Tag Archives: Chase Gerstenbacher

Old & Newfangled Turkey Stuffing; Old & Newfangled Carversville General Store

Looking for a Stuffing Recipe? I’ve Got 3!

1) Sausage & Apple, from chef Chase Gerstenbacher of Hopewell’s Brick Farm Market, where the turkeys come from the market’s own Double Brook Farm.
2) Wild Rice – naturally gluten free – from Marilyn Besner of Lawrenceville’s Wildflour Bakery & Cafe.
3) Classic Bread & Herb, the recipe my family hasn’t let me depart from for more Thanksgivings than I care to count. It’s inside the bird pictured here, taken at the first Tanner Thanksgiving. (Not bad-looking for my inaugural bird.)Thanksgiving turkeyThese recipes, below, are reprinted from my In the Kitchen column in the November 22nd issue of the Princeton Packet.

Chase Gerstenbacher, Executive Chef

“We will be featuring this sausage and apple stuffing in our prepared foods case this Thanksgiving. I generally stay away from actually stuffing it inside the raw turkey because I find that by the time the center of the stuffing is hot enough the turkey is usually overcooked. If you want that classic look to present your turkey you could cook them both separately and then spoon the stuffing into the bird just before taking it to the table.” –C.G.

1/2 cup melted butter plus 2 tablespoons for sautéing
1 large onion, finely diced
3 ribs celery, finely diced
Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely diced
1 pound sweet Italian or garlic sausage, casing removed, broken up into bite-size chunks
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch dice
1 cup apple cider
1/2 bunch sage, leaves finely chopped
10 cups stale rustic bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 to 3 cups chicken stock

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and celery, season with salt, and cook until the veggies start to become soft and are very aromatic.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until the sausage browns.
  3. Stir in the apples and apple cider and cook until the apples start to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the sage leaves and turn off the heat.
  4. Add the diced bread and toss together. Pour in the chicken stock and 1/2-cup melted butter and knead with your hands until the bread is very moist (actually wet). Taste to check for seasoning and season with salt. (It probably will need it.)
  5. Transfer mixture to a large, deep ovenproof dish (roughly 9 by 11 inches) and bake until stuffing is hot all the way through and crusty on top.

Marilyn Besner, Chef/owner

Makes 6 cups.

1-1/2 cups wild rice
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped roasted chestnuts or canned water chestnuts, drained and sliced
1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook the wild rice with 3 cups water and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and sauté the onion and celery until softened. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until fragrant. Remove from heat and add the cooked rice and the prepared chestnuts. Season to taste with tamari, salt and pepper.

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

 Makes 12 servings.

1 large loaf day-old country white bread, crusts removed and cut into enough    half-inch cubes to measure 12 cups
1/2 cup minced parsley
2 tablespoons dried sage
1 tablespoon salt (or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 cups minced onions
1 turkey liver, minced (reserved from bag of turkey organs)
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup minced celery
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Spread the bread cubes on baking sheets and toast in the oven until lightly browned. Allow cubes to cool on baking sheets.
  2. In a very large bowl combine the cubes with the parsley, sage, salt, pepper, thyme, and marjoram and toss the mixture well.
  3. In a large heavy skillet melt the butter and add the onions and turkey liver. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the celery and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of bread cubes and add the egg, chicken stock, and cream. Combine well and let the mixture cool before either stuffing the turkey or baking it in an ovenproof pan until heated through and crisp on top.

Call Central Casting: Max Hansen Carversville Grocery is Ready for its Closeup

Photo courtesy of George Point

Photo courtesy of George Point

I can’t decide what I like best about the recent takeover and revamping of what for decades had been the Carversville General Store in rural Bucks County, PA. Is it the fantastic breakfast and lunch sandwiches and other prepared foods of accomplished chef and caterer Max Hansen? The genuinely friendly demeanor of Max and his staff? The idiosyncratic collection of groceries and household goods stuffed onto the shelves? Or perhaps the fact that the Carversville post office is still located inside the store?

