When you’re a finalist for the James Beard Best Chef: Southeast award three years straight, you must be doing something right. Chef Steven Satterfield’s simple but elevated farmstead cuisine guides Miller Union’s offerings. A perennial favorite, the boiled peanut and field pea salad, graces the menu for a limited time during the early days of Georgia’s peanut harvest in September and October. It's also uniquely made with green peanut oil, a gourmet finishing oil similar to extra virgin olive oil made from freshly harvested peanuts,
Customers clamor for Miller Union's boiled peanut and field pea salad. Southeasterners prize boiled peanuts for their simplicity and often enjoy their salty goodness from a paper bag from a roadside stand or a concession kiosk at a ball game. For a restaurant and chef that’s so well regarded, we asked Satterfield how “the caviar of the South” found a way onto his menu and into his life.
What’s the story behind this salad? Why is it such a customer favorite?
I started playing around with the idea of a mixed legume salad and wanted it to be Southern but elevated, so I mixed shelled boiled peanuts and blanched field peas spooned over lemon ricotta with some tomatoes and peppers. I think it's a favorite because it is a really delicious combination of flavor and texture, and also the ingredient are familiar yet presented in a different way.
With the tremendous success of your restaurant and cookbook, there must be pressure to consistently create and menu new dishes. Why do you keep bringing this salad back year after year?
When a menu item is unique to Miller Union and it has a following, why would we not bring it back? I always like a mix of old and new, high and low, not just for my menu but anything aesthetic in my life.
Peanuts are on Miller Union’s menu in a variety of items. What do you appreciate about the culinary versatility of peanuts?
They are a distinctly Southern ingredient with a very specific taste. Plus, peanuts pair well with so many things. I serve them with pork belly and cabbage, with roasted squash, and you'll find them on the pastry menu as well.
How are peanuts used in your cookbook?
Peanuts made a limited appearance in Root to Leaf, however I just wrapped a Short Stack Edition on the subject of peanuts with 25 recipes from savory snacks to sweet desserts. http://www.shortstackeditions.com
What are your fondest memories of peanuts?
I always think fondly of bags of boiled peanuts freshly purchased from a roadside stand on the way to the beach. It's a Georgia coast tradition.