Home (Cooking) For The Holidays
Chef Robert Phalen of One Eared Stag prepares a crowd pleasing holiday brunch at home for his most discerning diners—his family.
As chef and proprietor of Inman Park’s One Eared Stag, Robert Phalen is accustomed to serving up painstakingly prepared dishes for discerning patrons night after night. But with the holidays approaching, we couldn’t help but wonder what one of Atlanta’s most celebrated chefs plates up for his own friends and family during the year’s most celebratory stretch. Phalen was up to the task, creating a spread of simple, Southern fare with an elevated twist at his cozy home in Decatur and inviting us to pull up a seat at his table.
“I love these dishes because they’re simple and homey and the kids can help with most of them,” says Phalen of his menu, which comprised sides like fluffy roe-topped scrambled eggs, tender collard greens and creamy grits. “During the holidays, I don’t want anyone stuck in the kitchen by themselves, so we make simple dishes and use leftovers, like pork roast and collard greens, from the night before. We cook together and make things like grits and scrambled eggs because they don’t need tons of time or attention.”
Phalen says that, while cooking for friends and family can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be complicated. He recommends keeping things simple, straightforward, easy to eat and with an enhancement here and there. “There are traditional breakfast items, like eggs and grits,” he says of the menu he assembled. “It’s kid friendly, crowd-pleasing and sticks to a certain script, but I try to add a nice touch here and there, like the trout roe and the duck egg bottarga.” Phalen adds, “The whole point of this meal is to make it easy and fun to prepare. Ingredients like trout roe are flourishes rather than essential cooking ingredients, and anyone can use a dab of atypical ingredients here or there.”
Ready to let your inner chef out? Gather your brood and get cooking. “Nothing builds togetherness like cooking a meal as a family,” Phalen says. And as for this off-duty chef, “I’m not focused on creating something new or cutting edge or challenging anyone’s palate; I’m just enjoying time with my kids, my wife and relatives, and hopefully we eat something good at the end.”
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. whole black
¼ c. kosher salt plus
additional for seasoning
¼ c. sugar
1 7–8-lb. skinless
bone-in pork shoulder
1 c. chicken stock
¼ c. apple cider vinegar
¼ c. light brown sugar
1 large carrot
3 stalks celery
1 tbsp. olive oil
Crush fennel seeds and peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Transfer spices to a small bowl; add 1/4 cup salt and sugar. Rub mixture all over shoulder. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice onion, carrot, celery and apple; place in the bottom of a deep roasting pan. Place pork on top of vegetables. Add 1 cup chicken stock and apple; cover pan tightly with foil. Transfer pan to oven and roast until meat is very tender, about 4 hours. Remove pan from oven; discard foil. Increase heat to 500 degrees. Stir vinegar and brown sugar into pan juices. Return to oven and roast, watching closely to prevent burning, until pork is browned and liquid begins to reduce, about 12 minutes.
Whisk egg and cream together; season with salt and pepper. In a medium hot pan, add butter. When butter is melted, add eggs and continually stir until eggs are light and fluffy. Serve topped with roe and chives.
Prepare a cast iron pan by placing it in a 425-degree oven to heat up. In a blender, combine the eggs, flour, sugar, salt and nutmeg and blend on high until combined. Take the hot cast iron pan out of the oven and add the butter and swirl until fully melted. Add apples and cheddar and then pour over the dutch baby batter. Return the pan to the oven and bake until puffed and golden, approximately 25-30 minutes. Serve with torched maple marshmallows.
4 sheets gelatin
1/8 c. maple syrup
8 oz. sugar
1/4 c. water
2 egg whites
Bloom the gelatin sheets into cold water. When they are softened, remove from the water, and squeeze out excess water, and then place over the maple syrup. Combine the sugar and the water in a pot with a candy thermometer and boil until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. Place the egg whites in the mixer with a whip attachment and whip to medium peaks. When the sugar syrup reaches 240 degrees, pour in the mixer over the egg whites slowly on high speed until fully added. Add the maple mixture, and whip the marshmallow on high speed until the mixer bowl is no longer hot and the mixture thickens. Pipe the marshmallow onto a sheet pan with sprayed parchment paper and allow cooling for 2-3 hours until set.
In a medium pot over medium high heat, bring water and milk to a boil. Slowly stir in grits, stirring continuously and thoroughly until well mixed. Turn temperature down to low and slowly cook for approximately 30 minutes. Finish with butter, grated duck egg bottarga and chopped chives.
12 thick-cut smoked bacon slices, cut into lardons
2 medium-size sweet onions, sliced
2 smoked ham hocks
5 apples, peeled and diced
6 garlic cloves, sliced
6 c. chicken stock
5 lbs. collard greens, washed and torn
½ c. apple cider
Salt and pepper to taste
Render bacon in a 10-quart stockpot over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes or until almost crisp. Add onion and sauté 8 minutes; add ham hock and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth and remaining ingredients. Cook low and slow until desired degree of tenderness is achieved.
Combine all ingredients except sage oil in a cocktail shaker with ice. Close shaker and shake vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds. Strain cocktail mixture into a tall glass (think Collins) over ice, then top with droplets of sage oil.
*POMEGRANATE + APPLE SHRUB
Yields 1 quart
3 local apples, each of a different variety, cored and sliced (do not peel)
1 pomegranate, juiced
1/2 c. white cane sugar
1 c. apple cider vinegar
Blend apple slices on high for 1 minute in a blender or food processor. Add pomegranate juice and sugar, and continue to blend for an additional 3 minutes. Strain liquid through a cheese cloth and add apple cider vinegar. Keeps for 6 months.
Yields 1 cup
1/2 c. hot water
1/2 c. honey
Stir until honey is completely dissolved. Keeps for 1 month.
Yields 1/2 cup
1/2 c. fresh sage, packed
1/2 c.neutral oil (such as canola or vegetable)
Blanch sage in boiling water for 10 seconds and shock in ice bath until thoroughly chilled. Wring out excess water from sage, first with your hand and then with a paper towel. Place the sage and oil in blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Strain the puree through a paper towel. The straining process will take about 8 hours, so it’s best done as an overnight process. Stays a vibrant green color for about 2 weeks, and then the color starts to dull. Stays good for 1 month
STORY Lindsay Lambert Day
RECIPES: Robert Phalen
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna