Made in America

KC's culinary sweethearts Colby and Megan Garrelts of Bluestem and Rye share heirloom recipes in this instant-classic cookbook.























   The title says it all: Colby and Megan Garrelts’ second cookbook, Made in America, (out this month) is a delicious ode to classic American-, church supper-, Fourth of July-, family reunion-style cooking. The cover image reinforces the theme: an irresistible plate of crispy, buttermilk fried chicken made famous at their Leawood restaurant Rye. In fact, the recipe is reproduced in this article, including the killer honey-lemon-garlic brine.

     The homemade, handcrafted, personal touch is stamped on every page of this cookbook, which showcases many photographs of the Garrelts family, including their towheaded children, consuming chocolate butterscotch cookies and house-made ice cream sandwiches. Our favorite photo? Colby and Megan re-creating the “American Gothic” pose from the classic Grant Wood painting, complete with farm backdrop and the missus holding a plate of pie and Colby a fork (rather than pitchfork) speared with that iconic fried chicken.

     But despite all the aw shucks, genuine humility of this Midwestern couple, keep in mind the Garrelts are a culinary powerhouse. Their progressive American restaurant Bluestem not only helped put Kansas City on the culinary map, but Colby also snagged a James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest in 2013 and Megan was named a James Beard national Semifinalist for Best Pastry Chef. This year their restaurant Bluestem is a semifinalist for the national James Beard Outstanding Restaurant award 2015. So though this classic Americana cookbook is geared towards the simple home cook with recipes more reflective of their comfort food eatery Rye than their more ambitious and preening Bluestem, the recipes and advice dispensed in Made in America is by a pair of nationally ranked chefs.

     Among the 50 recipes in this nostalgia-tinged book: smoked brisket; chicken & dumplings; lemon meringue pie; state fair cocktail; biscuits and sausage gravy; potato salad with summer corn and country ham; grilled trout with tarragon, thyme and lemon; dutch oven-roasted carrots with brown sugar and grilled T-bones with red wine-rosemary marinade — plus pickles, jams and rubs.

     There’s whole chapters devoted to cast iron cooking and frying and unlike many cookbooks, with Megan at the helm, desserts are anything but an afterthought. Think banana cream pie (the recipe is included in this article with real lard in the pie crust!), lemon cake with white chocolate buttercream, fried cinnamon rolls and vintage peach buckle. These are the kinds of mouthwatering confections that keep patrons coming back to Rye for Megan’s rotating “pie program.”

      In the introduction to Made in America the Garrelts state, “The food of the Midwest is the last untold tale in modern American cooking.” Recalling their shared Midwest upbringing in Kansas and Illinois in lyrical terms, they write: “Born and bred in the middle of America, we share the same memories of fresh corn off the stalk in hot summers, slow-cooked meats and handmade sweets that filled our grandmas’ homes.”

      With their winning restaurants and cookbooks, the Garrelts establish themselves as major authors in the joyous rediscovery of Midwestern cuisine.

   “Made in America: A Modern Collection of Classic Recipes” by Colby and Megan Garrelts, photos by Bonjwing Lee ($21.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing) is available at fine bookstores everywhere beginning in April 2015. For the Garrelts’ restaurants visit and 


Garrelts Fried Chicken

Serves 4

   Fried chicken is the Holy Grail in our family — so much so that we built a restaurant around it. When I was young, we went to an old roadhouse chicken place called Boots & Coats. It was dark, dingy, and filled with cigarette smoke. We went there almost every Thursday night. They didn’t take reservations, so we would wait for over an hour for a table—I can still remember watching the Hamm’s beer clock on the wall. I spent years trying to create a fried chicken as good as the one I remember from Boots & Coats, and I’ve finally mastered it. Fried chicken can be a real pain to cook at home; almost everyone who attempts it complains that the chicken burns on the outside before it’s finished on the inside. The trick is to use two pots of frying oil: one for the outside of the bird, with a high temperature to get that golden crust, and one for the inside, with the oil at a lower temperature to finish cooking the meat. Our fried chicken at Rye actually involves a 3-day process: We start by brining the chicken for 24 hours to keep it juicy, and for a superior crust we then dry the chicken uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. To cook as many fried chicken dinners as we do, it’s necessary to follow this long method. But the much shorter method here creates a result that’s just as delicious as the chicken we serve at the restaurants. ★C.G.




