Charcuterie in the Country at Red Devon in Bangall, NY
One of the Hudson Valley’s 12 best dishes in 2012: Charcuterie in the country at Red Devon in Bangall, NY (Dutchess County)
You’re driving through rolling countryside somewhere in eastern Dutchess County, wondering where everybody is, when you find yourself in the tiny hamlet of Bangall. There, surprisingly, you discover Red Devon: one part market-bakery-cafe; one part sleek, solar-paneled restaurant — and both parts seriously green, and dedicated to locavore dining. Try something as simple as the ham and cheese sandwich and you’ll be swooning. The cheese is a nice, white Vermont cheddar; the bread a good sourdough, baked on the premises; but that thick-cut ham is something truly special. It’s the handiwork of young chef Sara Lukasiewicz, whose real-deal, farm-to-table New American menu — and particularly her talent for charcuterie — are fast putting Bangall on the map.
Lukasiewicz, who graduated from the Culinary Institute, also trained as a butcher, and processes animals from nose to tail in-house — whole lambs, halved pigs, and “beef in quarters that weigh as much as I do,” says the intrepid chef. Most are heritage breeds, and all are raised in natural conditions on farms within 30 miles of the restaurant. Those rust-colored cows you may see grazing nearby belong to Red Devon owners Julia and Nigel Widdowson, who also own Temple Farm, and named their restaurant after their cattle.
Eating locally was the norm in Wisconsin where Lukasiewicz grew up, and her family made sausages and preserved meats as a matter of course. “It was imprinted on me, it was part of my life,” she says. “But I really got more into it at the CIA.” Now, she spends one or two days a week working on a rotating parade of charcuterie, curing, smoking and preparing hams and bacon, and making terrines, pates, and accompaniments.
The simplest way to sample some is to order the charcuterie plate on the dinner menu. It usually includes a chicken liver mousse; the pâté maison, made with pork, green peppercorns and thyme; the pâte campagne, with a hint of pork liver; the house-smoked ham; Lukasiewicz’s dilly beans, pickled beets and bread-and-butter pickles; whole grain mustard, and a warmed baguette. “It’s meant for sharing as an appetizer, for three or four people,” Lukasiewicz notes. Can one greedy enthusiast eat the whole thing? “That has happened,” she replies with a laugh.