As adults, we find ourselves missing those halcyon years when Valentine's Day was just a Halloween knock-off with no pressure and lots of processed sugar. And though our palates may have matured since our younger days, we wondered what might happen if we challenged a few brave chefs to incorporate some favorite teeth-rotting sweets of February — Red Hots, Nerds, and SweeTarts Hearts — into appetizing dishes. All we have to say is, we wish we had run into these dudes on the playground.
The Contender: Rian Wyllie of Lone Star Taco Bar
The Ingredient: Red Hots
The Dish: Red Hots Spanish blood sausage with apple puree, Red Hots mustard, and Red Hots pickled fennel
The dude behind that barbacoa taco you can't stop eating at Allston's tequila-bar heaven turns out to be a bit of a Red Hots savant. This is odd, since Wyllie admits he doesn't even love them much at all. Given this knockout dish, we think he might be in denial.
Wyllie first shaved down the candies using a microplane to incorporate them into the blood sausage, allowing the cinnamon flavor to stand in for more typical spices. He then boiled down another batch of Red Hots and blended the result with Dijon mustard, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper to form a sauce. Finally, he topped off the whole shebang with crispy pickled fennel, dyed translucent red with Red Hots that were plunked into the brine.
The heat coming off the plate smelled of hearty wintertime sausage, blasted with an intense cinnamon edge. Not only did the mustard mysteriously maintain the flavor profiles of both liquidated Red Hots and spicy Dijon, it carried the dish — pulling out the spice of the sausage and weaving through the cool apple-puree base.
: Food Features
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