As chef at the much-missed (but soon-to-return) Argyll Pub, Sergio Romero made his name on Scotch eggs and rabbit rillettes before turning his attention to bouillabaisse and cassoulet at Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar. Today, he heads up the culinary operations at yet another Robert Thompson venture: the sprawling Baker bowling alley, pool hall, arcade, bar and neo-diner called Punch Bowl Social Food & Drink (as well as its sibling in Portland, Oregon). But quirky comfort food remains his calling card: think smoked-oyster nachos, beef-tongue gyros and seared Spam sandwiches with smoked cheddar and kimchi slaw. Meanwhile, his own favorite winter dish might sound simple, though it takes days (and multiple hands) to make. In his own words:
Right now, with the inclement weather we’ve had, I’m going with our smoked-turkey pot pie. Pot pie’s a diner classic, but our take on it is this: we get in whole turkeys and brine them for 24 hours. Then we smoke them in our makeshift smoker - a monster hot box that we found at auction. Since they’re still whole, it takes about 14-15 hours. It’s kind of a process: we get here in the morning and put them in; throughout the day we stoke the fires; and by evening, they’re ready for using in the morning. A lot of what we do here is like that: we don’t cook today for today, we cook for several days away. You have to keep on your toes and look at what’s going on over the course of a week or more.
The dish is velouté-based, so we take all of the turkey bones we have, roast them to make a stock and then add cream. We braise the vegetables in that - not just a mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions but also fennel and celery root. We add the turkey meat, and then our pastry chef makes puff pastry for us, which is also a chore: he rolls and layers and rolls and layers and rolls and layers.
We serve the pot pie in eight-inch cast-iron skillets. Servers aren’t happy when there are four orders to a table, because they’re so heavy. But I am! To me it tastes like a little bit of Thanksgiving - it’s got that kind of nostalgia.
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