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Cooking School: Blue Hill at Stone Barns Restaurant

Farmer, chef, and diner come together at this restaurant

Written and produced by Stephen Exel
  • Matthew Benson

    Blue Hill at Stone Barns impresses with its quiet elegance. The restaurant’s sparkling, serene spirit and the lush farmland just outside its windows emphasize the thoughtful, compassionate approach to the food served and the relationship between farmer, chef, and diner.

    For a list of recipes, click here

    Photography: Matthew Benson

  • Matthew Benson

    Blending Dining and Education

    Located in the former dairy barn of the Rockefeller summer compound in Pocantico Hills, New York, the restaurant is adjacent to the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a working four-season farm and educational center 30 miles north of New York City. Chef Dan Barber and his brother David, owners of the Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan, helped create the philosophical and practical framework for Stone Barns Center in 2001. In spring of 2004, they opened a second restaurant at Stone Barns, with the goal of blurring the line between the dining experience and the educational, bringing the principles of good farming directly to the table.

  • Matthew Benson

    Chef Dan Barber

    “The farmers grow produce and raise animals based on what the land will support,” says Dan Barber, a three-time James Beard award winner and one of Time magazine’s most influential people in 2009. “They do it with as little outside help as possible, maintaining economical and ecologically sustainable standards. Our restaurant supports that endeavor, translating that deliciousness to the table.”


  • Matthew Benson

    Dynamic and Delicious

    “The farmers grow produce and raise animals based on what the land will support,” says Dan Barber, a three-time James Beard award winner and one of Time magazine’s most influential people in 2009. “They do it with as little outside help as possible, maintaining economical and ecologically sustainable standards. Our restaurant supports that endeavor, translating that deliciousness to the table.”


  • Matthew Benson

    Tasting Menu

    There are no menus at Blue Hill. Rather, guests receive a small journal that lists seasonal ingredients from field, pasture, greenhouse, and cellar around which a farmer’s feast (a multi-course tasting menu) is designed according to personal taste.


  • Matthew Benson

    Laureen Barber

    Design director Laureen Barber (David’s wife) brings the same connectivity to the restaurant and tabletop design. She has commissioned local artists to create serving pieces inspired by the food, beautifully linking design and dining experience.



  • Matthew Benson

    Dining Room

    Laureen, who is also the co-owner of the restaurant, opened up the architecture of the original barn when she designed the restaurant. Window openings were lowered to access the view.

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    Fresh to the end

    Diners create after-dinner tisanes from a cart stocked with fresh herbs and leaves.

  • Matthew Benson

    Naturally Delectable

    “That carrot tastes delicious because it comes from a good environment, good soil,” Barber says. “Restaurants can be places of connection as well as places of pleasure. It’s nice to be part of a movement that’s celebratory, where there’s a culture that promotes growth in nature. That’s why I feel optimistic.”

  • Matthew Benson


    Blue Hill at Stone Barns is located at 630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, New York. For information and reservations, visit their website or call 914/366-9600. Jackets are requested for gentlemen.


  • Matthew Benson
  • Matthew Benson

    Farro & Kale Salad Recipe

    Farro is an ancient grain also known as “emmer wheat.” It has a chewy texture and nutty flavor. Farro grown in Tuscany’s Garfangnana region has been granted protected identification status. Combine farro with Tuscan kale, and you’ll have a salad with proud Italian origins.

    • 1 cup dried currants
    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 4 cups thinly sliced Tuscan kale or other kale
    • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 6 cups cooked farro*
    • 1 cup pine nuts, toasted
    • 1 shallot, finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
    • 3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Freshly grated Parmesan

    In small bowl combine currants and orange juice. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 2 to 24 hours to plump currants. Drain currants; discard orange juice.

    In large bowl toss kale with white balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Let stand 10 minutes. In very large bowl stir together cooked farro, plumped currants, pine nuts, and shallot.

    Add kale mixture, Parmesan cheese, chives, olive oil, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper; toss well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to large serving dish. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan. Serve at room temperature. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

    *Cooked farro: In 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium heat. Add 1/2 onion, 1 stalk celery, and half a carrot (all unchopped). Cook and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 4 cups uncooked farro; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Add 6 cups water and 1 bay leaf. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Cover; simmer 25 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and farro is just slightly chewy. Remove from heat. Remove onion, celery, carrot, and bay leaf; discard. Transfer cooked farro to sheet pan; spread out to cool. Measure 6 cups for recipe. Chill or freeze remaining farro for another use.

  • Matthew Benson

    How To Julienne Kale

    To make a chiffonade (or julienne) of sturdy kale leaves, stack the leaves and then roll them into a “cigar.” Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled leaves into thin strips.

