By ROBIN CAUDELL
---- — SARANAC LAKE — Farmhouse Restaurant Chef Eileen Mills looked south of the border for her taco-and-chicken-inspired dish recently sampled at the Chefs & Farmers: Taste the Adirondacks here.
At the request of Gail Brill, founding director of Adirondack Green Circle, Mills created the dish for a dinner for Carole Morison. Morison, who used to be a chicken farmer under contract with Perdue, told her story in the documentary “Food, Inc.” and is considered a superstar in the local-food movement.
“I came up with a chicken recipe for Carole,” Mills said. “I used organic chicken from Harmony Hills and beautiful, fresh sun-gold cherry tomatoes from Fledgling Crow (Vegetables) in Keeseville. They’re great. Their produce is just beautiful.”
Mills has an employee who grew up in Mexico and makes salsas at the restaurant, which is located on Saranac Avenue in Lake Placid.
“Through him, we came up with this golden-salsa recipe and added it to the organic chicken,” Mills said.
She likes the simplicity of deconstructed tacos with Harmony Hills’ spiced pull chicken.
“It allows the flavor of the chicken to come out. Guacamole and other salsas are made every day fresh at the restaurant. It’s very few ingredients within each item that goes on the taco. It’s a nice, clean, fresh flavorful meal,” Mills said.
The first Chefs & Farmers event was held last summer.
“It was actually in response to chefs who wanted to be part of the Farm 2 Fork Fest,” Brill said.
“I wanted to keep the Farm 2 Fork Fest with only home cooks, no intimidating chefs.”
It dawned on Brill to create a separate forum for professionals.
“Where we showcase the skills of our amazing local chefs and pair them with local farms. One of the missions of the Green Circle is to support small, local agriculture,” Brill said. “Many chefs are so busy and so many farmers are busy, it’s hard to get the two of them together.”
Farmers don’t suit up and pitch their produce to restaurants.
“The Green Circle thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce the two, and we have, indeed, done that,” Brill said. “This year, we have 17 local chefs. It’s grown since last year. We have numerous local farms involved.”
Patrons paid $1 per ticket for small tastings prepared by the chefs. The fare costs between $1 and $5.
“Depending on the ingredients,” Brill said.
Chef John Vargo of Eat ‘n Meet Grill on Broadway in Saranac Lake offered a harvest stew with lamb and a rhubarb chiffon pie. Green Goddess Natural Foods prepared Thai vegetable spring rolls. Beverages included wine from the Finger Lakes and beer from the Lake Placid Brewery.
Last year’s turnout exceeded expectations.
“We were shocked,” Brill said. “We figured we would have a couple hundred people. We had close to 600 people. This event really does speak to people. Next year, we will bring in microbrewers.”
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(serves about 6)
▶ Roast 1 whole 4- to 4.5-pound Harmony Hills chicken at 350 degrees for two hours. Allow to cool, and then pick all the meat from the chicken. Pull apart larger chunks of chicken until everything is bite-sized and pulled.
▶ Add the chicken to the sun-gold tomato salsa (recipe below), and mix together. Purchase quality taco-size soft corn tortillas, and place dob of the chicken mixture, tomatillo salsa (recipe below) and guacamole (recipe below) on a heated taco (just place it on a hot, dry skillet for a minute or less per side).
Feel free to add sour cream, cheese, lettuce, onion or whatever else you enjoy on your tacos. Place each element separately, and let each person build their own. Enjoy!
Fledgling Crow sun-gold tomato salsa
2 pints Fledgling Crow sun-gold tomatoes (cherry tomatoes can be used as a substitute)
2 cloves garlic
Salt to taste Roast tomatoes, garlic, jalapeño in a frying pan (ideally cast iron), cover and turn regularly until all sides are browned. Transfer to a bowl, and smash together until it is fully mixed and has achieved a salsa-like consistency. Add cilantro and salt to taste.
6 medium tomatillos
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons cilantro
Salt to taste Roast tomatillos, garlic, jalapeño in a frying pan (ideally cast iron), cover and turn regularly until all sides are browned. Transfer to a bowl, and smash together until it is fully mixed and has achieved a salsa-like consistency. Add cilantro and salt to taste.
3 ripe avocados
2 cloves garlic Pinch of salt
Dice jalapeño and garlic. Put in a bowl with salt, and smash with a mallet. Peel the avocados, and set the pits aside. Add the avocado to the mixture, and smash it until roughly mixed. Adjust salt to taste.