Archive for the ‘Meat and Poultry’ Category

The Last Bastion of Sexism

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
My neighbors' pig doing its thing.

My neighbors’ pig doing its thing.

As July 4 approaches I know I should write about grilling. Here’s the problem: I’m not a griller. Grilling is one of the few areas of life in which I am sexist. (The others all involve home repair.) Somehow I always wait until men arrive to haul out the charcoal and the grill.

I apologize to the men in my life—and to the goddesses of feminism. One of these days I’ll work on my grilling skills. Not before this Friday, however.

So here’s my compromise: a sauce that can accompany grilled meats, poultry, or vegetables.

My neighbors the Gillans recently held a pig roast. The whole thing was incredibly impressive, and the meat was delicious. At the end of the weekend, even after giving away lots of meat to their houseguests, they had quite a bit of pork on bones remaining.

I hate to see good meat and bones get thrown out so I volunteered to take the leftovers home. (Did I mention that the Gillans are REALLY GREAT neighbors? They gladly gave me the pork.) I boiled the whole thing for a while with onions and spices so that it was easy to get the meat off the bones. I used quite a bit of the meat in a tasty bean dish.

There was still leftover meat.

So … I threw together some barbecue sauce. I know I cheated a bit with this sauce by using a ketchup base. Our tomatoes aren’t in season yet, however, so the ketchup was expedient. The resulting sauce turned out just the way I like it, with lots of sweet and lots of tart.

I wish my readers a glorious fourth! May all of you, female and male, grill up a storm.

barbecue porkweb

Kansas City-ish Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients:

extra-virgin olive oil as needed for sautéing
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup catsup (use all-natural and/or organic ketchup)
1/3 cup molasses (or molasses mixed with maple syrup)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
a few shakes of hot sauce
2 tablespoons water

Instructions:

Warm the oil in a skillet. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and toss it around in the pan for 30 seconds. Stir in the chili powder, salt, and pepper, and stir to release their oils. When the spices start drying out in the pan, stir in the remaining ingredients.

Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Let the sauce cool briefly; then put it in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the blended sauce into a clean glass jar, bring it to room temperature, and then refrigerate it. This sauce is best made the day before you want to use it. It should last for at least 2 weeks.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

girlcrackerweb

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Sue’s Meatloaf (and an Announcement!)

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
Sue Haas

Sue Haas

Longtime blog reader Sue Haas of Seattle wrote several months ago to share her meatloaf recipe—but somehow or other I didn’t manage to make her loaf until a few nights ago. A friend who was coming to dinner requested something in the nature of comfort food to dispel the gloom of the weather (lots and lots of rain!). So I pulled out Sue’s recipe.

My local general store doesn’t sell veal so I used 1 pound of lean ground beef and 1/2 pound of pork. The only other changes I made (and they were minor, including the use of fresh instead of dried oregano) are noted in the recipe.

This meatloaf is tender and very flavorful. I particularly enjoyed the fresh herbs; I might throw in even more of them another time and leave the spices on the rack until winter.

By the way, in case I haven’t already bombarded you with this information, I do want to mention that my book Pulling Taffy will officially come out this Sunday and may be ordered right now from its website. (The website will also help you find the eBook and audiobook!)

In addition to talking about my final year with my mother and sharing family stories and thoughts, the book features a number of recipes—many of them from this very blog! Please consider supporting me by purchasing the book.

My mother would be celebrating this week!

My mother would be celebrating this week!

And now, on to Sue’s recipe……

Sue’s Meatloaf

Ingredients:

1-1/2 pounds meatloaf mixture (1/3 lean ground beef, 1/3 ground veal, 1/3 ground pork)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used my maple oatmeal bread, which makes great crumbs)
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped (or half of a large onion)
1 to 2 garlic cloves (according to your taste), minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano (I used 2 teaspoons fresh since that’s what I had)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon (sweet smoked) paprika (or regular)
1-1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the meat mixture in a food processor and pulse a bit for a finer grind. Transfer it to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix with hands.

Put the mixture into a 9-x-5 inch loaf pan and pat into loaf shape. (I used a regular baking pan and shaped a free-form loaf.)

Bake for about 1 hour, or until the center of the meat reaches 170 degrees on a meat thermometer. (I covered the loaf for the first half hour and then uncovered it to finish cooking.)

Serve with ketchup, if desired. Serves 6.

loaftryweb

Friday Nights at Elmer’s

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Elmer’s Store on Main Street in Ashfield, Massachusetts, is a bright, friendly place. Owner Nan Parati and her staff smile as they sell food and gifts. The walls are painted vibrant colors mixed by Nan herself; she is an artist and set designer as well as a storekeeper. And on Friday afternoons and evenings irresistible smells emanate from the small, well lit kitchen.

