Pickling at Home with Sage Restaurant Executive Chef Chris Covelli

Hunting & Gathering

BY ANDREW FABIAN SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY MAR 24, 2020

On March 12th, after much deliberation and with a heavy heart, Sage restaurant announced they were temporarily closing shop. “It was not the easiest decision to make,” says Executive Chef Chris Covelli, “but we felt strongly about protecting our staff and guests.” Following the CDC’s guidelines on social distancing, many restaurants have followed suit while others have transitioned to solely take-out orders. But though the closure of Sage means Covelli and his talented team of knife-wielding kitchen ninjas will no longer be plating the fancy fare of Sage’s eclectic menu, the work of a chef is never over. As soon as the closure was announced, Covelli turned his attention to pickling.

Pickling is common throughout Europe and the American South for any occasion, but the practice is particularly relevant in light of people taking fewer trips to the grocery store. “I hate to use the term forever,” says Covelli, “but you’ll definitely have food for months when you pickle.” So, he grabbed some vegetables that had been sitting around and got to work chopping and blanching, making brine and jarring an assortment of veggies that will make for delicious snacks well into the summer months. A basic brine consists of vinegar (preferably rice or white wine), salt, sugar, and any combination of fresh herbs or spices. Dissolving the salt and sugar in vinegar can be accomplished by boiling them together or whisking for an extended period of time, but everything else can essentially be thrown into a jar and submerged in brine poured to a ½” from the top.

From left to right, Covelli jarred asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, julienned carrots and daikon radishes, and peaches. Each brine is slightly different, with the cauliflower achieving a rich yellow hue thanks to turmeric. Peppercorns and juniper berries make their way into other brines, while the peaches soak with some added nutmeg. Covelli suggests a dash of sesame oil and scallions if someone wants to add more of an Asian flair to their brine. Pickled veggies go great with pan-seared fish, and once the veggies are gone, the brine can be mixed with olive oil and used as a vinaigrette. “There’s just so much flavor,” says Covelli, “it’s like fine dining in a jar.”

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