Exterior, Max Hansen Carversville Grocery

Exterior, Max Hansen Carversville Grocery

Well, all of the above, plus the store’s picturesque bucolic setting on Fleecy Dale Road. Yep, Fleecy Dale. I stopped in earlier this month during the store’s Customer Appreciation Day. Here are just a few of the impressions I took away – including an unexpected, on-the-fly interview I snagged with a bona fide TV celebrity. Let’s start with that.

Max Hansen lives just down the street from the store, but just around the corner is the antique toy emporium of Noel Barrett, the mustachioed, pony-tailed gent we all recognize as the toy expert on PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow.”

Noel Barrett & Max Hansen

Noel Barrett & Max Hansen

“I moved here 28 years ago and the general store was just opening,” Barrett told me. “It was big on plumbing supplies. I’ve come here through six iterations and four owners. It’s been a long wait for the best.” With a twinkle in his eye he added, “We’re very blessed, but the downside is it will bring more people into this tiny little town!”

Note the slow smoked pig in the smoker behind Max

Note the slow smoked pig in the smoker behind Max

Above is Hansen at work fixing barbecued pork sliders using the whole Berkshire pig he had slow-smoked earlier that day. It went well with his smoky baked gigante beans, mac & cheese, and sautéed broccoli rabe.

Carversville Grocery 021

Hansen is most renowned for his smoked salmon – he even wrote a cookbook of smoked salmon recipes. Tasting his salmon made me realize how I’ve been settling for inferior versions. His is subtle – not overwhelmed by salt or smoke, and rich but not oily. You don’t have to take my word for it: Hansen supplies Thomas Keller’s restaurants and, closer to home, Agricola in Princeton. A package is in the rear right, above. If you look close, you’ll also see charcuterie from Porc Salt.


A real charm of the store for me is the high-low mix of products juxtaposed on cluttered shelves. Porc Salt salami, yes, but also Taylor ham. Cracker Jack next to chia crisps. Boxes of Jell-O pudding and burlap bags of Virginia peanuts.

Everywhere you turn you encounter beautiful, interesting, and delicious sights. Here’s just one tableau (the post office counter is at the rear):


In his off hours, Max Hansen carves wooden spoons. Here’s a sample of his handiwork:


Growing up, the Hansen family was close with Julia Child’s. He counts her as a major influence, and among his prized possessions are two of her knives, which he still uses. Ask him for stories when you visit Max Hansen Carversville Grocery. By the way: the store is located across the street from another Carversville institution: the excellent Carversville Inn.

Carversville Inn

Carversville Inn

Princeton Dining Scene Explodes; Hopewell Gets a Food Hall; Interesting Wine Dinner Benefit in Morristown

If you think the opening of Agricola is the only restaurant news coming out of downtown Princeton, think again. In the Spring Dining Issue of US 1 I profile these latest newcomers:

6-5 Cover Only(1).indd

Mistral  Meet chef Ben Nerenhausen, who Scott Anderson hired away from 3-Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa for his small plates byob. Nerenhausen explains why the NJ dining scene reminds him of Northern California (!)

DeSpana  Find out why this popular SoHo tapas cafe and market chose Princeton for its first satellite location

North End Bistro An American comfort food eatery from the growing Central Jersey restaurant empire of the brothers behind the Osterias Procaccini

Cafe 44 Fusion After a long absence, soul food returns to Princeton as a restaurant-within-a-restaurant – and with an unexpected legacy that extends back to the 1970s

Ivy Inn Princeton’s favorite (only?) dive bar becomes family friendly and serves fresh, casual, bargain-priced fare curated by chef Jackie Baldassari who recently did a star turn on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen.

A First look at Brick Farm Market in Hopewell

This – Double Brook Farm‘s retail market – may have been a long time coming, but has been thoroughly embraced by the community in the short time it’s been open. I had never been inside its home, the old Malek Chevrolet building on Broad Street, but had always admired its gorgeous patterned brick facade, which dates back to the 1930s.

I was surprised by the sheer size of the interior, transformed into a glowing, rustic-chic food hall on two levels.

