Petite Maison's Offal Dinner Turns Organs and Odd Parts Into Elegant Cuisine
Scottsdale's Petite Maison restaurant celebrated the spooky season last weekend with the fourth annual Halloween Offal Dinner. The four course meal has been a tradition since 2010, when chef James Porter was inspired to create a menu that brought attention to just how sophisticated offal can be. Sure, chicken feet aren't as pleasing to the eye as a filet mignon, but as demonstrated last weekend, looks aren't everything.
Lauren Saria Chef James Porter's bone marrow bruschetta with a barbequed chicken foot.
If our list of the ten best offal dishes in metro Phoenix wasn't convincing enough, then Petite Maison's meal would easily have been enough to prove that organ meats can be the makings of flavorful, sumptuous cuisine.
To start the meal chef Porter served an amuse bouche of bone marrow bruscetta topped with chanterelle mushrooms. The bone marrow -- spongy tissue found inside animal bones -- lended itself well toward becoming a rich, if slightly mineral-y tasting butter that, when paired with the fleshy chanterelles, made for a truly satisfying dish. Still the barbequed chicken foot, a late addition to the menu, stole the show for this course with its smoky flavor, crispy skin and abundance of soft gelatin. They aren't for everyone, but in our opinion gnawing around the delicate bones added a bit of mischievousness to the upscale meal.
Next came the first course: chef Porter's homemade head cheese -- the very one we helped make earlier in the week. The dish included pork tongue, ears, cheeks, tails and trotters, seasoned with vinegar, smoked salt and fennel pollen. Cut about a half an inch thick, Porter's head cheese looks almost nothing like the super smooth pate with which you might be familiar, but offers a very similar, and enjoyable, taste. As recommended by the chef, we enjoyed ours with some spicy mustard atop a slice of grilled bread. Though it might have been hard for some to get over the mosaic of fatty gelatin and other odd parts, we swear if you didn't know what comprises this dish, you'd never think twice about eating a whole loaf.
Lauren Saria Head cheese