sausage

Accidental Locavore PigThis year, not only was there a pig, but also a lamb…

This is a re-run of my post after the event last year in case anyone wants to attend week 2. We talk about nose-to-tail eating, but how does it really work? Come and see what happens when two chefs take on all the parts of a whole pig.

We’ll be focusing on using all the parts of the pig–smoking ribs and bacon, making a variety of sausages and stuffing the head to make headcheese (one of my favorites from last year!).

There’s still time support Slow Food Hudson Valley and get tickets for the second part on Saturday, March 25 from 10-4.

Saturday, the Accidental Locavore and about a dozen people watched three chefs tackle a pig. It was part of a two-day program Slow Food Hudson Valley put on to promote snout-to-tail eating (which reminds me–what happened to the pig’s tail?) or “butchering, preserving and sausage making a heritage pig.

Accidental Locavore Tom and Half PigWe were in a freezing cold farmstand on Kesike Farms in Red Hook NY, watching Chef Tom work his way through half of a hundred-pound pig. He did it with very few tools, and the ones that he’d chosen were all easily acquired, if not already in your arsenal. For the whole pig all he used were two boning knives, two hand saws and a sharpening steel. One of the hand saws, a Japanese, flexible bladed one, was a recent purchase from Lowes. In case you’re interested in breaking down any sort of animal (bigger than a chicken), remember knife first, then saw.

As he went through the pig he used a technique he referred to as “seam butchering” or finding the seams between the bones or muscles and using them as reference points. Between American and various European methods, there are a lot of ways to butcher a pig—choices you get to make as you cruise along.

Once Chef Tom got through cutting the pig into his basic cuts, he went back section by section, boning almost everything except the baby back ribs. He showed up his way of tying up various hams and roasts. While he was working, there was a lively discussion of the best ways to use each of the parts. Neck bones (which I forgot to ask for) are supposed to make your regular tomato sauce just amazing! Cumin, for some reason, played a major role in almost everything—it was simply the joke of the day.

After Tom was finished with his business, Chef Dan whisked away a lot of pork for stew and got to work, with help from some CIA students, on our lunch, a southwestern pork stew/chile, which was great and might actually have had some cumin in it…

Accidental Locavore John and TomThen Chef John stepped up to demo how to prep the various pork products for bacon, sausages and headcheese (yes, you use the whole head). He made a brine, using some for a loin and injected another piece with brine, explaining when you would inject versus when you would submerge. The liquid injected, should be 10% of the weight of the meat you’re using. The head and feet also went into the brine. We’ll see what happens to them next week.

Accidental Locavore Injecting BrineAfter the brining, John showed us how to do a bacon cure. It’s essentially a dry rub with salt, sugar, and whatever spices you want to add to the mix. You coat the bacon with the cure, cover it (or put it in a Ziploc) and refrigerate. Every other day, you need to flip the meat so it gets cured evenly. Another thing to look forward to next Saturday!

Accidental Locavore John Making SausagesFrom there we went on to making sausages. When you make sausages, it’s really important to cook and taste the meat before you stuff it. I always thought you just made a mini patty and fried it. No, no, no. Chef John said it’s not a good way to see how the finished product will actually taste and the texture is completely different. His way? Make a sausage-sized log, wrap it tightly in Saran Wrap, and poach it until it’s done. Then taste and adjust the seasonings. We ended the day, tasting his sweet Italian sausages and a southwestern green chile sausage. Both were really great and even better? We got to take some home.
Accidental Locavore Testing SausageI can’t wait for next Saturday! Lots of smoking going on next week. And we’ll get to try our bacon, make some tasso, have some ribs, even some headcheese. Sound tempting? There are spots available so come join us–Slow Food Hudson Valley has all the info.

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5 Ingredient Sausage and Cabbage Casserole

by Anne Maxfield on November 3, 2016

accidental-locavore-5-ingredieant-sliced-cabbage5 ingredient sausage and cabbage seemed like a good fall dish, since I had a couple of those cute pointy cabbages from my CSA and sausage in the freezer.

Then it was 80°.

The Accidental Locavore waited until the temperature shot back down and gave this a try.

Putting it together is quick and easy, but it needs 2 ½ hours to cook, so plan ahead (or save for a weekend).

5 Ingredient Sausage and Cabbage Casserole

  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds fresh sweet Italian pork sausages or bulk sausage
  • 1 large green or Savoy cabbage, about 4 pounds, cored and thickly shredded
  • Freshly ground black pepper

accidental-locavore-5-ingredient-cabbage-and-sausage-prepHeat oven to 300°.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish.

Place cabbage in boiling water, cover, and let water come back to the boil. Uncover and boil for 3 minutes. Drain cabbage in a colander and run cold water over it to stop cooking.

Remove sausage casings and crumble the sausages in a bowl.

Put about 1/3 of the cabbage in buttered dish and cover with 1/2 the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dot with butter. Repeat, ending with a final layer of cabbage, and dot top with butter.

Cover dish tightly with a layer of parchment paper, cut to the shape of your dish and top with a lid or a layer of aluminum foil.

Cook for about 2 1/2 hours, until cabbage is soft and sweet, and top is lightly browned.

After 2 hours, uncover the dish: if there is a lot of liquid in the bottom, leave uncovered for the rest of the cooking time. If not, re-cover and finish cooking.