On a recent Friday afternoon when I stopped in, kitchen manager Jane Goodale, assistant chef Michael Hulbert, and chef Son Tremé were chopping, washing, and peeling local vegetables and meat for Elmer’s weekly Friday dinner. They joked and chatted as they worked, clearly at ease in the kitchen and with each other.

The Gang at Elmer’s, from left to right: Michael, Nan, Son, and Jane

Son Tremé is an assured 28 year old with a warm smile. Nan Parati told me that she has known him since he was six. “I met him when I lived in New Orleans, in the Tremé section of the city,” she explained. “He and his little brother came over and just kind of wouldn’t go away.”

I asked Nan about Son’s name. “’Son’ was his nickname growing up,” she informed me, “but he made it his legal name.” He apparently added “Tremé” to his legal name as well. Who am I to cavil at a name? I assure you that “Tinky” doesn’t appear on my birth certificate. Son’s name suits him.

Nan added that she became a godmother of sorts to Tremé, so much so that when her own mother died recently “the grandchildren decided that Son should represent them at the service.”

Son began working in the restaurant business in New Orleans, he said, although he didn’t plan at first to cook as a career. He enjoyed the rich food of his native city, but it wasn’t until he moved north and started cooking more healthily that he knew for sure he was going to be a chef.

He worked at a number of restaurants in Massachusetts, ending up as a breakfast chef at Elmer’s before taking time off to work on a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University. He has finished his coursework and is scheduled to graduate in 2013. “As you can imagine, I am extremely proud of him!” beamed Nan Parati.

Son Tremé explained that he combines all of his food background in his work at Elmer’s. “My home training is all pot stuff. I do it the way I want to,” he said. He added that his schooling taught him to be more precise in his cooking. His practical experience has made him even more responsible.

“In school you have five people on one soup,” he said. “In the industry it’s YOUR soup. And it’s your butt if it’s good or bad.”

Son does his best to respond to the desires and needs of his patrons and to the agricultural abundance in our area. He sees the relationship among farmers, restaurateurs, diners, and home cooks as a “circle of support.”

His home circle is also important to him. He is planning to create special food soon for the little baby girl to whom his partner gave birth in early October. “She’s my inspiration these days,” he said of little Belle-Soleil Tremé.

Nan and Son hope to expand the culinary offerings at Elmer’s, which currently serves breakfast and lunch every day (with special brunches on the weekend) and dinner on Friday evenings only. Soon another Louisiana chef, Charles Neville, will cook on the first Saturday evening of each month.

Meanwhile, Son Tremé plans future menus and enjoys the spirit in the kitchen. “My style is basically international fusion, which is Creole, my native culture,” he said. “All those indigenous cultures merged together in New Orleans. It says a lot about me. We cook. We sit down and eat—and we talk.”

I’d cook, talk, and eat with Son any day of the week. (He is the only chef who has ever kissed my hand at the end of an interview.) I was particularly taken with the seasonal, slightly sweet pork dish he served that evening at Elmer’s.

Son served his pork with potatoes au gratin, fresh broccoli, and sautéed apple slices.

Son Tremé’s Apple-Cider Braised Pork Roast

When I made this for my family, I cut the recipe for the marinade in half and used 2 pounds of pork tenderloin. We had enough for eight people. Obviously, Son is a generous chef! (I didn’t have to cook the smaller amount of meat quite so long.)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound shallots (about 3 to 4 shallots, plus a few more if you love shallots), peeled and chopped
1/2 cup minced garlic
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 bunch fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 quart apple cider
5 pounds picnic pork shoulder
1/4 cup canola oil

Instructions:

Gather all your ingredients and equipment.

In a blender mix the shallots, garlic, vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add the cider to this combination. Place the pork in a pan, and marinate it in the liquids (refrigerated) for 24 hours.

The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the pork from the marinade, saving the marinade.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, and sear the pork to brown it.

In a saucepan bring the marinade to a boil. Pour it over the pork, cover the Dutch oven, and place it in the oven. Bake the pork until it is fork tender, 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Transfer the pork, moistened with a little of the liquid and tightly covered, to a cooler oven (250 degrees) or to the oven you have just been using turned off. Strain the cooking liquid. Discard the solids that come out in the straining (the garlic, etc.).

Skim the sauce, and bring it to a simmer. Let it simmer and reduce until it is slightly thickened and glossy. (Start checking for this after about 15 minutes.)