Brick Farm Market 001

The upstairs gallery (on the left, above) holds “shops” (really, counters) and a long dining bar with stools for those who want to eat in. The butcher shop features Double Brook Farm’s own meats from its sustainably raised animals. The next counter is chock full of charcuterie made from the same raw materials but transformed into dried and cured goodies by NJ’s estimable Salumeria Biellese. A creamery features ice creams and yogurts made with milk from Double Brook cows and cheeses from all over, overseen by Michel Lemmerling, who many customers recognize from his days behind the cheese counter at Bon Appetit in Princeton. (Sister-in-law Deeann Lemmerling is the market’s manager.)

Michel Lemmerling, Brick Farm Market

Michel Lemmerling, Brick Farm Market

On the street level, customers can dine at cafe tables just inside the door or out on the sidewalk after making their selections at the prepared foods arrayed in a large case that spans the rear. In charge here is chef Chase Gerstenbacher, who I profiled in this previous post.

Chase Gerstenbacher, Brick Farm Market

Chase Gerstenbacher, Brick Farm Market

The menu includes breakfast items (till 11 am) like steel-cut oats and a breakfast croissant with bacon, chorizo, or country sausage; “snacks” like housemade herb & garlic kettle chips, country pate, and mac ‘n’ cheese; “specialties” like sausage flatbread and pulled pork; and sandwiches and panini like the ones below, accompanied by salad of the day (here, pasta and kale):

Brick Farm Market's Roast turkey, rhubarb compote, baby lettuce on rye

Brick Farm Market’s Roast turkey, rhubarb compote, baby lettuce on rye

Brick Farm Market's brie, apple, and honey on baguette

Brick Farm Market’s brie, apple, and honey on baguette

One long wall is lined with more “shops,” including a full bakery (presided over by Karen Child, of the erstwhile Village Bakery in Lawrenceville) and a juice and coffee bar pouring Small World coffee and pressing fresh fruit and veggie juices.

Also for sale on this floor are fresh herbs, produce, and flowers from the farm, which is nearby, and finely curated groceries.

Slow Food Northern NJ’s 5-Course Wine Dinner to Benefit School Gardens Program

Who: The chef is Andrea Lekberg, chef/owner of the boutique bakery, The
Artist Baker, in Morristown. Lekberg has worked with Pichet Ong, among others, and her bakery was profiled in the NY Times in 2011.

What: 5-course tasting menu of local foods sourced from Mosefund Farms, Salumeria Biellese, The Urban Farm at Lafayette, The Community Garden in Morristown, and Valley Shepherd Creamery paired with wines from Beneduce Vineyards, Unionville Vineyards, and Hopewell Valley Vineyards.

Where: The Artist Baker in Morristown

Why: The funds raised will benefit the Slow Food Northern
New Jersey School Garden Program

When: You’ll have to hurry! It’s Friday, June 7th, at 7:00 p.m.

How: Tickets cost $80 for Slow Food Members whose membership is current is and $85 for non-members. A vegan or vegetarian option is available upon request. Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets:

Brick Farm Market’s Pulled Pork; Beard’s Top Mid-Atlantic Chef; DC Dining; More

Brick Farm Market & Chef Chase G. Make Their Debut

Chef Chase Gerstenbacher Courtesy of the Princeton Packet

Chef Chase Gerstenbacher Courtesy of the Princeton Packet

Chase Gerstenbacher, executive chef of Brick Farm Market, may have been born and raised in Philadelphia, but his ties to the Princeton area run long and deep. The group’s Hopewell projects include Double Brook Farm, Brick Farm Market – the much anticipated and soon to open retail store in Hopewell Borough – and, perhaps next year, Brick Farm Tavern. The market will feature mainly products grown or raised at Double Brook Farm and will include a butcher, a cheese maker, a produce section, bakery, and prepared foods. It will open its doors, temporarily, for Cruise Night on May 10th, and expects to be in business permanently soon thereafter.

