When I interviewed Boulder chef Eric Skokan for an upcoming story (hint, hint) I gained even greater respect for the pickled beets, asparagus, and carrots that he serves at Black Cat and Bramble & Hare. As for what gets pickled, dried, fermented, or otherwise preserved for his restaurants, Skokan explained that he decides that only after the Boulder County Farmers’ Market each week.
Skokan sells produce from his Black Cat Farm every Saturday at the greenmarket. He takes any remaining fruits and vegetables two blocks away to Black Cat's kitchen, where five-gallon buckets of brines and vinegars await. He’s made watermelon rind kimchi, dried kale, eggplant pickles, and yellow wax dilly beans from such market leftovers.
This month, Skokan and his team will likely have a plethora of cucumbers, which can be added—along with jalapeños, dried ancho chiles, and coriander—to a brine of water, vinegar, pickling salt, and garlic for a spicy pickle that's a perfect accompaniment to pâté. The August crop can also be used to make cornichons, gherkins, bread-and-butter pickles, and chow chow (a Chinese pickle flavored with ginger and citrus peel).
Next time you hit snooze instead of racing to get the best of the market, take comfort knowing that anything Skokan doesn’t sell will remain in his able hands.
Bonus: Look for Skokan's cornichon, turnip mostarda, and other pickle recipes in the charcuterie chapter of his forthcoming cookbook, due out in October 2014 (Kyle Books).
Black Cat, 1964 13thSt., Boulder, 303-444-5500
Bramble & Hare, 1970 13thSt., Boulder, 303-444-9110
—Image via Shutterstock