LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 13. Follow us all summer long as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms through the eyes and palate of our own Chef Jay Pierce
by JAY PIERCE
follow Jay on twitter
Sometimes the best farm find is in your own kitchen–if you’re lucky.
About 10 years ago, lacinato kale was the darling of the fine dining experience, an obscure delicacy found only in authentic Italian restaurants. The tuscany-grown green was less well known in the US. Even still, the full flavored vegetable is just a little off the beaten path, so to bring this green to a homestyle dining place like ours is really empowering.
Especially when the farmer — Mark Schicker — also happens to be a server at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen.
About four years ago, Schicker said, “I’ve got some land, is there anything you want me to plant?” I literally handed him a seed catalog, rattled off a few varieties — such as the lacinato kale — and he came back with a small harvest.
Since that summer, he’s been providing the restaurant with a variety of vegetables I can’t find anywhere else.
As a chef, you wish you had that kind of connection with your farmers, who literally stroll through your kitchen. Every other day I ask him about the vegetables, what’s coming in, what’s not. What’s fresh? I know more about pests and soil and more about farming, because I work with him.
Here, there’s a good chance the guy serving you the daily vegetable actually grew it. Go ahead. Ask him next time you’re here.
Sample farm fresh vegetables from “Schickers Acre” at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in the following dishes. Or, find Mark’s vegetables on the farmer’s cart outside the Cary and Greensboro restaurants.
- Rutabagas, pickled and roasted at the end of the summer
- Lacinato Kale, featured in the daily vegetable “Beans and Greens”
- Four different radish varieties roasted with salt, pepper and oil and served in the spring and the fall
- White cucumbers: we make pickles every two weeks, and we pickle these for the fried pickle appetizers
- Black cherry tomatoes
- Japanese eggplant (everybody else grows italian)
- Banana peppers, which we use for the pepper vinegar for your collard greens
Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Beans and Greens
This recipe is one of the Daily Vegetables at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and uses lacinato kale from Schickers Acre. The texture of this full flavored kale cooks faster than most so it sautees easily in garlic and olive oil.
Most kale is woody and needs be braised first, stems removed. Not so with lacinato — you can eat it fresh from the garden to the pan to the plate. So not only is 100 percent usable from a chef’s perspective, it’s easy to prepare and it’s a little off the beaten dining path.
4 cups kale
3 cups dried black eyed peas
5 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 1/4 teaspons crushed red pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
Soak peas overnight and then drain. Cook peas in salted water until tender, turn off heat and allow to sit until needed. De-stem, chop and wash kale. Heat oil in large sauce pot over medium heat. Sweat garlic and pepper flakes until aromatic. Turn heat up to medium high and quickly add kale. Stir rapidly to wilt down the kale. When kale has reduced in volume to 1/3 its size, add drained beans and vinegar. Simmer until kale is tender. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Makes – 1 ½ quarts