Chef Sydney Louise Hanick’s menu is inspired by the culinary trends of the revolutionary period. Her French training, slant towards New England cuisine, and commitment to local sourcing influence each original course. We sat down with the chef to hear the backstory; here’s a closer look at a few of the dishes she’s preparing for our PhilaLandmarks benefit dinner.
Pork Rilletes: Rilletes, similar to pate, is a decadent spread generally made with pork belly and shoulder. “You slow roast the meat,” Hanick says, “And once it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender, you whip it with some of its own fat.” Packing meat in fat – or ‘potting,’ as it was called in colonial America – is a preservation technique that was especially common in pre-refrigeration eras.
Must have been tough. We’ll try to imagine colonists’ potted meat lasting through the winter as we snack on our rilletes atop sliced baguette with grape moutarde.
Wheat and Corn: In a classic use of standard American cash crops, Hanick will serve biscuits and cornbread to start the meal. Though corn was native, wheat was just getting its start in North American soil during the colonial period.
Hanick will source both grain from local growers. “Obviously the wheat and corn will both be non-GMO because that’s how I roll,” Hanick says, “…and that’s how the colonists rolled too.”
Pennsylvania Fish Chowder: This New England-style chowder will feature perch – a common catch in both the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers (unfortunately, these days it’s likely unsafe to eat due to river pollution). Hanick wanted to shy away from historically iconic pepper pot and snapper soups – she’s not a fan of gimmicks.
“You have to be able to put your own thought and insight into [a dish],” she says. Her chowder is inspired by historic recipes, and influenced by the New England cuisine she grew up with.
Citrus Pavé (French for brick or cobblestone): Citrus was highly fashionable during the colonial era, as oranges were imported through slave trade routes. Hanick will poach thick orange slices in simple syrup, which she’ll layer on the bottom of the pan. When the tea cake’s inverted, the orange rounds will decorate the top.
“It’s going to look like the cobblestone streets of Philadelphia,” Hanick says, “In cake form.” (Yes, we’re pretty excited to see that too.)
To view the entire menu, scroll down on our Next Event page.