At home with chef Douglas Hewitt

Judith Harris Solomon
Special to The Detroit News

Douglas Hewitt Jr., executive chef of Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails in Midtown Detroit, says that from the time he was very young he always had an interest in eating and in athletics.

At age 15, he got a job washing dishes at Marion Oaks Golf Club in Howell, which enabled him to play golf for free. But at the same time, the job sparked his interest in the culinary profession.

“I was amazed by the hot line, the flames, the hustle and bustle and the communication in the kitchen. It was so addicting, I just had to be a part of it,” he said.

Hewitt worked at the club all through high school. And the dishwashing job led to working on the hot line and then to several other stations.

“I quickly rose through the ranks and became the club’s sous chef by the time I was 18,” Hewitt said.

After graduating from Howell High School, Hewitt continued to work at Marion Oaks Golf Club while simultaneously attending Schoolcraft College’s Culinary Arts program. He earned an associate’s degree from Schoolcraft in 2002.

His next job was working at The Water Lily Restaurant at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant.

“That’s where I met chef Mike Lutz and chef Chris Nabony and that was the moment when my career was launched on a really high level. It was a very busy restaurant and I learned how to handle a lot,” the 34-year-old said.

In 2006, following stints at The Franklin Grill in Franklin and Five Lakes Grill in Milford, Hewitt became the executive chef at Terry B’s Restaurant in Dexter where he remained until February, when he came to Chartreuse.

“Cooking is a life of passion and hard work,” the Howell resident said. “I was lucky to have gotten a lot of opportunities starting at a young age. I became a student of the industry, wanting to learn everything from breaking down a monkfish to breaking down a whole animal. I would often go in early on my own time in order to learn and I would do it for free.”

Hewitt says he chose to share his recipe for chicken fricassee because, just in time for the upcoming holidays, you can substitute leftover turkey for the chicken. He also says he is particularly fond of these biscuits because “they’re easy to make and they are almost like a palate cleanser when you’re eating a heavy main dish like chicken fricassee.”

Vanilla Pudding with Tart Cherry Topping and Bourbon Whipped Cream

For the pudding

1/2 gallon heavy cream

16 ounces sugar

2 vanilla beans, split

3/4 cup cornstarch

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons butter

Put all the ingredients except for the butter and vanilla beans in a sauce pot. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken and bubble. Then whisk in the butter. Remove the vanilla beans and scrape the inside of the beans. Add the scrapings back into the mixture. Pour the pudding into wine goblets or ceramic soufflé dishes and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 10 servings.

For the tart cherry topping

2 cups fresh or frozen tart cherries

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons cornstarch

1 orange, zested

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Cool.

For the whipped cream

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons bourbon

Combine ingredients. Whip until desired thickness. Makes 10 servings.

Per serving: 1,130 calories; 82 g fat (51 g saturated fat; 65 percent calories from fat); 96 g carbohydrates; 83 g sugar; 302 mg cholesterol; 122 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 0.5 g fiber.

Chicken Fricassee

3 1/2-4 pounds chicken legs and thighs

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/3 cup diced onion

1/3 cup diced carrots

1/3 cup diced fennel

2 cups mushrooms

4 ounces snow peas, julienned

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

A generous pinch of parsley

A generous pinch of tarragon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat skillet or fry pan, add oil and sear chicken until golden brown on both sides.

Remove chicken and place in braising pan or casserole dish.

Add vegetables to the fry pan or skillet using the same oil from the chicken. Sauté vegetables, then remove vegetables and add to chicken. Add white wine to frying pan to deglaze the pan. Add chicken stock and cream and bring to a boil. Add to chicken, cover and cook in oven at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. When chicken is fork tender, remove from sauce and let cool slightly. Put the sauce back on stove and reduce until it thickens (it should coat the back of a spoon). Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and add the chicken meat back to the sauce. Finish the dish by adding the unsalted butter and fresh herbs. Serves 6.

Per serving: 416 calories; 24 g fat (10 g saturated fat; 52 percent calories from fat); 6 g carbohydrates; 3 g sugar; 238 mg cholesterol; 475 mg sodium; 40 g protein; 1 g fiber.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Rosemary and Lemon Zest

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

6 tablespoons butter

1/2 lemon, zested

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except buttermilk in the food processor and pulse until flaky. Then add buttermilk slowly until dough forms. Portion to desired size. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Makes 12 biscuits.

Per serving: 139 calories; 6 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 39 percent calories from fat); 17 g carbohydrates; 1 g sugar; 17 mg cholesterol; 211 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 0.6 g fiber.

Brussels Sprouts Salad

8 ounces fresh raw Brussels sprouts

Olive oil to coat

4 fresh radishes, julienned

1 Granny Smith apple, julienned

2 ounces pistachios

1/2 small red onion, julienned

4 ounces bacon

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt to taste

Cracked black pepper to taste

1/4 cup blended oil (80 percent vegetable oil, 20 percent olive oil)

4 ounces fresh greens (pea tendril or arugula preferred)

For the Brussels sprouts

Half or quarter the Brussels sprouts depending on size, and toss in salt and pepper and just enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the sprouts. Char the Brussels sprouts on a grill, cool and reserve.

For the vinaigrette

Render the bacon in a sauté pan until cooked through. Add the brown sugar, mustard and vinegar to the pan with the bacon and fat and bring to a boil. Pour the bacon mixture into a small mixing bowl. Slowly add a quarter cup of the blended oil while whisking to form an emulsification. Once emulsified, add salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm.

Mix the Brussels sprouts, radish, apple, onion and pistachios with the vinaigrette. Once evenly distributed, fold in the greens softly to prevent them from wilting, Season with more salt and pepper to taste and serve. Serves 4.

Per serving: 429 calories; 34 g fat (5 g saturated fat; 71 percent calories from fat); 27 g carbohydrates; 16 g sugar; 12 mg cholesterol; 558 mg sodium; 10 g protein; 6 g fiber.