We’re always looking for new ways to spice up classic dishes, takeout and whatever else is cooking in our kitchens, but some pre-packaged condiments are too overpowering or just not fresh enough for our taste. And time isn’t always on our side to whip up everything from scratch, which is why we keep the pantry stocked with necessities from Ft. Greene Farms. Launched by Nathan Meshberg in 2013, each condiment is hand-packed with locally-sourced ingredients, so you know it’s fresh. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, we chatted with Nate to learn more about Ft. Green Farms and how you can use his delicious concoctions to spice up your holiday this year.
You have years of restaurant experience. Where did you get your start in the food industry? Is it a field in which you’ve always wanted to work?
I started my culinary career in 2009 with chef Michael White at Marea. Like most cooks, I started at the garde manger station and worked my way up to the line. Eventually I was given the responsibility of saucier. It was there I began to understand how to build flavors and how little details can make all the difference between a good dish and a great dish. Prior to starting my culinary career, I graduated from the Daniels College of Business (University of Denver) and came to New York and worked in advertising at Grey. It only took a few years to learn sitting in a desk from 9-5 was not the right fit for me. The highlight of my days were coming home and cooking for roommates and friends. My real passion was in the kitchen.
You began experimenting with condiments in your time off before launching Ft. Greene Farms. Were you finding current brands in the market were missing certain flavors in their products or did it just come from a place of curiosity?
A little bit of both. With my marketing background and about five years of culinary experience (three years with Alta Marea Group and two years of recipe testing and food photography for a wide variety of publications and more than 20 cookbooks) I had a good sense of what the marketplace liked but noticed some things were missing. My approach to Ft. Greene Farms was simple: take things I know people already enjoy and twist slightly to present them in a way the consumer hasn’t seen before. One example would be our Pickled Mustard Seeds. It’s essentially coarse ground mustard before the emulsification stage. We create little caviared seeds that add a tart pop to anything you put them on. The unique texture and familiar flavor profile make it just different enough from our competitors that we’re able to create something new out of something old.
You truly care about high quality ingredients and speak directly to farmers to find out how their produce is grown. Has this always been a passion? Do you think more people are feeling pressure to care about where their food is coming from now than ever before?
Because my career started in fine dining, it has been instilled from the very beginning – choose the right ingredients and you will be able to create flavors that work in harmony. A great example for us is our Charred Sriracha in which we use Fresno chilies from California. We specifically chose this pepper for its subtle floral notes and unique color. Now more than ever, people want to know where their food comes from, what specific kinds of peppers are being used and if there are artificial syrups or added sugars (never at Ft. Greene Farms). The general public takes pride in finding these unique brands that take additional effort to distinguish themselves and use fresh local ingredients. Yes, it takes a few extra steps on our end when buying raw materials to make our products, but you can taste the difference and that’s what we are all about.
With Thanksgiving only a few weeks away, we’re looking for new ways to spice up the big dinner. Do you have any suggestions on how to use Ft. Greene Farms condiments during the holidays this year?
Of course, I think all our products go great with the flavor profile of Thanksgiving. One way to use them would be directly in that homemade gravy to add a pop and round out the sauce. Or maybe you want to get adventurous and create a unique side dish like Honey-Sriracha glazed Brussels sprouts.
Gravy with Pickled Mustard Seeds (serves 8)
2 turkey wings
1 large onion (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
2 ribs celery (chopped)
1 tablespoon Veg. Oil
10 tups cold water
4 sprigs thyme
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoon butter (unsalted)
½ cups AP flour
1 Jar Ft. Greene Farms Pickled Mustard Seeds
• Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
• Combine onion, carrots, celery and vegetable oil in a large roasting pan and toss to coat. Place turkey wings on top of vegetables
• Place roasting pan in the preheated oven and cook until the turkey wings are browned and vegetables are caramelized and softened, 45 to 60 minutes.
• Transfer turkey wings and vegetables to a large stockpot. Place the roasting pan over a stovetop burner on medium heat. Pour 2 tablespoons cold water into the pan and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer mixture to the stockpot and add 10 cups cold water, thyme and garlic.
• Bring turkey wing mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until meat falls off the bone, about 3 hours. Skim off turkey fat throughout the process and set aside 2 tablespoons.
• Strain turkey stock and reserve 6 cups of stock; discard all the solids.
• Heat butter and 2 tablespoons reserved turkey fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and cook, whisking continuously, until it begins to smell like cooked popcorn, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly pour in turkey stock, whisking continuously. Increase heat to high and simmer until thick and warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper to taste.
• Add about half of the jar of seeds to hot gravy and stir.
Glazed Sprouts (serves 4-6)
1.5 pounds of Brussels sprouts (trimmed and halved lengthwise)
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoon Ft. Greene Farms Sriracha
½ teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• In a small bowl, combine the Ft. Greene Farms Charred Sriracha, honey, soy sauce and garlic. Stir and set aside
• Preheat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add oil followed by the brussels sprouts, stirring frequently for 4 to 5 minutes
• Pour in the sauce mixture and evenly coat the brussels sprouts. Cook for an additional 4 or 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before serving. Season with salt to taste.
To learn more about Ft. Greene Farms and find out where to buy, visit ftgreenefarms.com.