When the delicious aroma of bacon and barbecue fills the air at Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish in North Salem, it means the chefs are smoking something again. Beef, pork, turkey, and fish, that is, in the big red smokehouse recently built on the restaurant’s adjacent four-acre farm. “We’re chefs; we love fire; we love smoke,” exclaims farm shop manager Rocanne Schillman, describing the kitchen staff’s glee at returning to the basics of their craft. “When we’re loading that thing up with wood, and flames are coming out, we are like kids in a candy store.” She adds that the smokehouse is not just about the thrill of meat-meets-fire; it actually represents a commitment to the sustainable use of ingredients.
“Everybody wants New York strips and prime rib,” she explains, “but we must remember that there is an entire animal to eat.” The restaurant’s new beef program addresses this, utilizing one whole cow, sent butchered from a farm in Pennsylvania every two weeks. The smokehouse is a “natural evolution,” using “long, slow cook times” to breakdown the tougher cuts, Schillman explains.
Smokehouse fare can be enjoyed at the restaurant (a chef’s take on a pastrami sandwich and an appetizer called salmon candy, made from the oft-discarded bellies, draw raves) and at Purdy’s Farm Shop next door. Whole turkeys, briskets, ribs, and more will be available throughout the year (order ahead for holidays). Schillman, who runs the shop, is especially enthusiastic about the “real Southern-cured hams,” she says, which come out all “crusty and dark — sexy like you wouldn’t believe.” Spoken like a true chef.