4 quarts water

¼ cup kosher salt

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons honey

2¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

½ tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

15 whole cloves

4 cloves garlic, smashed

4 dried bay leaves

1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces



4 cups water

4 cups buttermilk (full-fat if you can find it)

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

6 large egg whites

2 tablespoons iodized salt

2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Flour Mix

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons garlic powder

3 tablespoons onion powder

3 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Peanut or canola oil, for frying

White Gravy, for serving



   For the brine, combine the water, salt, lemon juice, sugar, honey, pepper, lemon zest, cloves, garlic, and bay leaves in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the stove and chill uncovered for 2 to 3 hours, until the liquid is below 40°F.

   Place the chicken in a large deep casserole dish with a lid and pour the brine over it. Make sure the chicken is completely submerged. Refrigerate overnight.

   Remove the chicken from the brine and lightly rinse the chicken. Pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. For the slurry, place the water, buttermilk, flour, egg whites, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne in a large bowl. Whisk well to incorporate. Set aside.

   For the flour mix, place the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. Line a plate with paper towels or have a wire rack ready.

   To fry the chicken, add enough oil to 2 medium Dutch ovens or deep cast-iron pans to reach halfway up the sides. Heat one over medium-high heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 375°F; heat the other over medium heat until the thermometer registers 315°F.

   Working in batches, place the chicken in the slurry for 5 to 10 minutes. Working quickly with one piece at a time, dip the chicken in the flour mix and coat all sides. Do not let the chicken sit in the flour for more than 2 minutes. Using tongs, carefully put half of the chicken in the 375°F frying oil. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown. Using tongs, transfer the chicken pieces to the 315°F pot and cook for 15 to 18 minutes (do not to allow the oil temperature to dip below 300°F), until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F or above.

   Set the finished chicken on the plate lined with paper towels or on a wire rack and repeat with the rest of the chicken. Serve with the white gravy.

—From Made in America: A Modern Collection of Classic Recipes by Colby and Megan Garrelts / Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC


German Apple Pancakes

Serves 4

   When I was growing up in suburban Chicago, pancake houses and German restaurants were familiar stops on our eating-out trips. My family often enjoyed going with Grandma and Grandpa Schultz to our neighborhood pancake house, where we devoured Dutch babies and German pancakes. This recipe is my version of the traditional hearty breakfast we once shared. Buttermilk and orange juice give a touch of extra tartness to the mix, but you can substitute apple cider for the orange juice to add another layer of apple flavor. For a sweeter topping, use soft whipped cream with a pinch of cinnamon sugar.



¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup buttermilk

3 large eggs

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3 tart apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and sliced

² ∕³ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup sour cream

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


   Preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine the flour, buttermilk, eggs, and salt in a blender. Blend on high speed for about 1 minute or until the mixture is thoroughly combined; set the batter aside.

   In an 8- to 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the butter and brown sugar until the butter is melted. Add the apples, orange juice, and cinnamon to the butter and brown sugar and cook until the apples become tender and translucent and the orange juice reduces to a thick syrup, about 12 minutes.

   Pour the pancake batter into the apple skillet and use a spatula to swirl the batter and apples together. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the pancake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the pancake puffs up slightly in the center and is cooked through (a tester inserted in the center will come out clean). Turn the hot pancake out onto a serving platter and slice into wedges.

   To serve, place a dollop of sour cream in the center of each slice and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.

—From Made in America: A Modern Collection of Classic Recipes by Colby and Megan Garrelts / Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC


Banana Cream Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

   On chilly winter nights, my mom would sometimes whip up a batch of warm vanilla or butterscotch pudding and top it with Nilla Wafers and sliced ripe bananas. She would often serve these perfect puddings in little glass ramekins, which made dinner seem very fancy. Now at home with my little ones, I always make sure we have a box of Nilla Wafers in the pantry, as you never know when pudding, bananas, and Nillas will be needed as a treat! My recipe for banana cream pie is an ode to the creamy banana memories of my childhood. I coat the pie shell with a thin layer of dark chocolate to help the crust stay crispy under the pastry cream. If you prefer, a graham cracker crust can be substituted for the traditional piecrust here. ★M.G.



