Linton Hopkins does not want a subdued restaurant. He does not want to serve you precious little bites.
“I didn’t want a place where these people are whispering ‘chef has a little gift for you’ in hushed tones,” said Hopkins, the Atlanta-based chef who with his wife, Gina Hopkins, owns Holeman & Finch Public House. “I wanted to throw a party.”
To Hopkins, a perfect bite could be a properly seasoned piece of tomato and some mayonnaise.
“Is there really anything better in a bite in terms of a memory?” he said.
Linton and Gina Hopkins’ restaurant group Hopkins and Company owns and operates Holeman & Finch Public House in Asheville and Atlanta. The most recent location opened Feb. 9 in Colony Square in Midtown Atlanta serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the kitchen, there’s an emphasis on whole animal and vegetable cookery, which has long been a central tenet of Hopkins’ culinary ethos.
“It’s a sort of merging of (now-closed) Restaurant Eugene and Holeman and Finch,” he said. “I like to respect the old ideas but change them up.”
In that vein, Hopkins devours old cookbooks including those of Jane Grigson, who studiously chronicled British food. He’s enamored with “Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book” in particular.
“I have a great affinity for English cooking,” Hopkins said. It’s good, honest fare, he said. “It’s unpretentious. It doesn’t have to imitate France and Italy, and that’s exactly how I feel about Southern food.”
Simplicity is an art in its own right, Hopkins said. That’s his goal with Holeman and Finch: stripping away pretense. That’s especially important when it comes to the idea of whole animal and vegetable cooking, which sometimes gets a reputation as weird or, even worse, pretentiously cheffy.
“Our thinking is that every piece of food needs three jobs,” Hopkins said. “Food waste equals I just haven’t thought about this enough.”
That means a menu with veal brains with black butter and toast, and sweetbreads with mustard and pickles. Chicken livers get plenty of play at Holeman and Finch too, showing up blackened over grits, or pureed into a luscious pate and finished with a layer of apple cider vinegar jelly.
“I love the way that acid cuts through the fat,” he said.
Hopkins calls chicken livers the gateway to offal, and something even home cooks can work with. To that end, he provided his recipe so you too can try this at home.
Chicken liver pate with apple cider vinegar jelly
- 20 ounces chicken livers; cleaned and trimmed
- 1 tablespoon of whole butter at room temp
- 50 grams of shallots, minced
- 10 grams of garlic, minced
- 12 ounces of butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces of 36% Southern Swiss heavy cream
- 4-5 egg yolks
- 2 ounces of Applejack Brandy
- 1 gram of ground allspice
- 1 gram of ground white pepper
- 1 gram of ground nutmeg
- 9 grams of Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 2 grams of pink salt cure #1
- Apple cider vinegar jelly (recipe follows)
Yield: 12 2-ounce servings.
Clean and trim livers: rinse off discoloration and veins, trim.
Sweat shallots and garlic in 1 tablespoon of butter until soft. Deglaze pan with brandy, reduce by half and chill the mixture.
In a blender, puree chicken livers with chilled shallot mixture until smooth. Pass through a fine strainer into a mixing bowl.
Stir in the remaining ingredients with a whisk (it will look broken). Place bowl over a barely simmering double boiler and whisk constantly until it comes together and is smooth and approximately 100°F, according to an instant-read thermometer.
Preheat the oven to 250°F.
Pour mix into weck jars or other small 2-ounce canning jars to 80% full, and then lid the jars. Place them in a water bath in a half hotel pan or something similar that allows you to submerge them in water 3/4 of the way up the sides of the jar. Place the pan with water and jars in the preheated oven.
Test after 11 minutes to see if they’ve set. Pate should not be loose. If it’s still a little runny, continue to cook until fully set, checking every 3 minutes.
Chill pate to room temperature. Top with Apple Cider Vinegar Honey Jelly (below), then fully refrigerate to set.
Apple Cider Vinegar Honey Jelly
Yield: 1 pint
- 1 cup of Heinz apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup of honey
- 5 gelatin sheets
Bloom gelatin sheets in cold water for around 5 minutes.
Warm vinegar and honey in a pot.
Whisk in gelatin and warm to at least 140°F to activate.
Use while slightly warm. Gelatin will begin to set around 60°F.