Surrounded by acres of produce and poultry, Jamie DeMent’s obvious next step was authoring a cookbook. She and partner Richard Holcomb have run Coon Rock Farm in Hillsborough since 2004 and they own Bella Bean Organics and Piedmont Restaurant in Durham. “It’s something I’d been working on in the background for almost a decade,” she says of “The Farmhouse Chef” due out this month. “As life evolved and the farm grew and the businesses grew, people were constantly asking me to share recipes or teach cooking classes.” All those years of cooking and entertaining yielded a gracious plenty of recipes Jamie knew she had to put in one place. “For me, cooking is a very joyous thing – it lets me take things that I’ve raised and turn them into things that are going to nourish my friends and my family,” she says.
Inspired by ingredients grown or raised on their 55 acres of farmland, Jamie divided the recipes up by season, starting with summer. “You’re barely even cooking [in this season] – you’re just pulling delicious vegetables from the garden and who doesn’t love to do that.” Even the recipes from the other times of the year are meant to be approachable. “They should all be things that you can make after you’ve had a long day at work, picked the kid up from soccer and gotten home.” Their kids, David, 26, Josh, 25, Matthew, 23, and Rachel, 21, are all local and drop by to enjoy a weekend dinner or restock their freezers on a weeknight.
Cooking … lets me take things that I’ve raised and turn them into things that are going to nourish my friends and my family.
In an age of convenience when cooking – whether it’s a pre-bagged salad or frozen vegetables – Jamie says she is hoping for a return to thoughtful meals made of just-picked produce and sustainably raised meat. “If you’re using fresh ingredients you don’t need hours to make them taste good. They are going to shine with very little effort on your part,” she says. “I hope this cookbook gets people back to using fresh and local ingredients. I hope it brings people together at the table to share life in a happy way.”
Sage Butter Pork Tenderloin
“Our butcher calls pork tenderloins the pig’s “catfish.” It took me several visits to figure out what he was talking about, but a fresh-cut heritage breed pork tenderloin looks exactly like a catfish fillet – fat at one end and skinny and pointy at the other. That makes it a piece of meat to cook for a crowd. Folks who want theirs rare can have a slice from the fat end, and the well-done crew gets the tail end. This recipe adapts well, so get multiple tenderloins if you’re feeding a crowd and adjust amounts accordingly,” says Jamie.
Makes 4–6 servings
1 whole pork tenderloin (about 1 1⁄2 pounds)
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. dried sage
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 450°.
In a shallow bowl pour the melted butter over the pork tenderloin. Sprinkle the tenderloin with the sage, salt, and pepper and set aside.
In a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and garlic and sauté for 1 minute, stirring to keep the garlic from sticking. Add the tenderloin to the pan and turn regularly to sear evenly on all sides, about 10 minutes total.
Transfer the skillet to the hot oven and continue cooking for 10-15 additional minutes. The internal temperature at the center should be 145°. Remove it from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Cinnamon Butter and Shallots
“Fall squash like pumpkins, acorn squash, and butternuts are storage crops, so they keep at room temperature for months. They’re usually pretty, so I sit them around as decoration, until I want to use one. Leftovers can be puréed and added to chicken stock for soup or diced up and served cold as a salad ingredient. This recipe offers a very basic way to cook butternuts. Feel free to add all kinds of herbs and flavorings to make it your own,” says Jamie.
Makes 4–6 servings
1 butternut squash
1 tsp. olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Spread the olive oil evenly on the bottom of the baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to slice off the ends of the butternut squash and then slice the squash in half. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds (save them for roasting later). Slice the squash in 1-inch-thick slices, and arrange them with the skin side down on the oiled baking sheet.
Sprinkle the shallots on top of the butternut squash. Drizzle the melted butter over the squash and shallots. Finally, sprinkle cinnamon, salt and pepper over everything, and toss it all to coat, making sure again that the squash end up skin side down.
Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Flip the slices to ensure even baking. Put the pan back in the oven to continue baking for 10-20 more minutes. The squash is done when it’s fork-tender. Remove from the oven and serve.
The recipes are from THE FARMHOUSE CHEF: RECIPES AND STORIES FROM MY CAROLINA FARM by Jamie DeMent. Copyright © 2017 by Jamie DeMent. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press. uncpress.org
Photography by Felicia Perry Trujillo