1 blind-baked classic pie crust (recipe below)

½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips, melted

2 cups whole milk

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch, sifted

4 large egg yolks

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3 very ripe bananas, sliced about ⅛ inch thick

1½ cups heavy cream

½ cup ground salted toffee



   Using a pastry brush, evenly coat the bottom and sides of the blind-baked piecrust with the melted chocolate, and set the crust in the refrigerator to set the chocolate.

   In a medium sauce pan, heat the milk, vanilla bean and seeds, and vanilla extract over medium heat for about 3 minutes to bring the mixture to just below boiling. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, and salt. Slowly whisk the hot milk into the cornstarch mixture in thirds so as not to curdle the egg yolks. Return the entire mixture to the sauce pan and whisk constantly until the pastry cream is thick, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the softened butter. Remove the pastry cream from the stovetop and discard the vanilla bean pod. Fold in the sliced bananas. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the pastry cream surface. Chill the pastry cream for about 30 minutes so that it is cool enough not to melt the chocolate when it is added to the crust.

   Once the pastry cream is cool, fill the prepared pie crust and cover the top with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the pastry cream surface. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

   To serve, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Slice the pie into even slices, dollop each slice with whipped cream, and sprinkle the pie slices with ground salted toffee. Alternatively, if taking the pie to an event or for a dramatic presentation, top the entire pie with the whipped cream and ground salted toffee. The pie will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Classic Piecrust

Makes one 9-inch double crust or two 9-inch single crusts

   The pie crust: It scares some, but it was my favorite pastry to master. In my early days in the bakeshop, I always had so much fun mixing, kneading, and rolling out the dough—even if the crust did not turn out right! This recipe was developed over time and through many attempts to find the right balance between good butter flavor and the delicate texture that lard creates, plus the perfect mix of sugar and salt. With very few ingredients in a crust, it’s important to use the highest quality ingredients possible. I recommend using a good-quality butter that’s high in butterfat, such as Plugra, to ensure that the crust will form properly, and a delicate salt like kosher or sea salt. Remember: Making pie is not easy, and there is no bakeshop secret to becoming a great pie maker. Patience and practice are the keys.



2⅓ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted

butter, cubed

½ cup cold lard, cubed

½ cup ice water

1 large egg, lightly beaten



   Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and set in the freezer for 30 minutes; you want all the components to be very cold in order to get the flakiest crust possible. Place the cubed butter and lard on a baking sheet and set in the freezer to chill until hard.

   Attach the bowl with the dry ingredients to the food processor. Add the cold butter and lard to the dry ingredients in two additions, pulsing to combine after each addition. Slowly add the ice water to the mixture, pulsing to combine until a dough forms. As soon as the dough holds together in the food processor, quickly transfer the dough to a cold work surface. Knead the dough just until smooth, working the fat into streaks and being careful not to overwork the pie dough. Divide the dough in half and flatten each piece into a disk. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

   To form the crust, dust a work surface and the rolling pin with flour. Place one dough disk on the floured work surface and press the dough down in the center with the palm of your hand to flatten slightly. Then pound the dough flat with the rolling pin. Roll the dough in one full pass, then rotate the dough a few inches and roll again. Continue rotating the dough and rolling, dusting slightly with flour only if needed, until the dough is large enough to fit the pie dish and is about ©ˆ∕8 inch thick. Gently cut the dough to the desired pan size using a pot lid or bowl as a guide. Gently slide both hands under the dough and hold the dough with the bottom side of your hands and forearms. Quickly slide the dough into the pie pan and gently press the dough into the pan.

   Crimp the pie dough around the edge and set in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before proceeding. The pie crusts can be kept frozen in the pie pans (or in a disk for the top crust), each double-wrapped in plastic, for up to 1 month.

   To blind-bake (bake the crust before adding the pie filling), preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the frozen shell with a coffee filter and fill the liner with pie weights or uncooked pinto beans. Press the beans lightly into the shell to ensure that the edges are weighed down. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway through the cooking time, until the outer edge of the crimp looks dry and golden brown. Remove the shell from the oven and carefully remove the coffee liner and beans. If the liner sticks to the shell, return the shell to the oven to dry out for about 3 minutes and then try to remove the liner. Decrease the oven temperature to 350°F. Brush the crimped edge and the bottom of the shell with the beaten egg and then prick the bottom of the shell. Return the shell to the oven and continue to bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Set the baked shell aside until needed for final pie preparation.

—From Made in America: A Modern Collection of Classic Recipes by Colby and Megan Garrelts / Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC