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American Airlines, In-Flight Dining, Chef Stephan Pyles

Sep 1, 2006
2006 / September 2006

Stephan Pyles, a fifth-generation Texan and a pioneer of new American cuisine, has created 14 restaurants over the past 22 years. A founding father of Southwestern cuisine, he was the first Texan inducted into The James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.” Bon Appetit has credited him with “almost single-handedly changing the cooking scene in Texas.” The New York Times has called Pyles “an absolute genius in the kitchen,” while Texas Monthly Magazine named Pyles one of the “20 most impressive, intriguing and influential Texans for 1998.”

Pyles’ impressive roster of awards, earned during a career that to date has spanned more than two decades, includes AAA Five Diamond Award; Nation’s Restaurant News’ Fine Dining Hall of Fame Award; Restaurants and Institutions’ Ivy Award and the American Academy of Achievement Award. He was the inaugural recipient of The James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef in America-Southwest in 1991 and has been given the Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year award by both the Minnesota Restaurant Association and the Texas Restaurant Association.

The author of several cookbooks including The New Texas Cuisine, (Doubleday); Tamales, (McMillan); Southwestern Vegetarian, (Clarkson-Potter, a division of Random House); and New Tastes from Texas, (companion to his Emmy-award-winning nationally syndicated PBS television series by the same name); Pyles has cooked for dignitaries and celebrities from HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Mikhail Gorbachev to Mick Jagger and Sharon Stone. He has appeared around the world as guest celebrity chef and was one of five chefs worldwide invited to prepare dinner for Jimmy Carter’s 70th birthday. And now, as a member of American Airlines Chefs’ Conclave, Pyles has a hand in developing American’s in-flight offerings. Read on for a sampling Pyles’ recipes you may experience as a passenger in American Airlines’ first -or business-class cabin.


Citrus marinated grilled scallops with cucumber salad Serves 4

For the scallops:
16 10-15 count whole scallops, abductor muscle removed
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Cut the scallops into quarters and set aside. In a small pot add all remaining ingredients. Bring pot to a boil. Remove it from the heat. Pour the liquid over the scallops and chill for 2 hours.

For the marinade:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup diced red onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Mix all items together and let marinate overnight. The next day remove the scallops from the marinade. Grill them until they are medium rare, about 2-3 minutes on each side, making sure that the grill is very hot. Remove the scallops from the grill and set aside.

For the cucumber salad:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/8 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 English cucumber, skin on

Use a Japanese mandolin to julienne the cucumber. Mix the vinegar and the sugar in a bowl. Let the sugar completely dissolve in the vinegar before whisking in the oil. Fold in the cucumber and let marinate for 30 minutes.

PRESENTATION: Drain excess marinade off the cucumber salad and place 1/4 cup of salad in the center of the plate. Drain excess liquid from the scallops and place 1/8 cup scallops on top of the cucumber salad. Garnish with diced red and yellow peppers sprinkled around the plate.


Braised lamb shank with ale tomato sauce Serves 4

For the lamb shank:
4 8-ounce bone-in lamb shanks
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced yellow onions
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, c hopped
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch black ground pepper
2 cups beef consomme
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes

On a stovetop, heat a large, heavy, oven-safe pot with a lid on medium-high heat. Heat up the oil in the pot until it is almost smoking. Add the lamb shank to the pot and brown on all sides. Once the shanks are browned on all sides, remove from the pot. Drain the excess oil from the pot and place back on the heat. Add the onions to the pot and saute until golden brown. Add the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Then deglaze pot with the red wine. Reduce the red wine until it is almost gone. Add the water and beef consomme to the pot. Stir to mix. Once mixed, return the lamb shanks to the pot. Bring to a boil and place the lid on the pot. Place the pot into a 325-degree oven and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours or until the meat starts to fall off the bone. Remove the pot from the oven. Remove the shanks from the liquid and set aside. Reserve the liquid for the sauce.

For the ale tomato sauce:
1 12-ounce bottle dark ale
1 cup braising liquid, strained
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon green onions, diced
1/4 cup diced yellow onions
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until golden brown. Add garlic and olives to onions and cook for 2 minutes. Deglaze the skillet with the beer and reduce by half. Add the strained braising liquid and reduce by half again. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add parsley and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and reserve for service.

PRESENTATION: Place one lamb shank in the center of the plate and ladle 1/4 cup ale tomato sauce over the lamb. Serve with your favorite seasonal starch and vegetable.

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