This year’s Cured for a Cure benefit event has top-notch talent, and we have an appetite-whetting tease of a recipe.
There are two restaurants I stop at while in San Antonio: Ray’s Drive Inn (for the signature cumulus-light puffy tacos) and Cured (for everything, plus a drink). The restaurant is one of my favorites in the country and it’s in one of my favorite Lone Star State cities.
During my second visit, photographer Robert Strickland and I once sat for a multicourse meal — 10 to 14 courses, I don’t know, I lost count — highlighting charcuterie and cocktail pairings at Cured in San Antonio, Texas. It was perhaps the richest dinner I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing for an assignment (“Cured,” October 2014), having featured an egg-white dollop of pork butter spiced with preserved Meyer lemon; wheels of smoked veal wurst, ribbons of lamb bacon; a small jar of spreadable pork-butt rillettes (recipe below); house-made strawberry, bloody mary, and whole-grain yellow mustards; fluffy masa-cloaked oysters buoyed by tapioca pearls; rounds of broccoli custards flanking pan-seared Texas quail, and more. We began to nod off at points. We were certainly at the point of tears a couple of times. More than anything we marveled at chef-owner Steve McHugh’s craft, whose joyful personality is evident in his food and it’s as infectious as can be.
Steve is another reason why I love Cured. When I extended to my hand in greeting the first time we met, the thin, bespectacled man somehow, through some slight of phasing slipped past my hand and arm and embraced me before I realized what was happening. It was a disarming move that presaged the joy of his food and personality trait that had me realize McHugh was a different kind of cook.
His character as presented through his food, I’m sure, is a component of Steve’s multiple James Beard Foundation Awards nominations. Another, I hope, is his dedication to helping others through culinary fundraising efforts.
You see, the name of the restaurant is a double entendre expressing the specialty of the house (charcuterie) and Steve’s story of beating non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer. It’s clever, exquisite, and recounted fully in this feature. On top of having a monthly nonprofit beneficiary, Steve and Cured also host an annual Cured for a Cure benefit dinner.
This year’s event on Sunday, September 9, will feature four fellow chefs, all who share his commitment to seasonal, organic, and handcrafted cuisine. This year’s participating chefs are the most impressive yet, with two James Beard Award winners and two multi-year finalists. Chef Kelly Fields of Willa Jean in New Orleans, Chef Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas (and the first James Beard Award-winning barbecue pitmaster, Chef Justin Yu of Theodore Rex in Houston, and Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks in San Antonio will collaborate with Steve to serve a five-course tasting menu highlighting Texas produce and native ingredients paired with wine and cocktails.
One hundred percent of this year’s dinner will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society South Central Texas Chapter. And if the culinary talent is any indication of the meal to come, Cured will blow past last year’s $81,000 donation. Tickets are $350 per person and can be purchased here.
And to give you a taste of dishes to come, here’s a recipe courtesy Steven McHugh.
Cured’s Apple-Jalapeño Pork Rillettes
(Yields 2 – 25 portions)
8 pounds pork butt, diced
5 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
5 jalapeños, halved and seeded.
½ cup garlic
2 quarts rendered pork fat
2 tablespoons salt
Place the pork, apples, jalapeños, and garlic in a slow cooker. Cover with pork fat. Bake at 300 degrees until tender, about 4 hours. Strain and reserve remaining pork fat.
Place cooked pork into a mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Slowly stir to break down pork. Stream in reserved fat while mixing until ⅓ has been added in. Check consistency, and continue to add fat until you reach desired consistency. Salt to taste. Serve room temperature, refrigerate to store.
For more information on Cured or to make reservations, visit the restaurant’s website. Images (with the exception of the photo by Robert L. Strickland) courtesy Cured. Read our October 2014 feature on Steven McHugh and Cured.
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