The River Cafe: 3 Courses

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a demonstration by Chef Steelman, executive chef of The River Cafe. I’ve tried my hand at re-enacting the meal (albeit from authentic event leftovers) … and now you can, too! Brace yourselves.

Spring Asparagus Risotto

With Mascarpone, Parmigianino Regina and crispy trumpet mushrooms

Serves 8

For the asparagus butter:

1 oz. extra virgin olive oil

2 bun. Green asparagus, peeled (save the peelings) blanch the asparagus spears, and slice on a bias and reserve

1 cup spinach leaves (raw)

2 shallot, sliced

2 sprig fresh dill

½ cup chicken broth

4 oz. sweet butter

Kosher salt and black pepper

  • In a medium sauce pot over medium high heat place the olive oil, add the shallot and cook until tender, add the asparagus peelings, season and cook a few minutes more.
  • Add the dill, spinach and broth, as soon as the spinach is wilted; using a handheld immersion blender incorporate the butter to create an emulsified sauce, check the seasoning and pass through a fine sieve.

For the Risotto:

2 oz. extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. Arborio rive

1 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay)

½ small white onion, finely diced

2 clove garlic minced

2 oz. butter

½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese

½ cup mascarpone cheese

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 quarts boiling water

  • In a large sauce pot over medium heat place the oil then add the garlic and onions season with salt and pepper and cook until onions are translucent add the rice and stir until each grain has been coated with the oil.
  • Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed.
  • Begin adding the boiling water incrementally a cup at a time to the rice and stir until the liquid has been absorbed, taking care not to over saturate the rice.
  • Continue adding the water and seasoning to the rice as you stir, the rice should become creamy.
  • When a desired “al dente” doneness of the rice is achieved (about 20-25 minutes) stir in the butter and cheeses, finish with the sliced blanched asparagus and enough asparagus butter to create a brightly colored and creamy mixture.
  • Mixture should be a light green.

Colorado Lamb Roast

Caramelized spring onions, potato puree, roasting juices

Serves 8

For the plate:

2 “Boneless lamb Porterhouse” (to be demonstrated)

Potato puree

Caramelized spring onions

Natural lamb juice

For the lamb:

2 Colorado lamb loin and tenderloins, bones removed

1 ground lamb trim meat from the loins

2 shallot small dice

1 cup seasonal mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

1 caul fat *

1 oz. extra virgin olive oil

Mushroom powder (optional)

Kosher salt and black pepper

For the lamb farce (forcemeat):

  • In a sauté pan over medium high heat place the olive oil, add the mushrooms and allow them to brown.
  • Add the shallots and herbs, season and continue to cook until the shallots are tender.
  • Allow the mixture to cool and chop finely, mix the ground lamb.
  • Divide the farce into four equal parts spread and roll each between two layers of plastic wrap to form four thin layers, each about eight inches square.
  • Split each loin down the middle lengthwise to create four strips from the two loins, do the same with the tenderloins.
  • Arrange each loin strip at the end of each layer of farce, roll the tenderloins in the mushroom powder and place on top of each loin.
  • Roll the farce around the loin and tenderloin to create a tight cylinder shape.
  • Roll each cylinder in a thin layer of the caul fat* and secure with butcher’s twine.
  • *caul fat; a thin fatty membrane used to secure roasts and pates. Caul renders away during cooking, basting the meat.

To roast the lamb:

  • Place a large roasting pan in a pre-heated 425 degree Electrolux ICON oven.
  • When the pan is very hot add a splash of olive oil, season the lamb and place in the hot oil, sear the meat in the oven and brown evenly.
  • Reduce the temperature to 375 and cook for 12 minutes, turning once (internal temperature of 135F) transfer the lamb to a platter and allow the meat to rest and re-circulate its juices.

For the Spring onions:

12 small spring onions, cleaned, 3 inch stern attached to the bulb

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

½ cup chicken stock, hot

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

  • In a sauté pan over medium heat place the butter and sugar, cook until the sugar begins to caramelize.
  • Add the onions and vinegar and stir to coat the onions.
  • Begin adding the hot stock in increments, using only enough to half way submerge the onions.
  • Continue to add stock until the onions are very tender, but still keep their shape.
  • Adjust the seasoning.
  • This can be done in advance and then re-heated.

For the potato puree:

4 large Idaho potatoes

1 ½ cups whole milk

¼ cold sweet butter, cut into cubes

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

  • Peel the potatoes and submerge with water in a large pot, add a pinch of salt, cover the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Remove the cover and continue to cook until potatoes are just tender when pierced with a pairing knife (do not over cook the potatoes they will absorb too much water and dilute their flavor.)
  • Drain the potatoes well and pass through a food mill or potato ricer into a bowl. Scald the milk and using a wisk stir in half the hot milk into the potatoes.
  • Begin adding the cubes of butter allowing them to emulsify into the potatoes, season and continue alternating with the milk and butter to desired consistency, adjust seasoning and hold warm.


  • Remove the butcher’s twine from the roasts and reheat in a hot oven for a few minutes.
  • In the center of a warm dinner plate place some potato puree; slice three 1 ½-inch thick medallions of lamb and place on the potatoes.
  • Surround the potatoes with some of the spring onions and their cooking liquid; also drizzle with some of the degreased pan juices from the lamb.
  • Serve immediately.

Melt Away Cake

Serves 8

For the cake:

8oz Dark chocolate

8oz. Butter

4 Eggs

4 Yolks

3oz. Sugar

2oz. Cake flour (sifted)

  • Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler.
  • Whisk in the cake flour.
  • Combine the eggs, yolks, and sugar and whisk into the batter.
  • Prepare aluminum baking cups or ovenproof ramekins by brushing with melted butter and dusting with some dark cocoa powder.
  • Fill each cup almost to the top.
  • Bake in pre-heated 350F oven for 7 minutes or until the center is still slightly undercooked.
  • Flip onto a serving plate and serve warm.

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