Serve with mustard and some crusty bread and enjoy!

accidental-locavore-5-ingredient-cabbage-and-sausageMy verdict: Who knew 5 ingredients could be this good! I’m not sure if these “conehead” cabbages we’ve been getting are sweeter than the normal green cabbage, but they are cute and really tasty! If you can find them, try them (the cores are almost non-existent for easy prep). I had two of them, about 2 pounds, and a pound package of Boerewors, a South African inspired sausage from Jacuterie, so halved the recipe and it easily fed two.

It was delicious and buttery and the sausages were great with it! You could use almost any sausage, so feel free to improvise. A strong Dijon was a nice addition but even a milder coarse mustard went well.

Give it a try when you have a couple of hours to cook it. If you didn’t care about browning the top, it would probably work well in a slow cooker.

Let me know what you think.

 

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Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good

by Anne Maxfield on October 13, 2016

accidental-locavore-stuffed-pumpkinsThere are certain recipes you just don’t mess with.

Pumpkin stuffed with everything good is not one of them.

It actually begs to be messed with.

And is a great way to use up some of those bits of leftovers in the fridge.

It’s from Dorrie Greenspan’s Around My French Table (where you can find the original recipe) and this is the Accidental Locavore’s recent riff on it for 2 people:

accidental-locavore-pumpkin-stuffingPumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good

  • 2 small pumpkins
  • A handful of croutons
  • 2 cooked Italian sausage, sliced
  • 3 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ cup thinly sliced leeks (green tops fine)
  • ¼ pound any cheese cut into ¼” cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment and set aside

Carefully cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (like you were carving a Halloween pumpkin), clean off the bottom edge and set aside.

accidental-locavore-pumpkin-for-stuffingClean out the seeds and guts of the pumpkin. If you want to roast the pumpkin seeds just put all the stuff in a bowl for later. Salt and pepper the insides of the pumpkins.

Toss everything except the heavy cream and nutmeg in a bowl and toss.

Pack the mix into the pumpkins. They should be well filled because some of the stuffing will condense when it’s cooked.

Mix the cream and nutmeg together and pour into the pumpkins. You don’t want the stuffing to be drowned in cream, but you want it be moist.

Put the caps back on and bake for 90 minutes.

Remove the caps and back for an additional 20-30 minutes. The pumpkins should be tender and easily pierced by the tip of a knife.

Serve and enjoy!

accidental-locavore-finished-pumpkinMy verdict: This is a great way to use up leftovers and it tastes great! You can use a single (larger) pumpkin and either serve it in wedges or just bring the whole thing to the table and let everyone scoop out a serving (much more impressive). It takes time to cook and a little prep time to clean the pumpkin, but that can be done ahead of time.

Let me know if you try it and what you put into it.

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Mark Bittman’s Slow Cooker Cassoulet

by Anne Maxfield on April 7, 2016

Locavore Slow Cooker CassouletCassoulet, slow cooker, all ingredients on hand, cold weather, dinner, time for the Accidental Locavore to start cooking! This recipe was on the NY Times Cooking site and serves 4 or more.

  • ½ pound dried small white beans, like pea or navy
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, plus 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups cored and chopped tomatoes, with their juice (canned are fine)
  • 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ pound slab bacon or salt pork, in 1 piece
  • 4 sweet Italian sausages, about 3/4 pound
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 duck legs (confit if possible)
  • Chicken, beef or vegetable stock, or water, or a mixture, as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs, optional
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Combine beans, crushed garlic, onion, carrots, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and meats in a slow cooker, and turn heat to high. You can brown the sausages and duck legs in a skillet before, if you’d like. Add stock or water to cover by 2 inches. Cover and cook until beans and meats are tender, 5 to 6 hours on high heat, 7 hours or more on low.

When done, add salt and pepper to taste, along with minced garlic. If you like, remove cassoulet from slow cooker, and place in a deep casserole; cover with bread crumbs and roast at 400 ° until bread crumbs brown, about 15 minutes. Garnish, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Mark Bittman's CassouletMy verdict: Three caveats before I begin: I’ve never been a big fan of Mark Bittman, but was intrigued by the idea of an easy cassoulet. If you think something is weird in a recipe, trust your gut and figure out a work-around. Finally, you have to cook with love and if you don’t things never taste as good. This was made in a series of bad-mood days and it was reflected in the finished product.

You’ve probably gotten the idea that this wasn’t one of my better meals. As a matter of fact, it was one of the worst. It started out with good ingredients, beautiful dried beans, sausages (breakfast, not Italian – really Mark?) from Four Legs Farm, ditto the pork shoulder. I had homemade duck legs confit and breadcrumbs from a recent baguette.

Accidental Locavore Duck ConfitFirst sign of trouble – ignoring the warning signs in my head that the beans should have been soaked overnight before going in the pot. After the first day of cooking (and it was more than the 5-7 hours given) the beans were rock hard and inedible. The pot went on the back porch to cool down, we went out to eat. Long story short, I cooked everything for about three days, before the beans were tender enough to eat. By that time, we were both well over our cassoulet cravings, so we foisted it off as dinner on an unknowing, but very polite friend (sorry Laura!). It was essentially mush, and what might have been distinct flavors on day one or two, were just different textures.

So, except for the buttermilk biscuits I use for making strawberry shortcakes, I’m through with Bittman! But not cassoulet – I had a great one in Nice!

 

 

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