salsa.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Chipotle-Lime Sour Cream 1 cup sour cream 2 tsp puréed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce Juice of two limes Salt
Combine all ingredients.
Season with salt to taste.
Duck Taco: 1 roast duck breast 2 six-inch flour tortillas 2 oz. tomatillo salsa 3 oz. shredded lettuce 1 tbsp diced roma tomato 1 tbsp sliced black olives 3 oz. chipotle-lime sour cream Cilantro Lime zest
Cut duck breast into 1/8-inch-thick slices.
Toss duck and salsa in a skillet and heat thoroughly.
Place heated duck and salsa in tortillas.
Add lettuce, tomato and olives.
Fold tortillas in half and cut down the middle.
Place tacos on a plate and drizzle with chipotle-lime sour cream.
Garnish with cilantro and lime zest.