Whichever region you’re in, Virginia has an impressive culinary scene, with dozens of renowned chefs creating inspired dishes from locally sourced ingredients that bring together the best flavors of the Commonwealth in uniquely delicious ways. To put the spotlight on the best dishes in Virginia, we spoke to some of these chefs, from the award-winning seasoned professionals to the emerging stars who have garnered attention in national and even international publications. Follow our Inside the Kitchen series as we check out everything Eat.Drink.LOVE in Virginia!
Devils Backbone Brewing Company is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the base of the entrance to Wintergreen Resort in a region steeped in culinary traditions and encompassing abundant areas that produce amazing fresh ingredients. Chef Dale Ford leads the kitchen at Devils Backbone Brewing Company and brings his delicious visions to life and on your plate.
photo Courtesy Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company
When it comes to background and experience, one could say that Chef Ford’s kitchen training began when he was born – his mother was a professional cook whom he eventually cooked together in four restaurants. Professional chefs from the south and his longstanding membership in the American Culinary Federation have expanded his work over the years. Chef Dale’s vision for food is based on an understanding and support of local agriculture. At Devils Backbone you will find ideas on how to use what has grown here in a base camp in beautiful Nelson County.
Visit the brewpub and enjoy “Slow by Nature” (a brewery motto) with a full-service dining experience. Curl up by the fireplace or relax on the terrace with a custom-made beer flight, smoked oak dishes, and other local dishes. The brewery has a full bar with local ciders, wines and spirits, including craft cocktails made with spirits from Devils Backbone Distilling Co.
Want to learn more about Devils Backbone and Chef Ford? Read on to learn more of its secrets, followed by one of Chef Ford’s favorite recipes!
Do you have a couple of producers, farms, or other suppliers that you prefer your local ingredients from?
Devils Backbone has a fantastic relationship with the Seven Hills Meat Company in Lynchburg. They are a small beef house that only sources Virginia cattle. From brisket to beef hamburger, rock steak to prime rib, 100% of our beef is grown here in Virginia.
For local grinds, I really like Byrd Mill in Ashland, Virginia; They have been grinding grain for over 200 years.
Another farm that we work closely with is the River Oaks Farm. The farmer / owner Adam Aucoin provides us with organic free range chickens every week.
After all, our own tire house garden in the meadows is a fantastic source of abundant crops every week. This year we’ve grown and harvested cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, onions, long beans, nasturtiums, ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, herbs, Fresno peppers, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, and edible flowers, to name a few.
What are your favorite fall flavors in Virginia?
One of my favorite fall flavors is the toasted sweetness of butternut squash and pumpkin.
What do you prefer to cook for yourself?
I enjoy a slowly braised short rib of beef with ground truffle and white cheddar stone and crispy Brussels sprouts.
Which Virginia wine, craft beer, cider or cocktail would you go with?
With the short ribs, I like to combine this with our Viennese lager.
What is your favorite Virginia vacation spot?
I enjoy the local hiking trails and this area is a fantastic source of “slow by nature”. The place I am very drawn to is Crabtree Falls. I find that I go on vacation where I live. This region of Virginia is amazing.
Chef Recipe Spotlight: Braised Short Ribs with White Cheddar Byrd Mill truffle grains, crispy Brussels, and simple sauce
Photo courtesy Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company
- 2 lbs. cut boneless meat
- 2 cups of onions, finely diced
- 1 cup carrots finely diced
- 1 cup celery finely diced
- ¼ cup garlic thinly sliced
- ½ cup of tomato paste
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 16 ounces. Vienna warehouse
- 32 oz. beef broth
- 1 tablespoon. kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 ounces. Vegetable oil
- Heat a cast iron Dutch oven pot over medium heat. Add oil to the pan and season the meat of the feed flap with salt and pepper.
- Sear the clamping flap on all sides in a hot Dutch oven and remove it from the pan when done. Set fried meat aside for now.
- In the same Dutch oven, add the diced onions, celery and carrots over medium heat and cook the vegetables until they start to brown. Add tomato paste and stir. Cook for another 5-6 minutes.
- Add the thyme and place the seared meat with the flaps back in the Dutch oven on top of the browned vegetables. Now pour in the Vienna Lager beer, which extinguishes the pan. Pour beef broth. Put the lid on the saucepan and bring it to a boil on the stove.
- Take the Dutch oven off the stove and place it in a preheated 300 degree oven. Cook for 3 hours at 300 degrees with the lid closed.
- When you’re done, take the pot out of the oven and let it sit at room temperature before removing the braised meat from the pot. When it is well rested, carefully remove the meat from the braising liquid, strain it and save the liquid for the simple sauce.
Simple sauce directions:
- Put 6 ounces of stew and ¼ cup butter in a saucepan at room temperature.
- Whisk over very low heat. Do not bring the simple sauce to a boil.
White Cheddar Byrd Mill Truffle Grains
- 8 cups of milk
- 2 cups stone ground Byrd Mill white grains
- ½ cup butter
- 4 cups Marmac white cheddar cheese, crushed
- 1 pinch of kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 TBSP. white truffle oil
- Heat the milk in a thick saucepan and stir in the grains. Cook the groats over low heat for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
- When the kernels have fully bloomed and absorbed the entire fold of milk in butter, salt, pepper and truffle oil.
- Finish the grits with the Marmac cheese and serve.
Crunchy Brussels sprouts
- 1 pound of cleaned Brussels sprouts leaves
- ¾ gallon of vegetable oil
- For crispy Brussels, heat the oil in a french fries daddy or stove in a deep saucepan to 350 degrees.
- Soak the Brussels sprouts leaves in oil and saute them for 1.5-1.75 minutes to crisp the leaves.
- Remove the crispy, hot Brussels sprouts leaves from the oil and sprinkle with salt. Hold to pull over.
To coat the dish, place a 4-ounce scoop of grits in the bottom of your favorite serving plate / bowl, place a portion of the braised short rib directly on top of the grits, and scoop 2 ounces of the simple sauce over it. Round off the crispy Brussels and your favorite garnish and enjoy this fantastic autumn theme with a cold Viennese lager!
Inside the Kitchen with Chef Dale Ford of the Devils Backbone Brewing Company first appeared on Virginia’s travel blog.