F&W Star Chef
Barbara Lynch’s Boston empire includes the flagship No. 9 Park and South End’s exceptional The Butcher Shop, an inspiring wine bar that’s also one the city’s top sources for great ingredients and excellent prepared foods.
What’s your most popular dish?
It’s probably a tie between the prune-stuffed gnocchi and the Bolognese sauce. I’ve had the gnocchi on the menu at No. 9 Park for 16 years and could never take it off. The Bolognese sauce we finally had to put back on the menu at No. 9, even though we’d started selling it at The Butcher Shop. The prune gnocchi is an original dish: potato gnocchi filled with prune filling, with a sauce of equal parts butter and foie gras mixed into a vin santo reduction. It’s served with seared foie on top, dried prunes and toasted almonds. That sounds quite heavy but it’s the lightest dish you’ll ever have. Both recipes are in my book Stir, as well. The secret to my Bolognese is tons of chopped sage leaves and chicken livers—and to cook the sage and chicken livers together before adding the mirepoix. You want more sage than you think—a quarter cup. To me sage is like saffron—if you don’t use enough you don’t get the flavor. I also don’t like to use it with other herbs, but prefer to keep it on its own and let it shine.
Do you have a favorite cookbook of all time?
Any book by Alain Ducasse. They’re my go-to when I need inspiration. They’re so classic French—in fact they’re all in French, and I don’t speak a word of French so I just look at the photos and figure it out. The photos are amazing. The dishes are very technical but so simple. You can study his combinations and put your twist on them. I don’t use the recipes, I just look at the photos and go, “Oh that’d be neat.”
What’s one technique everyone should know?
How to make mayo from scratch (and fix it if it breaks). Mayo is so easy: Just mix a few egg yolks with a splash of mustard, some vinegar or lemon juice, and slowly drizzle in grapeseed oil until it gets nice and thick. Usually, I do it in my KitchenAid standing mixer with a whisk, but you can use an immersion mixer, too, and of course one of those battery-operated milk frothers. I’ll use a hand whisk or even pestle and mortar but it takes forever. If it breaks, if the emulsion doesn’t take, just add a tablespoon of hot water, and then add more oil. Don’t be afraid of it, fool around with it.
Won Best New Chef at: Galleria Italiana, Boston (closed)