Holidaze

Chef Neal here to share a few helpful hints learned over the years to set your mind at ease this Thanksgiving.

In my home on Thanksgiving Day you are more apt to find me with my guests having a glass of wine and watching the ballgame, than working feverishly in the kitchen. How do I achieve this wonderment? All it takes are a few simple tricks!

Let’s begin with the Turkey. I brine mine in a simple solution of 1 cup salt, 1 quart sugar, 1 cup vinegar, 1 gallon water. This allows me to get maximum flavor from my bird with very little effort. Be sure to immerse your bird in the brine fully for at least 24 hours. Then, simply rinse your bird and cook as you would traditionally.

Next, let’s cover the deserts and sides. Decide what dishes can be made a day in advance. Those pies surely can be knocked-out and stored in the refrigerator overnight. Prep your side dishes early too, such as green beans, by blanching them. To blanch, boil in salted water and shock in an ice bath. Then, you will only need to re-heat the beans moments before guests arrive. These items actually benefit from an extra day in the cool! Simple preparation can save your holiday woes.

While I could go on and on, it would be easier to give you the option of commenting below with your holiday dilemma. I’m on call today to answer any questions or concerns. I’m always happy to share my tricks of the trade. If you so choose…alleviate all stress and let the folks at Langermann’s do the cooking for you, as we do cater and I am personally available for private dinner parties too.

Whatever you choose, enjoy. The holidays are supposed to be fun!

To get you started, here is a recipe FAVORITE of mine!

Chef’s Cranberry Sauce

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 4 lbs cranberries
  • 1 cup fresh orange Juice
  • 1/2 cup Gran Marnier
  1.  Over Low Heat, simmer water and sugar until it becomes caramel.
  2.  Add orange juice. Be careful not to burn arm from the steam, so pour juice from the  side.
  3.  Add cranberries and simmer for 1/2 hour, stirring frequently.
  4.  Add Gran Marnier to taste.Depending on your mood, add some orange Zest, raisins,  craisins or even chocolate!

What are Grits, Exactly??

This is a frequently asked question at my restaurants in Baltimore, so frequently in fact, I have decided to explain what they’re all about and disseminate the information for you once and for all…

Many true Southerners will tell you they have adored grits since birth. They don’t remember the first time they ate them, because it was probably around the time they learned to walk, if not before.  If you happen to be a Northerner, then a past experience with grits might have left you wondering what all the fuss was about. Surely those bland and tasteless grits one gets at the supermarkets can’t be what everyone raves about?!

For arguments sake, let us assume grits are merely ground corn. This sounds simple enough, but there’s more to it.

There are a number of methods applied to arrive at a ground corn product. Some bleach the corn by soaking it in a solution designed to remove the hulls. Others soak the corn in Lye to puff it before allowing it to dry. No matter the method chosen here, one first makes hominy and then grinds them into grits. These are the instant grits found on supermarket shelves and why you may have not been impressed with grits your first go-around. They are chocked full of preservatives which replace the nutrients lost during the hulling process. They are then ground super fine and lack the character of a true grit.

At the other end of the spectrum are those of us who strive to preserve the integrity of the grit. My friend John Martin Taylor (aka Hoppin’ John) spent months looking for a mill that could consistently provide coarse-ground, whole-grain grits with the taste and character of freshly ground corn. These grits omit the “puffing step” so there is no hominy, just freshly ground corn. These are the grits we serve at my restaurants.

From a historical perspective, grits can provide us with insight into the dichotomy of the Low Country. There was no middle class. You had the simple plantation home on the river or the magnificent home in town. You fished or you shopped. You entertained or you served. While this balance of low and high distinguishes the Low Country, so too does it distinguish grits. The same humble grit we eat at breakfast can become larger-than-life in a dish like our Carolina Shrimp & Grits.

Image

At Langermann’s we have the pleasure of serving them our way so you too can experience the mighty grit in its true nature. From the mountains of Georgia, to our kitchen, to your plate, ENJOY!

