MEET THE SOUS CHEF
STEPHEN THORLTON, SOUS CHEF, STATE BIRD PROVISIONS
For Stephen Thorlton, sous chef at San Francisco’s State Bird Provisions, vegetables are no afterthought. The chef, who previously worked at produce-centric restaurants Ubuntu, in Napa Valley, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, in New York, as well as being a private event chef for the farm-focused Outstanding in the Field dinner series, treats vegetables with the care many chefs reserve for prime steak or foie gras.
In his hands, even broccoli gets a new lease on life, bathed in a miso bagna càuda that gives a blast of umami to the humble brassica. Meat eaters can join in on the fun, too--the butter is a welcome companion to a grilled rib eye. And pescatarians, take note: The bagna càuda is also a nice bath for a piece of roasted halibut or shrimp.
TRACK THIS CHEF
DAY IN THE LIFE
All in a Day's Work
"When I was starting out as a chef, my mom assured me that everyone worked as hard as I was working," says Thorlton, citing the long days that are typical for restaurant chefs. "Now I know she was lying, but it kept me pushing forward."
TIPS & TECHNIQUES
Some Like It Hot
Thorlton preheats his rimmed baking sheet before adding the broccoli to it; that way, the brassica begins to caramelize immediately, resulting in florets that are crisp at the edges and tender within. Other vegetables would be equally delicious with the miso bagna càuda: Thorlton suggests cauliflower, carrots or oven-roasted potatoes, or recommends drizzling it over sautéed greens.
Bagna càuda (which means “warm bath” in Italian) is a classic warm dip for raw vegetables that traditionally contains butter, garlic and minced anchovy fillets. For Thorlton’s version, he adds red miso, then finishes the sauce off the heat with lemon zest, which adds brightness to the earthy mixture. Serve it with raw or roasted vegetables, drizzle it over a grilled rib eye, or sear a piece of fish in the flavorful sauce.
2 servings (plus leftover bagna càuda; it can be refrigerated for up to 1 month)
Broccoli, 2 bunches (about 8 stalks, cut into florets)
Extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ cup
Kosher salt, ½ teaspoon
Freshly ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon
Dried red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon
Meyer lemon, 1 (zested and juiced; or substitute with the zest and juice of ½ orange and ½ lemon)
Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, ¼ cup
Toasted breadcrumbs, ½ cup (optional)
Unsalted butter, 1 pound (4 sticks)
Garlic cloves, 8 (very finely chopped)
Scallions, 2 bunches (white and light green parts only, very finely chopped)
Red miso paste, ⅓ cup
Extra-virgin olive oil, ½ cup
1. Make the broccoli: Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 475°. To a large mixing bowl, add and mix together the:
- Broccoli florets
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Dried red pepper flakes
Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and add the broccoli to the baking sheet, shaking the pan to evenly distribute. Return to the oven and roast until the broccoli is charred and tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the bagna càuda: To a large saucepan set over medium heat, add the:
- Unsalted butter
Once the butter begins to melt, add the:
- Chopped garlic
- Chopped scallions
Whisk to combine. Once the garlic is fragrant and lightly toasted, after about 5 minutes, whisk in the:
- Red miso paste
While whisking, drizzle in:
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3. Remove the broccoli from the oven and transfer to a serving bowl. Spoon the bagna càuda over the broccoli. Serve sprinkled with the:
- Meyer lemon zest and juice
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Toasted breadcrumbs (if using)