APRIL 16, 2012

MEET THE SOUS CHEF

REBECCA WILCOMB, CHEF DE CUISINE OF HERBSAINT

Rebecca Wilcomb left Boston four years ago looking for a warmer city with a thriving food scene. She picked New Orleans, where she became Chef de cuisine at Donald Link’s celebrated Herbsaint restaurant. “We get the most amazing ingredients at the restaurant,” she says. “Whole red snapper from Mississippi, locally raised goat meat, Louisiana-grown citrus.” Both at the restaurant and at home, Wilcomb, 30, favors simple food, rooted in French and Italian traditions, that celebrates the area’s ingredients and the people who grow, raise and catch them. Though she admits to late-night peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, chocolate-covered pretzels and the occasional margarita, one of her favorite dishes is insalata di riso, a rice salad with mortadella and tuna, based on her Italian grandmother’s recipe.

TRACK THIS CHEF

Rebecca Wilcomb's:

DAY IN THE LIFE

TIPS & TECHNIQUES

Best Food Advice

“My boss, Donald Link, told me that when you get boudin [a traditional sausage in Louisiana], you’ve always got to get pork cracklings alongside. He says that boudin without cracklings is like a burger without fries. The best boudins are found in Lafayette, Louisiana.”

Best Way to Beat the New Orleans Heat

“I love frozen ice pops. My favorite flavor is lime. I also like the Sno-balls they serve in New Orleans. It’s shaved ice topped with flavored syrup and sweetened condensed milk.”

 

MAKE THE
Insalata di Riso with Tuna, Mortadella, Olives and Emmentaler Cheese

YIELD

6 servings

INGREDIENTS

Yield: 6 servings

 

2 cups arborio rice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 ounces mortadella, chopped into ½-inch cubes (about 1½ cups)

4 ounces mild Swiss cheese (preferably Emmentaler), chopped into ½-inch cubes (about 1 cup)

⅔ cup good-quality oil-packed tuna, drained and flaked, or homemade preserved tuna (click here to see recipe), drained and flaked

1 ounce pitted green olives (preferably Cerignola or Picholine), thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)

3 tablespoon brine-packed capers, rinsed

1 small fresno chile, finely minced

1 small garlic clove, minced

1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Zest of 2 lemons, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Juice of 1½ lemons, plus more to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is still chewy in the center, about 12 minutes. Drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the vinegar and salt and turn the rice out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Spread the rice into an even layer and set aside to cool.

  2. Once the rice is cool, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, mortadella, Swiss cheese, tuna, olives, capers, chile, garlic, parsley and lemon zest; season with black pepper. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Add the lemon juice and taste again, adjusting with more lemon juice, salt and/or pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
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