Forno Bravo Community Cookbook

Grilled Albacore Tuna, Bacon & Mushroom Relish, Charred Bok Choy

Albacore tuna, also known as Tombo or Long Fin Tuna, is perfectly suited for the grill. Albacore tends to have less fat than other tunas, giving it a wonderful clean flavor. With less fat content it also means it can quickly overcook. Two to three minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the tuna should yield a perfect medium rare. The hearty, meaty flavor of the tuna pairs well with heady smoke of the fire from your oven. For this recipe, I paired the tuna with the sweet bitterness of baby bok choy and balanced all with a smoky mustardy mushroom relish.

3 each 4-5 ounces Albacore tuna steaks
3-4 heads baby bok choy, split in half lengthwise
3-4 pieces bermuda (red) onion, ½ inch thick slice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper, fresh cracked

Place the tuna steaks on sheet pan / seasoning plate and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Season the onion slices and bok choy with salt, pepper and remaining olive oil.

Once your fire has burned down most of the way and you are left with a great bed of coals, spread the coals evenly across the hearth and insert your Tuscan grill centered over the coals. Allow grill to preheat for a few minutes prior to adding your foods.

Once the Tuscan grill is hot, slide towards the oven opening and place the bok choy and tuna steaks on the grill. Slide grill back over the coals and cook for 2 minutes. Using tongs, make a quarter turn of the meat and vegetables and cook an additional 2 minutes. Slide the grill towards the door, flip both the tuna and vegetables and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes for medium rare to medium. Remove from grill and oven, let meat rest, and serve with the bacon and mushroom relish.

Bacon & Mushroom Relish
2 strips uncooked bacon, julienne
6 each shitake mushrooms, sliced thin
1 each shallot, diced
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Kosher salt
Black pepper, fresh cracked

In a medium sauté pan, over medium-high heat, add the julienned bacon to the pan. Render the bacon until crispy and pour off ¾ of the bacon fat. Return the pan to the heat and add the mushrooms and shallot. Continue to cook the mixture until the mushrooms are tender and the shallots are translucent, approximately 3-4 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar. Remove the mixture from the heat, add the mustard, and mix into the relish until fully incorporated. Remove from pan and set aside for use once the tuna is cooked.

Hope you enjoy. Until next week, feast well.

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Rating: 4.2/5 (6 votes cast)

Roasted Sockeye Salmon With Braised Couscous, Roasted Green Beans, Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil

green beanssalmon


Here’s a recipe for making the most of your farmers market’s most ubiquitous offerings: If yours is anything like mine, green beans, tomatoes and basil are at just about every stand. I pickle half the green beans in this recipe, for even more variation in flavor and texture.

When it comes to salmon, in my opinion nothing beats sockeye for taste, texture and pure, simple beauty. If you can get your hands on it, try Alaskan Copper River sockeye. Sustainably wild-caught, Copper River sockeye will have a flesh that is almost ruby red in color, as well as an unparalleled flavor.

2 stalks celery
2 small carrots
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 T butter
1 C Israeli couscous (you may also find it in the store as Palestinian couscous, ptitim or pearl pasta)
1 C white wine
3 C vegetable stock
1 lb green beans, washed and ends trimmed
1 C white wine vinegar
2 C water
1/4 C sugar
1 T salt
2 T pickling spices to your taste (garlic clove, thyme, bay, fennel seed, mustard seed, coriander, chili flake, etc.)
2 T vegetable oil
3-4 various heirloom tomatoes
1 oz fresh basil leaves
4 5-oz portions of salmon
extra virgin olive oil, to taste
salt and black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, start the couscous: Cut the celery, carrots and onion into a small dice and mince the garlic. In a large skillet or shallow, wide pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the mirepoix and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Add the couscous and toast for 1 minute. Add the wine and increase the heat to high. Allow the wine to reduce until the pan is almost dry, then add the stock. Cook until the couscous is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

When your pot of water is boiling, blanch half of your green beans for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and place in a single layer to cool. To pickle the remaining beans, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pickling spices in a pot. Bring to a boil. Add the remaining green beans and cook until slightly tender but still crunchy. Remove from the heat and allow the beans to cool in the pickling liquid.

