As Dudley's celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, new head chef Mark Richardson looks toward the future with a fresh take on local cuisine.
"I love when it's busy and chaotic and hectic. That's when I'm the most calm and can see everything that's going on. As busy as we get sometimes, I find myself laughing because I love it. I'm having such a good time."
This Moment of Zen is brought to you by Mark Richardson, head chef at Dudley's on Short in Lexington.
Richardson, a Pikeville native, returned to his home state last fall to helm the kitchen at Dudley's. He'd spent 14 years cooking at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and in Scottsdale, Arizona, and most recently was with The Carlyle in New York.
In addition to the rush of heading up one of Lexington's most consistently busy kitchens, Richardson is also stoked about the new spring menu he recently introduced that incorporates a bounty of fresh local produce. He's also excited by the opportunity to contribute to the city's thriving dining scene.
"That's one of the reasons why I came back to Lexington," he says. "To be a part of what I think is going to be a great culinary scene. It already is, but the more restaurants and inventive chefs that come in, it's only going to continue to get better."
As busy as we get sometimes, I find myself laughing because I love it. I'm having such a good time.
Dudley's has been a fixture in Lexington since owner Debbie Long opened the restaurant in 1981. Many of the region's top chefs have come though its kitchen at one point or another.
As Dudley's celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, Richardson is working to continually innovate with new dishes and events like tasting menus and paired wine dinners, while also making sure that Dudley's doesn't lose sight of the high standards and traditions that have contributed to its longevity.
"This is a culinary institution in Lexington, and I want to make sure no one forgets that," he says. "We can't forget where we came from if we want to move forward."
Some of his favorite items, however, are ones he come up with on the fly.
"I love when people come in and say, 'just cook for me,'" he says. "That gives me a lot of room to play."
Inspired by regional Kentucky cuisine and the food he enjoyed growing up from his mother and grandmother, Richardson created this recipe for Buttermilk Fried Quail for Kentucky for Kentucky readers.
Here he takes a cue from Bluegrass tradition, but also gives a nod to Mediterranean flavors with his "Kentucky Tzatziki." Crispy fried quail, with cool, refreshing cucumber and creamy cheese and yogurt make an ideal springtime starter or entree.
Buttermilk Fried Quail & "Kentucky Tzatziki"
Ingredients for the "Kentucky Tzatziki"
4 oz. soft cream cheese
6 oz. Greek yoghurt
2 English cucumbers, minced, and drained on towel
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 green onion, charred on grill or sautéed in hot pan and minced
1 small shallot minced
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp. minced cilantro
Salt & pepper
Ingredients For Quail
4 each dressed quail
2 cups buttermilk
Peanut or canola oil for frying
Rosemary & thyme sprigs for garnish
For the coating
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. onion powder
3 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
Method for the "Kentucky Tzatziki"
With a whisk, whip the cream cheese until smooth and add the Greek yoghurt.
Mix in the mayo and green onion thoroughly.
Now combine all of the other ingredients together with this mixture, combine well and season with salt and pepper.
Method For Quail
Combine all ingredients for the coating and split into two batches.
Pre-heat oil, preferably a cast-iron skillet, with enough oil to cover one third of the quail, about ¼ of an inch of oil.
While the oil is heating pat the quail dry and then coat them in one of the batches of seasoned flour then place into the buttermilk, making sure to coat evenly. Let excess buttermilk drain back.
Next add the quail to the other batch of flour making sure to coat well.
Place breaded quail on a parchment lined sheet tray.
When oil has reached a temperature of 320 degrees, gently lower the quail into the oil.
Cook 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crisp.
Let rest on a rack and season with kosher salt then transfer to serving platter and garnish with "KY Tzatziki" and sprigs of rosemary and thyme.
Call 859-252-1010 or visit dudleysrestaurant.com for information and reservations.