If you are a D.C. newcomer, you may not know anything about Jamie Stachowski, surely one of the city's most flamboyant chefs, known for breezing through a restaurant's front door, motorcycle helmet in hand. He's cooked here and he's cooked there. But now Stachowski is one happy guy doing what he loves best: charcuterie followed closely by butchery.
Now the owner of a Georgetown meat market called Stachowshi's Market, operating, it seems, under the umbrella of a larger enterprise, Stachowski Brand Charcuterie (the only all-charcuterie business in the mid-Atlantic), he may be on site or perhaps taking a tour on a motorcycle or perhaps, more likely, working at producing one of many different sausages -- from fresh duck sausage to chicken Santa Fe, full of chiles and roasted red peppers.
But if you dial back the clock, you may remember his prestigious K Street Northwest restaurant called Kolumbia. Or even further back, when he was the executive chef of Tyson's now-defunct hipster place called eCitie Cafe. And before that, working with famed Watergate chef Jean-Louis Palladin. What really explains this chef's colorful career, one imagines, is that he was born to the game -- literally.
"I come from a big Polish family," he says. "And it was all about food. My family was in the restaurant business. One grandfather owned a banquet hall, and the other, a soda shop." Even some of her mother's close relatives ran an Italian restaurant. Admitting that school bored him, Stachowski started working for the restaurant, and really fell in love with making all the classic Italian-American food. "That was exciting," he says.
|If you go|
|» Where: 1425 28th St. NW|
|» Info: 202-506-3125; stachowskis.com|
|» Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday|
And before long, he headed off to Boston and to Martha's Vineyard to work in several classic French restaurants. "Just the aromas in the kitchen really mesmerized me," he says. "And the sights of the big French chefs in white jackets. I thought, 'I want to be that dude.' "
Family influences explain not only the cooking part of his life, but also the sausage-making part. "I was making sausages with my family, and curing meats," he says, "and making more and more things. ... I have always been good at crafting and working with meats. Even when I was young, at 10, my uncle nicknamed me 'throat cutter,' " adding that family members gathered on weekends to slaughter capons and ducks.
Now in the prime of his life doing what he knows and loves best -- producing quality meat products -- Stachowski can certainly revel in all his successes: He has a thriving market selling top-tier meats, many from local farmers; he has an online business that showcases all his cured meats; and his staff includes trained meat handlers, including his own son. He has even appeared on the History Channel's show, Meat America, and viewers can catch Stachowski in all his rebel glory in a DVD of the show. One hopes that Stachowski still has time for riding his motorcycle.
What is your comfort food?
Stuffed cabbage, stuffed with beef or pork with rice wrapped in cabbage leaves, topped with a sweet tomato sauce with lots of peppers. Or pot roast, or a classic Polish hunter's stew, or a meatloaf. That's what I do for a prepared dinner at the shop. It is old-fashioned comfort.
What is your favorite ingredient?
Fat. You can do so much with it.
Which is your favorite restaurant?
Willow and Mintwood.
What is your signature dish?
Duck or veal three ways ... rolled, stuffed, grilled. And boudin rouge (sausage) -- people still talk about that.
What's in your fridge?
Stuffed cabbage, milk, five different cheeses, half a pheasant, lamb, aged pork chops, olives, dates, a lovely broccoli salad with raisins, bacon, mushrooms and mustards
Butcher Shop Schnitzel (Chicken) Served With Braised Red Cabbage And Sauce Dianne (Mustard Cream)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (single side cutlets)
1 egg, beaten
Flour and bread crumbs for coating
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Gently pound cutlets to a uniform 1/2-inch thick. Dip each breast into the egg and dip into the combined flour and bread crumbs. Set aside until ready to saute. To serve, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute the breast 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until golden. Drain on paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Plate over the cabbage and cover with the Sauce Dianne.
Braised red cabbage
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 medium-size red cabbage halved, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 cooking apples, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
Salt and white pepper to taste.
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and sweat onion until translucent. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer 25 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound button mushrooms, or a mushroom medley
1 shallot, peeled and shaved
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup chablis or other sharp white wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Pommery mustard
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and white pepper to taste
In a sauce pan over medium heat, heat the oil and saute the mushrooms to expel their liquid, begin to cook out water of mushrooms, When dry add shallot and garlic and cook until they turn golden. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and cook until reduced by half. Add the mustards, turmeric, butter, and salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the flavors and colors intensify.