Bay Bites Q&A

What inspires you?
  I was inspired by working with great chefs in Washington, D.C.’s, fine-dining restaurants. They taught me to seek out unique ingredients and be fearless when it comes to creating. I’m also inspired by the wonderful fresh, local ingredients we have in this area.

What’s your culinary background?
  I started by paying attention to great cooking by my mom and gram. I attended culinary school in Baltimore and was awarded a fellowship to work at the famed Park Hotel in Ireland. When I returned to the States, I worked in fine-dining restaurants in Washington, D.C. I started Roundz Catering in 2004 and opened Roundz Gourmet Market in 2011.
Where do you eat on a night off — at home or out?
  I do a little of both.

Where do you eat on a night out?
  Allison’s Restaurant in Crofton is a great place. I also enjoy the work of Chef James Barrett at the Weston in Annapolis.

Outside of work, what do you do for fun?
  Spend time with my family! I’m involved with my church, and I’m an avid sports fan.

What’s new?
  Each month we do a six-course dinner of unique culinary creations called Roundz After Dark. It gives me the chance to push the gourmet envelope. I also look forward to working with students at the cooking classes we do at Roundz.

Chef Pope’s Chicken Salad
  Chicken salad is always popular on the picnic circuit, but the mayonnaise in traditional recipes can be high in fat and sometimes subject to spoilage when left on an outdoor table at a family gathering.  My preference is to serve a mayo-free chicken salad that capitalizes on fresh ingredients without compromising the taste and texture we love. With a twist of course, in this case curry spice.

Yields approximately 2 pounds of chicken salad or 9 to 12 sandwiches

Raw ingredients:

2 stalks celery, chopped
½ cup dried apricots
3 ounces dried berries: (I prefer 1 ounce each of dried cherries, cranberries and golden raisins)

Poaching liquid ingredients

1 pound celery root, peeled & diced large
1 whole peeled shallot
2 whole garlic cloves
2 chicken breasts, approximately 1 pound
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 quarts chicken stock (or water with 2 chicken bouillon cubes or 1 tablespoon chicken base)

Finishing seasonings

2 tablespoons curry
Salt, pepper to taste

  Chef’s note: Making a poaching liquid is a great way to infuse flavor. The poaching ingredients (celery root, garlic, shallot, thyme and chicken stock) enhance the taste of the chicken and, once processed, will serve as a flavorful binding agent taking the place of mayonnaise.
  Bring poaching liquid to a boil.
  Add celery root, shallot, thyme sprig, garlic and bouillon cubes (or chicken base or stock if you prefer). Simmer for 5 minutes uncovered.
  Add whole chicken breasts and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until firm.
  Retrieve the chicken from the poaching liquid and strain off the liquid. After chicken has cooled, dice, chop or shred as you like. Discard thyme sprig, but leave any small thyme leaves that have attached to the other ingredients. Save your liquid for an enjoyable soup or reduce it to make a sauce for a future meal.

  In a food processor, pulse celery, apricots and dried fruit until they are small, but not tiny. Put into a large mixing bowl.
  Now put the celery root, garlic and shallot from your poaching liquid in processor and puree, approximately two minutes, until smooth. This is the binding agent for your salad. Stop from time to time and use a rubber spatula on the sides of your food processor to create the smoothest mixture possible. Remove from processor and add to the mixing bowl with the processed celery and dried fruit.
  Add your chopped chicken and curry, then gently fold together.
  Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper to suit your taste.
  I serve this chicken salad frequently on croissants with arugula. I find that the sweetness of the croissant, the savory chicken salad and the spicy arugula is a fantastic combination. It is also tasty on a soft bun or spooned onto a bed of brilliant green lettuce. Enjoy!

Got a tasty tip for next week’s Dish? Email Lisa Knoll at [email protected]