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The Road to the Beard House Paved by the Bentonville Food Scene

Beard house invitational fundraiser dinner.Four local chefs.

Eleven’s chefs will be heading to New York City in November, along with chefs from several other restaurants in Bentonville, to prepare a one-of-a-kind Ozark Culinary Masterpiece of a Meal at the fabled James Beard House. The event came about through the efforts of Daniel Hintz at Downtown Bentonville, who noted the growing food movement of the community and let the Beard House in on the secret.  Here, Crystal Bridges’ Director of Culinary Services Case Dighero, in his inimitable style, sings his own praises of Bentonville’s foodie culture. —LD

The cultural phenomenon of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has left an indefinite cultural imprint on our fair town, region, and state; so of course the ripple effect continues to course through a multitude of moments in our lives.  Perhaps the most accessible is the interesting food movement that has erupted in Bentonville, boasting restaurants, food trucks, food artisans, and arguably the most dynamic Farmers’ Markets in the state of Arkansas. The evolution was accelerated, especially over the last three years, as the market went from ample to beautifully abundant, offering not only great produce but proteins such as pork from Mason Creek Farms (see recipe below), lamb from Ewe Bet Farms, and artisan chèvre from Canyon Creek; suddenly, almost ALL of my shopping during the week could be procured on the downtown square every Saturday morning, and as a direct result, I had never felt better, nor more connected to this town…and the food was quite simply approaching the realm of culinary nirvana. Beard house invitational fundraiser dinner. Four local chefs.But then the downtown restaurant scene took on a life of its own; adding to the homey familiarity of the Station Café and nouveau Latin flare of Table Mesa came Eleven’s take on modern American comfort fare, Tusk and Trotter’s brasserie brilliance, the Hive’s refined country cooking, and Meridienne’s delicate angle on French-inspired pastry.  A moment of collaboration that was sparked by Daniel Hintz from Downtown Bentonville Incorporated tied these four food entities together to create a dinner that promises to be magical at the esteemed Beard House in NYC on November 7th.  Indeed, the cultural success of the Bentonville food scene has paved our way to the Beard House, fueled solely and soulfully by YOU, the altruistic diner signifying a deep love for food, art, and the Edible Culture of Bentonville.  Cheers!

Beard house invitational fundraiser dinner. Four local chefs.ELEVEN Pork Rillettes Ingredients 1.5 lbs Mason Creek pork shoulder 1.75 lbs Mason Creek pork belly 7 smashed cloves garlic 3 large sprigs fresh rosemary 2 sprigs thyme 2 tsp oregano 2 bay leaves 2-3 cups water 2/3 cup duck fat (not necessary, but good) Instructions

  • Cut the rind off the belly. In a Dutch oven, or oven-proof pot, combine the pork with rosemary (I used 3 large sprigs), crushed cloves of garlic, and bay leaves and season generously with salt, black pepper, and nutmeg
  • Cover with a cup of water, and bring to a low simmer on the stove: not quite bubbling. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover the meat and place in the heated oven for approximately 6 hours.
  • The fat should largely melt to a clear liquid, and the pork cook until meltingly soft – it should fall apart in the pot when gently forked. When that happens, drain and reserve the liquid. Discard the herbs, and allow the pork to cool enough to handle. (Best to keep it a little warm, though.)
  • With your hands, or two forks, shred the meat into peanut-sized pieces, or small threads of pork (depending on your taste). Taste the pork, and add herbs, salt, pepper – whatever you used originally – to taste. Place in a Mason jar or terrine dish (no grease or bacon required.)
  •  Finally, pour over some of the reserved fat to form a thin layer of fat on top of the crock, terrine dish, or bowl and leave covered, in the fridge, for three days. It will keep for ten days without the fat covering, and longer with.

Enjoy with quick Market Pickles and crusty bread.

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