Local Chefs Share Four Festive Recipes to Try This Fall

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Stay cozy with these seasonal recipes paired with expert wine recommendations

Photography by James Stefiuk

Fall Farro with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Shiitakes, Tart Cherries and Toasted Hazelnuts

Fall Farro with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Shiitakes, Tart Cherries and Toasted Hazelnuts

By Acme’s Justin Burdett
“Farro is amazing and super easy to make. I like to make mine with chicken stock, but it’s also great with vegetable stock. The dish is already vegetarian beyond that so it’s one that can please meat eaters and non meat eaters alike.”

medium sweet potatoes, peeled Olive oil, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups farro
4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable) 
1 pack shiitake mushrooms
Lemon juice, to taste
1 cup tart dried cherries
1 cup toasted hazelnuts (or pecans) 
1⁄4 lb. unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Dice sweet potatoes for roasting. Place on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cook in the oven until the potatoes are roasted and tender all the way through.

In a medium-sized heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat, add farro and stock. Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes until tender.

For the mushrooms, you can buy sliced or unsliced shiitakes. I buy them whole because I prefer to cut them into quarters so the pieces are larger. In a small bowl, dress mushrooms with a little olive oil and a splash of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms to a sheet pan and roast in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes.

In a microwave or small saucepot on the stovetop, re-plump the cherries in a little water. Toast the nuts in the oven for a few minutes to release the oils and deepen the flavor.

You can also add your own touch to the recipe. I really love the deep flavor of brown butter, so I like to get a large saute pan heating up with about a 1/4 pound of butter in it to start browning. Then I add all of the components to the pans and cook for just 1 minute so everything is coated evenly. Here is when you can add herbs of your choice, vinegars or lemon to brighten it up. Serves 4.

Wine Pairing:

Richard Haynes, general manager of Chapel Hill Wine Company, suggests, “For a white wine, try Villa Creek Cherry House White 2021. This sensual gem is loaded with gorgeous aromas of lemon blossoms, peaches and a floral shop worth of flowers! The neutral oak aging adds texture and body, without any oaky flavors, allowing the fruit to shine through. All throughout, there is a bright core of acidity that keeps it eminently balanced and more than a little bit drinkable. If you’d prefer a red wine, I suggest Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico 2019, a gorgeous Chianti from the blockbuster 2019 vintage in Tuscany. It’s bright and wonderfully aromatic with wild berries, fresh cut flowers and savory notes of cedar and spice. It is fine and silky on the tongue with vibrant red berries, fine tannins and a delicate acidity that makes it perfect for food pairings.”

Coke-Brined Pork Tenderloin with Potato Hash

Coke-Brined Pork Tenderloin with Potato Hash, plus wine pairing

By The Root Cellar’s Sera Cuni
“I love visiting a local farmers market for the featured potatoes and veggies for this dish. If you can’t find fingerling potatoes, grab sweet potatoes or butternut squash, both of which also add a rich, hearty taste. This dish works well as a weeknight or weekend dinner, or better yet, make it the centerpiece dish for your next party. The ingredients can easily be prepped the night before and tossed together and cooked the next day.”

bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola with cane sugar (Avoid American Coke, which uses corn syrup)
sprigs of thyme 
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt 
garlic clove
bay leaf
pork tenderloin (trim fat and silver skin off)
Potato hash
Chowchow (Store-bought is fine, but homemade is better!)

In a large bowl, mix together all brine ingredients (Coca-Cola through bay leaf). In a zip-close bag or covered bowl, add brine along with the trimmed pork tenderloin. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the grill for 15 minutes. Place pork onto the grill and turn every 2 minutes for 12-15 minutes total. Remove the pork once the internal temperature has reached 140 F. Let the tenderloin rest for about 10 minutes.

When you’re ready to plate, slice the pork tenderloin and fan onto the plate. Place a spoonful or two of the potato hash onto the plate and top the pork with a spoonful of chowchow.

Potato Hash

fingerling potatoes (any small potatoes are fine)
small red beets
4 Tbsp. butter, divided 
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 pint oyster mushrooms (I prefer locally grown from Haw River Mushrooms)
1⁄2 Tbsp. chopped thyme Salt and pepper, to taste 
1⁄4 red onion or 1 shallot
large apple, diced
1⁄4 cup roasted peanuts
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

In a pot of cold water with salt, add whole potatoes and bring to a boil on the stove. Once potatoes are fork tender, remove from the stove and drain hot water. Run cold water over the parboiled potatoes, drain and refrigerate for later. Follow the same steps for parboiling the beets.

Slice parboiled fingerling potatoes horizontally in half (if using small round potatoes, slice into quarters). Slice parboiled beets in half (or in quarters if beets are larger).

In a large saute pan over medium heat, toss 2 Tbsp. butter with the garlic, potatoes, onion or shallot and saute to crisp potatoes. Add mushrooms, thyme and remaining butter and season with a little salt and pepper (you will add more later). Allow the hash to cook for a few minutes, stirring gently so it doesn’t stick. Add the beets and apples and cook thoroughly. Season the hash again with salt and pepper, and add peanuts and parsley.