Slice the pork, and serve it with some of the sauce and thinly sliced, sautéed apples.

Serves 10.

Nan and Son

A Family Meal at Diemand Farm (try it for Rosh Hashanah!)

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

It would be hard to imagine a more beautiful or serene location than that of Diemand Farm. A gently sloping 175-acre property on Mormon Hollow Road in Wendell, Massachusetts, the farm sells chickens, turkeys, and prepared foods. It also offers seating for a few lucky customers.

When I visited the farm a few weeks ago, co-owner Annie Diemand was getting ready for her wedding three days later.

Nevertheless, she took the time to give me a tour of the property and to share a meal with me. That meal, prepared by part-time cook Doreen Stevens, featured a simple yet elegant chicken dish that mingled sweet and sour flavors. Family members, neighbors, and farm hands stopped in to share the feast.

Diemand shares ownership of the farm with her siblings Faith and Peter. Each has an area in which he or she makes decisions, although all three pitch in to help the others whenever needed. Annie Diemand is in charge of the kitchen.

The farm first came into the family in 1936 when the Diemands’ grandfather purchased the property. The Diemand siblings’ parents married in 1940. Their father worked in area factories for several years to supplement the farm income until around 1950, when the farm started to sustain the couple and what eventually proved to be 11 children.

The family began by raising meat chickens. “I remember standing next to my mother cleaning out the gizzards,” Annie Diemand told me as we ate. “That was my job.”

In the mid-1960s the economics of chicken raising made the family change over from meat hens to laying hens. As time went by the Diemands expanded into selling hay and raising a small number of cattle for beef.

In 1989 they tried raising turkeys, starting with 500 birds. This year they plan to raise over 5000 turkeys. I myself have ordered a Diemand turkey for my Thanksgiving table, and I know I’m not alone in my area.

Customers began to ask about purchasing chickens to cook, and the family returned to meat chickens, although the Diemands continue to sell eggs. They also continue to diversify.

Baby Chicks at Diemand Farm

Faith Diemand has added sheep (for food and for wool) to the farm. Peter Diemand is working on a sawmill. Another sibling a few miles away has begun raising pigs and strawberries. A wind turbine is in the works to help power the farm.

Until three years ago the farm’s official store was a self-service enterprise. Now it has regular hours, a cash register, and tables for eating. Popular items to take out and/or eat on the spot include beef shepherd’s pie, pot pies, a variety of soups, and baked goods.

“We have individuals who come every single morning for a cup of coffee and a muffin,” said Annie Diemand. She estimated that from ten to 30 parties stop in each day for food.

Doreen Stevens, who has been working for the Diemands for over a decade, acts and clearly feels like family. She cooks in the roomy farm kitchen three times a week. A former chef at the local technical school comes in one or two days a week to supplement her culinary efforts and those of the Diemand family, who pitch in as needed.

The food is hearty, relying in general on the natural flavors of the Diemands’ poultry and herbs from the garden. “My theory in the kitchen is that nine out of ten times simpler is better,” Stevens told me. The chicken dish below reflects that philosophy. It features few ingredients but packs in a lot of flavor. It would be delicious for Rosh Hashanah, when honey chicken is a perennial menu item–but it’s delicious at any time.

Annie Diemand (left) and Doreen Stevens in the Diemand Farm Kitchen

Diemand Farm Honey Ginger Chicken

Ingredients:

1/2 cup grated fresh ginger (watch your knuckles as you grate!)
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 cup native honey (Doreen Stevens uses Warm Colors Apiary’s Deerfield Wildflower flavor)
5 to 6 pounds Diemand Farm fresh chicken pieces
chopped herbs as needed for garnish (parsley, chives, and a little thyme)

Instructions:

Place the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, water, and honey in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture just enough to melt the honey and combine all the ingredients. Cool the liquid briefly; then put it in a bowl with the chicken pieces. Marinate the chicken in this liquid in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours, or overnight if possible.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken, skin-side down, in a large roasting pan. Pour the marinade over it, and cover the pan with foil. Bake the chicken for 3/4 hour.

Remove the foil, turn the chicken over, re-cover the pan with foil, and roast for another 3/4 hour. Remove the foil, and put the pan back in the oven. Brown the chicken for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a platter, and cover it to keep it warm. Strain the pan drippings through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the drippings are reduced in half to make a sauce. (When I tried the dish I didn’t bother reducing the sauce, and it had plenty of flavor!)

Pour half of the sauce over the chicken and serve the rest on the side.

Sprinkle the chopped herbs over the chicken just before serving. At Diemand Farm this dish is usually served with barley (boiled and tossed with butter and herbs) or brown rice. Buttered noodles would work well, too.