While the beans are cooling, slice your heirlooms in whatever manner you find most appealing. I cut mine in quarters and then into thin slices that I could shingle on the plate. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

To roast the beans, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large roasting pan in your wood oven. You will want a hot oven for this procedure. Drain the pickled beans from the brine. When your oil is smoking, add the blanched fresh beans and the drained pickled beans to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are just tender and have taken on some nice charred edges, about 4-5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

To cook your fish, heat the remaining vegetable oil in a saute pan in your wood oven. Season the fish with salt only. When the oil is smoking, add the fish to the pan and return to the oven. Sear the fish on one side only – the heat of your oven will be enough to cook the other side. Sockeye is best served medium, which means a skewer inserted into the center of the flesh should come out warm to the touch. This fish will cook quickly, probably 3-6 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven and the thickness of your portions. When done to your liking, remove the fish from the pan to rest.

To serve the dish, place a pile of couscous in the middle of a plate. shingle some heirloom tomato slices along one side. Place the fish, seared side up, on top of the couscous. Top with some of the roasted beans and tear a few basil leaves over the plate with your fingers. Drizzle the beans and tomatoes with some olive oil, and you’re good to go.

I recently came across a white wine variety that was new to me, called Müller-Thurgau, which would pair perfectly with this dish. The particular Thurgau I tasted was from northern Italy, but the grape is also grown in Austria, Germany, Hungary and elsewhere. This crisp, mineral-laden relative of riesling would be a great complement to both the tomatoes and beans in this dish.

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Rating: 4.3/5 (7 votes cast)

Jerk-Spiced Shrimp With Slow-Cooked Collard Greens


With summer finally upon us, this is a great light meal to coax out of your wood oven.

1 lb of your favorite shrimp, peeled and deveined (try Laughing Bird shrimp if you can get your hands on some – sustainably raised in Costa Rica, these beauties are sweet, succulent and delicious – and already cleaned and ready to go!)
5 green onions or scallions
2 serrano chiles, or habaneros if you like it hot
4 cloves garlic
1 piece fresh ginger the size of your thumb tip, peeled
7 allspice berries
10 black peppercorns
1 T fresh thyme
juice of 3 limes
1 C + 2 T vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 lb collard greens
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Roughly chop the green onions and chiles, removing the seeds and ribs of the peppers if you desire a less-spicy finished product. Place the green onions, chiles, 2 cloves of garlic, ginger, allspice, peppercorns, thyme and lime juice in the carafe of a blender. Season with salt. Turn on the blender and slowly pour in the 1 cup of vegetable oil. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Your jerk spice marinade will keep just fine in the refrigerator for a few days.

About 2 hours before you’re ready to cook shrimp, douse them in the marinade. Mix to coat on all sides. Set aside in the refrigerator.

While the shrimp are marinating, cook your collards. You are going to want a low- to medium-hot wood oven for this. Remove all the stems from the collards and discard. Roughly chop the leaves. Preheat a high-sided roasting pan or pot as big as your oven can hold. Mince the remaining 2 garlic cloves. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the pan, then add the sliced onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sweat, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Add the collards to the pot. If your pot isn’t big enough to hold all the greens, work in batches: Add as much as the pot can hold and allow them to cook down for 2 minutes. The greens will quickly wilt and then you should be able to fit in the rest.

Add the vinegar to the greens, season with salt and pepper, and cover loosely with foil. Allow the greens to slowly cook, stirring occasionally, until dark green and tender. Depending on how hardy your collards are, this could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. If the pot starts getting too dry and the greens are sticking to the bottom, add a little bit of water. Once the greens are done, remove from the oven and set aside.

To cook your shrimp, stoke up the oven and then preheat a large skillet. Drain any excess marinade off the shrimp. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and then add the shrimp. You will probably need to work in batches; the shrimp should be in a single layer and not too crowded in the pan. If you’re using smaller shrimp such as Laughing Bird, they will cook very quickly, approximately 45 seconds to 1 minute. Shake the pan once or twice and you’re done. For large shrimp, cook on one side until the flesh has turned opaque two-thirds of the way up the side. Turn over and cook on the other side until done.

Serve the shrimp on a bed of warm collards. Now, this is delicious just as it is. But if you have some leftover pickled peppers from making trout with crispy rice cakes, and you throw those on top, and if you’ve got some grits laying around, or maybe some leftover white rice from ordering Thai the night before, and you serve that alongside, you’ve got yourself quite a meal. Just sayin’.


