Hacking Cubanos

by Anne Maxfield on June 5, 2014

Accidental Locavore Cubano MakingsInspired by (or just made really hungry by) the Cuban sandwiches in the movie Chef, the Accidental Locavore crossed a few cultural barriers and came up with her own version of a Cubano, with help from a husband who couldn’t stop tweaking. This makes one sandwich and I’ve been known to make an untoasted version in under two minutes:

  • 1 ciabatta roll
  • 1-2 slices deli ham
  • 4-6 slices smoked pork tenderloin (or roast pork)
  • 1-2 slices provolone
  • 5-6 dill pickle slices
  • Dijon mustard

Untoasted: Cut the ciabatta rolls open and liberally spread the mustard on both sides. Layer the ham, smoked pork, cheese and pickles. Serve and enjoy!

Frank’s toasted version:

Cut the roll in half and slather mustard on one side. Put the cheese on that side, and the ham and smoked pork on the other side. Warm it in the toaster oven until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and add the pickles on top of the cheese. Quickly slap the halves together and press down hard on the sandwich. Slice in half and enjoy!

My verdict: Before you start telling me it’s not authentic, I know that! I saw the movie and I’ve eaten Cubanos in Manhattan. Since we’ve been loving the smoked pork tenderloin so much, I thought it would be interesting to try it in a sandwich. Let me tell you, toasted or even plain, it’s delicious! We don’t have a panini press (and no, that’s not a request for one), so I’m going to try it on a griddle (getting more authentic) and/or our waffle iron. If I do it on the plancha (griddle), I’ll grill the ham and butter the outside of the roll before grilling it. Not sure what the waffle iron will do, but it would act more like a press than the griddle. Either way, it’s time for the third batch of smoked tenderloin.




Spanish Rice With Artichokes and Ham

by Anne Maxfield on January 23, 2014

Accidental Locavore Artichoke RiceThe Accidental Locavore has been kicking this recipe around since I first saw it in Food & Wine. It had lots of my favorite things (artichokes, Jamon Iberico) and a rice I’d never heard of, bomba. Getting the ingredients together took a little doing and was definitely worth it (see the notes at the end). It may like a lot of steps, but it will give you a good jumping-off point for future meals and it’s up to you whether or not you do them all. Feeds 4.

For the rice:

  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 3 large artichokes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 6 ounces very thinly sliced ham, such as jamon Ibérico , serrano, or prosciutto; 4 ounces finely chopped, the rest saved for garnishing
  • 2 medium tomatoes, halved, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 2 cups Bomba or Calasparra rice

For the parsley sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed parsley
  • 1/2 small garlic clove
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil

Accidental Locavore Cooking Artichoke RicePreheat the oven to 400°. Squeeze the juice from the lemon halves into a large bowl of water, but save the cut halves. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, snap off the dark green outer leaves, until you get to the tender, lighter green inner leaves. Cut off the top of the artichoke, leaving about ¾” of the remaining leaves. Peel and trim the bottom and stem of the artichoke. Halve the artichoke and scoop out the furry choke with a spoon. Cut the artichoke hearts in half again, rub all the surfaces with the lemon and add to the bowl of lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes. Drain the artichokes and pat dry.

In a large, ovenproof Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the artichokes and a generous pinch of salt. Cook over moderate heat, tossing occasionally, until just starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water, cover and steam the artichokes until just tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer the artichokes to a plate and wipe out the skillet.

If you are making the pesto: spread the pine nuts in a pie plate and toast for about 7 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside.

In the Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just softened, 5 minutes. Add the chopped ham and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the mixture thickens, 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer and keep hot.

Add the rice to the skillet and stir to coat with the tomato mixture. Stir in the hot stock, spread the rice in an even layer and bring to a boil. Place the artichokes in the rice. Cover and bake for about 20 minutes, until most of the stock is absorbed. Uncover the skillet and bake for about 10 minutes longer, until the stock is completely absorbed and the rice is tender but moist. Remove the skillet from the oven, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, if you’re making the pesto, in a blender, or food processor, combine the parsley, pine nuts and garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Slowly pour in the olive oil and puree until nearly smooth. Season the parsley sauce with salt. Serve the rice straight from the skillet, drizzled with the parsley sauce, topped with the sliced ham and enjoy!

