What GROWS Together, GOES Together - Food & Beverage Magazine

What GROWS Together, GOES Together

Chef Steve McHugh Honors San Antonio’s Tricentennial

Reaching a 300th birthday in North America is a historical milestone that few cities can claim. In 2018, San Antonio, TX will commemorate the anniversary of the year settlers first came from Spain to establish the city. A viable voice, James Beard Award finalist chef Steve McHugh of Cured at Pearl, has become an essential leader amongst a few select chefs in the contemporary culinary revival of San Antonio. In its 300th year, McHugh is looking back at the city’s storied history and native foodways. McHugh pays tribute to the practices of the three-century old Native American agricultural traditions with ingredients native to the region.

Featured on the menu at Cured this year will be his Three Sisters Chow Chow that spotlights the three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America, Winter Squash, Maize (corn), and Climbing Beans (purple hull beans, romano beans, mesquite beans, pole beans.) The history of this produce? Native American’s planted the three crops close, allowing them to benefit from each other – the corn stalks provide structure for the beans to climb, the beans provide nitrogen to enrich the soil, and the squash spreads along the surface of the ground to block sunlight and prevent the spreading of weeds.

In addition, McHugh will pursue his locavore ambitions, incorporating indigenous ingredients to the region of San Antonio and Texas by highlighting a different ingredient on the menu each month. The January spotlight?
  • Pecans – Says McHugh: “The rich, nutritious fats available in the pecan nuts are a forager’s dream. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1718, the Native Americans of the area, known as the Coahuiltecan, would gather Pecans in the fall and store them for use during the colder months.”
A taste of some subsequent menu spotlights…
  • Beautyberries – a deciduous plant, magenta colored, mild-in-flavor and which McHugh incorporates into jelly.
  • Chili Pequin –a pepper said to be 13 times hotter than a jalapeño, with citrus, smoky and nutty notes that McHugh uses both as a spice, and to pickle.
  • Mesquite Beans – a common shrub in the southwest, that forms bean-like pods in the fall. McHugh grinds the beans into a fine gluten-free flour, which he uses to bake his signature Mesquite Crackers for his charcuterie plate.
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