Deep Fried Diaries

The insider's scoop on food, travel & southern culture

Food For Thought: Fer-meant To Be!

Harnessing the Ancient Art of Fermentation in the Modern Era Chef Steve McHugh – Cured in San Antonio, Texas

Chef Steve McHugh - Photo by Jonathan Alonzo

Chef Steve McHugh – Photo by Jonathan Alonzo

What do beer, cheese, bread and pickles have in common? The answer is good bacteria—all through the ancient process of fermentation. The annual Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium in October brought much enlightenment on the subject by the renowned DIY food activist Sandor Katz, recipient of the 2014 Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award. [Click here for his video profile.] SFA attendee chef Steve McHugh, of the new gastropub Cured in San Antonio, TX [recently named one of Bon Appétit’s top 50 for “America’s Best New Restaurants 2014” and one of six select Runner-ups for Esquire’s Food & Drink Awards–“America’s Best New Restaurants”], is of the same persuasion, commonly practicing time-honored methodologies in creating components from Baby Celery to Purple Mustard. The name Cured not only points to the artisanal cured meats hanging in view, but to his healing from cancer through a diet of pure ingredients and the unadulterated approaches he learned growing up on a farm.

Read on for a few of our favorite fermented foods found at Cured [try saying that three times fast!]:

– Pickled Baby Celery [used in the Buffalo-Style Sweetbreads with Goat Cheese Ranch] The distinct celery stalk essence is enhanced when pickled to add piquancy to the dish

– Greek Sweet Red Squash Kimchi Cure [served with the Duck-Neck Sausage] Sourced from Steve’s local farmer, the squash ferments at room temperature for two days

– House-made Sauerkraut [found in the Smoked Salmon Reuben] Made from cabbage that has been fermented for four weeks

– White Wine Vinegar [for use as a finishing vinegar] Aged for four months in bourbon barrels and stored in the Charcuterie Tank

– Purple Mustard [served with the Cured Foie Gras with Fennel Dust, Carrot Jam, Brioche] Made with red wine and aged for three months to mellow the intensity of the mustard

– Mushrooms Agrodolce [found in the Grilled Flat Iron with Fries] Made by reducing sweet and sour elements: sherry vinegar and sugar

– Chayote Pickles [found in the Cabrito Sliders with Local Bread, Sprouts] Quick-pickled with thinly sliced white onion and distilled white vinegar

– Pickled Tapioca [found in the Masa Flash Fried Oysters with Tarragon] Made with a quick-pickle vinegar-brine

Chef Steve McHugh’s thoughts: “The idea behind Cured is that good things take time—like the road to recovery, restoring our century-old restaurant or the time involved in brining pickles, making vinegars, bitters and curing and aging meats. Why ruin meat by freezing when you can hang and age it. It may stem from frugality, but it’s ultimately a really beautiful transformative practice that blooms into magic.”

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This entry was posted on February 11, 2015 by in Chef Steve McHugh, Cured, Food4Thought, San Antonio, Texas and tagged , , , , , , .

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