The Dish: Chef Michael Kornick

Chef Michael Kornick is one of the most popular and honored restaurateurs in Chicago. Born in the Windy City suburb of Highland Park, he grew up cooking with his mother and grandmother, and declared he wanted to become a chef at an early age. 

By 16, Kornick had his own catering company, and after cooking school, he apprenticed at the top-rated “Quilted Giraffe” in New York. He’s now the chef and proprietor of several Chicago-area restaurants, including “MK,” “DMK Burger Bar” and “Fish Bar.” 

Kornick has received five consecutive James Beard Foundation nominations, and “MK” won a number one rating from Zagat, as well as a nod from Condé Nast Traveler as one of the world’s hottest restaurants. 

Here are some of Kornick’s signature recipes. 

Braised short ribs, allspice and red wine 

Serves 8 

Ingredients 

6 each 3-4” single short ribs
16 oz rich dry red wine (zinfandel, syrah)
2 cups reduced brown beef or veal stock (gelatinous)
2/3 cup diced carrots, 
2/3 cup celery
1 cup diced Spanish onion
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup vegetable oil
3 oz red wine vinegar

For sachet- bag of spices 

1/8 cup whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon ground allspice or 8 whole pieces cracked
8 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves

Equipment 

Large heavy gauge sauce pot with tight, fitting lid large heavy gauge sauce pot w/tight fitting lid (big enough to set all 8 ribs on the surface)
Tongs
Wooden spoon or scraper

Directions

  1. Trim any excess fat on the short rib.
  2. Combine the flour and salt, dredge the short ribs in the seasoned flour.
  3. Heat the sauce pot, add the oil, brown the short ribs on all sides and remove to a plate.
  4. Scrape any flour that sticks off the bottom and add the vegetables. Cook until tender.
  5. Add the short ribs back to the pot. Add the wine, stock and sachet. 
  6. Bring to a boil. Cover and place in a 300-degree Fahrenheit oven for approximately one hour 45 minutes to two hours and 15 minutes, until fork tender. If they are still a bit tough, cook another 15 to 30 minutes. 
  7. Remove the short ribs to a plate. 
  8. Strain the sauce, add the vinegar. 
  9. Return the sauce to the pot. Reduce until sauce is consistent, skimming all of the fat possible as it rises.
  10. Season to taste and return the ribs to the sauce to keep hot until service. 

Note: They can hold for days refrigerated. 

Butternut squash, apples & mint

Serves 6

Ingredients

1-2 butternut squash (4 cups loosely packed)
2-4 oz butter (to taste)
1 honey crisp apple
1 sm bunch of mint
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

Equipment
1 2-4 quart sauce pot, non corrosive
1 whisk
1 rubber spatula

Directions

  1. Cut away the skin of the squash, remove the seeds.
  2. Dice the squash to approximately 1” cubes.
  3. Place in the sauce pot with 3/4” water and bring to a boil covered. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until the squash is very tender.
  4. Whisk in the butter until the squash is broken down to a coarse puree. Keep warm.
  5. Julienne the apple, toss in the lemon juice.
  6. Pick the mint leaves and julienne.
  7. Toss the apples and mint together. Season with a touch of salt.
  8. Place the squash on a platter, spoon spread ¾” thick around the platter.
  9. Sprinkle the center w/ the apples just before serving.

Roasted carrots, maple syrup

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 pounds tri-color carrots.
2 oz vegetable oil.
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Equipment

Baking dish or roasting pan

Directions

  1. Scrub the carrots well. Don’t peel.
  2. Cut the carrots into 3.5-4.5” lengths, then in half lengthwise. 
  3. Toss the carrots in the oil. Season with the cinnamon, salt and pepper. Place on the baking dish. 
  4. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until just tender for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush with maple syrup and reserve.
  5. Place in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven to reheat before serving. 

Roast Cauliflower, greek yogurt & zatar

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower
2-3 oz salad oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 cup finely chopped parsley
1/8 cup finely sliced rondels of chive
4 tablespoon of zatar
¾ cup of greek yogurt

Equipment

Baking dish or roasting pan

Directions

  1. Cut the cauliflower into small 1.5-2” florets.
  2. In a bowl, toss the florets in the oil.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Place the florets on the baking dish.
  4. Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until just tender for about 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.
  6. Place the yogurt onto the serving platter. Spread with a spoon.
  7. Sprinkle the plate with 2 tablespoons of the zatar. 
  8. Toss the cauliflower with the remaining zatar, parsley and chive. Arrange on the platter.
  9. Sprinkle with paprika and serve. 

Bittersweet chocolate panini, virgin olive oil, grey sea salt

Yields 3 sandwiches

Ingredients

8 oz chocolate bittersweet 64% cacao
4 oz heavy cream
1 oz gran marnier
6 slices whole grain bread
4 tablespoons high quality virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons grey fleur de sel

Equipment
Mixing bowl, whisk
Sauce pot
Panini press or cast iron/frying pan and spatula to press

Directions 

  1. Chip the chocolate. Place in a boil.
  2. Boil the cream and pour over the chocolate all at once. Quickly add the gran marnier, whisking until smooth. 
  3. Keep at room temperature. If you make ahead, store in the refrigerator up to a week. To serve, let it get completely to room temperature. -keep at room temperature.
  4. Brush one side of the bread very lightly using the oil (about half of the oil total).-
  5. Place in a panini press or toast on both sides in a medium hot frying pan. The oiled side of the toast should look and feel like a grilled cheese sandwich. 
  6. Remove from the press/pan. Spread the dry side of three slices with the ganache. Sprinkle with salt.
  7. Top with the dry side touching the ganache. Slice into halves and serve. 

MK Boulevardier

Ingredients

1.5 oz bullet rye
.75 oz campari
.75 sweet red vermouth

Directions

  1. Traditionally, it is served up, but I like to sip my whiskey slowly. Therefore, I like one big cube in a double old-fashioned glass.