Scrappy & Cypressy: Superstar Staff Meals by Tony Galleno

The evidence lay strewn before me.  Bones, picked clean save two plump, flakey morsels of rabbit leg.  Crispy brown bits scattered on the towel-lined hotel pan.  A squeeze bottle, quarter-full of red something-or-other.  A pool of cream, maybe a cabbage stick and radish slice or two left to swim with lonely raisins.  From the looks of the shrapnel, line cook Tony Galleno had done it again, and these shadows of 15 minutes prior were all fair game as I settled in with my laptop at The Cypress Room’s bar.  He had whipped up another simple, lick-your-fingers-scrumptious staff meal, and I, arriving at 4:45, scavenged what I could.  I’m sure it was every bit as delicious as it had been at the moment of service, and I implored to know more.

Tony crabs

Tony doing his clam routine, with scoopers.

Tony was cleaning clams behind the line, so I moseyed up to the pass of the open kitchen to ask a few questions before things got hairy.  After all, this seemed akin to one of those assembly line jobs I’d overheard him say he’d love to have in the land of make believe, like we all dare to dream to pretend having.  But Cypress isn’t a place for brainless activities.  Not even cleaning clams, so nimble Tony multitasked.

“My go-to formula for family meal is simple, quick, and delicious. ” he explained.  “The first step for me is I think of a cuisine.  What do I feel like eating? Then I see what I have to work with, and it comes together pretty easily.  It kind of has to.  It’s all about efficiency.  You can’t spend too much time making it since you are in the middle of prep for service. Chef would not be happy.”

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Explains chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia, “One of the perks of working at a high end restaurant is high end scraps.”   So for last night’s family meal extravaganza, presented on battle-scarred sheet tray, Tony began by soaking the rabbit legs in buttermilk, lemon juice, thyme, Tabasco and black pepper for two hours.  He then dredged them in a mixture of all purpose flour, salt, and paprika.  They were left to sit for 20 minutes, a very important step (“drying them out a little this way makes them fry better”) before frying at 325F for 15 (“maybe 17!”) minutes.  They’re removed from the oil, hit with some finishing salt and drained on paper towels to serve.  The hot sauce is a kicking combination of Sriracha, Tabasco, a little honey to thin it out for perfect dousing, and a touch of red wine vinegar. Any slaw will do. Shredded green cabbage, shaved radish, mayonnaise, plumped raisins and a touch of red wine vinegar.  Build your bowl and come back for seconds.  If there is anything left!

Tony is off today, but we post now in his honor, as the clock strikes 4:36, and we wonder where and what family meal is tonight.

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