Much more than burgers

When we talk about American cuisine, the first thing that pops up in my mind is fast food and a whole lot of junk food!” smiles Chef Subhransu Biswal, Head Chef, The Little Easy, Bandra, Mumbai.

The reality is beyond that. Chef Sheriyar Dotivala, Executive Chef, The Resort Mumbai, rightly calls American cuisine an amalgamation of cuisines of several countries.

“This is so because of the immigrant cultures which have changed the way food is prepared and cooked in the USA. As a result of this, the country has established several dishes that are considered as examples of American food cuisine.”

American cuisine has a range of regional cuisines or varieties. Chef Sheriyar reveals that typical American cuisine has meats especially steak, beans, corn, potatoes, cheese, macaroni, apple pie and creamed spinach. “America has some of the best shellfish around. Maine Lobster, local clams and mussels are much eaten in the country.

Now American cuisines are seeing innovative use of various seasoning and sauces. Region-wise, food in the southern part includes fried chicken, biscuits, chicken and dumplings, chicken fried steak and gravy, fried green tomatoes, shrimps and grits.

Traditional American cuisine is however region-based on what is available. In California, the dishes are more fusion based prepared with the goods produced locally. Mild seasoning with spices and herbs such as parsley, dill and sage are used as a flavour to a dish.

The Midwest food mainly consists of dishes such as roasts, stews and dishes made from trout and whitefish. Wheat bread and corn bread typically accompany meals. Rice is used in many side dishes and desserts. Apple pie is one of the main traditional desserts in the country, though regional variations can be seen.”

Chef Subhransu includes hamburgers, hotdogs, pork, beef, barbecues, fried chicken, pizza and pasta, corn, beans, spicy sauces and wings. Reconfirming his fellow chef’s earlier statement, he shares,

“In the Northeast, you will experience an abundance of seafood dishes, particularly in New England, where lobster and clams reign supreme. The deeper South you go, the richer and heavier the local specialities get; Pork and chicken are integral parts of many dishes. In Louisiana, Cajun and Creole cuisines are the traditional dishes – prepare for lots of spicy sauces and seafood.

The Midwest is mostly known as the breadbasket of the nation and for its seemingly endless corn, soy, and wheat fields. Moving West and South, Mexican influences to the local cuisine become more apparent where beef, beans, and rice are some of the main ingredients. In California, the widely available avocado is another staple food found in many dishes. 

Pizza and pasta, in particular, are absolute standards of the typical American diet, and both are readily available both in their prepared form and as convenience foods. Tacos, burritos, and quesadillas are favourite takeaway snacks in practically every larger conurbation.”

Little or no information means misconception. Chef Subhransu discloses, “American cuisine has never attained the status of worldwide renown that, for example, French or Japanese cuisine has. Hamburgers and hot dogs utterly dominate the taste buds of the nation.”

Chef Sheriyar recollects the most common misconception about the cuisine which is it being unhealthy and restaurants filled with unhealthy menus and fast foods. “There is less importance given to veganism. Nowadays Americans are getting diet conscious and adapting more towards veganism.”

The key ingredients include corn, rice, beans, chillies, Chile peppers, tomatoes, Queso fresco, chicken, beef, plantains, yuca, Squash, cabbage, avocados, limes and chocolate.

PAN TOSSED WINGS IN HOMEMADE HICKORY SAUCE SERVED WITH SOUR CREAM

Ingredients:

Chicken Wings – 6 Pcs

Fresh Thyme – 15 Gms

Chopped Garlic – 30 Gms

Black Pepper – 2 Gms

Salt – 3 Tsp

Oil – 30 Ml

Tomato Ketchup – 60 Gms

Tamarind Paste – 10 Gms

Coffee Powder – 5 Gms

Mustard Paste – 5 Gms

Smoky Flavoured Hickory Sauce – 20 Gms

Brown Sugar – 5 Gms

Garlic Powder – 1 Tsp

Paprika – 1 Ts

Celery Salt – 1 Tsp

All-purpose Flour – 2 Cups

METHOD:

Marinate chicken wings with fresh thyme, chopped garlic, black pepper, celery salt and oil. Mix it all well and keep it aside. 

For Hickory BBQ Sauce, mix tomato ketchup, tamarind paste, coffee powder, mustard paste, smoky flavoured Hickory sauce & brown sugar. All the ingredients and slow cook it in a heavy bottom saucepan for 10-15 minutes. Sift 2 cups of all-purpose flour, a pinch of pepper, one teaspoon garlic powder, one teaspoon paprika, in a large bowl or plate.

Remove your marinated wings from their sauce and dredge them in this flour mixture. Make sure to get both sides of your chicken wings, shake off the extra, and place on a new clean dish.

To fry, heat the oil in a pan. Place the wing pieces away from you slowly and carefully. Wearing long sleeves is advisable, as the oil is hot and will burn you.

Cook your wings until they are lightly browned. Remove the wings from the cooking oil using a wire basket or tongs. When done cooking, place wings briefly onto a plate lined with paper towels. Let some of the oil drain, but only briefly. Do not let your wings cool.

Now transfer your still hot wings to a large bowl. Once there, cover your wings with Hickory BBQ sauce. Toss to insure even coating. Move your cooked sauced wings to a serving dish or platter.

— Chef Subhransu Biswal,

Head Chef, The Little Easy, Bandra, Mumbai

CHICKEN BURGER

Ingredients:

Ground Chicken

Smoked Paprika – 3/4 Tsp

Garlic, minced – 1 Clove

Onions, minced – 3

Salt for Taste

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 Tbsp

Cheddar – 4 Slices

Lettuce Leaves – 4

Tomato, thinly sliced – 1

Brioche Burger Buns, split and lightly toasted

Method:

In a large bowl, combine chicken, paprika, garlic, and onions, and season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture into four patties. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add the burger patties and cook, flipping once, until golden and a thermometer inserted into the centre registers 165° 8 to 10 minutes.

Top with cheddar, cover, and cook until just melted for two minutes. Remove from heat and transfer patties to a plate. Stack lettuce, chicken burgers, tomato slice and red onion. Close sandwiches with top buns.

— Chef Sheriyar Dotivala,

Executive Chef, The Resort Mumbai