Northern Michigan Restaurant: Six of our favorite chefs offer up an instant tip - a simple, easy piece of advice for making a tasty something or other. (Find a similar tip every month in Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine's Foodie File department, p. 67.)
What is it like to eat al fresco in Randy Chamberlain’s backyard in August?
I like the simple pleasures, especially when that first crop of fresh local corn comes in. We’ll soak it in a bucket and throw it on the grill. The combination of high heat and steam from water retained in the husk causes the natural sugars to explode.
When a chef grills steaks on his day off in August how does he do it?
Simply. Bring the meat up to room temperature and marinate it for 20 minutes with salt, pepper, garlic, fresh thyme and olive oil. Season with more sea salt just before grilling and make sure the meat rests for at least six minutes after coming off the grill. Drink beer while you wait.
Apart from tarts, what do you like to do with apples in season?
I love to make a breakfast hash with fresh apple, potato and cabbage. Blanche shredded potatoes, mix them with shredded apples, cabbage and onion, season with salt and pepper and crisp in butter and olive oil.
Late summer, what should we be eating?
Butternut squash. Find one with a beefy neck, peel it, dice it, season with salt and pepper and sauté in olive oil and butter. I like to use them in place of potatoes; the color and flavor are more exciting and go great with some wilted spinach under a filet that's been topped with herb butter and balsamic syrup.
The best use for old bread?
I love to make pain perdu (French toast) with brioche or baguette. Older drier bread will have more developed flavors and be better for soaking up the egg mixture. Beat up a few fresh farm eggs infused with cinnamon, rosewater or fresh herbs, and let the bread soak until it’s completely saturated, then cook in butter over medium heat until it turns golden brown. We like to top it with fresh cream or yogurt.
What should our readers know about buying a cut of pork?
If you’re going to get serious about pork, the quality of the pig is most important. Locally raised heritage breeds like Berkshire or Mangalitsa are highly marbled and therefore better. I encourage everyone to order or cook with the more flavorful cuts like shoulder, belly and rib chops.