Ilan Hall, chef-owner of downtown's The Gorbals (yeah, yeah, and season 2 Top Chef), likes to play with his food as much as the next chef, particularly with offal and other interesting bits. On the menu the other day? Octopus with gizzards and lemon; tripe fries with romesco sauce; Manischewitz-braised pork belly with clapshot and apples. Also, of course, Hall's gribenes sandwich.

“It's just a BLT with chicken skin,” said Hall last week when we stopped by for lunch and an interview. “It's what Jewish grandmothers use instead of bacon.” The gribenes sandwich, which is usually on both the lunch and dinner menu, is about as easy to make as a BLT too. If you make your own mayonnaise, it takes a little longer. But hey, why not; something to do while your chicken skins are getting crispy, or you're watching topless women wander in and out of your restaurant.

Gribenes sandwich

From: Ilan Hall of The Gorbals.

Makes: 1 sandwich.

chicken skin from 4 large chicken breasts

a pinch of kosher salt

a pinch of caraway seeds

mayonnaise to taste (recipe below, or use purchased)

2 slices of caraway rye bread

4 slices of tomato

a few leaves of red leaf lettuce, shredded

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Season the chicken skin with a pinch each of salt and caraway seeds (or to taste). Spread the skins out on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cook until crispy, about 45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the mayonnaise (recipe below) and assemble the other ingredients.

3. When the chicken skin is crispy, remove from the oven and assemble the sandwich by spreading the mayonnaise over the bread and layering the gribenes, tomato and lettuce. Cut in half and serve immediately.


From: Ilan Hall of The Gorbals.

Note: This recipe uses raw egg yolks. For those concerned about salmonella, place the yolks and 1 tablespoon of water in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the yolks reach 160 degrees (they will thicken noticeably and lighten in color), then proceed with the recipe. Mayonnaise keeps, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Makes: 1 quart.

1 clove garlic, crushed

juice of half a lemon

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 egg yolks, at room temperature

3/4 quart vegetable oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

a pinch of salt

1. In a food processor, blend the garlic, lemon juice and mustard until well combined.

2. Very slowly with the machine running, add the vegetable oil in a steady stream. The mixture will emulsify and become quite thick. Add the vinegar, which may adjust the consistency of the mayonnaise.

3. Mix in the olive oil and season to taste with salt.

LA Weekly