We all have those dishes that we only need to think about, and we’re instantly transported to beloved memories of family, friends and the wonderful times we’ve shared. Professional chefs are no different than us amateurs. On the following pages, the culinary minds behind three Tampa restaurants share some of the recipes they make for their own families during the holiday season.
While training in the art of pasta-making in Italy, chef Bryce Bonsack lived and worked with the Rocca family in the country’s Piedmont region. That’s where this dish, the “bagna cauda,” hails from. Traditionally made for festive gatherings, Bonsack describes it as a warm dip or fondue made with anchovies, garlic and olive oil. It’s usually served with raw and lightly cooked vegetables or freshly toasted bread. He says it’s great for a holiday gathering or as an hors d’oeuvre over drinks. “It’s different, yet familiar and fun, and it goes great with wine,” Bonsack says. “In this case a young Barbera, an Italian red wine, is traditionally the pairing of choice. The high acidity of the barbera cuts through the rich and savory bagna cauda.” Bonsack adds, “This meal is dear to me because the Rocca family threw me a ‘bagna cauda’ the night before I left Italy to return to the States. We invited a bunch of friends and it was quite the party.”
⅔ cup anchovies
⅔ cup peeled garlic cloves
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. aged balsamic vinegar
Notes from Chef Bonsack:
-He recommends using the highest-quality anchovies you can find.
-Don’t use pre-peeled garlic for this recipe.
-Chef Bonsack prefers to use Ligurian olive oil for its buttery quality in this dish.
-He uses the 25-year aged balsamic vinegar he keeps at Rocca, but any balsamic or sherry vinegar aged seven years or more will work.
Using a sharp knife, chop garlic and anchovies.
Pulse in a food processor or mash in a mortar and pestle (food processor is much easier) until it forms a thick paste. Add the olive oil.
Bring the anchovy, garlic and olive oil paste to a low simmer in a small pot for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the vinegar at the end.
Spoon the warm bagna cauda into a small fondue pot and serve with an array of fresh vegetables or anything you’d like to dip.
ROCCA – CHEF BRYCE BONSACK
REVERSE SEARED CHERRY-SMOKED COFFEE-RUBBED TOMAHAWK STEAK
Perhaps unsurprisingly, championship pitmaster and chef Lee Ann Whippen spends her holidays on the grill. “The cleanup is really easy, and it’s a great time of year to be outside,” she says. Whippen usually heads to her mom’s house in Naples with her sister, daughters and two grandkids, where they all work together to whip up their meal. The meat feature may change from year to year (these Tomahawk steaks, which you can find the recipe for at tampamagazines.com, are on deck for 2020), but the Brussels sprouts with dried cranberries and toasted almonds (shown below) are a longtime favorite. So too is her nana’s “Own Design Pie,” a secret recipe Whippen kindly declined to share with TAMPA Magazine. It is a secret, after all.
Reverse Seared Cherry-Smoked Coffee-Rubbed Tomahawk Steak
2 (2 to 2 ½ lb.) Tomahawk steaks
Coffee rub (recipe below)
1 cup cherrywood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes
Season steaks generously with coffee rub. Place drained cherry chips directly on coals. Grill steaks over medium low heat (250-275 degrees) for 10 to 15 minutes and turn over, grilling another 10 to 15 minutes until internal temperature is 115 degrees. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Increase grill temperature to 550 to 600 degrees. Grill approximately six minutes, three minutes per side, until temperature reaches 135 degrees for medium rare. Rest for 10 minutes.
Slice meat along bone to separate. Slice meat across the grain to desired thickness.
¼ cup ground instant coffee
1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. dried mustard
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. ground cumin
Whisk together coffee, dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, dried mustard, thyme and ground cumin in a medium bowl.
Brussels Sprouts Recipe
1 ½ lbs. fresh Brussels sprouts
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dried cranberries
⅓ cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ of a Granny Smith green apple
½ tsp. lemon juice (optional)
Trim base of each Brussels sprout and remove outer leaves. Cut each Brussel sprout in half, vertically, through base. Combine Brussels sprouts in a large bowl with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.
Prepare grill to temperature of 400 degrees. Arrange Brussels sprouts, cut side down, in large iron skillet. Place on grill and cover, roasting for 20 minutes. Turn over with spatula and roast another 20 minutes until roasted and golden brown.
In large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat, until foaming. Add almonds and stir frequently until golden brown, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Slice ¼ of Granny Smith apple into very thin matchstick slices and set aside. This should be done just before serving so the apple does not turn brown. If prepared ahead of time, place apple slices, covered, in water with ½ tsp. lemon juice).
Transfer roasted Brussels sprouts to a large bowl and toss with dried cranberries and toasted almonds. Top with matchstick green apple.
DEVILED PIG – CHEF + PITMASTER LEE ANN WHIPPEN
HERB ROASTED LEG OF LAMB WITH PORT WINE DEMI-GLAZE, ROOT VEGETABLE MEDLEY AND BRAISED COLLARD GREENS
Chef Rob Scott is all about spending the holidays with his family. They’re big on tradition, which for a long time meant turkey at every major gathering, from Thanksgiving to Easter. Finally, he had to put a stop to it, and he created a new tradition of roasting lamb for Christmas. He says holidays, spent with his whole family at his sister’s house just a few miles up Dale Mabry Highway, are a collaborative affair. Everyone pitches in, including his mom, who authored the collard greens recipe seen at right. Scott was a military brat and moved all over during his childhood, but one of his earliest holiday memories was picking greens with his sisters in the garden at his grandmother’s Winter Haven home. “I remember hating it as a kid,” he says with a laugh. “Now, it’s just part of the family tradition. It’s what we do.”
4 lb. boneless leg of lamb
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
½ cup dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine chopped garlic, rosemary and mint with dijon mustard. Rub mixture on leg of lamb. Place lamb on rack in roasting pan. Roast at 375 degrees for approximately 75 minutes or until internal temperature reads 130 degrees (medium-rare) to 140 degrees (medium). Let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
PORT WINE DEMI-GLACE
16 oz. demi glace (brand such as Savory Choice or More Than Gourmet)
½ cup of any port wine
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. butter
ROOT VEGETABLE MEDLEY
2 rutabagas chopped into ½ inch cubes
4 turnips chopped into ½ inch cubes
2 sweet potatoes chopped into ½ inch cubes
2 russet potatoes chopped into ½ inch cubes
2 large carrots chopped into ½ inch cubes
1 large yellow onion coarsely chopped
4 tbsp. fresh thyme picked off stalk
3 tbsp. chopped garlic
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl and toss thoroughly until evenly coated with olive oil. Pour onto large sheet pan and spread out evenly. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until veggies reach desired softness.
BRAISED COLLARD GREENS
2 bunches collard greens, cleaned and loosely chopped
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 smoked turkey wing
1 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Add greens, onion, turkey wing and apple cider vinegar to a large pot. Add water until greens are covered. Heat over medium heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer until greens are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
ROME + FIG – CHEF ROB SCOTT