Chef Bryant Ng’s chicken rice recipe calls for jasmine rice cooked in a ginger broth and poached free-range chicken. It’s a minimalist dish, without any of the Singaporean-Vietnamese flavors, the fermented shrimp paste and sambal sauces that Ng used at Spice Table or that will load the menu at his new restaurant, Cassia. This is because Ng cooks his chicken rice dish not for his legion of devoted diners but for his dog, Teddy, full name Theodore Roosevelt Luu-Ng, a Yorkshire terrier.
If you’re a chef, you cook for your customers, your family and your friends -- and if your family includes a rescued mutt or your kid’s golden retriever, it stands to reason that you might cook for them, too.
Most of us who cook and also have pets are used to sharing. We give our dogs leftovers, hand them marrow bones, watch as our kids slip them meatballs or make bacon cakes for their birthdays. But with growing concern about the safety of the food chain -- for people and for animals -- chefs are cooking more than treats for their pets. Some might say it’s over-indulgence, but if you’re worried about the ingredients in your own dinner, you may very well be worried about what’s in that can of pet food as well.
Over at Red Bread, Rose Lawrence initially just made baked crackers for her two rescued pit bulls, Blue and Honey. Then she skipped the baking, since she had enough of that to do for her own bakery, and started making hand-rolled batches of mint and parsley pasta, shaping them into bows or making large batches of lasagna with roasted sweet potato or beet puree, ground beef and a little Parmesan.
Pastry chef Sherry Yard has made peanut butter whole-wheat dog biscuits for years, giving them away at Spago Christmas parties. And at McCall’s Meat & Fish Co. in Los Feliz, co-owner Karen Yoo, a former Sona pastry chef, bakes dog biscuits in the shop’s bakery. She says that the shop also sells 10 to 15 pounds of bones a week just for dogs, as well as chicken, salmon and beef, to customers who buy meat from the butcher shop not only for themselves but for their pets.
But the chef who might have them all beat is Debbie Lee, author of “Seoultown Kitchen” and an alum of “The Next Food Network Star.” Lee cooks for her dog, Jackie, a lab-shepherd mix, every day. Lee says that she started cooking all her dog’s meals at the recommendation of her vet, to help nurse her back to health after she was rescued. For breakfast, Lee makes her oatmeal with bananas and peanut butter; for dinner a mix of brown rice and chicken, beef, lamb and chicken liver with sweet potatoes and berries. Lee, whose specialty -- for people -- is Korean street food, also gives her dog bone broth.
“Definitely the chef in me plays into how I cook for her,” Lee says. “If I won’t eat it, I don’t expect her to.”
Lee says that she’s become so interested in cooking for Jackie that she’s even been thinking of developing a “farm fresh” dog food line. “The next phase of my chef career,” she says.
And maybe the next phase in all our cooking.
CANINE CUISINE RECIPES
Turkey and Whole Wheat Macaroni
2 1/2 pounds ground turkey (20 percent fat)
11/4 ounces turkey or chicken liver
2 1/2 ounces carrots, finely chopped
2 1/2 ounces zucchini, finely chopped
2 1/2 ounces broccoli, finely chopped
11/4 ounces cranberries, fresh or frozen
11/4 pound whole wheat macaroni
2 1/2 teaspoons JFFD Omega Plus Fish Oil supplement (see note)
4 teaspoons JFFD Turkey and Whole Wheat Macaroni DIY Proprietary Nutrient Blend
Makes about 6 pounds.
In a nonstick skillet, brown the turkey and turkey or chicken liver over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Add the carrots, zucchini, broccoli and cranberries while the turkey is still slightly pink. Continue to cook until the turkey is fully cooked and the vegetables are soft. Do not drain. Set the mixture aside until it is cool to the touch.
Meanwhile, cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the turkey mixture with the macaroni, along with the oil supplement. Slowly sprinkle in the nutrient powder blend until fully incorporated. Portion into individual serving sizes and refrigerate or freeze. The product will keep, refrigerated, up to six days.
Note: JFFD products can be found online at www.company.justfoodfordogs.com.
Teddy’s Chicken Rice Recipe
FOR THE RICE:
1 cup jasmine rice (rinsed with cold water until water runs clear)
1 1/2 cups water
About 1/2 ounce ginger, peeled and sliced thick so that you can easily remove it later (see note)
FOR THE CHICKEN:
1 boneless chicken breast
Makes about a quart.
To make rice: In a saucepan, combine the rice, water and ginger. Cook over high heat just until the water comes to a boil. Stir the rice, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a very low simmer. Cook for 15 minutes (do not remove the lid or stir), then remove from heat and set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice and remove the ginger.
This makes a generous pint of rice; cover and chill until needed.
To make chicken: In a small saucepan, add the chicken breast and enough water to cover chicken by 2 inches. Cook over high heat until the water comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the chicken and refrigerate until chilled.
To assemble: Tear cooked, cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces, then mix with cooked rice. Serve to the dog.
Note: Ginger gives the rice a nice aroma and is great for a dog’s digestive system.
Sherry Yard’s Dog Biscuits
4 eggs, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup chicken broth
21/4 cups (10 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
About 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) cornmeal
1 cup peanut butter
Makes about 3 dozen 3-inch cookies.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together two eggs, the oil and honey. Whisk in the chicken broth.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and cornmeal. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour in the chicken broth mixture, then add the peanut butter. Mix until the dough comes together, about 1 minute.
Divide the dough in half. Roll out each ball of dough approximately 1/2-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes using small (3- to 4-inch) cookie cutters. Place on baking sheets sprayed with cooking oil.
Whisk the remaining two eggs, and brush the egg wash lightly over the cookies. Allow to dry for 10 minutes, and brush with the egg wash a second time (the second wash is optional but gives the cookies a darker brown color). Bake until firm and a rich golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating halfway for even baking. Baking time will vary depending on the size of the cookies.