This summer I had the pleasure to fly home to beautiful Northeast Iowa (I’m not even joking, my hometown is gorgeous) to attend/cater my dad’s wedding to his loving fiance. Now one of the perks of being a chef is that instead of having to come up with a gift or help pick out tuxes or arrange the bachelor party I got to plan, shop for and execute an amazing summer wedding menu for 40 guests to celebrate! I was so stoked to use all of my favorite local farmers and butchers and bakers to put together an incredible meal.
We started with an local cheese pairing a creamy brie with pickled figs, a Wisconsin parmesan style cheese with honey and lavender and a sharp crumbly cheddar with chewy apple rings. I couldn’t resist a simple crudite platter with farm fresh bok choy, baby peppers, heirloom carrots and a garlicky hummus with pita. I should note that I couldn’t have pulled this meal off without the help of my family, especially Maddie and Colin and my lovely assitsants Niki and Toast. You guys rock!
My favorite dish was this succulent looking slab of smoked pork loin served with grilled stone fruit and an aged balsamic drizzle. I brined the loin in 2 gallons of water with 1 cup kosher salt and 1 cup dark brown sugar as well as a secret blend of herbs and spices, then smoked it at 250 over cherry chips for 3 hours until it reached an internal temperature of 145. I let it rest and served it with grilled stone fruit and an aged balsamic drizzle. Bam.
What many considered the star dish of the night was the strawberry caprese salad. I started with 1 quart of tiny, ripe, organic June strawberries and tossed those with 1 pint of golden cherry tomatoes. I added about 4 oz of torn buffalo mozzarella, then drizzled the whole with in olive oil and a splash of balsamic, torn basil leaves and liberal amounts of coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper. The strawberries and tomatoes are a perfect match and made this salad to die for.
To accompany the pork I served crushed red potato salad with a horseradish vinaigrette, a roast heirloom vegetable platter, an apricot and wild rice pilaf and some amazing whole wheat rolls from Waving Grains Bakery. I loved serving a family style wedding dinner because it really engaged all of the guests at the table, not to mention it was a lot less work than a traditional plated dinner and little more classy than a buffet. The day was gorgeous, the ceremony was genuine and sweet and the bride and groom were happy, so I really couldn’t ask for anything more.