Hot Dish: Fulton Market Kitchen Goes Whole Beast
Ever since Fulton Market Kitchen brought on Chris Curren as executive chef earlier this year, it has been turning out dishes as vivid and dynamic as the art-gallery dining room. Over the past several years in Chicago kitchens, from Blue 13 to Seven Lions, Curren has cemented a reputation as a chef with a penchant for refining seasonal, rustic preparations. Nothing captures that ethos like his "whole beast" program, a revolving door of dishes prepared from whole animals raised on small local farms.
“Butchery has always been something that intrigues me,” says Curren. “Even more than that, it goes back to my philosophy on cooking in general, especially with animals. These are living creatures that gave their lives so that we can sustain our own. There’s a level of respect there.” In working with farmers who humanely raise their livestock, the chef wanted to ensure that he was showing that respect by not letting anything go to waste. Adds Curren, “When you buy a piece of an animal, you tend to forget that it comes from something.”That means that if there’s a piece he can’t use whole, he’ll grind it or make stocks or sauces with it. “It shows people that you can use everything in an animal,” he explains. “And then again it’s the aspect of being able to be creative on a regular basis, and to change it up and push ourselves a little bit more in the kitchen.”In the past, the whole beast series has included rabbits, pig and lamb, with dishes running the gamut from goat tartare and rabbit meatballs, to lamb merguez sausage and venison terrine (pictured at top). Each animal is featured on the menu under its own section, with five dishes available à la carte or as a tasting.
For the duration of December, the restaurant is offering the "roast beast,” an homage to the Grinch with all kinds of different preparations of pig. This includes head cheese, pork chops, sausage, roast belly and Nashville hot pig tails.In the future, Curren’s looking forward to getting even bigger, with products like a half cow. But don't expect to see your typical beef dishes. “We try to do different things as well — we don’t want to do traditional dishes you’d expect to see from a cow.”
In the future, Curren’s looking forward to getting even bigger, with products like a half cow. But don't expect to see your typical beef dishes. “We try to do different things as well — we don’t want to do traditional dishes you’d expect to see from a cow.” https://www.zagat.com/b/chicago/hot-dish-fulton-market-kitchen-goes-whole-beast