Frank Stitt's Winter Vegetable Cocotte
Make a u-turn at the drive thru and savor "slow foods" of Alabama.
By Jan Walsh
The Slow Food Movement just sprouted a Birmingham convivium (chapter). Frank and Pardis Stitt began the local movement in an effort to champion the Southern foods and food traditions of Alabama. In a "pecan shell," Slow Food is the opposite of fast food. It is not ordered through a microphone to a faceless menu board with a loud voice anxious to add fries or super-size. Slow Food is grown or produced locally and arrives fresh, full of flavor.
The movement originated in Italy in 1986, when founding father Carlo Petrini, recognized that the industrialization of food was standardizing taste and leading to the annihilation of thousands of food varieties and flavors. This movement has spread across the world and throughout the United States since that time, protecting regional tastes, cultures and the environments. Today the movement—active in 50 countries has a worldwide membership of over 80,000—promotes a sustainable food system, regional food traditions, pleasures of the table, and a slower, harmonious lifestyle.
The Birmingham convivium will carry out the Slow Food mission on a local level by advocating sustainability and bio-diversity through educational events and public outreach. It will also promote the appreciation and consumption of seasonal and local foods and support of those who produce them. Jan Walsh's new monthly column, in Birmingham magazine, “Real Food,” will support that effort. You will find more recipes here each month from this column. And the calendar of www.BirminghamRestaurants.com will post local Slow Food events.
In his Winter Vegetable Cocotte, Frank Stitt uses vegetables from a Tuscaloosa farm. Snow's Bend Farm sits on a large bend of the Black Warrior River and is owned by David Snow. “From Snow's Bend Farm, the prettiest little orange and yellow carrots, ping pong ball sized white, red and golden turnips, candy cane beets, leeks and rainbow Swiss chard come together in this appetizer with slices of tart-sweet apple that make winter vegetables sing with earthy flavor,” Stitt describes. “We cook these in little pans with a glaze of water and the juices become syrupy with the vegetables essences.” Stitt uses Snow Bend's Farm produce in Highland's Bar & Grill, Chez Fonfon and Bottega. Snow Bend's Farm produce is available for retail purchase locally at Red Rain, V. Richards and Pepper Place Market.
Birmingham Restaurants Recipe: Frank Stitt's Winter Vegetable Cocotte
2 little orange carrots, peeled
2 little yellow carrots, peeled
4 little turnips of different color, washed and halved
4 little beets of different color, roasted and peeled and quartered
1/2 leek cut into 1 inch by 1/2 inch piece
1 cup Swiss chard
1/2 apple, peeled and quartered and cut into 8 slices
2 tablespoons butter
Salt, fresh ground black pepper
A few sprigs fresh chervil
In a pan just large enough to hold the vegetables in one layer add the carrots, and turnips and half cover with water, add 1 tablespoon butter, a pinch of salt, pepper and sugar and place over high heat. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes and the vegetables are glazed. Add more water if necessary.
Meanwhile in another saucepan add the butter, leeks and cook over medium heat until softened about 6-8 minutes. Add the chard, apple, salt and pepper and a splash of water, cover and cook until the greens are just wilted, about 4 minutes.
Place the chard and apples in warm serving bowls and scatter the glazed root vegetables around, spooning over them all the syrupy juices. Taste and adjust the seasonings and garnish with chervil.
Serves two.Serve with a Riesling from Austria or the Mosel.