Mrs Wheelbarrow

Marinated Artichoke Hearts

by Anne Maxfield on June 19, 2014

Accidental Locavore Artichokes and Lemons As you’ve probably figured out by now, the Accidental Locavore loves artichokes in all sizes and forms. Large, small, tiny, steamed, grilled, fried, raw, they’re all good. When I saw this recipe from Mrs. Wheelbarrow (you may or not remember her as the impetus behind Charcutepalooza), it was time to take a deep breath and pull out the Ball jars.

Why the deep breath? A couple of reasons. First of all, my cousin Ellen makes amazing jam, so I usually leave all the canning stuff to her and just sit back and enjoy her hard work. The other reason is that canning is a bit dicey; do it wrong and bad things happen. But Mrs. Wheelbarrow had gotten me safely through a year of charcuterie, so I figured if I just faithfully followed the recipe, all would be good, and it was.

Because it does require some attention, here’s the link to her recipe and I’ll just fill you in on how it turned out.

Accidental Locavore Marinated ArtichokesMy verdict: This isn’t hard at all and is really worth the effort. So much so, that the minute the 30 days were up (OK, it was 28 days, but hey…), I busted open one of the jars and promptly made a second batch. These are delicious! I thought the first batch was a little heavy on the white vinegar so with the second, I used ¾ cup of white vinegar and ½ cup of the white wine vinegar. Since it’s only been a couple of days, you’ll have to wait to see if that worked. With both batches, I used small artichokes, mostly because they’re easier to prepare, since you don’t have to remove the choke. The only downside with this recipe is that you’ll be washing lots of pots, but if you’ve got a rainy afternoon, take an hour and try this. If you can manage to hold onto a jar or two, sometime in the fall or winter, you’ll be so glad you did!

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Accidental Locavore Epicerie Boulud

Ever since Épicerie Boulud opened (yeah, it’s only a week or two), the Accidental Locavore has been looking for an excuse to go shopping there. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the locavore has been way too lazy to pop over to Lincoln Center at 7:00 AM to pick up fresh-from-Daniel croissants. Could be I’m anticipating starting a really bad habit if they’re wonderful (since Lincoln Center and Épicerie Boulud are mere blocks from my apartment) , while on the other hand, the part of me that has spent (not enough) time in France, won’t consider the purchasing of croissants at the end the day.

Tonight was different. My brother was in town and coming over for dinner. Before we made our plans, the locavore had been planning to finish the homemade merguez from the last Chacutepalooza challenge (don’t panic, they had been frozen) paired with another of the wonderful, huge, meaty artichokes the Accidental Locavore has been getting from Whole Foods. I decided to cruise over to Épicerie Boulud to see what could round out the dinner.

Not surprisingly, the place was buzzing, New York being the competitive city it is, especially when it comes to food and restaurants. The locavore headed right to the charcuterie counter, figuring a slab of pate would be just the thing. Along with a small but choice selection of pates, were several fresh sausages, which included merguez.

Always up for a challenge, I thought I would pit my first attempt at merguez against Daniel Boulud (or Gilles Verot, his charcuterie master). My brother didn’t know which was which and the Locavore would cook them together to try to keep it a level playing field.

The results? Accidental Locavore Merguez

You might be surprised by this, it was essentially a tie. Boulud’s merguez was a little bigger, the meat was more finely ground and they were much spicier. I preferred the fineness of the grind, while my brother liked my slightly coarser grind. We both found the not-as-spicy Locavore’s sausage more to our liking. If my husband had been in on the tasting, or I had made some couscous to go with the merguez, the Epicerie Boulud links might have won for their heat.

I have to tell you that I do feel pretty victorious, considering it was my first (but certainly not last) attempt.

So once again, thanks Mrs. Wheelbarrow for a great merguez recipe!

 

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Accidental Locavore Merguez Sliders

For the Accidental Locavore May turned into merguez month. This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was grinding and I decided to go for the advanced challenge; making merguez. If you’re not familiar with merguez, it’s a spicy, North African lamb sausage and one of my favorites. The challenge was supposed to be more about grinding your own meat, than making link sausage, however once you get started…

The locavore used a recipe from Mrs. Wheelbarrow (the brains behind Charcutepalooza) on Food52, combined with ideas from Charcuterie. Grinding the lamb and mixing it with spices and harissa was easy. Whenever you make sausage and/or pate (forcemeat) two rules are critical: everything must be kept very cold, and you always want to make a small patty, fry it up, and check it for seasonings. Mine needed salt and a little more heat, so I added some hot smoked paprika to the original recipe.Accidental Locavore Merguez

The Accidental Locavore took a huge amount of time dealing with the sausage casings. I was using sheep’s casings as they are smaller than pig’s and merguez is a thinner sausage than say, Italian sausage.  Mistake! Imagine trying to work something similar to slimy overcooked angel hair pasta and you start to get the idea. I’ve made sausage before, but it’s been a while and never with these tiny casings. Once I managed to get the sausages stuffed they did in fact, look like merguez. By this time, it was late, I was tired and still hadn’t eaten dinner. Necessity is definitely the mother of invention…

I took the leftover sausage meat, made patties and fried them up. Halfway through, inspiration! There was some beautiful lettuce in the fridge and a log of a somewhat local (Vermont) chèvre. A new classic was born: merguez sliders with goat cheese on a bed of greens. I topped the merguez patties with a slice of chèvre and stuck them under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese. While that was working, a quick vinaigrette: equal parts good red wine vinegar and good olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Beat with a fork until well combined (the mustard acts as an emulsifier and holds it all together). You can add a small minced shallot and/or some herbs de Provence if you like, or be lazy like me and keep it simple.

What a great combination! Next time the Accidental Locavore will grill the merguez patties, excuse me, sliders, add a few toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top and perfection!

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