My Midnight Meal: DeVonn Francis – Snowe

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My Midnight Meal:

DeVonn Francis

 

Think about the best meal you’ve had lately. It’s about more than just a little flavor. It’s about where you were, who you were with, that song that was playing during the first bite that you made sure to download before the second. A recipe can be way more than the sum of its ingredients and for chef/artist DeVonn Francis, it’s a means of expression. His approach stirred up interest at The New York Times, New York Magazine, VICE, and he was named one of Eater’s Young Guns.  

 

Francis swung by The Whitespace to talk to us about his work, but let’s just start with the kitchen. It’s clear that food has always been part of his DNA. Francis’s family moved from Jamaica to New York before he was born and Caribbean flavors are embedded in everything he does. “My mom and I used to cook all of the time together. It was the first time I realized that creativity could be collaborative and an opportunity to learn from or about someone you loved.”

 



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His emphasis on collaboration isn’t just about working with people. He went on to study art and instead of leaving food behind, he mixed in his passions for art and entertaining with the same effortlessness he uses to mix unexpected flavors. The multi-medium approach became Yardy. A creative studio built on meaningful experiences around food and hospitality, it pulls inspiration from all angles to emphasize a simple idea: home is more than a place, it’s a feeling that can follow you anywhere. It’s a reminder that your favorite people and your favorite flavors are what makes a place feel familiar. For us, the message was spot on and it’s especially clear in his approach to cooking.  

 

 

For Francis, recipes should be read between the lines. They’re more of a guide until you hit a groove and mixing and matching becomes a language. He champions good old fashioned practice for learning ratios and flavors, but nothing is as helpful as just getting in the kitchen to let the spices do the talking. “Food over time is a really great teacher... add your own personality to it.” 

 

With comfort at the core of Francis’s food ethos, we were eager to discover what he makes for himself, on a night off from one of his legendary dinner parties. We’ve asked some of our favorite pros, Mark Ladner, Alison Roman, George Mendes, and now DeVonn Francis: what do you whip up for yourself when presentation and formality are the last things on your mind? The dish you make when you’ve been out and about all day, drinking all night, or just craving something familiar?

 


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Francis came ready to play with his Caribbeanish Red Pepper & Miso Stir-Fry. The recipe is inspired by Chinese influence in Caribbean flavors, but it’s the kind of thing that can change with the mood or whatever’s in the fridge. Mix it from leftovers or new flavors you’re experimenting with. What makes this recipe the perfect go-to? t’s easily scalable for nights when you bring the party home. Instead of tossing out the glaring items in your pantry that leave you uninspired, Francis views this recipe as a “challenge to make new things from old ideas.”

  

 

 

 

 

Luckily, the ever-changing quality of this recipe means it always matches his playlist of the month. It’s a social activity, an opportunity to show friends and family you care. “I’ve been trying to get back into the groove of cooking for myself as often as possible,” he explained of his latest iteration of the recipe. It’s also an easy dish to throw together and enjoy on the couch. 

 

As a whole, this dish is nothing short of exceptional, but with the Pineapple Salsa on top, it’ll be all you can think about for weeks. Once you’ve got the hang of the basics you’ll look at leftovers in an all-new light. Get ready for a quick chop and a stir to become the teacher.

 

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Caribbeanish Red Pepper & Miso Stir-Fry 

 

Stir Fry

2 cups cooked brown rice
6 cloves garlic (thinly sliced) 
8 King trumpet mushroom (reserve 2 for pickles) 
1 tbsp white miso paste
1 red bell pepper
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 tsp chili paste 
1 lime (for zest and juice) 

¼ head Castel franco (or any leafy green) 

Salt, to taste 

Black pepper, to taste

 

Pineapple Salsa

1/2 bunch cilantro
2 medium shallot
1/4 pineapple 
Champagne vinegar 
Olive oil
Salt 

Pickles

1 small cucumber
1 tsp chili flakes
2 small trumpet mushrooms (halved lengthwise)
1/4 c sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup ACV
1 Shallot sliced thinly

 

 

 

 

 

For Pickles:

  1. In a small saucepan or stockpot, combine water, vinegar, and sugar. 
  2. Bring to a boil with spices. 
  3. Pour over cucumbers, mushroom and let the mixture come to room temp.

 

For Salsa:

  1. Coarsely chop cilantro, shallots and ¼ pineapple and stir until evenly mixed with salt, chili flakes, and olive oil.

 

For Stir Fry:

  1. Toss red pepper and ½ of the king trumpets in miso with a bit of olive oil 
  2. Heat olive oil in a wok or nonstick skillet right before it starts to smoke 
  3. Add rice to pan with mushroom, peppers, garlic, chili paste, and miso 
  4. Let sit for 3-4 minutes to allow rice to get crispy 
  5. Stir or flip rice so that all ingredients are evenly distributed for another 5 minutes or until the sound of the rice popping dies down 
  6. Remove from heat 
  7. Transfer to bowl or serving dish
  8. Top with salsa and pickles 
  9. Tear lettuce and add to bowl 
  10. Finish with lime zest and lime juice

 

 

 

 

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