Thursday, September 2, 2010

Farmers at Play

I wrote a whole entry about tomatoes from the market without ever touching on the whole reason I set out to write it.
Maybe because it is something that trickles into almost every western cuisine- one of my most asked questions is something along the lines of "how do I make a great tomato sauce?"
And the answer is simple "With great tomatoes."

Since most tomato sauces are composed mostly of . . . tomatoes the recipe is almost irrelevant as long as it's not a terrible one and the cook doesn't destroy it completely. The final product is going to depend on the primary ingredients.

What has me thinking about all of this is a another cool job I was involved in via Red Table Catering. We went to a farm up near Saratoga, NY to cook for a wedding. All of the primary ingredients we used came from that farm or farms in the immediate area. All the ingredients were outstanding. In this scenario the cook's job ceases to be "make a great preparation" and becomes: "just don't screw things up."

The farm where we were working raised mainly meat; chickens and sheep. The chickens we cooked on Saturday we're running around gossiping as late as Thursday morning.

Sheep with their guardian "bear" the dog.

Impending Doom

The menu was pretty simple, to read it is not super exciting, but to eat this stuff was a dream. We made merguez, (a spiced Moroccan sausage) from scratch, there was also leg of lamb and an array of chops and steaks.

We made grilled chicken and Brooke's famous fried chicken, which is soaked in buttermilk and honey and then smoked before another dip in in buttermilk, a dusting with seasoned flour and then it's fried. Overkill? Definitely, but what a way to go.

All accompanied by salt boiled potatoes, corn on the cob and a grilled vegetable pave. Everything was prepared over the course of three days in an outside kitchen. The view was amazing, the breeze was fresh and the food was delicious.

In the end, everything turned out well. The meal was an outstanding one, but it seemed like we didn't have much to do with that. We just cooked the stuff, all of the ingredients were amazing to begin with. So we owe it to the ingredients to do that.
This job was a great experience. It was great insight into the community of farming and good exposure to the source of the food we eat and love. Something I'll never forget.

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