Empellón is a new restaurant with its own identity, but it could never exist without the pre-existence and ongoing support of its three sister entities downtown.
A tripod is one of the most stable architectural designs. Symbolically, Empellón is supported by one.
When contemplating the new restaurant, I felt is was important to weave in some elements from the original three.
When you make tacos al pastor (which we do downtown) you have to build a meat sculpture out of sliced pork shoulder. This construct is called a trompo, which is the Spanish word for a spinning top (If you see the shape of a trompo in any taqueria, you will understand).
Here we constructed the bovine version of a trompo out of beef shoulder. The meat roasts beautifully on a vertical spit, always at the ready to carve up for great roast beef tacos.
I love the idea that vertically spit roasted lamb procreated pork and now pork is doing the same for beef in our own space.
This bite is our rendition of a famous dish from Chef Grant Achatz (the creator/mastermind responsible for Alinea, among other brilliant places).
We are copying his method as well as his presentation. All we have changed are the flavors, which in this case are less important than the idea and/or vehicle.
Here we made a straightforward pozole from nixtamal, red chiles and various pig parts. We then strain that rich broth, cast it in a mold and allow it to gel. It is then encased in thin sheets of pasta. When the pasta is boiled, the gelatinous center liquifies and you then have a ravioli that explodes with hot broth.
The way we are presenting it here forces the guest to eat it one bite which is critical to enjoying it.
Note the service piece created by Martin Kastner of Crucial Detail. Its called an anti-plate, and holds the spoon in place by the base rather than the handle.
Tejuino is a fascinating beverage. It's made by simply fermenting corn masa in a bit of water. The result is something thats highly refreshing with flavors of grape, honey and yeast.
When you combine the masa and water it makes a milky looking liquid. As it ferments, the particulate settles at the bottom and we decant off the clear liquid.
The team at Cocina began experimenting with the sediment from the tejuino, and discovered some fascinating applications for it as a culture starter for both crema and bread.
The masa sediment was added to a dough as the sole leavening agent and it produced the best concha we have ever had.
The same sediment was added to cream in order to ferment it into crema. We then took this crema churned it into butter.
This is now the current first course at our Kitchen Table.
Three different products served together, all produced from masa, and all do not seem to have anything to do with corn at all.
I am not a member of team burrito.
I'm not trying to be a hater, I respect other peoples love for them, but I’ve never been able to accept the construct or the ratio of tortilla to other things.
The only part of the burrito experience that I enjoy is the first two bites and the last two bites.
This is because it's at the beginning and end of a burrito that all the folds of the flour tortilla come to a dense and texturally gratifying apex.
So this dish is hedging that there are a few other weirdos like me out there that agree.
Here we made a burrito with vegetables and smokey white lima bean puree. We make it with purchased flour tortillas. We tried using the ones we make in house but they are not quite right for that authentic American burrito experience. Once the burrito is constructed, we wrap it in foil and steam it for a bit. We then unwrap it, cut the ends off and turn them cut side up. We then frost it lavishly in American-style sour cream and then plop some caviar on it.