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Harlem Rejoices

Fashion News
Chef Marcus Samuelsson.

By Daniel Scheffler

President Bill Clinton called Marcus Samuelsson “a chef who has reinvigorated and reimagined what it means to be American.” And so, after several years of running the Harlem restaurant Red Rooster, Samuelsson is releasing a cookbook that brings together not only the recipes of the popular spot but also the stories (and style) of the people who inhabit this modern institution.

“The Red Rooster Cookbook” is a sequel of sorts to Samuelsson’s memoir “Yes, Chef,” which delves into his upbringing: first as a young boy in Ethiopia, and then in Sweden where he grew up with his adoptive parents. This new cookbook reflects the lush and layered history, traditions and images of an iconic, and very much changing, New York neighborhood.

“What I love best is how Harlem and Rooster allow me to learn, to dream,” says Samuelsson. “Muscoota—that’s what the Native Americans called this section of Harlem. Run your eyes across the page quickly enough, and the words look like music. Which fits. Music, food, dance, song.”

Among the recipes that are destined to become at-home favorites is the corn bread—which Samuelsson calls a “core Red Rooster recipe.” “I knew from the beginning how I wanted it to taste, but we continue to tinker and change the recipe. This version is very moist, almost custardy.” Another of Samuelsson’s favorites is catfish and pecans. “In Sweden, catfish tasted of the sea, so I was surprised by the mild flavor of the American freshwater varieties. It has a real meatiness that holds up to nuts. So here we’ve got a quick fry, topped with a shower of pecans, apples, raisins and capers. Love that play of salty and sweet.”

 

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