Serves 6 to 8 farmers. (Diemand Farm portions are large!)

A Dinner Invitation

Friday, July 6th, 2012

My Neighbors Trina and Jerry in their Kitchen

When I was growing up, my father frequently sat down at the dinner table here in rural Massachusetts, looked at some gourmet concoction prepared by my mother or a neighbor, smiled, and murmured, “Simple country food.”

He meant his words ironically. Parts of our meals often came from far away. And the cooks had frequently spent quite a lot of time preparing them. Nevertheless, the words “simple country food” also contained a core of truth.

At its best, food in the country is prepared by people who appreciate that simple flavors can be the best flavors. All those flavors need is a chance to shine.

I was reminded of that truth a couple of weeks ago when I received a last-minute invitation to dinner from my neighbors Jerry and Trina Sternstein.

I have written before about Erwin and Linda Reynolds of Charlemont, who raise delicious local lamb at their Erlin Farm.

Erwin called me a month or so ago and informed me that he had sold several cuts of lamb to the Sternsteins, who are notable gourmet cooks.

“You should get Jerry to tell you when he’s cooking something,” said Erwin. “You could put the recipe on your blog.”

I ran into Jerry at our local general store one Saturday afternoon and told him about Erwin’s call. “I’m cooking lamb right now,” said Jerry. “Come to dinner tonight.”

So I joined Jerry and Trina (plus two charming out-of-town guests) for delicious lamb and lively conversation about food, taxes, art, Paris, politics, and weddings … among other things.

Jerry is a historian, and Trina is an artist. Hawley is a more sophisticated town than one might imagine, and the Sternsteins are among our most cosmopolitan residents. Food is a serious passion in their household. They look for high-quality ingredients (raising quite a few of them themselves; in this case the fava beans and snap peas were from their garden) and take the time to cook them right.

This sign hangs on my Francophile neighbors’ kitchen door.

They love France and French food so Jerry’s lamb dish was definitely influenced by French cuisine. It was amazingly tender, thanks to Erwin’s care of the lambs and Jerry’s careful slow cooking. Each ingredient kept its own flavor but also blended with the others.

I recommend the dish highly. It has quite a number of steps, but the only really hard part of it is trimming the lamb of fat.

I wish I could tell you how to replicate the evening’s lively conversation—but you’re on your own there……

Lamb à la Jerry

Ingredients:

3-1/2 pounds boned, trimmed lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes (it will weigh more before it is boned and trimmed of fat!)
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon sugar plus another teaspoon later
1/4 cup flour
2 to 3 cups beef broth OR water or a combination of the two
(If you use the water, add 3 onions, roughly chopped, and 3 carrots, roughly chopped, to it.)
1 cup crushed tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bouquet garni (4 to 5 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf, and several sprigs of thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, all tied together with string)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (2 teaspoons if you’re using water instead of broth)
5 to 6 turns of a pepper mill
6 to 10 small potatoes
4 carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 turnips, quartered
12 to 16 small onions (about 1-1/2-inch thick)
1 cup cooked and peeled fava beans (optional)
1 cup barely cooked peas (optional)
1 cup barely cooked snow peas (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sauté the lamb pieces in the oil in a sauté pan over high heat until the meat begins to brown nicely on the outside, about 5 minutes.

Remove the meat from the oil and place it in a 4- to 5-quart stove-proof casserole dish or Dutch oven.

Add the first tablespoon of sugar. Stir it around over a medium-high flame until it caramelizes (about 4 minutes). Add the flour and place the whole mixture in the oven for about 4 minutes, until it gets brown and crusty.

Remove the pan from the oven. Add the liquid (and the extra vegetables if you are using the water). Add the tomatoes, the garlic, the bouquet garni, the salt, and the pepper.

Return the casserole to the oven and bake it, covered, for 1 hour.

Remove the pot from the oven. Remove the meat. Strain (and reserve) the liquid. Skim the grease from the liquid. (This is easiest to do if you have time to let it cool so that the fat will rise to the top.)

Return the meat and the strained liquid to the pot, mixing them well. Add the potatoes, carrots, and turnips. Return the pot to the oven and cook, covered, for another hour.

While it is in the oven cook the onions. Peel them and cut a small “X” on the bottom of each. Place them in a small sauté pan with the second teaspoon of sugar. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes.

Cover the onions with water. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

Drain them and set them aside.

When the lamb has cooked, add the onions and the peas and/or beans and/or snap peas. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if they are needed. Top with parsley.

Serves 6 to 8.

 

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