coffee, tea and barbecue sauce, with duck, turkey and
salads, itís become a go-to flavor.
up, I associated maple flavor with the pancake syrup found
at the breakfast table. It was sweet but mostly flavorless.
As if its only purpose was to baptize food in a sticky
coating of liquid sugar. I wasnít the biggest fan.
it seems maple is everywhere. It flavors ice cream, candy,
coffee, tea, barbecue sauce and more. Thirsty? Hydrate
yourself with maple water, now hip enough to be touted as
the next coconut water.
maple isnít just limited to retail products. Go out to eat
and youíll find it added to any number of restaurant
dishes. Itís a chefís Eliza Doolittle.
look for any excuse to add the real syrup to a dish, whether
simple desserts, such as a salted maple stove-top pudding,
or a brine for a basting glaze for slow-smoked turkey or
duck. Iíll even sneak it into salads as the sweet
component in a vinaigrette. And, yes, pancakes arenít
complete without it.
syrup is a great alternative sweetener. Itís
natural," says Jon Shook, co-owner with Vinny Dotolo of
the restaurants Animal and Son of a Gun. Maple has found a
way onto the menus of both places.
smoked steelhead roe with maple cream and pumpernickel bread
at Son of a Gun "has a bit of a cult following,"
says Dotolo. Unusual sounding, perhaps, if you havenít yet
tried it. But, Dotolo adds, "it kind of reminds you of
bagels and lox. The smokiness, saltiness and sweetness lends
itself to a really nice contrast."
cult favorite? The foie gras loco moco at Animal. Its take
on the Hawaiian comfort food layers rice, a beef burger,
Spam, foie gras and a quail egg bathed in a sweet-spicy
sauce punctuated with notes of Sriracha and maple syrup.
have a kind of attachment to maple syrup," says Susan
Feniger of Border Grill and Mud Hen Tavern. She says she
used to make maple syrup when she was in college in Vermont.
Feniger describes collecting the sap and staying up all
night, boiling the sap down to a syrup. "It was pretty
incredible. Iíve always been a big fan."
Fenigerís Mud Hen Tavern, sheís used maple syrup quite a
bit over the years. "Kind of from the Street
days," she says. (Feniger transformed Street, her
earlier restaurant, into Mud Hen in 2013.). "Youíve
got that Southeast Asian sweet-salty thing going on."
Maple infuses a number of dishes, including chicken and
waffle croquettes served with a spicy maple sauce and smoked
pork belly flavored with an espresso-maple brine.
restaurant even features a cocktail called the Old Maple,
which, though it doesnít contain any actual maple,
combines a mixture of rye whiskey, walnut bitters and agave.
"It almost tastes like maple syrup," Feniger says.
syrup itself is going through a bit of a renaissance.
"Maple syrup has such a distinct flavor," says
Shook. "The generation I grew up in, it was Aunt
minutes, plus brining and smoking times. Serves 6 to 8
tablespoons mustard seeds
quart apple cider
cup kosher salt
maple syrup, divided
(4-inch) rosemary sprigs, lightly crushed
to 6-pound) ducks, thawed
or hickory chips, soaked
cup (1 stick) butter
Toast the mustard seeds in a pot over medium-low heat just
until they start to pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cider and
water to the pot, and stir in the salt, one-half cup maple
syrup and bourbon. Add the crushed rosemary sprigs and bring
the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside until
the brine cools to room temperature.
Place the ducks in a large non-reactive bowl and pour over
the brine. Place a plate over the ducks to weigh them down
so they stay submerged in the brine. Cover and refrigerate
next morning, remove the ducks from the brine and dry them
with paper towels. Place the ducks, uncovered, on a rack and
refrigerate until about an hour before cooking.
