British Airways inflight magazine, The Club meets with head chef Robin Tarver from The Madison in London to learn more about must-eat dishes from America’s deep South.
This distinctly Southern staple has surprising roots in Scotland. The Scottish were the first Europeans to fry chicken in fat – it helped it travel better in times when they didn’t have refrigeration. We’ve been serving this dish at Madison for three years and it outsells the next most popular dish three to one every month. We use our very own secret spice mix and buttermilk, which helps tenderise the meat, keeping it nice and moist after it’s been fried.
This New Orleans born-and-bred dish was named after one of America’s wealthiest families because of the rich garlic butter sauce the oysters are served with. It’s basically an adaptation of escargot à la bourguignon, but snails were subbed for shellfish in New Orleans because of the abundance of oysters in the Mississippi River. We are going to top them with hollandaise, herbs, celery, Parmesan and breadcrumbs, and then grill them off in our Josper oven.
Pronounced “ben-yay”, these decadent and delightful deep-fried choux pastry bites are a staple of the city’s food scene. The recipe for the doughnut-like sweet treats came down to Louisiana with the Acadians (French Canadians), who were displaced from Nova Scotia during the Seven Years War in the 1700s. You can even find savoury versions in New Orleans, filled with crawfish – but we’re sticking to the sweet ones for the event, dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
While barbecue didn’t originate in New Orleans, the technique certainly plays a big part in cooking here. We’ll be serving up two classic barbecue dishes on the night: baby back ribs, brined in Coca Cola (to tenderise the meat) and then marinated in a treacle (for sweetness) and Cajun spice mix; and Cajun spiced prawns, which will be served with a celeriac rémoulade. Cajun spice mix really shows you how many cultural influences have gone into creating the cuisine of the US Deep South – it’s filled with herbs and spices from Spain, France, the Caribbean and Africa.
New Orleans boudin (pronounced “boo-dan”) is nothing like the traditional French version – it’s more like a black pudding sausage, which is usually served boiled, but it can also be smoked and fried in balls. Traditionally it’s made with pork, but it can be filled with any meat or fish. My twist on the dish will use duck confit, duck breast and rice in the filling, which will then be poached and fried.
This article first appeared in British Airways July 2017 edition of The Club magazine. BA kindly shares its articles with responsible bloggers.
MORE ON THE MADISON:
Boasting some of the most coveted panoramic views in London from its roof terrace, Madison Restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto St Paul’s Cathedral. Housed on the top floor of One New Change, the Manhattan-style restaurant serves an amalgamation of British and Mediterranean flavours.
Aside from magnificently indulgent burgers including lobster with avocado mayonnaise and duck with foie gras, the Madison Restaurant menu features a hearty selection of salads, pots and dishes from the Josper grill.
Starters such as mackerel and tuna tartar with quails eggs and wasabi crème fraiche are not to be missed, nor are desserts like bitter chocolate and praline fondant. Unusual light bites such as goat’s cheese or gin popcorn can be enjoyed in the restaurant, bar or on the trendy rooftop terrace.
Renowned for its vibrant atmosphere, Madison Restaurant in London regularly hosts DJs and live music. The all-encompassing drinks menu is a highlight, especially the hot cocktails, as are the hand-blown glass chandeliers. St Paul’s Tube Station is a 3-minute walk away.