Miami Living Magazine

Michelle Rodriguez

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Page 79 of 115

FOOD The BLT Steak's Chef De Cuisine, Matthew Oetting, talks about this season's specials and more Hot Dish Words by Marla E. Schwartz Elegant, old-school with modern sensibilities is the feeling one experiences when visiting The Betsy Hotel in South Beach. Built by L. Murray Dixon, as The Betsy Ross Hotel, it's come a long way from having troops stationed there during World War II. It features so many exceptional amenities one has to stay at this boutique hotel to experience them at their fullest. Its exterior is the only surviving masterpiece still standing on Ocean Drive that's built in the style of Florida Georgian architecture. Inside, the BLT Steak at the Betsy South Beach beckons you to enjoy a taste of paradise. Under the tutelage of Chef Laurent Tourondel, and the recent addition of Chef De Cuisine Matthew Oetting, this classic steakhouse-bistro is exceptional. It offers flawlessly prepared decadent offerings such as Japanese Kobe or American Wagyu beef, gruyere cheese popovers, local favorites, tropical treats, and desserts. Together, they also recently unveiled a full raw bar. "We're celebrating three successful years on South Beach and we decided to mix it up a bit by expanding the restaurant's seafood options with a full raw bar and sushi component," Tourondel said. Now that summer is coming to an end, Oetting offers his expertise for delicacies to be served this time of year. His favorite, Cucumber Risotto, is easy to prepare. Cucumber Risotto/Rock shrimp /Jalapeno/Mint Ingredients: 1qt. Cucumber juice (blended whole and passed through a chinois) 2 oz. Rock Shrimp (cleaned) (per person) 1 Tbl. Jalapeno (minced) ½ Tbl.Mint (chiffonade) ½ Tbl. Cilantro (chiffonade) 2 Tbl. Olive oil 3 shallots minced 1 # carnaroli or arborio rice 1 c. white wine 1 Qts. chicken stock (hot) 2 Tbl. Butter ½ Tbl. Fresh lime juice S+P to taste For the risotto rice In a large flat bottom pan, heat olive oil and cook shallots until tender but not browned. Toss in rice and coat in the olive oil, add white wine and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until all the wine has been absorbed by the rice. Begin adding chicken stock, 1 cup at a time until completely absorbed. When finished the rice should be about ½ cooked. For the shrimp sauté In a small sauté pan, heat 1 Tbl. butter and cook jalapeno and rock shrimp together until rock shrimp is halfway cooked through. Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine. To Finish In a small pot, finish cooking the risotto rice by adding 1 cup of the cucumber juice at a time until completely absorbed. The rice should be al dente at this point. Add the shrimp and jalapeno sauté to the cucumber risotto and toss vigorously. Finish the risotto with the lime juice, mint, cilantro, and 1 tbl. butter. Season with S+P and serve hot. 78 MIAMI LIVING Additionally, Oetting who earned his chops working in the established kitchens of Scott Conant's Scarpetta, Jonathan Waxman's Barbuto and Danny Meyer's Union Square Café, has blended these experiences into his own style. "With summer comes summer black truffles. These truffles are less expensive than their winter counterparts but still pack a wallop of flavor. I use them with my summer truffle polenta pyramid," Oetting explained. "This is a side-dish special I run in the summer months and is always well received by my guests. It's a great dish and appeals to adults and children alike." In fact, you can expect daily specials listed on the restaurant's blackboard. It's a big job for these gentlemen to think of something new every day. "I'm on conference calls weekly with Chef Tourondel, our corporate chef (Jedd Adair), and all the other chef de cuisines at BLTs across the country," Oetting explained. "Seasonality and availability of specialty products is always a topic of discussion. I familiarize myself with what's seasonal, and then showcase those ingredients in my blackboard specials. Specials are conceived and then sent for approval by Chef Torondel before menus are printed." The former Executive Chef at The Trump Soho has a few tricks up his sleeve that he brought from this northern climate for Miamian's to enjoy this summer. "One dish I'm looking forward to running is a Branzino dish I had on the menu at the Trump Soho," he said. "Pan roasted branzino fillets with Holland leeks, bacon clams, and sauce vichyssoise. Holland leeks are coming into season and make this dish exceptional. Later in the summer, closer to fall, I will look forward to running my grilled lamb porterhouse chops with acorn squash, rainbow Swiss chard, and blueberry lamb jus." One of the most impressive things about Oetting is that he began cooking with his father as a child and had his first professional job as a teenager. There must be some food secrets from his youth that he'll share with BLT Steak patrons. "One dish that comes to mind is a marinated skirt steak with a fresh herb Chimichurri that my father would do for us from time to time," Oetting shared. "This steak was a special treat for me and my sister." Now that he has had a chance to settle down with his family in Sunny Florida, what's on his personal summer menu for his wife Grace and daughter Lucky? Barbecuing. "Since we moved to sunny Florida we've been doing a lot of barbequing at home," he explained. "Since taking the position as chef de cuisine at BLT, I've been slowly nurturing my wife's love for steak. Lucy isn't quite old enough to eat red meat, so I pair steak with grilled seasonal fruit, like white peaches and Lucy can't get enough." And it's no secret that celebrities have discovered the exciting ambiance at BLT Steak. "I know for a fact that David Caruso enjoyed my BBQ'd duck confit with tempura battered sticky rice. We ran it as a special the first night we opened the sushi/raw bar and chef Laurent mentioned to me that Mr. Caruso really liked it," Oetting said. "Next time he comes in I think I will make a small tasting version of the dish and send it out to the table as an amuse [-bouche]." BLT Steak at The Betsy is located in the lobby at 1440 Ocean Drive on South Beach. (305) 673-0044. For more information visit: ML

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