In this week’s New York Times, James Beard Award nominated chef and restaurant owner Bruce Moffett of Charlotte, NC’s Good Food on Montford (among others), as well as author of 2019’s Bruce Moffett Cooks: A New England Chef in a New South Kitchen, breaks down rising food costs and the challenges operating restaurants in the current economy.
To kick off the late summer weekend, following are two recipes from Bruce Moffett Cooks that are perfect for using your excess summer produce, as well as an excellent reason for firing up the barbecue. Purchase the book directly from uncpress.org and take 40% off during our Centennial Sale using promo code 01DAH40.
Every summer our farmers bring us some of the best cucumbers that I have ever tasted. I love the crunch and silky texture of the variety known as Kirby. When combined with a brine of vinegar, garlic, spices and herbs, the result is a bright pickle with a surprising crunch and depth of flavor. We use Korean chili flakes, called gochugaru, to add a unique spice. You can find them at a grocery with a good Asian section or online. Try these pickles in New South Beef Carpaccio with Fried Pickles and Pimento Cheese (found on page 37 in the book), on top of a cheeseburger, or by themselves as a welcome addition to any southern table.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: mandoline, 2 sterile, quart-size Mason jars (or other nonreactive containers) with lids
MAKES 2 QUARTS
1 pound Kirby cucumbers
1 cup distilled white vinegar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup kosher salt
10 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
3 fresh bay leaves
1 bunch dill
½ bunch thyme
¼ bunch parsley
Slice off the rounded ends of each cucumber. Using a mandoline, slice the cucumbers into ¼-inch rounds. Set aside.
Bring the vinegars, salt, garlic cloves, peppercorns, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and Korean chili flakes to a boil in a large pot. Turn off the heat and let the liquid steep for 10 minutes. Pour the pickling liquid into a heatproof container. Add 2 cups of ice and stir, then allow the liquid to cool completely.
Meanwhile, pack the cucumber slices into the jars. Divide the fresh herbs evenly among the jars, then pour the cooled pickling liquid over the cucumbers until they are submerged. Cover the jars tightly and refrigerate. The pickles will be ready in 2 days and will keep for 2 weeks.
Chipotle BBQ Sauce
Sauces are a great way to add concentrated flavor to an already tasty dish. We use this sauce to finish Pecan-Crusted Lamb with Chipotle BBQ Sauce, Sweet Potatoes, and Green Beans (found on page 171 in the book), but it also works well with other meats, especially chicken and pork. At Barrington’s, we vary it by adding veal stock and reducing the sauce to create a smoky demiglace.
MAKES 3 CUPS
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
1 chipotle pepper (from 1 can of chipotle in adobo)
1 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
⅔ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
6 cups good chicken stock
Heat a large pot with the vegetable oil over high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions, celery, and carrots; cook until the vegetables are caramelized, about 6 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the chipotle pepper, wine, vinegar, ketchup, and molasses to the caramelized vegetables. Stir to incorporate and reduce by approximately two-thirds, about 8 minutes. Once reduced, add the chicken stock, decrease the heat to medium low, and simmer for 40 minutes.
Pour the warm mixture carefully into a blender and purée. Pass the sauce through a strainer, cover, and chill. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week and in the freezer for 1 month.
Bruce Moffett is founder-chef of Barrington’s, Good Food on Montford, and Stagioni, all in Charlotte. A James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef Southeast, he was honored as Restauranteur of the Year by Charlotte Magazine, and Good Food on Montford was recognized by ZAGAT’s Top Restaurants in America Guide.