Chef Steve McHugh shows the true — and delicious — meaning of sustainability at his new restaurant, Landrace, in San Antonio, Texas.
Farm-to-table isn't just Chef Steve McHugh's cooking style—it's his passion. A five-time James Beard Award finalist, known for his standout cheffing at Cured, McHugh decided to open a second restaurant in San Antonio, Texas, to showcase his culinary philosophy. You’ll find that restaurant, Landrace, at Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk, a new, sleekly modern hotspot that rises above the famed River Walk. We talked with McHugh about his new restaurant, Texas’ heritage farmers and growers, and putting the pastoral beauty of foods on a pedestal.
Cowboys & Indians: What is the main concept in Landrace?
Steve McHugh: I became a better chef when I moved to Texas and gained a deep understanding of the unique products that are grown here. Landrace is a dream realized for me, and I have been refining the concept for some time. The menu showcases my commitment to local ingredients and the unique products grown in South Texas and the Hill Country. Like Roasted Bone Marrow, Chicken Fried Quail, Slow Cooked Bison Short Rib, and Ember Baked Honey Doe Farms Brie.
C&I: What distinguishes Landrace from other spots in Texas?
McHugh: Landrace honors the pastoral beauty of foods that can be traced back to the land where they are naturally shepherded over time. I’m excited to celebrate the natural flavors and nuances of the seasons in collaboration with Texas’ heritage farmers and growers. We are sourcing from 20 regional Texas growers from edible flowers from Wholesome Harvest Farm to proteins from the sixth-generation Texan Peaceful Pork.
Cowboys & Indians: How do you and your team address sustainability at Landrace?
McHugh: The concept of farm-to-table is not a learned style or “trend” — it is the way that I was raised, it is inherent to who I am, and it is ingrained in everything that I do. Sourcing locally [and] cooking things naturally with unadulterated methods has always been a part of my philosophy. My mission is to bring the freshest products into my restaurant and to curate a select choice of meats to be prepared specifically on the custom-made grill by Grillworks. We need to take the responsibility of protecting our environment, respecting our produce, and sourcing the most natural ingredients for our guests. I've found that many residents of San Antonio are interested in learning where their food is grown and sourced.
Grilled Lamb with Chimichurri
"The lamb is local, sourced from Windy Hill Farms in Texas. I find the lamb flavor stands up well to the chimichurri. The smoke from the wood-burning grill also infuses really well with the fattier bits of the lamb."
(Yield: 4 servings)
12 each lamb T-bone chops
To season salt
To season pepper, freshly ground
As desired chimichurri [recipe below]
Remove the outer fat cap from the sirloin side of each lamb T-bone chop. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the grill to about 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If using solid fuel, this is when the coals are at their hottest and are glowing. Make sure grill grates have been scrubbed clean and oiled as lamb tends to stick if not.
Make sure the lamb has been at room temperature for about 45 minutes. Grill until the desired temperature has been achieved: 10–12 minutes for medium-rare. Place on a rack over a tray to allow to rest for 5 minutes.
1 1/2 cups parsley, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons epazote, chopped
3 tablespoons garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Maggi Seasoning
8 tablespoons Arbequina Texas olive oil
1 tablespoon red pepper, crushed
Combine the parsley, cilantro, epazote, garlic, lemon juice, Maggi seasoning, Arbequina Texas olive oil, and crushed red pepper in a bowl. Do not use a food processor as this will blend too much. Allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.
Assemble the chops on a platter and top with the chimichurri.
Hopi Blue Corn Hushpuppies
"The Hopi Blue Corn Hushpuppies combine my love of Southern cooking with heirloom locally milled corn. We add a fun twist with the popcorn so it's really like two appetizers in one — and, of course, everything goes well with pepper jelly."
(Yield: 15 – 20 small hushpuppies)
As needed frying oil
2 cups Hopi blue cornmeal [available from Barton Springs Mill]
1/3 teaspoon sugar
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
2 each eggs
5 tablespoons milk
1 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons jalapenos, charred small diced
1 1/2 tablespoons scallions, sliced
4 tablespoons white cheddar, shredded
10 tablespoons of corn kernels
To taste salt
*If desired, 2 cups pepper jelly
*To garnish popcorn [recipe below]
Heat the frying oil to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Pour in the milk, buttermilk, and melted butter and mix until combined. Add in cracked eggs, and mix until combined. Fold in the remaining ingredients and season. Allow mixture to rest for at least 30 minutes before frying.
Using a small ice cream scoop, start by scooping a few hushpuppies into the oil. Only select a few at a time to avoid overcrowding the oil. Each one should take about 1 minute to cook fully. Split open the first few to make sure they are cooked all the way through — if not, extend the cooking time. Place the hushpuppies on a plate or tray lined with paper towels, and season again with salt.
2 quarts popcorn, freshly popped
As desired chili powder
As desired cayenne, dried
As desired lime zest
Toss the freshly popped popcorn in chili powder, cayenne, and lime zest. Arrange the popcorn on a platter, and top with the hushpuppies.
Serve along with the pepper jelly.
Recipes: courtesy Chef Steve McHugh — Cured and Landrace at the Thompson San Antonio, Texas
Photography: (all images) Courtesy