At Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon, Chef Chris DiMinno is an expert at giving traditional dishes a fresh spin — and flavor boost. Here, he tells us how to dress up classic bar favorites into an elevated culinary experience.
At Clyde Common you can munch on popcorn any time of day; during lunch it’s dressed with pimenton and olive oil, while the dinner menu kicks off with a truffled version, seasoned with black pepper and grana cheese.
“We thought, what’s a great party snack? Popcorn — it’s a standby,” says DiMinno. “Find really nice, high-quality popcorn, because you can definitely taste the difference in flavor.”
For the lunch popcorn, DiMinno makes a spice mixture of regular, smoked and hot paprika, adding salt, sugar and cayenne. He purees it in a food processor and uses a spice shaker to douse the popcorn after it’s popped in a pot of olive oil. The batch is tossed a second time in the spices and in olive oil, creating a salty-sweet combination with just the right amount of heat. The dinner version is popped in olive oil, sprinkled with superfine salt and freshly ground black pepper, then tossed in white truffle oil and topped with grana padano cheese grated on a microplane grater.
DiMinno claims this Spanish-inspired snack is designed to keep you drinking — in a good way! The team uses Marcona almonds, fried very slowly in a pot of oil and salted. “We bring them in up cold oil, so it takes two hours,” he says.
The olives are a mix of Castelvetrano, Gaeta and Leccino, marinated overnight in orange zest, dried chilies and chili flakes. “We’ve been trying to find fresh olives so we can cure them ourselves, but they’re hard to find.”
The secret to a good burger starts with the meat blend. Clyde Common uses a combination of chuck, brisket and pork fat. According to DiMinno: “The fat makes it juicy, brisket adds a little bite and the chuck is the body of the burger. Everything has its purpose.”
The meat patty is served on a grilled brioche bun, with homemade mayonnaise, one-year aged cheddar and house-cured and -smoked bacon. Depending on the time of year, they also make their own stone-ground beer mustard or preserved tomato jam (sundried tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, dried apricots, molasses, honey and sherry vinegar pureed in the food processor.
“Top a bacon cheeseburger with that tomato jam, and your life will be changed forever,” says DiMinno.
Forget ketchup. DiMinno serves French fries with two dipping options: crème fraîche and harissa, a fiery Moroccan condiment. Clyde Common makes harissa with piquillo peppers, pureed tomatoes and homemade chili paste, along with a smattering of spices like cumin, coriander and fennel seed.
“We make it as close to the real thing as we can,” says DiMinno. “The two dips are good on their own, but together the combination is unreal.”
There is no standard recipe for the mac and cheese at Clyde Common — it varies depending on what’s around the kitchen. The team makes their own creamy Mornay sauce with a cheddar base, plus any cheese leftovers from other dishes. The garnish on the inside changes with the seasons and, again, whatever’s in the kitchen — bacon, braised kale, peas, or whatever the chefs are in the mood for.
“A couple of weeks ago we were using pastrami scraps in there,” says DiMinno. “It was delicious!”
Next up for the Clyde Common team’s happy hour menu? Homemade snack mix.
“We’re doing a lot of research, even toying with making our own pretzels and bagels for bagel chips to put in there,” DiMinno laughs. “It could be a tremendous undertaking — but tremendously awesome.”