Market Makers: The Country Cat
In a city where chefs and farmers are by far the biggest local celebrities, the Portland Farmers Market in the South Park Blocks at PSU is where you’ll find them every Saturday morning. The flagship market attracts 16,000 people each week, and was recently named the top farmers market in the country by the Huffington Post. One friend jokingly calls it the PDX version of New York’s Studio 54, but instead of speedballs and and booze, it celebrates Viridian Farms blueberries and Gene Theil’s potatoes. I’d say that’s a good thing.
One of the Saturday highlights is the Chef in the Market demo, where a local chef gives a live cooking demo using seasonal ingredients provided by market vendors. Starting this week with chef Adam Sappington of The Country Cat restaurant in the Montavilla neighborhood of Southeast Portland, Portland Plated will publish the recipe from the market demo for our readers to enjoy.
For nearly a decade, Adam Sappington was the executive chef at the seminal Wildwood Restaurant in Northwest Portland. He’s also perhaps the only person ever to cook at the James Beard House in New York City while wearing overalls (a Sappington trademark), which the Beard House patrons loved.
Of course, the patrons also loved his food, which is inspired by American rural traditions but executed by the deft hands of a classically trained chef. Adam is also a skilled butcher who cures his own bacon, prosciutto, and country ham. The result is unique dishes like molasses and hickory-smoked duck leg, pheasant confit with pork cracklings, and a mélange of pork goodness called the Whole Hog (belly, chop, and shoulder) served atop Portland’s best grits. Sappington’s food leads one to believe that his native Missouri might be a region of France.
On Saturday, Adam shared his recipe for summer succotash, and the recipe is provided below. Enjoy.
Country Cat’s Summer Succotash
2 ears of corn, kernels removed and cobs reserved
2 cups chanterelle mushrooms
1 onion, peeled and diced
½ pound fresh shell beans, such as cranberry beans, shelled and cooked (see recipe below)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
1 lemon, halved
Salt and pepper to taste
Braising the shell beans:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium-size baking dish, add the fresh shell beans, 1½ cups of extra-virgin olive oil, 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of salt, and a sachet of thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and parsley sprigs. Bring the beans to a simmer on the stove top. Cover and bake in the oven until the beans are tender, but not falling apart. Stir occasionally. Check the beans after 20 minutes, then every 10 minutes until they are done. Remove from oven and set aside. The beans can be cooked in advance.
Preparing the succotash:
In a small bowl, take each corn cob, stand it on its end in the bowl, and use the back side of a chef’s knife to scrape the corn cob, releasing the residual liquid and corn pulp. Then take a small saucepan, add the heavy cream, the corn liquid, and pulp. Heat to a light simmer and stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, melt the butter and add the diced onion. Cook until translucent. Add the chanterelles, corn, and cooked shell beans and stir to incorporate. Season to taste. Add the corn cream to the succotash and simmer until cream has thickened slightly and has been absorbed into the vegetables. Finish the succotash by tossing in the chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.
The succotash goes great with grilled fish, poultry, and meat.