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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Mussels With Chorizo and Beer

Your first instinct might be to disagree, but mussels are actually a great food for entertaining: They’re cheap, they’re quick and easy to cook, and they give your guests a tactile connection to the communal aspect of sharing a meal as everyone dives in to a steaming pile of mussels to unearth the tender treasures hidden inside. What more could you need? Pairing mussels with chorizo is a classic combination, and this is my cook-with-what-you-got take on the dish, which came about recently when I had some leftover mussels from the restaurant and a bunch of hungry family members to feed.


2 T extra virgin olive oil
8 oz Mexican-style chorizo
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 bell pepper, sliced
1/2 jalapeno, or to taste, thinly sliced into rounds
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
12 oz beer, preferably a lager (I used Dos Equis)
15 oz whole peeled canned tomatoes
5 lbs PEI or other mussels
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Place the olive oil in a large skillet in your wood oven or on the stove over medium-high heat. Once it starts to smoke, add the chorizo and brown it off, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat as it cooks.

Once the chorizo is broken up and caramelized, add the onion and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper, and allow the vegetables to sweat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the jalapeno and garlic and cook the mixture for 3 minutes more. Add the beer and stir well to dislodge any delicious caramelized goodness from the bottom of the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil and allow the beer to reduce by three-quarters.

While the beer is reducing, open the can of tomatoes, pour them into a bowl and use your hand to crush the tomatoes into little bits. You can just use diced canned tomatoes, but something about those big uniform chunks of canned tomato is just off-putting to me. So I prefer this method. Add the tomato to the skillet, re-season to taste, and allow the mixture to simmer gently for at least 15 minutes, until the flavors have all come together and the tomato liquid has reduced somewhat.

While your sauce is cooking, clean your mussels. If you haven’t cleaned mussels before, a quick primer: Place the mussels in a bowl of clean, cool water. As the mussels sit in the water they will filter out some of the sand and grit in their systems and leave it on the bottom of the bowl instead of in your teeth later. Use a brush to scrub the shells to dislodge any other dirt or barnacles that will come off and muddy up your final dish. Some of the mussels will have hairy fibers sticking out of one side of their shells. This is called the beard. Use your fingers or tweezers to pull these off by tugging them outward from the side of the shell. If a mussel is open, give it a squeeze or tap it on the edge of the counter. If it doesn’t close back up, throw it away. Same goes for any cracked or broken mussels.

Once your mussels are all clean, preheat a large roasting pan in your wood oven. Your oven should be very hot – pizza hot. Add the mussels to the dry pan and then pour the chorizo sauce over the top. Slide the mussels back into the oven and allow to cook just until the mussels open, rotating the pan once. If your oven is hot enough, this could happen in as little as 1-2 minutes. It won’t take any more than 5.

Remove from the oven, serve immediately with some crusty bread, and be happy.

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Rating: 4.3/5 (4 votes cast)

Oven-Roasted Whitefish With Braised Celery Root Remoulade

Here’s another classic French dish reinterpreted for the wood oven. This is a great one for dining al fresco on the beautiful spring nights that are now upon us (at least in Chicago – go figure).


4 portions whitefish, skin on
2 T vegetable oil
For the braised celery root:
2 lemons, zest and juice
1/2 C white wine
1/2 C white wine vinegar
1 1/4 C water
1/4 medium onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
8 fresh parsley stems
1 large celery root bulb
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the remoulade:
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
Juice of 2 lemons, zest of 1
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1/4 C vegetable oil
2 T capers, drained and chopped
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
2 T fresh chives, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small pot, combine the lemon zest and juice, white wine, vinegar, water, onion, carrot, 1/2 tsp salt, peppercorns and herbs. (For the lemon zest, use a peeler to remove strips from the outside of the citrus and add them to the pot whole.) Bring to a boil, then cook at a bare simmer for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to steep until you’re ready to use it. (For the food nerds out there, what you’re making here is a court bouillon.)

Meanwhile, cut the celery root into a julienne: Use a peeler or knife to remove the tough outer skin of the root. Cut the celery root in half from top to bottom, then cut each piece into half-moon-shaped slices approximately 1/8-inch thick. Cut the slices into matchstick-shaped pieces 1/8-inch thick.

