In our cooking series Quickies, we invite chefs, bartenders, and other personalities in the world of food and drink who are serious hustlers to share their tips and tricks for preparing quick, creative after-work meals. Every dish featured in Quickies takes under 30 minutes to make, but without sacrificing any deliciousness—these are tried-and-tested recipes for the super-busy who also happen to have impeccable taste.
A lot of chefs visit the MUNCHIES Test Kitchen, and the story is often the same: Many of them don't get to cook much at home. It makes sense—after working in the kitchen, there are so many other places to spend that rare time off than in front of the stove at home.
When chef Danny Grant of Chicago's Maple & Ash visits the MUNCHIES Test Kitchen, he's fully in the process of opening the restaurant's second branch in Arizona, where he used to live. (The Scottsdale steakhouse opened earlier this week.) Throughout that process, the two Michelin–starred chef has found himself in the home kitchen more often. "I've been doing so much more cooking at home," says Grant. "It's changed my cooking at the restaurants to be simpler and maybe less fussy."
Recipe: Easy-Slow Roasted Salmon
The gist of it, when Grant stops by, is to pick what looks good on our rooftop garden and turn it into an easy summertime meal. With everything on the rooftop in bloom, Grant comes up with a game plan and decides to make a dish he does at home: slow-roasted salmon alongside a lettuce and radish salad and an herby dressing with lemon and creme fraiche.
On our sunny Brooklyn rooftop, Grant grabs a handful of radishes, snap peas, and a lot of fresh herbs. His home cooking might be less fussy than what he'd do at the restaurant, but the addition of our rooftop herbs and flowers will add a restaurant-inspired touch. "Herbs are one of my favorite things to have around at all times—all the herbs you can think of," he says. "Really delicate chives are good in everything." Back inside, Grant washes the vegetables and assembles the salad dressing, a tangy mix of creme fraiche, lemon juice, champagne vinegar, and shallots.
Grant has learned his lesson about what works best with home cooking, so this dish is purposefully simple. "Now, I try to find dishes that aren't using too many pans. When I was young I'd make like, seared scallops and multiple courses, and half the time I was just cleaning up," he says. At home, he adds, there aren't dishwashers to rely on.
The salmon goes onto a baking sheet, followed by olive oil and lemon zest. It'll bake at 350 degrees for around 12 minutes, which is the perfect window to set up the salad and just enough time to get the fish nice and tender. Going low and slow prevents sad, dry salmon. "I typically just feel it to feel if it's firming up a bit. The albumin will start to leak out a little bit and you're donezo after that," Grant says.
Now, most people would make salad with plain lettuce and call it a day, but Grant gives it something extra by grilling the greens briefly over open flame. Off the flame, he drizzles them with olive oil and adds a dash of salt. In a bowl, he mixes citrus zest with blanched snap peas and radishes, which will add a pleasant crunch to the grilled lettuce.
When the salmon is just cooked, Grant breaks it apart into large chunks and places them on the lettuce. On top, he adds the radishes and peas, drizzles dressing over everything, and finishes it all with a dash of chives and dill, plus some carefully-placed edible flowers. You could skip that step, but it'll sure make a quick meal at home feel just that much fancier. It might be a weeknight, but that doesn't mean you can't treat yourself.