By Paul Suplee,
MBA, CEC, PC-3
I hate socks. And I mean I loathe wearing the damn things.
It will not be long before I reside somewhere I can walk barefoot into the supermarket year-round; say Hawai’i or Costa Rica. And if I am forced to wear my Olukais, then so be it. But I was raised around Annapolis, where, by tradition, there were sock burning parties every year as we approached the summer equinox. Barefoot or bust.
And well, in the spirit of the sock-months approaching, I have to say those miserable words. Summer is over, followed by the ubiquitously lovely phrase “local’s summer has begun.” This would normally be a time of revelry.
Unfortunately, because of staffing issues and sheer exhaustion, I am already hearing that some of our favorite local places are closing early for the season. 2021 was the busiest summer for many of my friends and colleagues, and they were crushed due to surviving with a surprisingly small work force.
I run into friends now, and they are mere shadows of their former selves. Hopefully, they can rejuvenate over the fall and winter while gearing up for next year. My fingers are crossed, and I will remain cautiously optimistic, though honestly, I will not be holding my breath.
It has been a hellish two years for those of us in the industry, and for owners it has been a single-shot nineteen-month scene out of Mad Max. Survival skills have rarely been more apparent in some business owners. I am proud that I made it, and I lament those who were not able to. It literally breaks my heart.
As I moved my daughters to Boston last year, I was truly saddened by the countless permanent closures that line the streets in some parts of that beautiful town.
Some decisions were made by the city that wiped out many of the standing restaurants, and most people in the general public aren’t aware of that. Simply tragic, especially when you calculate what these owners lost; not simply money or jobs, but homes, cars, property et al.
At least we can read drivel like this and lament times past and present and celebrate the simple things in life that make it all the worthwhile. Chef Josh at boxcar40 ran this salad recently and it is now on the menu out there.
There is a heartiness to this otherwise delicate salad that lends itself to cool mornings and chilly evenings. Yes, I said it: Chilly. My apologies.
We will get through it. We shall survive the winter, socks be damned.
Black ‘n Bleu Picanha Salad
20 oz. Picanha (a Brazilian-cut steak) trimmed and about 2-inches thick
Trimix, as needed
Spring mix or other greens, as needed
Candied nuts (recipe follows)
1 c. Bleu cheese crumbles
Fried onion crisps (recipe follows)
20 ea. Blistered grape tomatoes
Vinaigrette or dressing of your choice
1. Season the picanha with the blackening spice and trimix. The reason that I do this is because blackening spices tend to not have much salt. If you find that it is flavorful enough, then stick to just the blackening.
2. Place on a hot grill and cook to the temperature of your liking, or a little under as it is going to sit for a few minutes.
3. Assemble the rest of the salad except for the onion crisps, including the dressing of your choice. Chef Josh at boxcar40 uses a blue cheese vinaigrette, which I absolutely love, but I can’t give away all his secrets. This salad works well with many dressings.
4. When the steak is ready, pull it off and let it rest for about 10 minutes. There is no need to put a smoking hot steak on delicate greens, as they will immediately wilt.
5. Slice the steak and top the salad.
6. Top this with the onion crisps and enjoy the finest of filling salads.
Makes about 2 cups
2 c. Pecans or pecan pieces
1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
1/4 c. Brown sugar
1. Soak the pecans in water for 15 minutes, and then drain
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and then place on a sprayed sheet pan.
3. Place in a 400F oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes. *Make sure that you are tossing them every few minutes to avoid any burn edges or burnt nuts from hot spots in the oven.
4. Remove and cool. They will still be a bit soft but will harden as the sugar shell cools down. If they do not, put them back in the oven, as that simply means that the sugar did not get to the crack stage.
Fried Onion Crisps
Makes about 1 cup
1 c. Thinly shaved red onion
1 c. Buttermilk
1 c. Breader (you can make your own or just buy it)
1. Have a fryer heated to 350F, or oil in a pan. If doing the latter, ensure that it does not get too hot. I always recommend an actual fryer at home for safety reasons.
2. Soak the onions in the buttermilk for two minutes.
3. Pull them out, shake off excess buttermilk, and place in the breader, tossing them to coat evenly and thinly.
4. Immediately place them in the fryer and fry until crispy and golden brown.
5. Remove to a paper towel and allow to cool until use.
—Paul Suplee is a Professor
|of Culinary Arts at Wor-Wic
Community College and owner of
boxcar40 and boxcar on main.
Visit him at www.boxcar40.com;