Steve McHugh gets a little sentimental when hunting season rolls around. “I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin,” he says, “and we had a small lake on our property. My six brothers and I would get up before dawn and go sit in the blind, drinking hot chocolate, while we waited for ducks to fly over.” When the young chef moved to New Orleans, in 1996, he found rowdy people, rambunctious flavors, and a whole new way of life. His horizons expanded yet again when he relocated to San Antonio, in 2010. But that year also brought an unexpected crisis—health issues that had dogged him for months turned out to be non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After almost a year of intensive treatment, he was back on his feet, and in December 2013 he fulfilled a longtime dream: opening his own restaurant. Its name, Cured, is a deliberate reference to both its menu of cured meats and his own recovery. Today, McHugh is an enthusiastic explorer of all things Texan. The menu for his holiday feast is punched up with native ingredients like Texas grapefruit, chile pequins, and mesquite flour. But he couldn’t resist slipping in an old favorite from his Wisconsin boyhood. Luckily, Texans like roast duck too.
Recipes for Hunting and Gathering
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Texas Monthly. Subscribe today.