Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining: Chef Michelle Bailey of Season’s at Highland Lake

G2BNC Competition DiningOnce a month we highlight a chef and recipes from the Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining series. This month, we are featuring Michelle Bailey of Season’s at Highland Lake in Flat Rock. Bailey describes her cooking style as “refined American Cuisine utilizing local and sustainably-sourced ingredients with a focus on traditional southern techniques and international flavor profiles.”

The Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining Series faces off two local chefs in a single-elimination, blind-dinner format. The chef’s menu is created around the North Carolina ingredient that is revealed at noon on the day of the competition. This secret ingredient must be used in each course. Grand prize is $2,000 and a red chef’s jacket. The competition is held in Asheville, Blowing Rock, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington.

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Diners at the Fire on the Rock final, held at the Lioncrest at Biltmore.

Bailey is the first female chef to win a red jacket since the series started in 2012. The Fire on the Rock series started March 10 with eight chefs from Asheville, Boone and Flat Rock competing. The final competition was between Bailey and Chef Sam Etheridge of Ambrozia Bar & Bistro in Asheville. The two featured ingredients were Lusty Monk Mustards and Beulah’s Bavarian Pretzels, both based in Asheville.

Following is Bailey’s recipe for cider-brined N.C. pork tenderloin with brown butter pecan sauce, apple relish, whipped celery root and shaved Brussels sprouts:

Cider-Brined Pork Tenderloin
2 pounds pork tenderloin (Heritage Farms)
2 quarts apple cider (preferably local)
2 each bay leaves
8 each garlic cloves, smashed
½ yellow onion, large diced
½ cup kosher salt
½ tablespoon black peppercorns
2 each sprigs of fresh rosemary
5 each sprigs of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon butter

Combine 1 quart of cider with salt, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns and herbs. Bring to a boil and add 1 quart of cold cider. Chill the brine and then pour over the pork. Let sit six hours under refrigeration. Drain pork from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle pork with paprika and cracked black pepper. Heat grapeseed oil in a sauté pan over med/high heat. Sear pork on all sides and add butter. Baste with butter and then place in the oven to finish cooking. Cook to an internal temperature of 145-150.

Brown Butter Pecan Sauce
1 cup toasted pecans, ground
1 shallot, minced
1 stick butter
½ cup heavy cream
½  tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves only, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Cook butter over medium heat in a small saucepan until butter has browned. Add shallot and then heavy cream. Cook two minutes and then add pecans. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, add fresh thyme and serve immediately.

Apple Relish
1 each small green apple, small diced (Henderson county)
1 each small red apple, small diced (Henderson county)
1 each lemon, zest and juice
1 teaspoon Wedge apple cider
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ tablespoon sorghum
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
pinch of salt

Toss apples with lemon juice, cider and cider vinegar once they are cut to prevent browning. Add remaining ingredients and let sit 15-30 minutes before serving.

Whipped Celery Root
2 pounds celery root, peeled and large diced
1 each Yukon gold potato, peeled and large diced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup Wedge apple cider
salt as needed

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until potatoes and celery root are cooked through. Transfer contents to a blender and add liquid as needed to purée. Adjust salt to taste.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts
2 pounds Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard (Lusty Monk)
1 tablespoons sherry vinegar
salt and pepper as needed

Slice Brussels sprouts ¼-inch thick using a mandoline or knife. You may also use the slicing attachment on your food processor, but trim the bottoms first. Heat butter over medium high heat and just as it begins to brown, add the sprouts. Season with salt and pepper and sauté 3 to 5 minutes, tossing frequently. Add vinegar and mustard and then adjust seasonings to taste.

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