In fine dining, the combination of sumptuous elegance with soulful comfort can be an art form unto itself. At Miel Restaurant in Nashville’s Sylvan Park neighborhood, it is also a guiding principle. Underscoring seasonal foods that are locally, sustainably produced, meals at this contemporary bistro are prepared in a classic French manner and presented with flair.
Proprietor Seema Prasad believes that the elements of each dish should be fresh and of-the-moment. Each dish should be made in a way that both honors and enhances the intrinsic nature of its ingredients. It’s a thoughtful approach, evident even in the restaurant name.
Miel means honey in both French and Spanish. “We chose that name because our cooking is informed by the culinary traditions of those cultures,” she says. The name also evokes enduring food routes: bees and pollination and the pureness of honey.
A stellar example is Miel’s signature dish, McDonald’s Farm Slowly Roasted Chicken and Vegetables. The centerpiece of this Provençal style entrée is a free-range chicken raised at McDonald Farms in Hohenwald, Tennessee, accompanied by a selection of local and organic vegetables.Visually, it’s stunning. The large, shallow, white bowl brims with a vibrant base of artfully cut beets, carrots, fingerling potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. A half chicken, herbed and bronzed, is cut and arranged in the center, drenched in rich demi-glace. Microgreens and a basil flower plucked from the patio garden garnish the top.
Aromatics are heady, sweet with caramelized onions, fragrant with lemon, rosemary, and French thyme. And the taste? Ah, each forkful is succulent, a rustic yet refined layering of flavors that enrobes you in comfort. Here is chicken that actually tastes like chicken, in a happy mélange of vegetables and herbs that both stand out and complement. It’s no wonder that it has become a Miel mainstay.
Featured on the menu since day one, it will always remain, Prasad assures. “We have customers who come every week for our roasted chicken,” the proprietor explains. “We know who likes the skin extra brown and crispy or who wants more juices poured over the meat.”In preparation, Executive Chef Freddie Brooker uses the sous-vide method (sous-vide is French for under vacuum), a process used by esteemed chefs across the country, such as Thomas Keller and Michael Ruhlman. After skillet searing, Brooker seals the chicken with its herbed marinade in a vacuum pack and places it into the kitchen’s immersion circulator. This thermal water bath is set at a constant temperature of 165 degrees; after two hours, the chicken emerges evenly cooked, remarkably tender. Within its airtight pack, none of the moisture or flavor is lost. Rather, it is magnified.
Since few home cooks own an immersion circulator, (although it is becoming more widely available for home use) Chef Brooker shares the recipe using a residential range. Following his guidance and the Miel philosophy of Fresh-Local-Best, you can recreate this simple yet sophisticated dish, insuring a pleasing feast for all the senses.
by Nancy Vienneau | photography by Anthony Scarlati
Miel’s Roasted Chicken and Vegetables, a home cook’s version
The ChickenFree-range chickens raised on McDonald Farms in Hohenwald, Tennessee, are the birds of choice at Miel. Selecting an organic, humanely raised chicken will make all the difference in the flavor of the dish.
Half Chicken, semi-boned
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2 T. Olive Oil
4 T. melted Herb Butter: chopped fresh rosemary, chives, chervil, thyme
1 ½ c. Rich Brown Chicken Stock
Preheated oven: 375 degrees for convection oven/400 degrees conventional
Equipment: a skillet that works also in the oven (i.e. cast iron, stainless steel, enamel on cast iron)
Heat the skillet, and then add olive oil. Liberally salt and pepper all sides of the chicken. When the oil is heated to “sizzle,” put in the chicken, skin side down first, and sear until the skin becomes golden brown, about 2–3 minutes. Turn the chicken and repeat on the other side. After browning, drain off any excess oil and pour in chicken stock. Stir, scraping up any cooked-on bits to further infuse the broth. Return the chicken, skin side up, to the skillet. Ladle the herbed butter over the pieces and place into the oven to finish. Roast for 10–15 minutes, until internal temperature reads 165 degrees.
Executive Chef Freddie Brooker assembles an appealing variety, selected for both seasonality and color. “You want to make the dish pop!” Below is a listing of current Miel favorites; choose any or all for your dish. With the exception of the morel mushrooms, all of the vegetables are either par-roasted or blanched before they are finished in the savory stock.
Roasted Roma Tomato Cipollini Onions
Fingerling Potatoes Rutabagas
Beets Brussels Sprouts
1 c. Rich Brown Chicken Stock
2 T. Butter
1 Lemon, for slices
a few sprigs of Fresh Thyme
1–2 cloves Garlic, minced
In another large skillet set on medium heat, stir in chicken stock with butter. Add your selection of par-cooked vegetables and morels to simmer, along with a couple of slices of lemon, minced fresh garlic, and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Remove chicken from the oven, and drain the roasting juices into the skillet with the vegetables. Remove the vegetables, arranging in a shallow bowl, and place the chicken on top of them. Reduce the sauce in the skillet, stir in another tablespoon of butter to further enrich.
Generously spoon the sauce over the chicken and vegetables. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.
343 53rd Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37209 615-298-3663
Hours: Tuesday–Thursday 5:30–9 p.m., Friday–Saturday 5:30–10 p.m., Sunday Brunch 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Sunday Dinner 4:30–8 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Proprietor: Seema Prasad Executive Chef: Freddie Brooker