7 Philly Chefs Share Their Favorite Comfort Foods
Few things in the world come close to the heartwarming (and stomach satisfying) effect that a warm bowl of comfort food brings on a winter day. Even the most dignified taste buds find it hard to resist their favorite dish that ‘mom used to make’ or that cues happy memories from the past.
To prove it, we reached out to some of Philly’s top chefs for their favorite comfort foods. Whether their menus list modern spins on home-style favorites or elegant oysters on the half shell, when you ask these culinary elites for their favorite comfort food, most of them recall a dish only their mom could make right.
Lisa Lombo, executive chef STARR Restaurants
Slow-braised beef short rib, perfectly buttered sweet peas, and carrots topped with duchess whipped potatoes make this classic peasant dish a meal even kings would fawn for.
“This dish is great for winter days!” says Lombo. “What sets the Jones version apart is the use of beef short ribs and curry spices.”
But, even home cooks can master this favorite, says Lombo.
For your at-home adaptation grab a pound of 92-96 percent lean ground beef like Laura’s Lean Beef and brown before layering into a crock pot or slow cooker with the additional ingredients.
Justin Swain, executive chef
Dish: Braised collard greens
As the executive chef at a South Street staple that prides itself on Southern-inspired cuisine, it only makes sense that Justin Swain’s go-to dish has deep roots.
“Southern food is rooted in family, friends and creating dishes that warm the soul,” he says, “nothing is as comforting as a big pot of braised collards to share with your loved ones.”
Pair a pot of collards with black-eyed peas, cornbread, rice and pork. Collard greens are a symbol of good luck, he says. And with a hearty dish like that, it’s pretty hard not to feel lucky.
Brett Naylor, executive chef Oyster House, and co-partner Mission Taqueria
Dish: Potato gnocchi
When it comes to coping with winter blues, Brett Naylor has the perfect remedy: Potato gnocchi with Pomodoro sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
“It’s perfect for a snowy night,” he says.
Who are we to disagree? Although, a burger like the “OH Burger,” a fried oyster-topped blue cheese burger from Oyster House would also hit the spot.
Get crafty while staying healthy by customizing your own comfort-food burger using 92 percent lean ground beef patties from Laura’s Lean Beef.
Andrew Sabin, executive chef
Dish: Homemade lasagna
Andrew Sabin, executive chef of Mission Taqueria, has a weekly meal prep we can all get behind.
“I almost always keep homemade lasagna and lentil or vegetable soup in the freezer,” he says. “I have been in the habit for years of spending part of a day making food to freeze so I don’t find myself reaching for takeout after a late night at work.”
Try your own make-ahead lasagna with this classic recipe for beef pesto lasagna from Laura’s Lean Beef.
Bud & Marilyn’s/Little Nonna’s
Marcie Turney, executive chef
Dish: Chicken and dumplings
It’s a dish we can all relate to—the one your grandma used to make. And no matter how hard we try to recreate it, there’s nothing quite like as magical as the first time you tried it, right? Unless you’re as brilliant as Marcie Turney.
“My go-to comfort food is my grandma Marilyn’s Chicken and Dumplings,” says Turney. “In my version, I added coconut curry lentils to the stew and top with cilantro sprigs, radish and a spoonful of labne.”
Bobby Saritsoglou, executive chef
When curating dishes for the menu at Opa, Bobby Saritsoglou took a note from his mother’s cookbook.
“I currently have a dish on the menu that is comforting and inspired by something my mother would feed me as a child,” says Saritsoglou. “It’s like a mac-and-cheese, but better…. because, well… it’s Greek.”
What makes the marcaronda at Opa so damn delicious? Saritsoglou’s twist on his childhood favorite includes house-cured lomo, broken bucatini and metsovone cheese (a smoked Greek cheese).
Damon Menapace, executive chef
Dish: Spaghetti and red sauce
The best comfort food should be equal parts delicious and easy, according to Damon Menapace of Kensington Quarters in Fishtown.
“Spaghetti and red sauce is easy to prepare, it makes the house smell amazing, it’s cheap, delicious and one of my wife’s favorite meals,” says Menapace. “Especially paired with a great glass of red wine.”
Savor a classic staple like this while still watching your waistline by using 92 percent lean ground beef from Laura’s Lean Beef for your meatballs.
Whether it’s a big bowl of pasta, a stacked burger, or a slow-cooking Shepherd’s Pie when you choose a hearty protein like Laura’s Lean Beef as the main ingredient you can’t go wrong. To learn more about Laura’s Lean Beef products and redeem a special Philly mag reader coupon click here.This is a paid partnership between Laura's Lean and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio