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The Berkshires Cure-All

by Matthew Wexler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Feb 5, 2013

The farm-to-table movement is getting a winter makeover. The Berkshires, known for its prolific farm-to-table movement, brings the region's best chefs together for a one-night-only eating and drinking "cure-all" at the James Beard Foundation in New York City March 1.

For centuries, the art of curing has enabled civilizations to prolong the shelf life of proteins through the cold winter months. From gravlax and charcuterie to duck confit and Serrano ham, an impressive array of dry-cured, wet-cured, salt-cured, and smoke-cured ingredients will be on the menu at this culinary collaboration that explores the myriad ways to preserve meats, poultry and fish.

Berkshire County boasts more than 66,000 acres of farmland, which are peppered with food purveyors and local artisans who consider living off the land as a way of life. This year's dinner gathers eight chefs with diverse backgrounds and culinary viewpoints, each of whom will explore his or her interpretation of curing. One to keep an especially keen eye out for is Allium's new Executive Chef Daire Rooney.

With Rooney's appointment, Allium (one of the Berkshires' most notable restaurants) reminds us that the professional kitchen is no longer a boy's club. In collaboration with proprietor Nancy Thomas, they are developing more small plates as well as pairings for their robust beverage program, which is currently focusing on vodkas and aquavit-based cocktails. In response, the kitchen will feature smoked fish, oysters and raw, cured fish options.

"After leaving the area for two years, I realized that food culture and the trend toward sustainable agriculture in relationship to cooking is really happening in the Berkshires," says Rooney. "I have wonderful relationships with farmers, chefs and the community and these ties are not to be taken for granted. There's something special about what goes on here and I'm really glad to be back."

Other participating chefs at The Berkshires Cure-All include:
Brian Alberg?, The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA
Sommelier Dan Thomas?, The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA
Stephen Browning ?Bell & Anchor, Great Barrington, MA
Terry Moore, ?The Old Mill, South Egremont, MA
Jamie Paxton?, The Meat Market, Great Barrington, MA
Dan Smith?, John Andrews: A Farmhouse Restaurant, South Egremont, MA
Zee Vassos?, Firefly, Lenox, MA

Click Here for additional event information and to purchase tickets.

Allium’s Kale Salad

Rooney shares one of Allium’s most beloved recipes for EDGE readers. This nutritious and delicious recipe easily pairs with meats, fish or cheese and is perfect in all seasons but especially in late fall when kale harvest is at its peak.

Serves Six

2 bunches of curly kale (approx. 2 lbs.)
1 Granny Smith apple
Lemon Juice

1/2 loaf good-quality sourdough bread
1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided in half

To make croutons:
Cut up the bread into tiny cubes, place in a medium-sized bowl and toss/season with olive oil and salt. Place on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for approximately 5-7 minutes. Turn croutons and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Baking time will depend on oven, so keep an eye on the croutons to prevent burning. Cool before working on remaining salad ingredients.

To make dressing:
In a blender or food processor, crush the clove of garlic, add mustard and lemon juice. With the blender/processor still on, slowly drizzle in grapeseed and olive oils until emulsified. Add ½ cup of cheese and pulse until blended.

To prepare apple:
Core apple and dice into tiny cubes. To prevent browning, toss apple cubes in a bowl with the juice of one lemon until you are ready to dress salad.

To prepare kale and salad:
Strip out stems of each kale leaf, wash and spin to remove all excess water. Chiffonade or cut into long, thin strips. Place cut kale in a large mixing bowl with apples and croutons. Blend dressing thoroughly just before dressing salad, add dressing and the additional ½ cup of cheese and toss vigorously. Serve immediately.

44 Railroad Street
Great Barrington, MA 01230

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Style and Travel Editor. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.


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