Since he came aboard in February, Gerstenbacher has been working closely with the group’s butcher. “It has been good to get this time to see how everything runs,” he says. “I’ve been getting in practice and a feel for the products coming from the farm, especially the beef. It’s kind of amazing: as a chef I was used to ordering a case of filets. Here, we start with a 1,500 pound steer!”

Gerstenbacher has been making sausage using a recipe he developed while working with a chef familiar to Princeton-area restaurant patrons: Larry Robinson, who was the opening and longtime chef at Mediterra. The two men worked together there and then reunited at Robinson’s current business, Ceriello Marketplace in Medford, where they worked side by side for almost two years. It was, in fact, Robinson who put Gerstenbacher in touch with Double Brook Farm’s owners, Jon and Robin McConaughy. “Larry is very supportive,” Gerstenbacher says of his former boss, who taught him the art of butchering as well.

“Larry told me of a really big project up this way. I wasn’t familiar with Hopewell; I had only driven through it one time. So, I set my GPS for the center of town. When I got here, I asked around on the street if anyone knew where Double Brook Farm was,” he says, laughing. After the local postman gave him directions, he showed up unannounced at the farm. “As luck would have it, the staff was having a meeting, so I just passed around my resume.”

Gerstenbacher, 37, graduated in 1995 from the Philadelphia School, after which he worked at the famed Rittenhouse Hotel. After that, he led kitchens in Boca Raton and Las Vegas, returning to the Philadelphia area after the birth of his two sons, now ten and seven. He subsequently divorced, and just recently bought a home in Lawrenceville with his fiancée. The couple is planning to marry next May.

During his second stint in Philadelphia, Gerstenbacher worked with star chef Jose Garces at the groundbreaking Alma de Cuba. “As a chef you’re trying to push the limits. But at a market [like Brick Farm] you want people to come in every day,” he says. So his prepared foods will be “hyper-seasonal, changing daily.”  He mentions as an example the windfall of asparagus the farm is currently producing. “A ton is coming in everyday. If we were open, I’d be offering it five or six different ways!”

In addition to dishes featuring the many vegetables that Double  Brook  grows, he plans on featuring grain-based salads using quinoa, farro, and barley and will make his own scrapple and that Jersey classic, pork roll. There will, of course, be “standard dishes” that will be available day in and day out. Among those he mentions are chicken potpie, rotisserie chicken, chicken soup, and meatballs. “Accessibility is the focus,” Gerstenbacher says, “and food that is fun, easy, and exciting.”

Chase Gerstenbacher, Executive Chef, Brick Farm Group

“This salad can be eaten as is or you can toss this combination over your favorite lettuce. Use the liquid from the beets combined with a little olive oil to create the dressing.” – CG

4 medium red beets
1-1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 Staymen-Winesap apple
5 or 6 French Breakfast radishes, quartered
1 medium red onion, sliced thin

  1. Wash, then roast the beets in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Let cool, then peel the skin with a paring knife. Cut into large dice.
  2. In a large pan bring the vinegar, sugar, water and spices to a boil and simmer for 5 min. Keep hot.
  3. Core and cut the apple into large dice, leaving the skin on.
  4. Toss the beets, apple, radishes, and onion in a large bowl. Pour the hot liquid over them and let cool.
    Serves 4 to 6.

Chase Gerstenbacher, Executive Chef, Brick Farm Group

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons paprika
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Olive oil
For the bourbon glaze:
1 cup whiskey, bourbon or Wild Turkey
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
Pinch cayenne pepper

  1. Make the glaze: Combine ingredients in a pan and cook them until they’re reduced to a glaze. Cover and set aside.
  2. Combine the salt, paprika, garlic, pepper, and thyme in a small mixing bowl and add just enough olive oil to create a paste.
  3. Split the pork shoulder in half lengthwise and rub both halves completely with the spice paste. Let stand at room temperature for about one hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Wrap each of the pork shoulders in aluminum foil so that they are completely covered. Bake for about 4-1/2 hours. Remove the aluminum foil and place the cooked pork on a large rimmed platter or in a large bowl. Using two forks, pull the pork into large shreds. Pour the glaze on the pork and serve.
    Serves 4 to 6.