My verdict: Warning, this is delicious, but although it looks like “peasant” food, it is never going to be a bargain dinner! We were both pleasantly surprised by the bomba rice, it’s definitely worth seeking out (or order it from Amazon). I’m pretty sure you could use frozen artichoke hearts, without a huge difference in flavor. By the time the fresh artichokes I used were steamed and then cooked in the rice, they had lost a lot of texture and flavor (which I didn’t think had gotten picked up in the rice). I would thaw the frozen hearts and add them in when you uncover the pot of rice, for the last 10 minutes of cooking, and skip all the cleaning and cooking steps. Since I’m writing this in January, good tomatoes are impossible to find, so I used 3 canned, San Marzano, plum tomatoes. While we were enjoying it, we were talking about other ingredients that would be good in it. Olives, chorizo (Spanish style), chicken, and mushrooms were all contenders. You could just use it as a basic recipe, like a Spanish-style risotto and experiment.  I made the parsley sauce and it was fine, but you could easily do without it.






Raclette: Or What Fondue Wants to Be

by Anne Maxfield on January 16, 2014

Accidental Locavore RacletteFor years, since the Accidental Locavore lived in Paris, I’ve been crazy for raclette. If you’ve never had it, you’re missing a fabulous winter dish! It’s what fondue wants to be, but isn’t. Traditionally, half a wheel of raclette cheese is melted over a fire and the melted bits are scraped onto your plate. Then, you scoop up the cheese with chunks of steamed potatoes. Cornichons, pickled onions and slices of ham (like Serrano) combined with a good red wine, make this a perfect meal.
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to find anyone in this country serving raclette, never mind in the traditional way, but it’s pretty simple to make at home. While people like Willams- Sonoma sell raclette machines, unless you become a raclette addict, they’re not mission-critical. A trip to Murray’s cheese will get you most of the ingredients (cheese, cornichons, ham and pickled onions) and you probably have potatoes at home. This is how I did it for myself recently – scale it up depending on how many people you’re feeding. A simple salad would go well with this.

• ½ pound French or Swiss raclette cheese, cut into ¼” slices
• 3-4 small Yukon Gold, fingerling or red new potatoes, cut in half
• ¼ pound Serrano ham or prosciutto
• Cornichons
• Pickled onions

Accidental Locavore Raclette IngredientsPreheat the broiler. In a medium pot over high heat, cook the potatoes until fork-tender (about 15 minutes). Drain the potatoes and put on a plate with the ham, cornichons and onions. When the potatoes are cooked, put a slice or two of the cheese in an oven-proof ramekin and broil until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble and brown. Dip the potatoes in the cheese and eat with the ham, cornichons and onions. Enjoy!


My verdict: Writing this is making me rethink dinner…
You want to only do a little bit of cheese at a time, as it’s much better hot from the broiler. If you’re serving a few people, you can just put a crock of potatoes on the table and dishes with the ham and pickles so everyone can help themselves. People can have individual ramekins of cheese, or you can do like the French, melt a big piece and scrape a bit of cheese on everyone’s plate. No matter how you do it, it’s just delicious!



Feast of the Seven Bacons: Pasta Carbonara Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on December 27, 2012

Accidental Locavore Pasta CarbonaraFor whatever reason, the Accidental Locavore’s family doesn’t have much of a Christmas Eve tradition. There were years when people went to midnight mass and other years when we’d go to friends for oyster stew and wonderful desserts, but there were never hard and fast rules for the night before Christmas. So I was a little amused when a friend asked if we were doing the Feast of the Seven Fishes this year. “No, actually we’re doing the Feast of the Seven Bacons.”

My father had been wondering what to do with a bunch of different types of bacon that he had and I suggested that we make pasta Carbonara, an old favorite, that I don’t do much any more, it being one of the more efficient fat delivery systems. But it’s not time for New Year’s resolutions yet, so indulge. It’s fast and will serve 4.
  • 1 spaghetti or linguini
  • Olive oil
  • 4 thick slices bacon, sliced into 1/2″ lardons
  • 2 thick slices ham, sliced into 1/2″ strips about 1″ long
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Salt and coarsely ground pepper

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, put a little olive oil in a sauté pan and cook the bacon and ham over medium heat until the bacon is browned. Remove from the heat and set aside. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, add the cheese, pepper and cream and mix until well combined.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the egg mixture and the bacon and toss to mix until everything is well combined (the heat of the pasta and bacon will cook the eggs). Garnish with the scallions, serve with additional cheese and pepper and enjoy!

Notes: There are a lot of ways you can make carbonara, any one of which, will undoubtedly upset some Italian somewhere. I’ve always liked a mix of ham and bacon; tradition calls for pancetta. I don’t drain the bacon on paper towels after its cooked because the sauce sometimes needs a little thinning, so I might add a little of the fat from the pan (some of the pasta water will do the same thing with less calories/flavor). If I have heavy cream, I’ll add it, if not, it’s fine without. You can add other non-traditional things like sautéed mushrooms, the scallions, or you can just keep it simple, it’s all good.