Watermelon Chowchow

“I absolutely hate to throw food away at the restaurant, so I’m always looking for new ways to repurpose veggie ends and stems, fruit rinds, etc,” Sera says. “This watermelon chowchow is my take on a South Carolina family recipe belonging to my wife’s late great-aunt Helen. Helen nurtured a huge garden year after year and canned countless jars of the Southern relish that she loved to share with family and friends. For my recipe, I swap the traditional green tomatoes with watermelon rind and a few other added ingredients.”

5 cups white distilled vinegar (5% acidity) 
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
whole cloves
garlic cloves, crushed
cinnamon stick
3 Tbsp. mustard seeds
12 whole black peppercorns 
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
bay leaves
rind of a watermelon (remove the green skin)
red bell peppers, diced
red onion, diced
3 cups cabbage, finely chopped

In a large pot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Then lower to a simmer and allow the mixture to reduce until the liquid has nearly evaporated. The chowchow should be cooled before placing in a sealable container and refrigerating. Chowchow will last for 2 months in the fridge or can be processed and canned for longer shelf storage.

Wine Pairing:

Paula de Pano of the forthcoming Rocks + Acid recommends, “Chill a bottle of Béton by Division Winemaking Company – a red blend of cabernet franc, côt (aka malbec), pinot noir and gamay – and watch how this seemingly hodgepodge combination lights up all of your taste buds. Made in the style of typical reds you see on the tables in French bistros, it’s a medium-bodied wine with crunchy raspberry and tart cherry flavors, black pepper spice and crushed violets. If you’re in the mood for a rosé, make sure to reach for one that has enough structure to support this robust dish’s flavors. Reach for either a bottle of Clos Ste. Magdeleine Cassis Rosé from Provence (grenache, cinsault and mourvèdre) or Frank Cornelissen Susucaru Rosato from Sicily made from nerello mascalese, malvasia, moscadella and cataratto. Psst, the Susucaru also comes in magnums. You’re welcome.”



By The Carolina Inn’s Jeremy Blankenship
“I make this a lot when it cools off. The recipe is from when I was the chef at LaPlace in Hillsborough.”

2 oz. butter
yellow onion, diced
green bell pepper, diced
celery stalks, diced
3 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 lb. andouille sausage
3 1⁄2 cups chicken stock or broth
Your favorite Cajun seasoning
Salt, to taste
2 lbs. boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lb. peeled, medium-size raw shrimp, deveined
2 cups Mahatma long-grain rice (Don’t use parboiled rice!)
bunch green onions, cut into small slivers

Preheat your oven to 425 F.

In a Dutch oven over medium heat on the stovetop, melt butter. Once butter is melted, add the onion, green pepper, celery and garlic. Cook for around 10 minutes – you should see some liquid coming out of the veggies. Add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Season your stock first with the Cajun seasoning for your desired spice. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. (Remember the Cajun season has salt, too, so be careful. You want the broth to taste a little salty because the rice is going to absorb everything.) Add the chicken and bring back to a simmer. Add the rice and stir it in. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and place it in the oven for 50 minutes. Take the pot out of the oven, add shrimp and let pot sit for 10 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and add the onions, stirring them in. Serve with your favorite hot sauce and enjoy! Serves 6 to 8.

Wine Pairing:

Paula says, “Try a bottle of Castell d’Encus Taleia, a barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc- semillon blend from Catalonia made by Raul Bobet, one of Spain’s most respected winemakers. This white Bordeaux grape blend sounds like it’s going to be very rich and intense, but since the grapes are coming from vineyards 1,000 meters in altitude, its acidity and freshness are preserved instead. The wine packs a combination of ripe citrus fruit and intense minerality via a savory, saline finish that highlights the jambalaya’s herbaceous and spice qualities.”

Country Bread Pudding with Salted Rum Sauce

Country Bread Pudding with Salted Rum Sauce, plus wine pairing

By elementsMark Hornbeck

Bread Pudding

whole eggs
1 qt. heavy cream
1⁄2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. pumpkin pie seasoning
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
loaf stale country white bread, cut into 3⁄4-inch cubes


2 cups heavy cream
1⁄2 cup dark brown sugar 
2 oz. dark rum
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cornstarch + 2 Tbsp. cold water (Stir until dissolved)

In a mixing bowl, whisk all bread pudding ingredients except bread until well incorporated. Pour mixture over cubed bread in a different bowl, cover and let soak for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator. Place something on top of the bowl, if needed, to keep the bread submerged.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Fill eight large ramekins or a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with bread pudding mixture. Bake until internal temperature reads 155 F. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

In a saucepan, combine the first four ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch and water mixture slowly to thicken. Pour over bread pudding and serve.

Wine Pairing:

Richard suggests, “2019 Château Roûmieu-Lacoste Sauternes, Bordeaux’s classic dessert wine. Graceful, minerally and layered with apricot, peach and citrus fruits, this wine is a blend of semillon, muscadelle and sauvignon blanc, harvested late with some botrytis lending that classic Sauternes nuance. Finishing long and crisp, it brings you back for another sip of deliciousness.”

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