Here’s one of my personal and favorite recipes which shows just how amazing and versatile grits can be…

Ma’s Meatballs in Marinara over Creamy Grits

Meatballs

  • 5 pounds ground beef
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 ounces chopped parsley
  • 3 ounces chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons salt and pepper mix
  • 4 ounces cold water
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  1. In a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment combine all the ingredients and mix on low speed until ingredients are fully distributed evenly.
  2. Prepare the meatballs 3 oz each.
  3. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
  4. Place the meatballs in the simmering Marinara sauce.
  5. Serve in a bowl over the creamy grits.

Creamy Grits

  • 1 QUART OF WHOLE MILK
  • 4 OUNCES SOFTENED BUTTER
  • 1 CUP STONE MILLED GRITS (TRY NOT TO USE INSTANT)

1 TEASPOON SALT

  1. COMBINE MILK, BUTTER, AND SALT IN A SMALL SAUCE POT. BRING TO A BOIL.
  2. ADD GRITS AND STIR FOR TWENTY SECONDS.  ALLOW MIXTURE TO BOIL FOR ANOTHER TWENTY.
  3. REDUCE HEAT TO A SIMMER AND STIR UNTIL GRITS ARE DESIRED CONSISTENCY.

Marinara Sauce

  • 3/4 cup blend olive oil
  • 4 ounces chopped garlic
  • 3 pounds julienned yellow onions
  • 1 bunch celery diced
  • 1 pound sliced carrot
  • 2 cans 74-40 tomato filet
  • 2 cans Hunt’s tomato sauce
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Italian seasonings
  1. In the large rondo heat the olive oil, add celery, carrots, and onions.
  2. Cook until vegetables are tender, add garlic.
  3. Stir for one minute then add remaining ingredients.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Blend using the hand-held wand.

Why Vote Langermann’s for Best of Baltimore Brunch?

I’m sure you have all been out to brunch. It’s a great way to start your Sunday. You take a moment to re-fuel and relax before running those last minute errands and getting back to Mondays grind. You may head out with a group of friends, or perhaps just the two of you, but what you may not know is, this is not the main show for most restaurants. The food and drink are usually background music to the lunch and dinner services. Is this true, you ask? Yes we’re being honest. Unfortunately, the brunch meal tends to be treated as “have to do” rather than “get to do”.  However, at my restaurants, we treat the brunch meal with the same respect and dedication as all others.

Here are few quality assurances we provide…

The first steps taken to assure the highest quality of food is, to get it to you hot and make it plentiful! This is why you’ll find all sides on our buffet. This way you are free to get as much bacon, sausage, grits, home fries, fruit and salad as often as you like. And your entree is now guaranteed to come out piping hot, without delay. You don’t pay extra for this, every entree includes the buffet complimentary.

When voting for Best of Baltimore Brunch, take into consideration our brunch comes with a free Mimosa or Bloody Mary. Both are made to-order from scratch, as are all of our signature cocktails. Sorry, you won’t find a bottomless bloody mary or mimosa bar here. Using the freshest ingredients ensures top quality food and drinks.

Lastly, the training our kitchen staff receives allows us to offer unique interpretations on classic dishes. Where else can you get so many selections from the Benedict Family?  At Langermann’s you can choose the Memphis (Pulled Pork), the Charleston (Fried Green Tomato), the St. Andrews (Smoked Salmon), the Chesapeake (Crab Cake) or other variations. For a well rounded selection, we have other dishes like our original Pancakes and walnut raisin French Toast, even a Short Rib Corned Beef Hash. You won’t run out of options

At this point you have to be wondering “Why aren’t I there eating RIGHT NOW?!”

Lastly, you’ll even find the Beatles playing all day long. Not just the same ten songs you hear on the radio everyday, but variations on their classics and songs performed by other artists.

Please do yourself and us a favor….vote LANGERMANN’S for Baltimore Magazine BEST BRUNCH!