Preheat a large roasting pan in your wood oven with the 1 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Strain the solids from your court bouillon and reserve the liquid. When your pan is hot, add the celery root and cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely caramelized, probably 2-3 minutes. Add the court bouillon liquid to the pan and return to the oven. Cook until the celery root is tender, probably another 5-6 minutes depending on your oven temperature.

Remove from the oven. Strain off the liquid and discard. Allow the celery root to cool to room temperature.

To make the mayonnaise base of the remoulade, combine the egg, yolk, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. (You can use a microplane for both the lemon zest and the garlic – much faster and easier than a knife.) Pulse briefly to combine. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Remove from the food processor and fold in the capers, parsley, chives and chilled celery root. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary.
Finally, heat a large saute pan or skillet in your wood oven. Remove your fish from the refrigerator and allow it to temper. Season the each portion with salt. Unless you have a really large pan and/or oven, you will probably need to cook your fish in batches. Add half the oil to the pan. When the oil just begins to smoke, add two portions of fish, skin side down. Roast in the oven until the flesh has gone from translucent to white, the fish is warm in the middle when pierced with a knife or skewer, and the skin is nicely crusted, about 4-7 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven. Repeat for the remaining portions.
Serve the fish skin side up with a scoop of the remoulade on top. All you need to do is maybe wilt a little spinach, perhaps pour a glass of chenin blanc, and your first outdoor meal of the spring is ready to go.

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Pan-Roasted Pike With Sherry-Glazed Mushrooms and Polenta

You really can’t go wrong here: great fish, deep roasty-toasty mushrooms, rich polenta. Still, I was happy with how this one turned out. Polenta takes on a wonderful smoky flavor when cooked in the oven. I think the walleye pike works well for this dish, but if you can’t find that where you are, substitute barramundi (Asian sea bass) or even halibut.

4 4-5 oz portions of pike
1 T vegetable oil
butter for basting
for the polenta:
5 C water
1 C dry polenta
1 oz parmesan cheese, grated
3 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
for the mushrooms:
1 T vegetable oil
7 oz shitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
5 oz oyster mushrooms, cut off the stem
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 serrano chile
1/2 fresno chile
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 C sherry
1 1/2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

Start by making the polenta. In a 4-quart saucepot, bring the water to a boil. Pour in the polenta, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a rack inside a medium-hot wood oven. Allow the polenta to cook, stirring frequently, until soft and creamy. Depending on the polenta you are using, this can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour – just keep an eye on it and stir often. You may need to add more water during the cooking process if you are getting too much evaporation due to a hotter oven. Just stir in more in quarter-cup increments until the polenta is back to the consistency you want. Once the polenta is cooked, remove from the oven, stir in the parmesan and butter, cover and set aside.
While the polenta is cooking, get your mushroom prep ready. If your oyster mushrooms are really big, you can tear them into smaller pieces. Otherwise, leave them whole. For the peppers, cut into thin rings. For more heat, use the rings from the stem end; for less, cut from the opposite end.

Preheat a large, shallow roasting pan or saute pan in your wood oven. Add the oil. You want your pan to be very hot for this maneuver – the oil should look like water moving around in the pan, not viscous. If it starts to smoke, that’s great; don’t worry about it. Add the mushrooms to the hot pan, season with salt and pepper, stir once quickly to distribute the oil and return to the hot wood oven.

Now leave your mushrooms alone for at least 2 minutes. People’s tendency is to want to stir in situations like this, but you want your shrooms to get a nice sear on them, and moving them around is only going to cause them to slowly heat up and begin leaching out their liquid. Then you’ve got steamed mushrooms, which will still taste good, but it’s not what we’re going for here. Examine your mushrooms – if they are starting to get brown and crispy around the edges, you’re safe to stir. Stir them up and return to the oven for another round of movement-less roasting. Your mushrooms should be nice and golden-brown and roasty after about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chiles to the pan and allow to cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add the thyme and cook for another 20 seconds. Add the sherry and butter and return to the oven, stirring frequently. Let the sherry reduce completely, about 1 minute, until you’re left with beautifully glazed mushrooms. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Finally, cook the fish. Preheat a large saute pan in a hot wood oven. You want your pan very hot for this. I actually cheated and preheated my pan on the stovetop, but if you have your oven cranking it should be plenty hot. Season your fish with salt. Add the oil to the pan. When you start to see wisps of smoke coming off the oil, add the fish to the pan presentation side down. For pike, this is going to be the side opposite of where the skin was. Put the fish in the oven and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your pieces. Check your fish: The flesh around the outside of the fillets and creeping up to the top should have turned from translucent to white. At this point it is about 75 percent done. Add a knob of butter to the pan and allow it to foam. Turn over your fillets and use a spoon to pour the butter over the fish, cooking for another 30-45 seconds. To check for doneness, insert a metal skewer or thin knife into the center of the fillet. You should feel no resistance, and when you place the metal that was inside the fish against your lower lip, it should feel warm. Remove from the pan and blot dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.

