I gently knocked on the glass door at MGFD, anticipating my first day behind the scenes with the Genuine. It was an early morning of quiet preparation before the upcoming weekend service, quite a different rhythm than my previous visits for the more hectic dinnertime. Upside down chairs rested atop thick moving blankets, protecting the wooden tables. The team’s voices were barely above a whisper, soothed by the even mellower buzz of the oven.
I casually explored the kitchen, watching Michael pass through while carrying a box of Georgia peaches. The pastry department was already getting a head start on Hedy’s favorite childhood treats, and Pastry Sous Chef Amy announced her presence with a gentle call, “Behind!”, manuverearing her way through the narrow passageways. She quickly reached the standing mixer, holding a saucepan full of boiling simple syrup. Steadily, she added a thin stream of the sweetened hot liquid to a meringue for the house made cocoa nib marshmallows.
The marshmallows are one of the components for Hedy’s s’mores, a re-thought classic done in a slightly smokier way. As the treat was explained to me, “It’s basically just two house made cookies, a toasted house made marshmallows, melted smoked chocolate and…” I immediately interrupted the pastry pros for some serious clarification, “Did I just hear you say smoked chocolate?”
My first lesson behind the scenes with the Genuine. Surrounded by innovative ingredients and wonderful ideas on each day, the team at MGFD might reason that placing a chunk of chocolate in the smoker is a fairly standard concept. A regular day at the MGFD kitchen, right? Well, for a curious onlooker, it’s just a tad bit more uncommon.
The chocolate for the s’mores is placed in the smoker for about an hour, low and slow. The heat doesn’t actually melt the chocolate, instead the chunk slightly wilts and loses its firm shape. After leaving the smoker, the chocolate is melted in the kitchen, layered with a cookie or cracker and the house made marshmallows for a spin on one of Hedy’s childhood favorite treats, the campfire s’more.
But the smoker gets even sweeter with the candied house smoked bacon. In itself, the bacon is cured through an eight day process, starting off with pork belly that’s rubbed with sugar, maple syrup, pepper and pink salt. The pink salt is also known as saltpeter or sel rose and contains a small amount of sodium nitrite that helps make the meat resistant to oxidizing. It also supports a more stable protein complex.
The pork belly is then rotated every couple of days and, after being cured and dried, it’s smoked for about three hours at 200°F. Michael’s cookbook has the recipe for the maple cured bacon.
That’s when the pastry department takes over. The house smoked bacon is sliced and soaked in a sticky syrup of molasses, brown sugar, brandy, maple syrup and black pepper. After twenty minutes of soaking, the syrup is drained and the bacon is baked on a rack. Once cooled, the candied bacon is used as a garnish for MGFD desserts, chopped and stirred into the ice creams churned daily or into thick batters for pastries.
Now that’s what I call a Genuine, and seriously sweet, smoker.
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Emily is an inquisitive home cook with a hungry obsession for sustainable, local and seasonal food. She writes about cooking and eating in Miami for her personal food blog at www.emilycodik.com. Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik for news and updates about recipes, food and delicious ingredients.