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It’s probably not surprising that Josh Stockton, chef/partner of the recently opened Gold Cash Gold restaurant in Corktown, became a chef. After all, his dad was a chef at the original Andiamo restaurant in Warren as well as at several other local restaurants before moving to Tennessee a few years ago to start a pig farm.

“My dad was born in Tennessee and we would always go there to celebrate holidays with his family,” Stockton said. “In fact, my first cooking memory is of peeling potatoes and prepping the Thanksgiving turkey while visiting Tennessee when I was just 7 years old. Cooking is the only job I’ve ever had. I worked for my dad all through high school, starting as a dishwasher and ending up as a line cook.”

While attending Kalamazoo College, studying art history, the Detroit native worked 20 hours a week as a line cook at a local pub. But when he realized that a liberal arts college wasn’t the right fit, he decided to enroll at the prestigious Culinary institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and ended up with an associate’s degree in 2004.

Soon after graduating, the chef moved to Las Vegas where he did stints at the Fleur de Lys restaurant at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and also at Tableau, Daniel Boulud’s Brasserie, and Allegro, all located at the Wynn Hotel.

Then, late in 2012, a friend told Stockton about a job opportunity at Gold Cash Gold. After doing a tasting for the owners, Stockton was hired to be a part of the restaurant’s team and moved back to Detroit last March in order to work on recipes and restaurant details. (The restaurant officially opened just three months ago.)

On his day off Stockton enjoys cooking in his home kitchen, conveniently located in an apartment just above the restaurant, for friends, family and his girlfriend Dana, a full-time nurse who is getting ready to start medical school.

“I made this mac and cheese recipe for Dana the first time I cooked for her,” Stockton says. “It has a classic Mornay sauce and you can do almost anything with it as long as you know how to make the sauce right. You can add leeks and/or pancetta and roasted bell peppers. If you like it spicy, you can add jalapenos or poblanos. And the cheese doesn’t have to be cheddar. You can use any kind you want.”

The banana bread recipe is his mother’s but he tweaked it by adding buttermilk instead of milk, browned butter instead of regular butter, more chocolate and also bourbon.

And Stockton says he tweaked what was a traditional pickled tomato recipe by reducing the usual amount of sugar and increasing the usual amount of vinegar in order to make it sweeter.

Judith Harris Solomon is a metro Detroit freelance writer. Contact her at judyfreelance@aol.com

Spicy Pickled Green Tomatoes

8 green tomatoes

1 bunch fresh dill

15 garlic cloves

8 dried arbol chiles

1/2 cup mustard seed

1 quart water

2 quarts distilled white vinegar

3 cups white sugar

Combine all ingredients in a heavy nonreactive saucepan. Place on medium heat and cook until the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Place in a jar and keep in the refrigerator up to 3 to 4 weeks. (They are best after being allowed to sit for 2 to 3 days in the fridge before eating.)

Makes 12 servings

Per serving: 263 calories; 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat; 7 percent calories from fat); 64 g carbohydrates; 46 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 14 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber.

Chef Stockton’s Mac and Cheese

1 pound slab bacon

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 Spanish onions, medium diced

Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the bacon and onion mixture:

Cut the bacon into 1/4 inch squares. Place in a heavy pot along with the olive oil. Cook on medium heat, allowing the bacon to render and become crispy. Once the bacon is crispy, remove it with a slotted spoon and allow to drain. Remove approximately 3/4 of the bacon fat from the pot and reserve. Add the onion and garlic to the bacon fat remaining in the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the onions and garlic until they become soft and aromatic. Reserve for later.

The Pasta

1 pound dried pasta (wagon wheel, elbow macaroni or your choice)

Salt to taste

To prepare the pasta:

In a large pot, bring water to a rolling boil and add salt. The water to pasta ratio should always be at least 4 parts water to 1 part pasta so that the pasta has room to cook and doesn’t stick together. Add pasta to the boiling water and boil for 7 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is tender, but still has a bite to it. Drain the pasta into a colander and reserve for later.

The Cheese Sauce

2 quarts whole milk

6 ounces unsalted butter

6 ounces all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 pound sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the cheese sauce:

Place butter in a heavy pan and turn to medium heat. Heat the butter until it has melted. Return the reserved bacon fat to the pot. Turn down the heat to low, then slowly whisk in the flour until it forms a paste. Cook this paste for 4 to 5 minutes on low heat until it is light brown in color. Then slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly so you do not form any lumps. Once all the milk is in, turn the heat back up to medium and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly so it does not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. Cook on a gentle simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. (If you see any lumps, puree the mixture with a stick blender while it is still in the pan.) Slowly add in the grated cheese, whisking to combine. Add the sherry vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Topping

1 cup coarse bread crumbs

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

To assemble the mac and cheese:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta, the cheese sauce and the bacon/onion mix. Place the mixture into a large baking dish, mix, and sprinkle the bread crumbs and the shredded cheddar on top.

Bake in a 350-degree oven until golden brown.

Makes 10 servings.

Per serving: 849 calories; 52 g fat (29 g saturated fat; 55 percent calories from fat); 63 g carbohydrates; 14 g sugar; 138 mg cholesterol; 738 mg sodium; 33 g protein; 2.5 g fiber.

Brown Butter and Bourbon Banana Bread

1/4 pound of butter

3 overripe bananas

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup bourbon

1/4 tablespoon baking soda

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

6 ounces of chocolate chips or any chocolate of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place butter in saucepot and cook until brown. Pour off its liquid and leave the solids in the pot. Add bananas and brown sugar and mix to combine. Slowly add in the eggs, followed by the buttermilk and bourbon. Once all of the wet ingredients have been added, slowly add in the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Mix thoroughly to form a smooth batter. Finally add the chocolate. Pour into a loaf pan that has been rubbed with butter and bake for 30 minutes. Then turn pan and bake for approximately 25 more minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and serve.

Makes 8 slices.

Per serving: 366 calories; 19 g fat (11 g saturated fat; 47 percent calories from fat); 45 g carbohydrates; 38 g sugar; 85 mg cholesterol; 352 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber.

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