About an hour before cooking, prepare the smoker or grill to
cook over low, indirect heat: Set up a drip pan underneath
where the ducks will smoke, and fill with water (or the
liquid used to soak the wood chips). Shortly before cooking,
adjust the heat as needed to maintain a temperature between
250 and 300 degrees and add the soaked chips to start
smoking. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the
remaining maple syrup; this will be used to baste the ducks
as they cook.
Baste the ducks and place them (breast-side up) over the
drip pan in the prepared smoker. Adjust the heat as needed
(add several coals to either side of the grill as needed if
using a kettle grill) to keep the smoker between 250 and 300
degrees; replenish the chips as needed to keep smoking for
the first hour. Baste the ducks every 30 minutes or so to
keep them moist.
Cook to an internal temperature of 135 degrees, 2 to 3 hours
(timing will vary depending on the size of the ducks and
heat of the smoker). To crisp the skin, open the vents of
the grill or smoker to increase the heat, and continue to
cook the ducks for 5 to 10 minutes more.
Remove and set aside 15 to 20 minutes to rest before
APPLE SALAD WITH BLUE CHEESE AND MAPLE VINAIGRETTE
minutes. Serves 4
pound bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick strips
large head fennel
apples, such as McIntosh or Granny Smith
tablespoons minced shallots
teaspoon chopped thyme
teaspoon chopped rosemary
tablespoons maple syrup
cup plus 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
tablespoons olive oil
ground black pepper
ounces blue cheese, preferably Maytag
Cook the bacon strips over medium heat until the fat is
rendered and the strips are crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain
the bacon on paper towels, reserving 3 tablespoons bacon
Remove any wilted outer leaves from the radicchio and slice
it lengthwise into eight wedges. Trim the top off the
fennel, halve it lengthwise, then slice it crosswise into
half-inch strips, discarding the core. Core the apples and
cut each into 8 wedges.
Whisk together the shallots, thyme, rosemary, maple syrup,
vinegar, bacon grease and olive oil. Season with one-half
teaspoon salt and a grind of black pepper, or to taste. This
makes about 1 cup vinaigrette.
Brush the apple wedges with a little of the vinaigrette and
place them on an oiled grill heated over medium-high heat.
Grill the wedges for about 2 minutes on each side, until
slightly softened with defined grill marks. Remove and
reserve in a warm place. Do the same with the fennel and
Divide the apple, fennel and radicchio among 4 plates.
Crumble the blue cheese over the salads, and sprinkle over
the bacon. Drizzle 1 to 2 teaspoons of the remaining
vinaigrette over each salad. Serve immediately.
minutes, plus cooling time. Serves 4 to 6
cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
teaspoon kosher salt
(4-inch) vanilla bean, split
Place the butter in a strainer set over a bowl. Place the
bowl over a larger bowl of ice water to form an ice bath.
a heavy saucepan, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, salt
and vanilla bean. Cook over medium-high heat, striring
frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil, 5 to 7
Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and
Whisk one-half cup of the boiling half-and-half into the egg
mixture to temper the eggs, then slowly stir the egg mixture
into the hot liquid. Increase the heat to high and cook,
whisking constantly (and scraping the sides and bottom of
the pan), until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.
Immediately remove the pan from heat and pour the mixture
over the butter in the strainer. Strain the custard, then
gently stir until the butter is completely incorporated.
This makes about 3 cups custard.
Divide the custard between serving cups or ramekins. Place a
sheet of plastic wrap over the surface of each custard to
prevent a skin from forming, and set aside until cooled.
SYRUP GRADES EXPLAINED
syrup, new grades
late January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised its
voluntary maple syrup grading standards to match
international standards. Because of increased demand for
darker syrup for cooking and table use, the new
classifications are meant to address producer concerns and
customer confusion, and include color and flavor
descriptors. Everything sold retail is now considered Grade
A with these classifications.
color with delicate taste (formerly Grade A light amber)
color and rich taste (formerly Grade A medium and dark
color and robust taste (formerly Grade A dark amber and
dark and strong taste (formerly Commercial grade)