Heather Chontos, artist, prop stylist and contributor to “Three to One” writes to me from Bozeman, Montana—
“The High Country Grill opened in March 2012 inside the well known “Rockin R” bar in downtown Bozeman, right on main street, a staple of the local bar scene for many generations and well known for the fact that it—amongst three other businesses on the block, blew up only three years ago from a gas leak.
Downtown Bozeman has gone through many culinary transitions. A new addition to the food scene here is the High Country Grill owned by local chef Chip Bales who has undertaken the task of creating a delicious menu consisting of scratch-made bar food. Food that we all would love to eat. It’s a take on the American version of the “gastro-pub” phenomenon.
Chip’s background is pure Southern, though he has been kicking around kitchens in Southwestern Montana for quite some time. His food speaks to those Southern flavors; the fried green tomatoes (my personal favorite) with a buttermilk ranch dressing, being one of them. The tomatoes are breaded perfectly with juicy, fleshy, tomatoes inside. The Chicken wings come with three different sauces (Caribbean Glaze, House BBQ and Buffalo) and there are also lamb skewers with Mint Dijon and grilled Green Onions. The lamb is tender, has great flavor, and is cooked to perfection. The meat is sourced locally from a Rancher’s Co-operative right down the highway in Big Timber, Montana, called Sweetgrass Natural lamb.
Then there is the high country burger, smothered in a molten Poblano Cheese sauce with crisp and lightly salted hand cut Fries, the Meatloaf, too, a cajun recipe, served with a spicy roasted tomato sauce is a must order.
This is scratch-made bar food taking bar food to a new level in Montana, for sure.”
Kindly Chef Chip Bales agreed to part with his recipe, thanks Chip!
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
from the High Country Grill, Bozeman.
I cup of Flour
2 teaspoons of Creole Seasoning
Core and slice quarter inch think
discard end pieces.
1 cup of whole milk
2 teaspoons of Creole Seasoning
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:
1 quarter cup of scratch Mayonnaise
1 quarter cup of Buttermilk
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh Parsley
Quarter teaspoon of granulated Garlic
Quarter teaspoon of granulated Onion
1 cup of Breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons of Creole seasoning.
Working with 4-5 slices at a time dust green tomatoes with flour, then dunk in egg wash and dredge in breadcrumbs. Line cookie tray with parchment and freeze breaded tomatoes. Preheat fryer to 350 degrees. Fry frozen tomatoes in small batches. As they start to thaw in the hot oil, the oil will begin to splatter violently. When this eruption begins to reside, you will know that the tomatoes are about done. After frying, transfer tomatoes to a small metal bowl and season immediately.
Notes: It’s commonplace to fry green tomatoes directly after breading, but Chip says that freezing them first, is the key to this recipe. The technique allows the breading to get super crispy without the tomato itself getting mushy. Chip’s favorite bread for the breadcrumbs in this recipe is a baguette. Leave the baguette on your countertop of at least a week, then break into chunks and grind in a food processor. Leftover breadcrumbs will hold indefinitely.
HIGH COUNTRY GRILL
Located inside the Rocking R Bar
211 E. Main Street,
in downtown Bozeman
Daily: 11:30 am – 9:00 pm
Photo and text by Heather Chontos.
HEATHER CHONTOS: is an artist, prop stylist and wannabe cowgirl, who lives in Bozeman, Montana with her two daughters, a giant St. Bernard, four chickens, and three ducks. Heather travels between both coasts for work, but when at home, hosts big dinner parties in Bozeman where they draw all over the table together and make crazy art whilst eating. Heather now works mainly through her little design consultancy Milk Farm Road.