At just 9 a.m. on a recent Saturday morning, the Union Station Farmers' Market was already getting hot, and chef Amos Watts was beginning to sweat. But the head chef of Corrida in Boulder is accustomed to working in a steamy kitchen, so the rising temperature outside didn't bother him, nor did it faze Haley McDonald, his sous-chef and market companion for the day.
"When you go to the farmers' market, you get to pick out just what you want," says the chef while hunting for ingredients. "At Corrida, if we can get it from a local farm, we try to."
The idea for today's sample bite was to make something with Olathe corn, a favorite summer ingredient that has just started popping up at farms from which the chef buys produce. Unfortunately, Watts's best-laid plans, which included creamed corn, were not to be — as the sweet cobs had yet to make it to the Union Station market. He quickly bounced back and ad-libbed his star plate. The featured dish, he decided, would highlight peaches by using a simple and delicious method: turning them into a buttery, jammy spread to slather over goat cheese and fresh bread.
"At Corrida we use Spanish ingredients, but sometimes we use these in non-traditional ways," the chef says, explaining why he was adding sweet and smoky paprika to the peaches. "Like when green chiles come into season, we're going to use green chiles."
Green chiles are already beginning to make appearances; five logs of Haystack Mountain Cheese chèvre in the chef's basket came studded with chiles — a seasonal offering from the Boulder County dairy. Watts mixed the goat cheese with butter and spread it on on halved baguettes from Raleigh Street Bakery. In the meantime, we waited for a pot of Highland Honey wildflower honey and butter to heat up and thicken.
Then the peaches went into the pot — about ten pounds of the ripe, juicy fruit from Ela Family Farms. Watts stirred the diced peaches in with the butter and honey, cooking everything down until it was almost the consistency of jam. The process took about fifteen minutes, and by then a small crowd had come to watch the action.
Finally the bright-orange topping was ready and Watts dolloped it on the cheese-laden bread, while McDonald topped each bite with a pinch of Ollin Farms spicy micro-greens, a mixture that included arugula and radish sprouts.
Even without corn, the demo dish came out beautifully, and eager market shoppers quickly snatched up the sweet, tangy and slightly spicy morsels — which, thank goodness, didn't pack as much heat as the summer morning.
Pick up your own produce at the Union Station Farmers' Market every Saturday and catch the weekly chef demo at 10 a.m., through October 20. Next up is Tim Kuklinski of Rioja on July 28. Then it's Matt Vawter of Mercantile Dining & Provision on August 4, Rodrigo Quijano of Zolo Grill on August 11, and Jamey Fader of Big Red F (Post Brewing Company locations, Jax Fish House locations, and Lola Coastal Mexican, among others) on August 18.
For more photos, see our complete slideshow of Amos Watts at the Union Station Farmers' Market.