If you want to have rock star status in Sacramento, be a participant in the Farm-to-Fork movement and be passionate about what this region has to offer. In 2012, Sacramento was proclaimed “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” by elected officials–targeting Sacramento’s food, food production, culinary talent, and restaurants.
According to local chef Adam Pechal, the idea of a restaurant obtaining its food from local farms is not new. In his 20 years experience as a chef, he continues to obtain food from locals farms and farmers markets in his cooking. Pechal is an award-winning chef who downplays his accomplishments. In Sacramento, he owns the Tuli Bistro, Tuli Catering at the historic Sterling Hotel, the Tuli Bistro Smoked Out Trailer, and Restaurant Thir13en. Pechal also appeared as a contestant on ABC’s “The Taste.” His newest creation is a vegetarian sofrito (Cuban sandwich), and it will be featured at Sacramento’s Good: Street Food and Design Market.
Under a towering oak tree, Pechal recently wowed his audience as a featured speaker at the annual Harvest Day at Fair Oaks Park. Here are his tips for the home cook and gardener:
Pechal favors firm heirloom tomatoes because “The whole package is great stuff.”
When it comes to making a tomato sauce, he rarely peels them. You can squeeze the seeds out of the tomato without “beating it out too much.” According to Pechal, you can make a refined tomato sauce puree this way.
Eggplant is not one of his favorite vegetables, but if you’re going to cook eggplant, “go long and cut off the skin.” Sprinkle salt on eggplant to draw moisture. Put it on a rack or grill and brush with a little olive oil. Don’t cook it until the insides resemble mush.
Apply all seasonings at the beginning. Salt and pepper is a factor. Use garlic and balsamic vinaigrette. Using balsamic vinaigrette and less oil means less fire.
Cut artichokes in half. Weigh them down with a plate. Simmer in bullion with a whole lemon, smashed garlic and bay leaves for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Drain. Grill on flat side. Do not overcook.
Grill until completely black. Place in bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Remove skin.
Tomatoes, peppers and onions are the base flavor for ratatouille. Fold in squash and eggplants later for great flavor and crunch.
Lemon thyme is used in marinades and is a favorite to grow because it is sustainable. Chives are delicate and a pain to grow. “I stopped buying rosemary because there is a rosemary bush every ten blocks in Midtown Sacramento.” Cilantro is the cheapest herb in the store. Since you need a lot of cilantro, you might as well buy instead of growing it.
He prefers using a knife “for the right project and for the right utilization.” Use a very sharp knife for tomatoes. If you don’t have one, a sharp, serrated knife will do. Pechal is not a fan of ceramic knives.
basil (including stems)
- Broil Roma tomatoes until charred.
- Brown onions and smashed garlic in olive oil.
- Mix canned tomatoes and Roma tomatoes to onions and olive oil.
- Remove from heat.
- Add basil (including stems).
- Puree mixture.
- Use as pizza sauce or anything.