To plate, place a mound of polenta in the middle of your serving vessel. Place the fish on top of the polenta, and some of the mushrooms on top of that. Get ready to live!

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Oven Roasted Shellfish

This is a quick and simple recipe for any combination of shellfish – clams, mussels, etc. Be sure to have lots of crusty bread on hand to help soak up the sauce and juices.

2 to 4 lbs. of fresh mussels or clams or a combination of each.

2 Tbls. of olive oil

1 cup of chopped onion

2 or 3 garlic gloves, minced

1 cup of chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup of white wine

Use a hot – 450° to 500° – oven with an active flame. There’s a lot of moisture in this dish and the steam created and the high heat helps to cook this dish quickly.

Place heavy bottom saute pan or terracotta bowl in oven to heat. Add oil to pan and let it heat for a minute or two. Add garlic and  onion, and saute for 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes, parsley and wine and shake the pan (or stir) to mix and distribute evenly on the bottom. Cook 2 minutes to bring to boil.

Add shellfish and place pan deep into the oven for maximum heat. Let this roast for 5 to 7 minutes or until all the shellfish have opened. Any shellfish that hasn’t opened should be discarded.


Remove the pan from the oven, spoon shellfish into individual bowls and distribute the sauce and vegetables evenly over each bowl. Serve with crusty bread.


Shellfish ready to go in oven

Roasted shellfish

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Roast Salmon with Vegetables



  • 1 large Salmon filet
  • 3 sticks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Red pepper
  • 2 Tbs fresh diced tomatoes, or tomato sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Rosemary
  • Salt and pepper


Fire your oven until it reaches 700ºF, and then allow the temperature to fall to about 500ºF, keeping a bed of coals.

Coat the fish with salt, pepper, oil and rosemary. Grilled it on a preheated Tuscan Grill, skin side down in a moderately hot oven. It will get some light sear marks.

Add the olive oil to a steel pan or baking sheet, and sauté the diced celery, onion, garlic and parsley. Then, add the salmon to the pan, skin side up, and coated it with honey.

Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce, and returned the pan to bake for 15 minutes. Really nice. All done in the oven right after pizza. The salmon had been slightly seared, and it was very moist and the veggies were soft and had a wonderful flavor.


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Brick Oven Honey Rosemary Salmon

3 TBS butter
1 large salmon fillet
Salt and pepper
1 TBS rosemary
3 TBS honey

Salt, pepper and rosemary the flesh side of fish.
Place the butter in a terra cotta or stainless steel pan and brown the button in the pizza oven.
Place the fish flesh down in the butter for 5 minutes, so the fire, rosemary and butter fuse and the fish is lightly brown.
Remove the pan, and flip the fish over, so the flesh is facing up. Pour the honey over the fish, return the pan and bake until the fish is done. Somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes. :-)
If you like your Salmon medium toward rare, the oven can give you a crispy outside and a moist inside.

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Omul s Zapravkoj Gorcicnoj (salmon)


3 lbs. Omul (Russian baikal fish) substed salmon fillet, 2 Tbs sunflower oil, 3 Tbs fine mustard (dijon), 1-2 Tbs honey, juice and zest from a half lemon, 2 Tbs dill, chopped,  pepper & salt

Prepare a medium hot fire (325°F) in the oven.

Oil a baking sheet or a clay dish. Put your fillet on the dish. Mix all remaining ingredients in a bowl and brush the paste in a thick layer over the fillet.

Bake about 10 minutes and let rest a short time. Garnish with some dill sprigs. Serve with french bread or basmati rice and with dry white wine.

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