  • Matthew Benson

    Whole Grains

    “Whole wheats like farro have a fullness of flavor, with a kind of toasty note,” Chef Dan Barber says. “And kale is a healthful green packed with flavor.” He adds pine nuts, currants, and shallots with white balsamic dressing to the Farro and Kale Salad.

  • Matthew Benson

    Corn Soup

    This velvety soup gets an exotic hint of spice from star anise, but what really impresses is the rich corn essence that comes from using corncobs to make the stock. It’s a resourceful use of something that would normally be tossed away.

    “The cob has good flavor,” Barber says. “The soup is corn times two.” Serve this soup chilled or warm, in small, sippable, handheld portions.

    Recipe on the following slide.

  • Matthew Benson

    Corn Soup

    The soup can be served chilled, warm, or at room temperature. Chef Dan Barber likes it as a small taste before dinner.

    • 10 ears fresh sweet corn
    • 1 recipe Corn Stock (recipe follows) or 4 quarts vegetable stock
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 large carrot, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 pieces star anise
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 6 sprigs thyme, tied together with 100% cotton kitchen string

    Corn Stock:

    • 10 corn cobs (reserved from 10 ears corn, above)
    • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
    • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
    • 1 medium bulb fennel, cored and coarsely chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 6 sprigs of thyme

    Remove husks from ears of corn. Scrub with stiff brush to remove silks; rinse. Cut corn kernels from cob; set aside. (Reserve cobs for Corn Stock.)

    In large stock pot, combine all Corn Stock ingredients. Add 5 quarts water. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 1 1/2 hours. Strain through fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. Set Corn Stock aside.*

    In 8-quart Dutch oven, cook onion and carrot in hot oil 10 minutes, or until starting to brown. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in reserved corn kernels and star anise. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add Corn Stock and bundle of thyme, bring to simmer. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes.

    Remove from heat. Remove and discard star anise and thyme. Cool slightly. In food processor or blender, puree soup in small batches until smooth. Strain through fine mesh sieve, discarding solids. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 16 servings.

    *Tip: Corn Stock may be covered and chilled for up to 1 week or frozen up to 1 month.

    Tip: Place leftover soup in airtight container. Cover; chill in refrigerator up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

  • Matthew Benson

    Carrot Cutlets with Apricot Purée and Herb Salad

    Barber transformed a favorite childhood dish, chicken cutlets, into this ingenious appetizer, served with apricot puree and a fresh herb salad. For best taste, you’ll want carrots straight from the farmer’s market or organic grocer.

    • 6 medium carrots, about 8 inches long
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • 1/4 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs), finely ground
    • 1/4 cup dry whole wheat bread crumbs or whole wheat panko, finely ground
    • 2 tablespoons rice flour
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

    Apricot Purée:

    • 2 cups orange juice
    • 1 cup dried apricots
    • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar

    Herb Salad

    • 1 cup fresh tarragon leaves
    • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves
    • 1/2 cup fresh dillweed leaves
    • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
    • 1/2 cup fresh chervil leaves

    Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel carrots. Stack three (24x12-inch) sheets aluminum foil on work surface. Place carrots in single layer in center of foil. Drizzle carrots with olive oil; sprinkle with sugar, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Fold in long ends of foil and seal with double fold. Fold over short ends to enclose, leaving enough room to let steam build. Place foil packet on baking sheet.

    Bake 1 hour or until carrots are very soft, turning packet over halfway through cooking time.

  • Matthew Benson

    When cool enough to handle, unwrap carrots. Line 15x10x1-inch baking pan with parchment paper and lay carrots on pan, leaving space between each carrot. Top with second piece of parchment paper and another 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Weight top pan down. (Try using several cans of food.) Let stand 10 minutes. If carrots are cooked properly they will not break but will be pressed into little cutlets.

    Breading: Place all-purpose flour in shallow dish. In second shallow dish beat together egg and water until combined. In third shallow dish combine panko, whole wheat bread crumbs, rice flour, and cumin. Dip one carrot into the all-purpose flour, shaking off any excess flour. Dip carrot in egg mixture. Finally, dredge carrot in breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining carrots.

    In large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. When hot, carefully place carrot cutlets in oil; cook 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Transfer to plate lined with paper towels to drain. Season well with sea salt and pepper.

    Apricot Purée: Meanwhile, in small saucepan, bring orange juice to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until reduced by half. Add apricots and vinegar; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Transfer to blender. Cover; blend until smooth.

    Herb Salad: In small bowl, combine tarragon, parsley, dillweed, mint, and chervil.

    Serve carrot cutlets with dollop of warm Apricot Purée and Herb Salad. Reserve any remaining Apricot Purée for another use. Makes 6 servings.