NEW YORK, April 6 (Reuters Life) - Josh Adams wants his modern cuisine to showcase the hard work of the network of farmers he works with.
His restaurant, June, is located close to the farmers in Peoria Heights, Illinois, so he has access to the freshest meats and vegetables for his constantly changing menu.
The 29-year-old said his commitment to local farmers is a natural outgrowth from growing up on his family farm.
Adams spoke to Reuters about his culinary inspiration, hurried lives and his farm-to-table message.
Q: How do you describe your cooking?
A: “We try to be very in tune with the seasons and what the farmers are doing. It’s very farm-to-table. Whatever the farmers bring drives our menu and what I want to cook is what I want to eat.”
Q: What attracts diners to your restaurant, which is located in a suburb outside of Chicago?
A; “What is unique about us is that we are really, really close to the farms, and we can get ingredients super-fresh and constant deliveries from farmers. You don’t necessarily get that in a big city because there’s always some distance with the farms.”
Q: What is the process for you to create new dishes for your menu which changes frequently?
A: “For me, it’s a two-to-three day process for a new dish. We are usually talking to the farmers. Maybe a day of conceptualizing it and maybe a day of trying it to see if it works out ... When you are composing a plate, you try to balance the tastes, the colors and the textures.”
Q: How do you incorporate post-modern techniques into your dishes?
A: “With low-temperature cooking, that goes hand-in-hand with farm-to-table, if you cook carrots in a vacuum-sealed bag, they taste more like a carrot. You can really taste the flavors. It really helps to make what the farmers do shine.”
Q: What is your signature dish?
A: “It’s probably farm fresh eggs. When people come to dinner they don’t expect a breakfast item. A lot of people are too busy now and they are always in a hurry. It’s a bagel or oatmeal and it’s out the door. They don’t have time for a nice sit-down breakfast and breakfast is a very nurturing part of the day. It’s very comforting. For us, this sums up our philosophy of farm-to-table.”
Smoked Mallard Duck Breast (Mallard Duck Ham) (Serves 10)
Prep time: begin this six days prior to serving
5 lbs Mallard duck breast, skin removed
1 gallon water
1 cup tamari or soy sauce
3/4 cup kosher salt
1 cup honey
2 oranges, sliced
1/4 cup star anise
1 tbsp fennel seed
1 tbsp coriander seed, whole
1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 tsp cloves
1. Add all ingredients except duck to a large stockpot. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to allow salt and honey to dissolve. Refrigerate brine overnight.
2. Add duck breast and let brine for four days.
3. After four days, remove duck and rinse under cool water. Place back in refrigerator, uncovered, overnight to dry.
4. Prepare smoker; smoke duck over cherry wood for four hours (internal temperature of 145 degrees). Slice duck breast and serve with preferred accompaniments.
Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Patricia Reaney