Chef Justin Burdett, known for his farm-to-table cooking, became a part of the Ruka’s Table team in 2012. Chef Burdett’s cooking methodology utilizes local, seasonal ingredients, a perfect complement to his philosophy: to use every part of the product, from the root to the tip. Chef Burdett makes every item in house, including cheeses, breads, vinegars, sorbets and desserts. “I believe in using all elements of everything – the seed, the root, the flower, the stem – all of it,” states Chef Burdett. “Even the juice extracted from the vegetable can be used to enhance a sauce, a soup or to marinate another vegetable. All of these elements build upon each other to enhance and build the final flavor profile.”
Before becoming executive chef at Ruka’s Table, Burdett was sous chef at Miller Union, a nationally recognized and acclaimed restaurant in Atlanta, Ga. In March 2013, Chef Burdett was named one of the top ten chefs in the southeast region by Food & Wine magazine.
Chef Burdett loves to work with vegetables. A soup, while appearing simple, it showcases the depth of flavor in an elegant manner. We asked Chef Burdett a recipe he thinks embodies the season of Winter, and we were not shocked that he has handed us his recipe for “Butternut Squash Soup.” Its warmth, bold flavors, and thickness is truly comforting during these chilly evenings we’ve been having.
Butternut Squash Soup
1 pound butternut squash, split and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
2 quarts water
4 apples, cut in half
4 sweet peppers, cut in half
1 hot pepper, jalapeño, cut in half
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pickled peppers to garnish, recipe below
4 tablespoons crème fraiche
4 tablespoons apple jelly, recipe below
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place split and seeded butternut squash on a sheet tray and drizzle it with olive oil and salt. Roast squash until tender, about 45 minutes and the flesh can easily be scooped out from the skin.
2. In a stock pot, add the water with the apples, sweet peppers and jalapeno and bring to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids and return the pot to the stovetop and allow it to continue to simmer and reduced uncovered until you have 1 quart of stock remaining.
3. Add the roasted butternut squash to the stock and continue to cook for about 10 minutes to heat through. Place in a blender and puree until smooth. Return to pot to keep warm and add butter and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pickled peppers, crème fraiche and apple jelly.
2 hot peppers, seeded and diced small
½ cup water
½ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1. In a pot, add the peppers and remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the peppers with the pickling liquid in a sealed container and keep refrigerated.
2 cups of cream
½ cup of buttermilk
1. Add the ingredients together and put in cheesecloth hanging over a mason jar, or a receptacle bowl. Leave this out for 3 days in 70 degree room.
2 quarts of apples, chopped with skins and seeds remaining
2 quarts water
1 cup sugar
1. In a stock pot, bring the apples and water to a low simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and add the sugar. Cook this to 220 degrees until it becomes a jelly-like viscosity.
2. Place in a sealed container and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Ruka’s Table is located at 163 Main St. Highlands, North Carolina 28741
Hours of Operation:
Mon-Sun 5:00–10:00 pm