Our R&D Kitchen is a tiny, brightly-lit space tucked into one corner of our larger preserving kitchen. It’s a space we use primarily for research but over the past six weeks, this quiet space has been transformed into a bustling center of activity by our industrious new Culinary Director.
Chris Dettmer is a native Michigander who has recently returned from the San Francisco Bay Area to his home state with his wife, a Petoskey native. He’s worked at some of the finest restaurants in the country, but spent most of his career as the Chef de Cuisine at The Restaurant at Meadowood, which recently earned the coveted three star ranking from the presitigious Michelin Guide, one of only nine restaurants in the US to do so. He is an extraordinarily talented individual and we’re thrilled to have him here at American Spoon.
Chris started work on a Monday in early October. On Tuesday, he drove out to Bill’s Farm Market, brought back a bushel of Honeycrisp Apples, and turned them into an amazingly delicious Honeycrisp Conserve spiced with star anise and white pepper. Just like that.
Our Honeycrisp Apple Conserve is filled with tiny cubes of this wildly popular sweet-tart apple, an apple that retains its delightfully crisp texture and signature sweetness when cooked. Honeycrisp Apples are nice, but what makes this conserve so special is the mingling and melding of traditional fall flavors. The warming notes of star anise mingle with the refined spice of crushed white pepper, imparting a sophisticated complexity to the sweet apples. It’s a delicious accompaniment to both sweets and savories, equally delectable with bleu cheese, warm banana bread or roasted pork tenderloin.
With a few hundred jars of Honeycrisp Apple Conserve made, Chris turned his attention to pears — gorgeously russeted late season Bosc Pears from Friske Orchards in Charlevoix. He chopped them up into little chunks and cooked them down into a rich golden conserve flecked with delicate vanilla bean seeds. This classic marriage of pear and vanilla is particularly lovely with the aristocratic Bosc Pear, whose elegant buttery flavor melds perfectly with the warm, comforting flavor of vanilla. Our Vanilla Pear Conserve elevates all sorts of simple breakfast and dessert fare to something spectacular. Pancakes and french toast are natural partners, and the conserve is heavenly when spooned over ice cream or cheesecake.
And we were already pretty excited about having two new products for fall when Chris surprised us with a test batch of cranberry chutney. It was so fantastic that Justin had 1200 pounds of cranberries delivered from Cheboygan and Chris got to work on Spiced Cranberry Chutney.
The tart, tangy intensity of bright red cranberries is the perfect foil for the heavy, hearty foods that fill our holiday tables, and our Spiced Cranberry Chutney is a wonderfully unique and incredibly refined variation on this traditional accompaniment to turkey. It highlights the brilliant fruitiness of plump Northern Michigan cranberries against a background of warm, earthy spices like cardamom, cumin and fenugreek and the bright acidity of lime. It’s a phenomenal product that’s equally at home amid an elaborate holiday spread or atop a leftover turkey sandwich.
We’re thrilled to offer this trio of seasonal, spiced artisanal fruit preserves just in time for holiday entertaining. We love the way these robust late-season fruits are complemented by the warming flavors of traditional fall spices, and we can’t wait for the next delicious idea to emerge from our R&D Kitchen.