Chef Stephanie Izard, of Chicago's Girl & the Goat made San Francisco the 13th stop on her Goat Tour. Her debut cookbook, Girl in the Kitchen - How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats & Drinks, co-authored with friend and food writer Heather Shouse, was released by Chronicle Books in October. Rather than a typical book tour though (what would be the fun in that?), Izard decided to travel the country, teaming up to cook with chef friends along the way.
To start, we had an amuse bouche of creamy Cauliflower Panna Cotta topped with roasted beet caviar and crostini, and a glass of bubbly.
Next up, Stephanie prepared a Seared Scallop with Goat Sausage, topped with goat liver aioli and served with maitake mushrooms and winter squash in a smoky goat XO sauce. Airy, crispy pillows of cracker-like "pizza puffs" were scattered in the mix and added some unexpected crunch. I remembered this dish from a lunch Stephanie did with Chef Shawn McClain at Sage in Las Vegas a few months ago. I was happy to have an encore of it. Wine pairing: Pushback Sauvignon Blanc.
Second course was a modern paella of sorts if you will, from Jen. A super sweet Cherry Stone Clam stuffed with calamari and a thin slice of Spanish chorizo over fregula studded with plump buttery Castelvetrano olives, almonds, and a shower of saffron threads. Wine pairing: DuMOL Chardonnay.
My favorite dish of the evening was Stephanie's Crisp Confit Goat Belly over a sweet fennel puree, topped with ribbons of shaved fennel, fine strands of lemon zest, and Bourbon Buttered Crab. The goat belly was crispy, fatty, and tender, and the bourbon buttered crab – seriously? To die for. The richness of this glorious fat-on-fat action was offset nicely by the fresh crunch of the fennel and a hit of acid from some lemon juice. Wine pairing: Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Jen finished out the savory courses with a hulking Chili and Chocolate Braised Wagyu Short Rib garnished with pickled pear gremolata and candied fresno chilies over creamy parsnip puree. The chili-chocolate braise imparted a wonderful depth of flavor to the meat, but the unexpected delight were the creative garnishes. The pickled pear gremolata was full of sweet, crunchy, lemony herbaceousness and the brittle candied chilies had snap and heat to them. The parsnip puree was a welcome change to the typical mashed potato. I loved the sweet root veggie flavor and velvety starchiness of it. Definitely something I'll be trying at home this winter.
Wine pairing: Jason Pahlmeyer Red Blend.
Scala's pastry chef Tim Nugent, a Top Chef Just Desserts alum, prepared our dessert for the evening, a roasted Pear with Huckleberry Crepes served over a spoonful of mascarpone cheese. Wine pairing: Beringer "Nightengale" Botrytised Semillon.
After our meal I had a chance to sit down with Stephanie for a bit and chat. Here's what she had to say about her new book, goats, second restaurant, guilty pleasures, and sriracha.
Tell us about your new cookbook Girl in the Kitchen.
Girl in the Kitchen just came out in October. I wanted it to be very much for the home cook. We're already working on a Girl & the Goat cookbook, which will still be things you can recreate at home, but maybe a little more challenging (because goats are hard to find). But for this one, I got all the ingredients at Whole Foods or my local market, tested all the ingredients in my home kitchen in Chicago, which is like four square feet, and I had to do all the dishes myself, so I kept everything really simple. And I had friends come over and watch me cook so they could ask questions like, "What is bearding mussels?" or "What do you mean you're sweating the vegetables?" Things that I take for granted or are just second nature, but that maybe home cooks don't know the answer to. So we put little tips and tricks inside the book. And then there are just funny stories. I think it's a fun book and I have a lot of chef friends that obviously aren't going to cook the recipes because they're chefs, but they've sat down on the couch and read the little stories. I think there's a little bit of something for everyone.
Do you have a favorite recipe in there?
There are a few recipes that people ask for from Girl & the Goat, like our green bean recipe. People love our green beans. There's a halibut dish with a pork ragu – that's if you wanted to take a little more time to make a few steps. Also, the apple and pork and bacon ragu – so simple, it takes hardly any time to make, but adding the apple into the bacon and pork just makes it tasty.
The name of your restaurant comes from your last name, Izard, which is a type of mountain goat that lives in the Pyranees Mountains. Both of your dishes tonight featured some delicious goat. Can you talk a bit about cooking with goat – something not many people are familiar with?
We get 8-10 whole goats a week from Kilgus Farms, its about 1 1/2 - 2 hours south of the restaurant in Illinois and we actually get our dairy from Justin Kilgus's dad, who owns a dairy farm. It's just amazing goat. We taste-tested goats around Illinois before we picked that one. I had never cooked goat until we were getting ready to open, and I figured I should probably figure out how to cook it. I remember the first event, we got a couple legs and we braised them in cherries and beer and smoked it, and it came out great, and we were like, "Oh, goat is good!" and so we've just been playing around with all sorts of stuff. We have ten or so different dishes that we rotate on the menu. You can do everything with goat that you can do with pig, it just takes a little bit more thought because goats aren't blessed with as much fat as pigs.
You're working on opening a second restaurant, right?
We're opening a diner. It's going to be, well hopefully better than Rutti Tutti Fresh and Fruity breakfast, but it'll be diner. A lot of people say "diner," and then they're like, "Oh, look at my foie gras burger," and well, that's not gonna be at a diner…We bake all our breads in house, we're moving that across the street, so I'll have a bakeshop and then a cookie classroom upstairs, and private dining so people can rent it out for private events.
What's your guilty pleasure?
I just like ranch dressing a lot. We made ranch dressing the other day for this dish we're doing, but I didn't even call it ranch. I just called it buttermilk dressing, because it's delicious, but nothing like Hidden Valley Ranch.
Sriracha -- trend or staple?
I love sriracha. We have it in our kitchen all the time. Sriracha and sambal. All the time. I would say every dish at The Goat has one or the other, at least a little bit, in it. But I'm a spice wuss, so I can only have a little bit.