Appetite For Instruction: Wood-Grilled Salmon With Texas Creamer Peas (Part 1)

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Recipe Demonstrated by Chefs Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland of Restaurant AVA

What is local food? Well, it ain't a potato chip that bears a passing resemblance to the tuber it once was which just happened to be grown in your state.

And what about in season? Surely not a raspberry flown in from a country thousands of miles away (even if it is like summer there all year round). Don't get us started on sustainable. In an age where so many in the food business follow the letter of the latest trendy philosophies while leaving the ideals they represent sucking jet fumes, Restaurant AVA is a breath of fresh air.

Randall Copeland and Nathan Tate's new Rockwall place resists high-concept hullaballo in favor of a ground-upward approach. "We have four different farms on this plate," observed Tate of AVA's Wood-Grilled Copper River Salmon with Texas Creamer Peas. The entree is an excellent example of what Copeland refers to as "helping the little guys out". He and his partner are committed to building relationships with area farmers, ranchers and dairies in an effort to serve real--and real good--local food.

As a case in point, the creamer peas Tate used to demonstrate today's half of this impressive dish came from Heddin Family Farms in Canton. Much like a black-eyed pea in flavor, these tender little guys range in color from pale yellow to bright apple green. They're fresh and in-season right now. We'll get to the salmon next week, but a bowl of these bacon-rich peas and a slice of cornbread would make a great supper all by themselves.

Recipe follows after the jump.

Step 1: Assemble the following ingredients.
2 cups creamer peas
2 cloves chopped garlic
½ cup diced thick-cut bacon
½ cup diced white onion
4 cups chicken stock
4 sprigs of thyme (tied)
2 tbsp. chives
It should come as no surprise that Tate's onions and herbs are also local, and that AVA cures its own bacon in-house.

Step 2: Render the bacon in a medium-hot saucepan coated with a small amount of olive oil.

Step 3: Once bacon has browned and released its fat, add garlic and sauté until lightly browned. Then add onions and sauté until translucent.

Step 4: Add peas, stock, salt and pepper to taste and thyme. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer 30 minutes; stock will reduce to a sauce-like consistency.

Step 5: Stir in chives. This recipe serves four as a side or two as a main dish. Tune in next week for Randall Copeland's flame-kissed, butter-basted salmon (as if that bacon didn't have you drooling enough already).

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