At his restaurant, Salare, Jordan relies on experience to put together the Haitian condiment, a vinegar-steeped slaw of cabbage.
AT THE RAVENNA restaurant Salare, Edouardo Jordan’s menu is a vivid fabric woven from the disparate threads of his life experiences. “A beautiful smorgasbord” is how he described it to Food & Wine Magazine when it hailed him as one of the country’s best new chefs earlier this year.
The Florida native’s formal culinary training began at Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando. He apprenticed at the French Laundry in California; sojourned in Italy learning to make salumi and pasta; and cooked under Jerry Traunfeld at The Herbfarm, “arguably the Noma of the Northwest at the time,” says chef Matt Dillon, who was also there. In 2013, when Dillon opened the recently shuttered Bar Sajor, he tapped Jordan as chef de cuisine.
Jordan’s personal relationships track on his menus, too. He grew up in St. Petersburg with “a Southern grandma who cooked all the time,” hence the cornbread in Salare’s bread service. Accompanying Jordan’s exquisite terrines, you’ll often find the Haitian condiment Pikliz (PEEK-lees), a vinegar-steeped slaw of cabbage, carrots, onions and spices fired up with Scotch bonnet peppers.
He discovered Haitian food through Jacques Clervil, his best friend since they were fraternity brothers at the University of Florida some 15 years ago. “We were totally different people,” Jordan says of the Haitian-born, Miami-raised Clervil. “But we shared the love of family, and food was our connection.”
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Jordan recalls a small lunch at Clervil’s home. “His mom had made Pikliz a few weeks earlier, and she was frying pork.” Years later, he watched her make a batch “grandma-style, without weighing or measuring,” for a family gathering. She wouldn’t let him help because he was a guest. Now he brings a chef’s sensibilities to his version of the recipe; the dash of smoked paprika is his own little touch.
Two years ago, Clervil was in a serious car accident. He’s doing fine now, but in the dark days when things didn’t look good, Jordan made Pikliz in his friend’s honor and served it at Bar Sajor. It was the first time he’d injected something personal into his professional realm. “It was clearing for the soul, clearing for the heart,” he says. “Serving the food I grew up on wasn’t easy to do in the restaurants I’d worked in.”
At Salare, it’s something he does all the time.
Pikliz, by Edouardo Jordan of Salare
Fried pork griot is the traditional companion for Pikliz, but in Haiti, Pikliz is an all-purpose condiment. It pairs well with rich meats and even fish. Jordan downsized his massive recipe for home cooks, but you might want to scale it up. Refrigerated, it will keep for months. “This is a fiery dish that gets the blood going and even sweat rolling. Removing one or two peppers can tone it down,” Jordan advises. “Over time, the flavor will deepen and change. It gets really intense at the bottom.”
1 head (about 1½ pounds) savoy cabbage
½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots (about 1 cup), peeled and grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoons freshly ground allspice
2½ teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 small habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers
Distilled vinegar to cover (about 3 cups)
1. Slice cabbage into thin strips, and discard core. In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine the onion, carrots, scallions, salt and spices. Mix thoroughly for one minute. Be aggressive: Punch, massage and pound the ingredients together.
2. Wearing gloves, thinly slice the peppers, and fold them into the cabbage mixture. Remove the seeds, or don’t, depending on the heat level you want. Let sit for six hours.
3. Wearing gloves, re-pound the mixture every hour for six hours. After the sixth pounding, place it in a tall, nonreactive vessel. Pour the distilled vinegar over it until fully covered. Give the mixture a good turn, then punch the vegetables down so they are submerged below the vinegar.
4. Cover, and let sit unrefrigerated overnight. The Pikliz is now ready to be consumed but will get even better over time. It can be kept refrigerated up to three months.