Sous Chef Series | Rebecca Meeker

Rebecca Meeker, the chef de cuisine at Congress in Austin, Texas, knows the secret to Joël Robuchon's famous pommes purée: a lot of butter (the good, French échire variety) and a little bit of potato.

It's just one of the many things the 30-year-old cook learned when she worked for Robuchon, first in Manhattan and later as part of the opening team for the famed chef's restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan. Although she enjoyed the travel, she was happy to return to her hometown of Austin in 2010 to open Congress, and plans to stay in the city, near her family, for the foreseeable future.

To combat the summer heat in the heart of Texas, Meeker has perfected her gazpacho recipe, loaded with cucumbers and tomatoes and spiked with sherry vinegar. She serves the soup topped with homemade ricotta cheese, a lily-gilding we heartily endorse.

Recipe adapted from Rebecca Meeker, Congress, Austin, TX

Gazpacho With Ricotta And Garlic Croutons
5 from 30 ratings
Meet Rebecca Meeker, chef de cuisine at Congress, and get her recipe for gazpacho.
Servings
4
to 6 servings (plus leftover ricotta)
Ingredients
  • Whole milk, 4 cups
  • Buttermilk, 2 cups
  • Heavy cream, 1 cup
  • Lemon juice, 1 tablespoon
  • Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon, plus extra for seasoning
  • Ripe tomatoes, 3 large (coarsely chopped)
  • Red bell pepper, 1 small (coarsely chopped)
  • English cucumber, ¼ (peeled and coarsely chopped)
  • Garlic cloves, 2 small (smashed and peeled)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons, plus extra for serving
  • Sherry vinegar, 1 teaspoon
  • Country bread, 2 thick slices (½ slice cubed--about ½ cup--and 1 slice roughly torn)
  • Unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
Directions
  1. Make the ricotta: In the medium pot over medium heat, bring to a simmer the Whole milk Buttermilk Heavy cream Cook, stirring with the wooden spoon occasionally, until the liquid looks separated, and curds separate from the whey and sink to the bottom, about 20 minutes. Stir in the Lemon juice Generous pinch of salt Set the fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and strain the mixture. Taste and add more salt if needed. Transfer the ricotta to the airtight container and refrigerate (discard the whey).
  2. Make the gazpacho: In the large bowl, use your hands to crush together the Tomatoes Red bell pepper English cucumber 1 smashed garlic clove 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil Sherry vinegar 1 teaspoon salt Cubed country bread Place the gazpacho in a blender jar and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Remove the gazpacho from the refrigerator and blend until smooth.
  3. Make the garlic croutons: In the medium skillet set over medium heat, add the Butter 1 smashed garlic clove Once the butter has melted, add the Torn country bread pieces Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, about 8 minutes.
  4. Divide the gazpacho among 4 bowls. Top each with a spoonful of the ricotta and a few garlic croutons. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh basil before serving.
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