If you haven’t been in for our brunch, join us soon. You will not be disappointed. Image

I myself am always at Langermann’s in Canton for Sunday Brunch. I love chatting with guests, just ask your server or bartender to grab me out of the kitchen if you like.

Always, thanks for your support.

Presto…PESTO!

ALASKAN HALIBUT WITH PESTO

This morning I arrived to find a BIG ‘OL BAG of Fresh Basil sitting in my walk-in. What a great surprise to get garden fresh basil! I immediately thought about the Flaky White Alaskan Halibut that I had ordered the night before that we would be running for our Friday night special. PESTO I thought……..

​Pesto is an Italian creation that traditionally uses Pine Nuts, Parmesan Cheese, Garlic, Basil Leaves, and Olive Oil. The exact amounts are not important but if one were to look hard enough we would find pesto that ranges from dry to very oily. So, we have to consider what we are going to use it for. On top of that, Pesto has been “Americanized”. As part of the food explosion of the eighties and nineties, a pesto was deemed to be “pesto” if it contained an herb, a cheese, a nut, and the oil. Thus one might make a Cilantro-Walnut Pesto, or a Cashew-Basil Pesto.

​For our Halibut dish I made a Macadamia Nut Pesto using the Basil, Parmesan Cheese, and Olive Oil. I did not add very much oil because I wanted to coat the fish with it after it was cooked. Then when we pour a Pineapple Butter Sauce over the fish it will mingle with the pesto and create the flavors we are looking for. I do not add the garlic to my pesto as I feel the acidic nature of the raw garlic is too sharp to allow the subtle flavors of the basil, and the pineapple butter sauce to peek through.

​Everyone LOVED it. And it gives the staff something fun to talk about with the guests.

Langermann’s

20130629-214049.jpg

Who is Chef Neal Langermann?

Chef-5

Chef Neal grew up in the Bay Area of San Francisco. He studied International Business at the University of Oregon, but chose instead to spend his life cooking. “It is really all I have ever known”, he tells. In 1985 he was introduced to Master Chef Paul Grutter of the Sherman House in San Francisco. Chef Neal says his cooking has been most influenced by him boasting, “Whom I had the pleasure of working with for four years in the early 80’s. He inspired me by believing in a young man and passing along his knowledge unconditionally. The knowledge is a gift that one holds but does not possess…as it was once his it is now mine”, he tells us. Over those years he worked as an informal European Apprentice with him. During that time he cooked for every walk-of-life and was introduced to degustation of food and fine wines of the world. From this influence he adds, “My number one belief is you must be true to the cuisine and the culture from which it derives. One must have a thorough understanding of a culture to truly represent the cuisine. To this extent I do extensive research before jumping ahead with any new endeavors. The simple fact is food has a unique taste and to properly combine and marry food items, you have to have a firm grasp of those flavor profiles. The old adage of KISS is probably the truest form of cooking”.

In 1990, he moved East and became the executive Sous Chef for Mark Miller’s Red Sage restaurant in D.C. as well as executive Chef of Capital Restaurant Concepts for 10 years. He spent two years at Paolo’s and eight years at the famous Georgia Brown’s. In 2001, he was awarded the Chef of the Year for the Metropolitan Washington D.C. area for his work at Georgia Browns.

In 2009 he opened his very own restaurant, Langermann’s, in Baltimore. In 2011 the second location opened, Langermann’s on Light. Chef Neal lists his Tuna & Crab Tartare and the Cape Fear Scallops, as the two dishes he is most proud of creating and states, “Both dishes represent my cooking philosophy in that every part of the dish reinforces the message of the dish. If you order a scallop then you should taste and feel the texture of the scallop. At Langermann’s we are able to do this by giving the scallop a supporting cast that enhances the scallop instead of competing or over whelming.” Chef Neal has won the Appetizer Challenge three years in a row for the summer Restaurant Week in Baltimore.