Edible Jersey’s Summer 2013 Issue

Edible Jersey Summer 2013

It’s just out, it’s free, and it includes fantastic stories. Including one of my favorite interview subjects of all time:  the inimitable Bill Meyer (“The Professional”), who is in his fifth decade as a server in NJ restaurants. Currently a captain at Restaurant Nicholas, Meyer reminisces about past regulars like Frank Sinatra and Phil Rizzuto and the time a goodfella held a knife to his throat when lunch wasn’t coming fast enough. Click here for where to pick up a copy.

Beard Awards: Since a NJ Chef Wasn’t in the Running…

I am pleased that Johnny Monis, my favorite DC chef, took the award as best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region at the 2013 James Beard Awards. He won for Komi, his modern Greek/Mediterranean restaurant that I first wrote about (read: waxed poetic about) in 2007. My visit last year to his latest effort, Little Serow, for his interpretation of Thai food only sealed the deal, as I wrote in a previous blog.

King Salmon at Little Serow

King Salmon at Little Serow

While We’re on the Subject of DC Dining…

My latest foray there yielded up 2 winners: Bandolero in Georgetown and Pure Pasty Co., a short car ride away in Vienna VA.

Bandolero‘s modern interpretations of Mexican fare are the work of Jersey boy Mike Isabella, the Top Chef contestant who built his reputation at Graffiato, his Italian spot. My skepticism about whether he could pull off Mexican was quickly dispatched by these tuna taquitos with ginger, sesame, and sweet potato in shells made of malanga:


and these sopes with lamb picadillo, pickled jalapeno, and crema:


Not to mention the libations in the background, nor the unforgettable guacamole with masa chips and chicharrones and the lobster quesadilla. The restaurant is apparently embroiled in legal disputes – although not involving Isabella. Whatever.  The food is so good that even murky legal shenanigans and the restaurant’s dark, macho decor and vibe are not enough to keep me away.

Mike Isabella

Mike Isabella

btw: Isabella is planning to shortly open a Jersey-style sandwich shop/eatery in Edison, called G Grab and Go, which will feature his own pork roll.
Bandolero on Urbanspoon

Be honest now: Have you ever eaten a Cornish pasty in this country that didn’t have too-thick, dry, leaden pastry and/or flavorless filling? I hadn’t – although I hear Rocky’s in Wharton and Montclair’s The Pie Store are worth checking out.

Traditional Pasties at Pure Pasty, Vienna VA

Traditional Pasties at Pure Pasty, Vienna VA

Meantime, I’ve fallen for those at Pure Pasty, a small, sweet shop in the DC suburb of Vienna, run by English expat Michael Burgess. His are authentic, yet somehow the pastry is light, flaky, and flavorful and you can taste every lip-smacking ingredient in the pitch-perfect fillings.

You don’t have to take my word for how good these pasties are. Accompanying me was an actual Brit, who raved even more than I did about not only the pasties but also the authentic sausage roll. Partly what accounts for their deliciosity are high quality ingredients – often organically grown and locally sourced – and an American chef who worked at Jose Andres’ erstwhile Cafe Atlantico. Here’s the cutaway view of the above (note the elderflower soda in the background):


Here’s the standard menu, which is augmented by daily specials. The soup the day I visited was Scotch broth:


The shop offers 2-day mail order delivery of frozen pies, and also carries shelves of groceries only a Brit could love, like these tins of mushy peas:


Pure Pasty Co. on Urbanspoon

Anyone Else Remember The A Kitchen Chinese Restaurant in South Brunswick?

If, like me, you lived in Central NJ in the 1970s you dined at – and worshiped – the Chinese restaurant, A Kitchen which, by the time I discovered it, had relocated from a gas station on Route 1 to a modest space on Route 27. Until now, I never knew that the NY Times had anything to do with its popularity. And, I regret to say, I completely forgot about the existence of the man who brought it to light, Raymond Sokolov, who had the misfortune to follow Craig Claiborne as restaurant critic. Here’s the excerpt from Sokolov’s new book, Steal the Menu, that talks about A Kitchen.