I recently tried chef Josh Steiner’s savory blueberry goat cheese flan at his restaurant, Strano! Sicilian Kitchen & Bar.
It’s by far one of the best things I’ve eaten - ever. I’m a sweet-and-savory guy, so this is right up my alley.
There’s a good story about this dish, which doubles as an appetizer and a dessert and, beginning Friday May 5, it will be featured as a special at the restaurant. It’s a Chaine de Rotisseur winner.
I know about Chaine de Rotisseur because a photo picturing the late Justine Smith receiving an award from the food and wine organization is included in Janet Stuart Smith’s book, “Justine’s: Memories and Recipes,” about the legendary Memphis restaurant owned by Justine, Janet’s mother. The white tablecloth restaurant, which was the place to go for fine dining back in the day, closed in the mid 1990s.
The photo shows Justine being knighted with a sword at a Chaine des Rotisseurs ceremony in 1950.
So, I was impressed when Steiner told me he won a bronze medal in the Conference de la Chaines De Rotisseures Jeunes Commis Rotisseur (Young Chefs Competition) at the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach (Florida).
Steiner and about a dozen other chefs from five states participated in the event. “It was a mystery basket competition,” he said. “We had no idea what we were getting into. And we had to do an appetizer, an entree and a dessert.”
Ingredients in his basket included goat cheese, blackberries, cream, flour and fish products. Steiner concocted a dinner that included charred flounder with pickled shrimp and burnt citrus and stuffed quail with pancetta black lintels.
But, Steiner said, “My favorite thing that I made was a savory blueberry goat cheese flan. I thought it was a little complex and it went over extremely well. And you know what? It turned out just the way I wanted it to.”
Steiner showed me how to make this flan. In one bowl he mixed up goat cheese, fresh blueberries, egg yolks, heavy cream and sugar. He added a savory seasoning mixture that includes salt, pepper, granulated garlic, dried basil and dried parsley.
He then moved to the stove and made a roux from the flour and butter “as a stabilizer to help firm up the flan. You want to cook it ‘till it smells like popcorn. So, you want to brown the butter a little bit.”
Steiner added the blueberries-goat cheese mixture to the roux and stirred it until it was smooth. He then ladled that mixture into ramekins and baked them for 15 minutes at 325 degrees before removing them from the oven. “I let them chill and heat them up to order.”
What’s even more impressive about this story is Steiner prepared his dinner after his plane landed - after five flight cancellations trying to get from Memphis to Myrtle Beach - at 3 a.m. The competition was at 7 a.m. “I didn’t have time to get nervous,” he said.
No sword was handy in Steiner’s kitchen, but I felt like knighting him on the shoulder with a Ginsu.