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She’ll ’Cue You In

A 2-star Michelin chef on how to make an (almost) veggie burger, and other nifty tricks

Author Laura Kiniry

Chef Dominique Crenn

Chef Dominique Crenn

SAN FRANCISCO – Dominique Crenn may have earned Atelier Crenn, her San Francisco eatery, two Michelin stars in the 2013 guide—making her the first female chef in America to accomplish such a feat—but that doesn’t make her too high- falutin for a backyard barbecue. Though most of her dishes look like they could have been assembled with tweezers, she created a veggie burger for a special event that even a carnivore could love.

To make it, Crenn substituted Japanese eggplant for meat, then coated the steak-like vegetable—dry-cured with salt, sugar and spices—in lard before slow-cooking it for hours, “so the fat infused into it.” Crenn then brushed the “patty” with a house-made barbecue sauce and served it with Mimolette cheese, dehydrated tomato, onion and kale on the side.

Another tip Crenn shares is taking a novel approach to whatever produce you have on hand. If you have tomatoes, for instance, she suggests frying or poaching. Or, better yet: “You can juice the tomatoes and then simmer the juice on the stove, separating the water and the impurities,” she says. “Then put it through a coffee filter and you end up with this really beautiful liquid that’s transparent, like white wine. Refrigerate and serve. It’s delicious!”
But in all matters of gastro endeavor, Crenn says what’s most important is balance: “You have to have sweetness, saltiness, crunchiness  … this is when things start coming together.”

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