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A Living Larder

Source: Fermented harissa adds a kick of heat and acidity to these slow-cooked and seared short ribs.

The first tell is the battery of tinctures, tisanes, spices, and pickles crowding her new test kitchen, a collection so varied and impressive it could probably sustain a family of four for a couple of years if it came to that. The second is the talk of not really needing any human interaction, relayed as she puts the finishing touches on a fermented harissa that’s spicy and sour and just about good enough to eat with a spoon. But the clearest sign that chef Cortney Burns is adjusting well to life at the edge of the Berkshires comes a bit later on, when she shows off a slick collection of Japanese donabe, puts on a Keith Jarrett record, and fixes me and a few of her new collaborators what was at once a convincing case for hippie food and one of the best home-cooked meals I’ve ever had.

First up are crackers made of sunflower, chia, and more seeds, so many seeds, that look like something you’d pat yourself on the back for snacking on but are in fact tremendously savory and addictive, like Doritos for those who fold ashwagandha into their morning smoothie. There is live-culture brine in the mixture, Burns tells me conspiratorially. I’ve almost finished the batch when she presents a dip of fer mented sesame and squash, and unveils a hearty soup of ginger and carrots—also fermented, there’s a theme— before the showstopper arrives: tender short ribs, a cross between the best of Korea and Patagonia, served with that superlative harissa. There’s much more going on with this food, and from more cultures than meets the eye—pastes, blended spices, pickled this, pickled that— but the effect is uniformly nurturing.

SHORT RIBS WITH FERMENTED PEPPER HARISSA

Serves 8;

Active: 1 hr. • Total: 1 wk. 2 d.

Tangy fermented pepper paste, the base of Burns’ harissa, can be customized to be as sweet or spicy as you prefer. “Mine is usually in the middle,” she says. The sauce can be used immediately, but Burns says the leftovers will

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