Great Louisiana Chefs: Cory Bahr

Few chefs can claim the title of king, but Cory Bahr is an exception. When the prestigious New Orleans Wine & Food Experience held its Louisiana Seafood Cook-off competition, Bahr was crowned the Louisiana Seafood King after wowing the judges with his North Delta Bouillabaisse. Bahr, who at the time ran the kitchen at Monroe’s Restaurant Sage, has since opened his own place, Cotton, located on the Monroe riverfront. For a Monroe chef to win in a category where there is so much seasoned competition from New Orleans and South Louisiana chefs was an upset. Chef Bahr truly knows how to stir the pot.

Seared Black Drum with Brown Butter & Cauliflower

Cauliflower Purée
1 head cauliflower
1/2 pound butter
1 cup chicken broth
1 to 2 tablespoons salt
1 to 2 teaspoons white pepper, ground
2 teaspoons cumin, ground

Cut the entire head of cauliflower in half. Remove the stem, as well as any outer leaves. Reserve about 2 cups of 1/2-inch florets from the head for roasting (recipe follows). Slice the remaining cauliflower into small pieces. Place the cauliflower in a stainless-steel pot with the butter and chicken broth, and heat over medium heat. Stir frequently to emulsify the butter and chicken stock as the mixture heats up. Season the cauliflower with the salt, white pepper and cumin. Cook this over medium heat until the cauliflower is tender and breaks apart easily. With an immersion blender, purée the cauliflower until smooth. Adjust the seasoning with more salt, white pepper and cumin as needed.

Pickled Trinity
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
4 ounces white pearl onions
4 ounces red pearl onions
4 ounces celery
2 ounces green bell pepper
2 ounces red bell pepper

In a stainless-steel pot, place all of the ingredients except the vegetables, and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook this for 5 minutes, and then turn the heat off. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, and then cool completely.

Sage Brown Butter
1 pound whole butter
2 ounces fresh sage
1 tablespoon salt

Place the butter in a small stainless-steel pot, and begin to melt over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, continue to cook until the milk solids begin to brown and a light foam forms on the surface. At this point, add the sage and season with the salt. Be careful, as the sage will crackle for a few seconds as it enters the hot fat. Strain this through cheesecloth, and reserve.

Black Drum
8  8-ounce portions of Louisiana black drum
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 lemons, halved
2 cups arugula

Place the fish in the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Set the fish on a wire rack to rest.

Meanwhile, heat a stove-top or outdoor grill to high heat, and place the lemon halves, cut side down, on the grill for 4-5 minutes. Also, place the reserved cauliflower florets on a baking sheet in a 450 degree oven or underneath the broiler until they are evenly roasted, and reserve them for plating.

To plate the dish, spoon about a quarter-cup of the warmed cauliflower purée onto a plate, and push with the back of the spoon across the plate. Place the drum along the line of the purée. Spoon a few tablespoons of the warm sage brown butter over the fish and around the plate. Place a few pieces of the pickled trinity on top of the fish, as well, and garnish with the grilled lemon halves and arugula.

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