My favorite restaurant in Shanghai is Commune Social. It’s one of the many restaurants around the world owned by Chef Jason Atherton from the UK. I was shocked to know that he has a restaurant in shanghai. Not going to Pollen Street Social was one of my big regret about my limited time in London. I really thought that when I moved to China I would have to bid goodbye to upscale and delicious restaurants. I was moving to the land of noodles and chicken feet…
In my first few days here I made a good friend at a POP meeting (school PTA). Melissa and I both have a but of a love affair with food and on our first “date” she took me to her favorite restaurant… Commune Social. I was shocked that a restaurant owned by a British chef was here in Shanghai! The no reservation tapas style restaurant was my first experience with Shanghai’s flourishing food scene. If a restaurant is in NYC and London, most likely it’s in Shanghai too. This is a bourgeoning international city hungry for Western culture, food and extravagance.
Being that it was tapas-style I assumed we would be sharing a 5-course lunch set. But no… Melissa made it clear that there would be no sharing here… the food is that good you would be amiss to not eat the 5 courses on your own. I still remember the waitress repeating to us over and over that we were ordering too much food. Melissa gaffed and assured her we would lick our plates clean. And we did… every last bite of 10 courses of Chef Melvin (the current chef at Commune Social) goodness. You should really go there if you live in Shanghai or are out here visiting. Make sure to save room for the Peanut Butter dessert.
One of the best things I ever ate there was BBQ Brisket with Macaroni and Cheese. The dish was a generous layer of the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever tasted that was hiding beneath a generous portion of BBQ beef, topped with bread crumbs and soft boiled quail eggs. Oh. My. God. Heaven!
I first replicated the dish at our One-Year Anniversary Party in Shanghai. It was a hit! I obviously don’t have the recipe from Commune Social, but I will say that my version tasted pretty darn close to what I tasted at the restaurant.
I have a brisket sitting in my freezer and we are having guests over for dinner. This will be David’s last dinner with us as his assignment is over and he’ll be returning to Prague. In his honor I am making this very delicious, very fancy dish just for him!
This dish is presented layered as such:
- Bottom of mini crock dish ladle a couple of chunks of brisket and top with extra BBQ sauce
- Next layer is macaroni and cheese.
- Top with Panko Breadcrumbs
- Garnish with 2 quail eggs.
Barbecue Slow-Cooker Brisket
- 1/8 cup Paprika
- 1 T Chili Powder
- 1 T Ground Cumin
- 1 T packed Dark Brown Sugar
- 1 T Salt
- 1 T Mesquite Seasoning
- 1 t Garlic Powder
- 1 t Onion Powder
- 1 t Ground Black Pepper
- 1 (5-pound) Beef Brisket
BBQ Sauce Ingredients
- 1/2 cup Onions, very finely chopped
- 1 Garlic, minced
- 1 T Vegetable Oil
- 1 cup Ketchup
- 1/2 cup Apple Juice
- 3 T Brown Sugar
- 3 T Molasses
- 3 T Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 T Worcestershire sauce
- 1 T Soy Sauce
- 1 T Dijon Mustard
- 1 1/2 t Liquid Smoke (optional)
- 1/4 t Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- 1/2 t Black Pepper
- RUB: Place the brisket in the slow cooker bowl and rub all of the Rub Ingredients on it. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- BBQ SAUCE: Heat oil and saute onions, 8 minutes. Add garlic and saute until aromatic. Add remaining ingredients to saucepan and bring to boil on medium heat. Reduce to low and simmer, stirring often.
- SLOW COOKER: Remove brisket from oven and let sit out 30 minutes to bring to room temperature. Pour BBQ sauce over the brisket, reserving 1/2 cup for later. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.
- Reheat 1/2 cup BBQ sauce and pour it over the brisket before ladling macaroni and cheese on top.
- Shred brisket neat. Set aside and keep warm.
Here’s a little tip for getting your cheese to completely melt. Forget the store bought shredded cheese and shred it yourself. I read recently that pre-shredded cheese has a coating on it that makes it hard for it to melt. If you look at the cost per ounce, it also tends to be cheaper to buy a block and shred it before using it.
Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound Noodles
- 4oz Butter
- 6 T Flour
- 3.5 C Milk
- 1 C Heavy Cream
- 12 ounces (4.5 cups) freshly grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese (about 6 cups)
- 4oz freshly grated Gouda Cheese (1.5 cups)
- 2 oz (1/2 cup) grated Parmesan Cheese
- 2 t Salt
- 1/4 t Black Pepper
- 1/2 t Ground Nutmeg
- Cook noodles al dente as per package. Drain and set aside.
- Melt butter in a large pot. Add flour, whisking constantly to form a roux. Use a wooden spoon, stir the roux constantly until it is golden brown (about 4 minutes).
- Gradually pour in milk and cream, whisking constantly. Raise heat to medium high and whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a low boil. Reduce to simmer, whisk occasionally and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (3 minutes)
- Add salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Stir in cheddar cheese 2 cups at a time until completely melted. Remove from heat.
- Add noodles and stir well to coat.
- Set aside but keep warm.
Extra Crunchy Panko Crumbs Recipe
- 2 T Butter
- 2 T Olive Oil
- 2 C Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- In a large skillet on medium heat, heat butter and oil until butter foam subsides.
- Add panko and garlic. Cook, stirring, until crumbs are golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.