A great thing about living in Chicago is our access to the abundance of local farms in the general area. And now that spring is here and things have thawed, farm dinner season is upon us. Slagel Farms, located about an hour and a half south of Chicago in Fairbury, Ill., recently built a new barn (for people, not for animals), and is starting to host farm dinners.
The first event will take place Saturday, May 14 and has invited Jason Vincent and Matthew Rice (Nightwood), Chris Pandel (The Bristol), Michael McDonald (one sixtyblue) and Rob Levitt (The Butcher & Larder) to prepare a four-course, family-style dinner.
A hosted bus will transport guests to the farm from Chicago, and upon arrival, guests will be treated to a VIP tour of the family livestock farm by Louis John Slagel, and then Levitt will demonstrate how to butcher a beef carcass into retail cuts. Afterwards, the meal will take place in the new structure, which sits adjacent to the livestock pastures.
This all-day affair will be great for families as little kids will be able to see baby chicks and fuzzy lambs. Tickets, available online now, are $125 for adults, $30 for kids 6 to 16 and kids under 6 are free; about 70 will be sold in total. Alcoholic beverages will not be provided but guests are free to BYO. Vincent's wife and some of the members of her band, The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders String Band, may be on hand as entertainment during dinner.
What's on the menu?
· First course by Jason Vincent: Raw asparagus salad with queso fresco and dry-aged, pickled and smoked Slagel Farm beef strip loins
· Second course by Chris Pandel: Slagel Farm Pork sausages (chorizo verde; kielbasa; others) served with spring pickles and corn pone.
· Third course by Michael McDonald: Roast suckling pig salad with spring vegetables, Living Water Farm lettuces and lemon vinaigrette; And Slagel Farm slow-cooked beef pot roast, baby vegetables and Parmesan grits
· Dessert by Matthew Rice: Chess Pie (lemon buttermilk pie) and rhubarb compote