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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Indian Spiced Lamb Shanks

by Anne Maxfield on March 16, 2017

The Accidental Locavore came across these Indian lamb shanks searching for something else on the Internet.

Has that ever happened to you?

They looked like a nice switch from my usual way of doing lamb shanks and I had some nice ones from a local farm. Serves 2 or more depending on the size of your shanks. The lamb needs to marinate, so plan accordingly.

Indian Spiced Lamb Shanks

For the lamb:

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1” ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • Salt

Spices for lamb shanksFor the sauce:

  • 2” piece of cinnamon
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • 2 green chilies (serrano or jalapeno) slit lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • A small can of tomato sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 3 sprigs of fresh cilantro, finely chopped for garnish

Blend garlic, ginger, curry and ground coriander with a bit of water into a paste.

Season the lamb shanks with salt and cover with the spice paste. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.

Bring the lamb to room temperature.

In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil and ghee on medium heat.

Coarsely crush the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns and add to the oil. Allow to sizzle on low heat for a few seconds before adding the sliced onions.
Sauté the onion till light brown and then add the slit chilies. Stir and continue to sauté till the onions turn dark brown.

Onions for lamb shanksAdd all the spices and the tomato puree. Sauté for another 2 minutes taking care that the spice mixture does not stick to the bottom.
Add the lamb shanks and the marinade to the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes turning occasionally, Take care that the spice mixture does not burn.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in the yogurt a little at a time to make a thick sauce.

Place the pan back on the heat and add 2 cups of water. Season with salt, mix well and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid, add the grated nutmeg, stir and cook uncovered for another 20 minutes until the meat becomes really tender. The sauce will also thicken and develop a deep rich color.

Stir in the lemon juice, garnish with cilantro and enjoy!

My verdict: This was really good! We served it with basmati rice to soak up the sauce. The only issue we both had with it was that you kept biting down on bits of cinnamon, etc. which wasn’t terribly pleasant. Next time, I think I’ll make a little bundle with cheesecloth that I can remove at the end.

If you don’t have ghee floating around your kitchen, microwave some butter until it’s all melted, skim off the white stuff on the top and what’s left is clarified butter.

I just used one large jalapeno and it was a little spicy but probably could have been spicier.

There was lots of sauce left because our shanks were a little small, so I got some lamb for stew, browned it well, added it to the leftover sauce and it made dinner for another night later in the week. If you’re not a fan of lamb shanks (congrats for reading this far), a couple of pounds of lamb or beef stew meat would work well.

 

 

 

 

 

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8 Things We Need to Spring Clean

by Anne Maxfield on March 13, 2017

Accidental Locavore Spring Clean DaffodillsIt occurs to the Accidental Locavore that there are several trends, food and otherwise, we need to spring clean out of our lives—you’ve got a week.

They are not bringing joy.

  1. Red Wine Hot Chocolate: with or without marshmallows. No matter whether you made the marshmallows or got them out of a bag, it’s still a dumb idea. Start working on the next dumb idea.
  2. Oh, wait, it’s here: Red Wine Coffee. Obviously not a good vintage, and you couldn’t get Trader Joe’s to buy it or you wouldn’t be trying to dump it in coffee. Need I say more?Accidental Locavore Hygge Rif Spring Clean
  3. Hygge: There’s a reason we don’t live in Scandinavia, it’s cold and dark (and did I mention it’s dark?). Hygge, IMHO was created as an excuse to hide under a blanket (as if it wasn’t dark enough) and drink…coffee. Pronounced hue-guh or hoo-gah, if you really care (or need to be that trendy).
  4. Time spent on Facebook. Let’s face it, it’s depressing. And do we really need to sign another online petition for something we’re outraged about? Let’s put our money and power together and get it together for 2018, without getting lost in the daily mishegas.
  5. Kale: One of the big reasons I didn’t join PFP’s winter CSA was that the marketing material trumpeted “17 different kinds of kale”! Just kill me now…Cookbooks to spring clean
  6. Cookbooks: Honestly now, how many cookbooks do you have that you’ve never used one recipe from? And, when you’re looking for a new recipe for short ribs, you might look through one or two favorites, but really, you just look it up on the Internet. Maybe we should take a trick from closet organizers and turn them all backwards on the shelves (and/or floor) and the ones that we use, turn back around. At the end of the year (see, I’m giving the ones you only pull out on the holidays a chance), donate the rest.
  7. The depths of the refrigerator: Food waste is a huge issue, and the fridge is one of the biggest culprits. Let’s think of some creative uses for things like half empty bottles of BBQ sauce (at least combine them—who is going to know, especially if you put it all in the popular bottle). Or make it a point to try to use something once a week. The reward? Plenty of room to store and admire all the great produce that’s coming!
  8. Spring clean ___________. What would you add to the list?

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Crunchy Caramel Granola

by Anne Maxfield on March 9, 2017

Accidental Locavore Caramel GranolaOne of the Accidental Locavore’s big issues with granola is that it’s very hard to find any without nuts.

I started making my own because it’s easy and you control exactly what goes into it.

Everything you like – nothing you don’t.

This has some riffs from the original recipe, and they’re both good, depending on your mood. You may have to do some online shopping and find space in your fridge for your purchases, but it will be worth it.

Makes about 3 cups:

Crunchy Caramel Granola

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup corn flakes
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, or coconut chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons Cara-Sel caramel sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted European-style butter
  • Dried fruit, such as apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries and additional coconut

Preheat the oven to 300°.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and pine nuts.

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the caramel and maple syrup. Pour the mixture over the oat mix and toss well to combine.

Spread evenly on the baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes to keep it browning evenly.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Add your choice of dried fruit, chopped, and coconut to taste and mix well.

Store in an airtight canister or a Ziploc bag. Serve straight-up or over your favorite yogurt and enjoy!

 

Accidental Locavore Cara-Sel Caramel for GranolaMy verdict:  This new version with the caramel sauce is really good! If you remember Cracker Jack, it’s like a breakfast version of that!

I’ve been adding a cup of corn flakes since I saw it in someone else’s granola recipe. It adds a different sort of crunch. If you don’t want the corn flakes, just use 3 cups of oats instead.

My choice of maple syrup for this (and everything with maple syrup) is Crown Maple’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. It’s dark and flavorful with a nice smoky hint from the bourbon barrels.

Interestingly, the quality of the butter really makes a difference! It went from being really good to great when I switched to Plugra butter.

What do you like in your granola?

 

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